Can anyone remember the last time Shamokin received $3 million for economic improvements?
We can’t either.
Thursday’s announcement organized by Sen. John Gordner and Rep. Kurt Masser outside of the former Jones Hardware building in downtown Shamokin is a breath of fresh air for the community.
One million dollars of state taxpayer money will be gifted to the Keystone Healthcare Development Corp., a nonprofit known for leasing properties to Geisinger, for a multi-story medical facility on Independence Street, while private businessman Andy Twiggar, of Bethlehem-based Dunn-Twiggar Co., is receiving $2 million for three projects in the city.
Twiggar was light on details during an interview after the press conference, but information released by the state indicate the money will be going towards two hotel projects and a redevelopment of the former F&S Brewery property to potentially become a brewpub.
The News-Item praises the efforts of Gordner, Masser, local politicians and businessmen for bringing this taxpayer money to Shamokin. The funds, distributed through the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, could have been given to other projects in the state, but clearly Northumberland County came out a winner Thursday.
Looking at the bigger picture, however, brings up a few questions.
Why is the government giving $2 million of taxpayer money to a successful real estate developer for his own private business endeavors?
Twiggar is a native of the area and undoubtedly has good intentions — he shouldn’t be knocked for applying for the grant — but the ideology of giving taxpayer money to private business is a questionable one.
The influx of business and jobs to the area is something that is sorely needed and we are appreciative of it. However, if the improvements were being built 300 miles away with the help of taxpayer money would we feel the same way?
It’s important to remember — when there are winners, there are also losers.