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EDA Helps Bring Jobs and Water to Northern Pennsylvania

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From Left to Right: Lauren Egleston, Leslie Cote (PENNVEST), Fred Johnson (TMA Board), State Representative Tina Pickett, Kyle Lane (former TMA Manager), TMA Chairman Michael Walsh, TMA Secretary Charlotte Sullivan, Arnold Kriner (Senator Gene Yaw’s Office), and Brian Shura (Stiffler-McGraw).

Towanda is a small community in northern Pennsylvania, just a short drive from New York. It was founded in 1786 along the Susquehanna River, and by the 1800s, it was a thriving port for merchants. It was incorporated as a township in 1826 and is now home to more than 3,000 residents.

As the population grew, so too did the demand for water and other public utilities. The first spring was tapped in 1887 and it remains in service today. By 1996 however, it was clear to local officials that another water source was needed.

“They completed 55 test wells along the Susquehanna River, before finding three wells to supply our distribution system,” said Lauren Egleston, Towanda Borough and Municipal Authority Manager. “The new water wells had great quality and quantity, but in order to drink it, Towanda was going to need a new water filtration treatment plant.”

Egleston came to Towanda after spending several years with the Northern Tier Regional Planning and Development Commission, an EDA Economic Development District (EDD). Because of this relationship, she believed that EDA funding was the answer Towanda had been seeking for almost thirty years.

In September 2018, EDA approved Towanda’s grant request, providing $3 million in funding for construction of the water plant and related work site improvements. Recognizing that their business was dependent on the water as well, a local industry provided matching funds of $3.6 million.

The plant opened in February 2021 after receiving approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which offered praise for its new operating system. It created nearly 200 jobs for the community and now provides service to more than 2,300 customers in six municipalities.

The increased water capacity has brought additional businesses to Towanda and its neighboring township Wysox, including Williams, an oil and natural gas company that is embracing the vision for a clean energy future. It brought an additional 125 jobs to the community. Later this spring, a grocery store will open its doors as well.

Egleston attributes this success to EDA and its administration of the grant. She is thankful for their assistance throughout the application process.

“We were thrilled. The EDA grant put us over the top. It helped the project come to fruition after more than thirty years of planning.”

For more information on funding opportunities, please visit eda.gov.

Tags: Infrastructure

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