South Side Revitalization Project
South Side Scranton was designated an Elm Street Community by the PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) in 2009 with the awarding of the Elm Street contract to United Neighborhood Centers. Political and community leaders discussed the revitalization of South Side for many years, but in 2008, UNC assumed responsibility for steering the resident-based planning process necessary for applying for Elm Street status. With DCED’s awarding of the Elm Street contract, UNC took on the administration of the project. In 2010, Wells Fargo (formerly Wachovia) Regional Foundation awarded UNC a grant furthering the neighborhood’s capacity for revitalization. After successfully completing five years with Wells Fargo they recently awarded UNC with another two years of funding.
South Scranton is a neighborhood on the rise. The community’s unique cultural identity is flourishing as it preserves its rich history, grows the economy with business development initiatives, and invests in the infrastructure necessary to support a safe and welcoming neighborhood. As a result, South Scranton has become a multicultural destination, drawing new residents from all different backgrounds who see an opportunity to realize their “American Dream.”
Moving forward, UNC is seeking additional funding to support the Neighborhood Plan by focusing on these core strategies/programs:
- Preserving the diverse, “front porch” community through resident engagement: Residents’ “buy-in” and commitment to the neighborhood is an essential ingredient when creating a community that celebrates diversity. UNC is continually offering programs and events to build up the identity and neighborhood pride within South Scranton’s residents. A few of the events offered are Arts on Fire, Summer in the Park, The South Side Neighborhood Watch and the Ethnic Carol Sing.
- Expanding economic development catalysts: Promoting economic growth is critical to creating a neighborhood where residents can happily live, work, and pursue their dreams. Cedar Avenue has historically provided the lifeblood to South Scranton and UNC aims to recreate the Cedar Avenue corridor as the cornerstone of business and social activity. The corridor will provide access to goods, services, jobs, and a shared space for residents.
- The South Side Small Business Alliance was created to bring local business owners together and to participate in trainings on important topics such as budgeting, social media, and marketing. UNC plans to bolster this program by continuing to bring in both new and ethnically-diverse business owners.
- The South Side Farmers’ Market was started in 2010 and has grown to become a year round market with over a dozen vendors.
- Façade Improvement Grant Program: In 2010 a Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development grant matching program whereby UNC matches up to $5,000 of home and business owners’ budgets to improve the external appearance of their properties. Projects to date have included exterior painting, porch reconstruction, and window updates. The program has become increasingly popular and has resulted in greater investment in the physical appearance of the community, in a continued reinvigoration of the “front porch community”, and in building a sense of pride in the ongoing revitalization of the neighborhood.
- Invest in capital improvements that enhance cultural inclusion and heritage: The capital improvements UNC plans to make are an extension of a greater community project called the “Iron District.” This project is a collaboration of a dozen nonprofit organizations, government, and local businesses to further revitalization in the South Side. These efforts focus around the Scranton Iron Furnaces, the historical blast furnaces that spurred the creation of the neighborhood in the 1800s.
Find the Elm Street Project on Facebook. For more information, please contact the Elm Street Manager, Katie Kearney, at 570-346-6203.