Randy Patterson at Lancaster Square (copy)

Randy Patterson, acting CEO of the Lancaster CRIZ authority and former city director of economic development and neighborhood revitalization, stands on the north side of Lancaster Square overlooking the 101NQ project on Friday, June 14, 2019. 

Lancaster’s City Revitalization & Improvement Zone program will receive nearly $7 million from the state this year.

The state program refunds taxes paid by businesses within a designated zone to a local authority for redevelopment.

The program will receive $6.89 million from the state, plus a small amount of local revenue, pushing the total to $7.15 million. It received a total of $6.39 million from state and local revenue in 2018.

The City Revitalization & Improvement Zone Authority has until mid-April to distribute the money. Any unused funds revert to the state.

Randy Patterson, the authority’s executive director, said he expects allocations to be made in November and December, with much of the funds going toward existing commitments, including the Lancaster County Convention Center and adjacent Marriott Hotel expansion, Clipper Magazine Stadium, the Holiday Inn Lancaster and the city’s work in Ewell Plaza.

Businesses in the zone are required to file reports on their state and local taxes, which the state uses to calculate how much money goes to the authority for distribution. This year, 464 of 552 businesses, or 84%, filed reports.

Loan program approved

Meanwhile, the authority has received the go-ahead from the state to launch a loan program designed to make it easier and more beneficial for small “mom-and-pop” businesses to access City Revitalization & Improvement Zone funding.

The authority tried to set up the program in 2018, but state officials said the law governing the program didn’t allow it. This year, local officials were able to get an amendment specifically authorizing the initiative inserted during state budget negotiations.

In the interim, the authority set up a pilot program for small business grants. Both grants and loans are part of the new initiative.

The authority will supply funds for the grants and small business loans from a $5 million revolving loan fund it plans to set up. It will borrow that amount early next year, along with supplemental funding to cover a reserve fund and closing costs for the borrowing.

The small business grant and loan program is expected to begin operations early next year, and will function year-round.