The race is on.
York, one of eight cities eligible for an economic-development program that could funnel millions of dollars into the city, has 30 days to submit an application to the state for one of two available designations.
The other cities in the running for a City Revitalization Improvement Zone, or CRIZ, are Altoona, Bethlehem, Erie, Lancaster, Reading, Wilkes-Barre and Chester.
The program aims to attract business and jobs to cities by offering developers state and city tax revenue to pay off project debt. In July, Gov. Tom Corbett signed Act 52 into law, officially creating the CRIZ program.
Eligible cities are home to at least 30,000 residents and have not entered the state's Act 47 financial-recovery program.
"The (CRIZ) program, through innovative financing that will not place undue strain on the general fund, will provide cities an opportunity to leverage state tax dollars to inspire private investment in under-utilized properties," according to a news release from Corbett's office. "State and local taxes collected within the CRIZ will be used to repay debt service to stimulate economic development projects within the zone."
Just 30 days: On Thursday, the state released formal guidelines for the applications, which are due Nov. 30.
That means York officials and their counterparts in the other seven cities have just 30 days to submit a compet
itive application complete with a proposed CRIZ map -- up to 130 non-contiguous acres -- and potential development projects.
Before submitting its application, York must also create a CRIZ authority, which would have the responsibility of designating development zones and overseeing implementation.
At an Oct. 23 York City Council meeting, several council members expressed frustration about the time crunch.
They aren't the only ones, according to state Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York City.
"I know a lot of communities did respond like you would expect, saying that's a little bit of time to do a lot of work," Schreiber said.
Of course, everyone's in the same boat. And, Schreiber said, the work really began months ago.
Schreiber said he isn't aware of any surprises in the state's guidelines.
As for York's map, it could include any area of the city poised for development, he said.
"You want to focus on not just the downtown but neighborhoods and the periphery of the downtown," he said.
Schreiber said he believes York has a good shot at a CRIZ designation and an advantage because of its proximity to Maryland, which could help York attract out-of-state businesses.
"I think we have to put the best foot forward and make a very compelling case," Schreiber said. "I think we have the best shot. But I also know that other cities are going to make just as compelling arguments."
More information about the state's CRIZ guidelines is available at www.newPA.com/CRIZ.
-- Reach Erin James at firstname.lastname@example.org.