Grant brings ideas, vision for East End to reality – finally

Ideas are great. Vision is great.

But when it comes to transcendant public development, it takes money to make ideas and vision come alive.

Williamsport’s East End corridor has had the potential to be vibrant for decades and finally has real money to become a distinctive part of the local landscape.

A grant of $764,272 has been received from the Lycoming Economic Development Foundation to kick off the Lycoming College gateway project, the first domino in a series of advancements meant to bring Williamsport’s eastern entrance to life.

The grant will be used for infrastructure work on Basin and Franklin streets as well as streetscape work along East Third Street. It provides the matching funds necessary for the city to qualify for more state grants.

The announcement and details come as ground is being broken on the first phase of the East End revitalization – the Lycoming Gateway project, which includes both a new $12.5 million gateway building that will house the college’s admissions and alumni relations center, the Center for Enhanced Academic Experience and the Outdoor Leadership and Education program.

That project will be accompanied by a $1.6 million reconstruction of Basin and Franklin streets and an additional $5.5 million in public infrastructure projects in that part of the city.

When the work is done next year, the college’s profile and the path to it will be a modernized, welcoming part of Williamsport.

And after that a series of improvements to the commercial eastern corridor to the city are the next dominoes. Hopefully, they too will transition from long-held ideas and vision to practical development. Exciting times for the city’s East End.

The grant marks a coming out party for the Lycoming Economic Development Foundation, an understated non-profit corporatism dedicated to promoting economic, business and industrial welfare and employment for the county since 1955. The foundation is part of a network of giving entities that distinguish this area from most others its size.

In an age when government funding is becoming more and more competitive, groups such as the foundation can be that missing financial piece that brings ideas and vision to the development reality.