194 195 get them to be able to hire and train additional employees, including Chester citizens. Right now, the City has an unemployment rate of above 15 percent. So, we’re considerably higher than the state and national average. And part of that is because of the educational basis here – so we need to change that, as well.” In terms of supplying affordable housing, Gaffney adds, “We have a first time home buyer program for low and moderate income families.We also provide assistance for either housing renovation or new construction, as well.We do both the supply and the demand side of the housing equation.” Gaffney also touts the available opportunities along the waterfront. “We have available land; we also have industrial zoned land.We’re looking at how to make the waterfront an area that people can work in, live in, and recreate in,” she says. “We have a variety of assets and a willingness to work with the incentives that we have on hand, on both a local and state level, to encourage businesses to come into the city and we have a willing work- force. Those combinations are beneficial to getting people to invest here.” Nakaishi would like to see the city grow to at least 45,000 from its present population of 33,000. “Our strategy for rebuilding the city is immigration; for anybody looking for a new start, whether they are from a foreign country or from California or Ohio,” he declares. “We welcome the opportunity to talk to them about what Chester offers and what might be some of the benefits and advantages of starting a business or living here. Most all of the economic development and growth in Pennsylvania is happening in the south- east region of the commonwealth.We are an hour and a half fromWashington,D.C.; we’re an hour and fortyminutes from NewYork City; we’re an hour from Baltimore.We’re ten miles from the airport where you can fly to anywhere in the world.We’re part of where everybody wants to be.” In order to entice new business ventures, Nakai- shi says that there are various incentives available. “Some properties are in Keystone Opportunity Zones – that’s where there’s tax abatement for seven years on state tax, municipal, county, and school property taxes,” he states. “And that really helps a business to start and it reduces your outlay for the first few years. Also, if it’s not a designated KOZ zone, we have LERTA- Local Economic Revital- ization Tax Assistance, and that’s tax abatement; it includes county, city, school property taxes on any improvements, and it’s a graduated abatement for ten years. At the end of ten years, you’re paying the full assessment on your improvements. On top of that, we do offer, on occasion, low interest, small business loans. But it’s one of those things where it has to be a solid business, it has to have collateral, and we try to make sure that we’re doing proper underwriting. In many cases, these are federal funds that we have to manage in a prudent fash- ion. “The one thing that we have going for us is the low cost of land in Chester. On occasion, we have offered incentives to developers if we see a mutu- al benefit for the City and is a project we believe will provide strong economic growth potential and needed jobs. All such projects require a redevel- opment agreement between the developer and the Redevelopment Authority. The Redevelopment Authority Board and City Council must approve all agreements. We are also willing to work with developers for good projects to help seek state assistance, such as low-interest loans, tax credits, and/or grants. “The other major objective of the Mayor is to en- hance workforce development. Lisa, working with large employers, along with the City’s Workforce Development Coordinator, Eric Bayne, is trying to CHESTER, PENNSYLVANIA Quality • Service • Value P. O. Box 467 • Chester • PA • 19016 415 Welsh Street • Chester • PA • 19013 (610) 876-8181 • (800) 793-2323 • • • • Chester Water Authority Delivering quality drinking water to our customers in the City of Chester, Western Delaware County, and Southern Chester County. n Chester Water Authority PREFERRED VENDOR