Municipalities nationwide are lining up to have certain neighborhoods declared as Opportunity Zones. The declaration could bring millions of dollars in economic development to those areas.  Millcreek Township is one of the communities that is getting into the act.

Millions of people pass through areas of Millcreek every year to enjoy Presque Isle State Park.  Millcreek Supervisors will grab every opportunity they can to make sure those areas make a good impression. Millcreek Township has been holding a series of public meetings asking residents to list the most important concerns the township must correct to insure a bright future.  The concerns will be highlighted in the township's comprehensive plan that should be completed this summer.  At the top of the list is the beautification of the Gateway to Presque Isle.

"We're talking about the relocation of utilities, burying utility lines, creating bike lanes, putting in streetscape, looking at large properties that are very blighted," says Supervisor John Morgan.

At the suggestion of State Senator Dan Laughlin, Millcreek Supervisors are asking Governor Wolf to declare three sections of the township as Opportunity Zones.  The sections include the 8th Street, 12th Street, and 26th Street corridors from Pittsburgh Avenue to Peninsula Drive...the main roads that lead to Presque Isle.

Even though the comprehensive plan is not done, the supervisors must act quickly for Wolf's declaration.

"Obviously, the plan is not completed yet.  There's not specific steps laid out yet.  But, when we see an opportunity to set up a tool that we can utilize down the road, we've got to jump on it," Morgan said.

Congress established the Opportunity Zone Program when it passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.  The program provides tax incentives for private investments.   But, those investments can only be for projects taking place in Opportunity Zones.  Governor Wolf can only designate only about 250 zones across the state. Millcreek hopes to have three of them, leading all the way to the peninsula.

"We see this as not just beneficial to Millcreek Township.  We see it as being beneficial to the Erie Metro area, and Northwest Pennsylvania, to really maximize the potential economic impact of this key asset for our community," Morgan said.

Governors of each state have until March 22 to submit their Opportunity Zone designations to the U.S. Treasury Department.