Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday announced the guidelines for the newly created City Revitalization and Improvement Zone program, which Bethlehem and Reading are eligible to obtain.
The CRIZ program, signed into law in July, supports economic development and job creation in Pennsylvania by redirecting tax revenues to commercial projects. The designation will be awarded to two of eight third-class cities, which also include Altoona, Chester, Erie, Lancaster, Wilkes-Barre and York.
Cities have from Nov. 1-30 to apply for a CRIZ, which could be as many as 130 acres.
Reading had been eagerly awaiting the legislation, which is very similar to the Neighborhood Improvement Zone program that led to the dramatic surge in construction and development in Allentown.
"The CRIZ program has the potential to be a significant economic driver for … Reading," said Jon Scott, president and CEO of Greater Reading Economic Partnership. "We are all working together and have already formed committees. We are aiming to submit an application for the full 130 acres by the end of November."
Scott said land along the city's riverfront and land on the 400 block of Penn Street in Reading have CRIZ potential.
Meanwhile, Bethlehem this afternoon plans to announce the creation of a CRIZ authority to help with its bid to land the designation.
The state also will award a third CRIZ designation to one township or borough.
Guidelines for the program are available at www.newPA.com/CRIZ.