State program draws business, confusion in Tamaqua

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TAMAQUA, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)– The borough of Tamaqua has been going through some steady, but positive changes.

That’s thanks in part to a state-level program. There’s some confusion as to how to use it and how it’s here to help. Some businesses in Tamaqua are hurting and business owners say the more-than $570,000 that’s come into the borough could go to good use.

“I feel like I haven’t seen any of the funds change anything around here,” said The Texas Chili Dog’s manager Larissa Young. “I haven’t seen any of the funds, honestly.”

She noted that if the money was distributed among more businesses in the borough, there would be a larger boom in the local economy.

“It would bring more jobs and everything here–more business.”

The issue is that money comes in the form of City Renovations and Improvement Zone program. (CRIZ)

“The way CRIZ works is it’s based off the funds that we collect here, as a borough,” said Dn’A Bikes owner Rich Stiamche, who also is a board member with the Tamaqua Area Chamber of Commerce as well as serving on other community boards. “The state reimburses the borough back, so to speak. They give the money back and say this is to be used as funding for businesses to expand or have new businesses come in.”

While some business owners would like to see roads and borough property taken care of, the more business that comes in or expands would help fuel those projects.

“Eventually I’ll try to get down there and try to see if I can get some of that funding–maybe get one of these buildings or commercial spaces that are vacant to make my shop look more appealing,” said Quentin Rucker, whose Upper Echelon Barber Shop has only been open for a month but has been contemplating expansion with success.

That’s exactly what CRIZ is for. The important thing to recognize about the program is that while the applications go through the borough, there are guidelines that dictate how that money is spent — and it’s not for the borough’s use.

Tamaqua may need some infrastructural renovations to keep these renovations and improvements going but between the CRIZ projects and some natural growth, borough officials say it’s becoming more and more of a destination.

Still a little confused about the CRIZ program? This is the explanation that Eyewitness News found.

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