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By Tom Smith
South Pittsburgh Reporter Editor 

NPP program in Mt. Oliver/Knoxville will focus on businesses and residents

Neighborhood Partnership Program benefits Knoxville/Mt. Oliver


Last updated 2/24/2022 at 2:37pm

In early November 2021, two Hilltop organizations received word their applications for Neighborhood Partnership Programs (NPP) through the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) had been approved.

The Hilltop programs will be funded at $650,000 per year for six years: $400,000 per year for six years for the Hilltop Economic Development Corporation (HEDC) to work in Mt. Oliver Borough and Knoxville and $250,000 per year for the Hilltop Alliance to work in Allentown. This is the second NPP in each area.

The NPPs, which fall under the DCED’s Neighborhood Assistance Program, offer corporate tax liability credit in exchange for contributing to neighborhood revitalization. A minimum contribution of at least $100,000 is needed for the NPP and can be in provided at a minimum of $50,000 per business, up to a maximum of $500,000 per year. In turn, businesses receive either a 75% or 80% tax credit per year for a commitment of five or six years.

HEDC vice-president Rick Hopkinson explained the tax credit program is being funded by United Concordia, a Highmark Inc. company; Giant Eagle; Northwest Bank and Fragasso Financial Advisors. The HEDC will administer the program, implementing the Main Street plan and approve small business grants. Since HEDC is an all-volunteer organization, they have contracted with the Hilltop Alliance and The Brashear Association to provide services.

The Mt. Oliver/Knoxville program is business district heavy with the Hilltop Alliance providing staff support for the business district. Along Brownsville Road, Mr. Hopkinson said there is an emphasis on attracting new sustainable businesses and providing resources to new and existing businesses. They would like to establish a culture of shared resources in the commercial corridor.

Mr. Hopkinson said the business district outcomes for the NPP came from the Business District Plan created through the Allegheny Together program of Allegheny County Economic Development, have already been exceeded for this fiscal year. Among the outcomes were: attracting two to three new businesses; Organizing eight promotional events; Facilitating one or two commercial property renovations; and, five to ten rent abatement, façade improvement, or marketing projects.

Aaron Sukenik, executive director of the Hilltop Alliance, said some of the property maintenance issues in the neighborhoods the Alliance will be working on is boarding up vacant properties and cleaning up and preventing dumping. In Knoxville, they have already taken care of blocks of properties, having addressed problems in more than 300 properties over several years.

Additionally, in the residential community, the Hilltop Alliance will be responsible for taking care of 40 property maintenance issues, mostly in Knoxville; Code enforcement issues; Vacant property clean-ups; 12 home repair projects; and, Implement the Knoxville Housing Strategies.

Mr. Sukenik said their Property Stabilization program is now available for six Mt. Oliver and Knoxville residents at or below 80% of the Area Median Income to make up to $5,000 in needed home repairs. Even if the program fills, property owners should still apply and they could be first in line for the next year.

The Brashear Association will provide resident services including help with utility bills and employment services.

Brashear will be responsible for serving 500 individuals through its food pantry and Holiday Assistance Program; Provide employment services to 25 people; Assist 20 “teens and tweens” with college readiness and career counseling; and, Serve 50 through the Family Table Program.


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