In 2012, the Community Foundation received a gift of $2.5 million to support community and economic development in Bedford, Cambria, and Somerset counties. The Robert Waters Economic Development Fund was formally established through the trust fund of Robert Waters, a Johnstown industrialist whose testamentary charitable directives included supporting the betterment of the Johnstown area.
A committee of regional professionals with expertise in the areas of finance and/or economic development has been established to oversee the Fund.It is designed to make loans, investments and limited grants to appropriate projects and initiatives, including start-ups and expansion, equity investments and loan guarantees.
“The Robert Waters Economic Development Fund adds a tool to our community’s toolbox. It allows the Community Foundation to supplement and support the work that JARI and other economic development agencies are doing, to look at new initiatives and even business opportunities that contribute to the economy and therefor the greater good of our community. We are pleased to have worked with BNY Mellon Wealth Management, the managers of the Robert S. Waters Trust, to make this new community asset a reality,” said Mike Kane, Foundation executive director.
The first recipient of support from the Waters Economic Development Fund is the Johnstown Area Heritage Association (JAHA), which has been approved for a loan in the amount of $250,000 for work pursuant to the completion of Phase 1 of PNG Park.
“JAHA used a mix of Commonwealth and private funds to plan and develop PNG Park, and obtained bridge financing from a consortium of local banks. However, project financing did not cover necessary soft costs for design, construction administration, and signage. The Waters Economic Development Fund provided the critical missing piece of financing that JAHA needed to complete this important new community asset,” said Richard Burkert, JAHA president and CEO.
Project managers with interest in support from this Fund should first review its guidelines before submitting a full application. Initial queries should be made to Angie Berzonski, Program and Communications Officer.