Revitalizing Montgomery County

July 15, 2009 3:37:46 PM PDT
The program is a strategic effort to bring private investors to the county's older communities, to improve not only their appearance, but also the quality of life for those who work and live in Montgomery County. The program is a 7 year, $105-million effort to revitalize older communities

"We're looking at those possible projects that are going to have the greatest economic impact and the sooner, the better," Chairman of Montgomery County Commissioners Jim Matthews said.

The program would depend primarily on the interest of private investors, with the county targeting those projects that are "shovel ready," but currently can't get bank financing.

"We're in there as a gap funder, either by way of grants up to 50-percent or low interest loans up to 50-percent. What we see ultimately, in conjunction with this economic development plan, a completely transformational opportunity here for Norristown itself, " Matthew said.

There are 3 miles of riverfront that could be utilized in Norristown for the construction of new single homes, high rise condos, restaurants, and shops.

That's 3-miles of riverfront between route 202 and the Turnpike.

"If you look at communities like anywhere from Conshohocken right next door here to Boston, and what they opened up with the Big Dig, waterfront property is where it's at," Director of Economic Development Ken Klothen said.

Klothen, recently hired to oversee the new economic development program, says the program will also focus on the underutilization of existing space in Pottstown and the hope is that men and women now working in high-tech businesses along the 422 corridor will someday consider raising their families there.

"Because that infrastructure exists already, there are real advantages to using that. People want to live closer to where they work," Klothen said.

Montgomery County is such a diverse mix of communities and the hope is that by creating places for people to work and live and play, in one setting, the county will be able to simultaneously attract new business and bring those communities back to what they were some half century ago.