Vanessa Billings-Seiler (top on Main Street in Towanda) will oversee the next phase of the Route 6 Façade & Signage Program as funding becomes available for Bradford and Wyoming counties.
Vanessa Billings-Seiler of North Towanda was recently named by the PA Route 6 Alliance as the project coordinator for Phase II of the Route 6 Façade & Signage Program. Phase I helped to improve the frontage of numerous structures in the PA Wilds region in 2019, and Seiler will manage the program in 2020 as it applies to Bradford and Wyoming counties. Up to $133,000 may be available for the projects. Grants of up to $5,000 can be awarded, which requires a full match by the applicant.
Seiler is the administrative assistant for the Endless Mountains Heritage Region (EMHR), which represents and promotes historical, agricultural and recreation interests in Bradford, Sullivan, Wyoming and Susquehanna counties. She will be canvassing the Route 6 corridor from the western end of Bradford County to the eastern end of Wyoming county over the next few months to be sure that prospective property owners along that stretch are aware of the available funding.
“Vanessa came highly recommended,” said Candace Sturdevant, acting director of the PA Route 6 Alliance. “She really knows that area, plus she has grant experience as well.” Seiler will also help to close out the program in the PA Wilds region.
The PA Route 6 Alliance has already sent a first round of notification letters to municipal officials along the corridor, and Seiler will follow up with additional communication once the funding from the PA Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) is confirmed. After that, she will work with applicants to help ensure that their projects meet DCED Keystone Community Grant criteria. Current plans are to accept applications in early 2020 and announce the winners in late winter or early spring.
The program was developed by the PA Route 6 Alliance for adaptive reuse of existing structures, bringing substandard buildings up to code, and simply giving others a face lift to enhance commercial development and foster community pride. Elements of improvement can include painting, new windows, and signage. No interior work will be covered, nor exterior work on the sides or rear of buildings.
When Sturdevant explained the program to EMHR board members at their October meeting, she reported a “domino effect” of businesses sprucing up their fronts even if they did not get a grant. Technically, any municipality in any county through which Route 6 runs is eligible for funding. That includes communities that have been bypassed through the years as Route 6 slowly evolved.
The grants review committee, comprised of people from both Bradford and Wyoming counties, generally gives priority to projects within a closer proximity to Route 6, but Sturdevant noted that one eligible project in the PA Wilds region was 16 miles from the famed highway.
“Vanessa is very organized and has an eagerness to get out there and make the program work for as many businesses as possible,” Sturdevant remarked.
EMHR executive director Cain Chamberlin sees the Route 6 Façade & Signage Program as a natural extension of the EMHR’s mission and a “great community builder.” As soon as the DCED funds are confirmed, he noted, Seiler will be off and running to get as many projects as possible lined up in time for building owners to hire contractors for work that could begin as early as June 2020.
For an official application and list of guidelines, interested readers can call the EMHR at 570-265-1528 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.