Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant funds Reading-based initiative
Alvernia receives a $4 million grant from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program to renovate its newly secured downtown Reading location at 401 Penn Street, which is the centerpiece of the Reading CollegeTowne initiative, the innovative strategy of expanding the campus into the downtown area to continue its Franciscan mission of serving the underserved through education and economic development. The grant award is the largest in the university’s 62-year history.
"This support for Alvernia and the Reading CollegeTowne movement is truly unprecedented and was made possible by the continuing outpouring of support of so many, including Senator Schwank, Mayor Moran, Reading City Council and the Berks County Commissioner, our trustees and partners,” said Alvernia University President John R. Loyack. “The unification and collaboration brought about by the Reading CollegeTowne initiative is truly remarkable, and we are excited to be taking another big step forward on bringing our CollegeTowne initiative to life with its design of not only creating the future for our institution but also the economic redevelopment of downtown Reading.”
Alvernia has partnered with RLPS Architects and Warfel Construction to begin the renovation and retrofitting of the former CNA building this year after it was purchased by the university on June 30. The university recently announced the addition of three engineering programs that will be housed at the location as well as the relocation of the business and communication programs. The university’s student-centered business incubator powered by Alvernia’s rebranded O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship will also be located at the downtown location.
Through a new student fellows program, O’Pake serves as the catalyst for educational and business expansion in center city Reading. O’Pake has already announced partnerships with SCORE Berks Schuylkill Chapter, Lehigh Valley Angel Investors, Kutztown University’s Small Business Development Center and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, as well as the institute’s first corporate sponsors, Pepsi® and Customers Bank and RKL LLP.
RACP is administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects. RACP projects are authorized in the Redevelopment Assistance section of a Capital Budget Itemization Act, have a regional or multi-jurisdictional impact, and generate substantial increases or maintain current levels of employment, tax revenues, or other measures of economic activity.