Erie County is at a crossroads. Thousands of residents have been laid off from its once largest employer. Corporations have relocated to more promising regions. The poverty rate is four percent higher than the state average; the unemployment rate of young people under age 25 is three times higher than the national average. Residents have watched countless citizens leave for better opportunities while welcoming an influx of new Americans and fighting to save Erie’s public schools, countywide rural communities, small- and medium-size businesses, and its waterfront urban center.
Erie cannot return to its historic manufacturing base—those days are past. It must continue the work local leaders and investors have recently begun of harnessing its strengths and forging a more advanced, more globally competitive economic future. Local share gaming revenue is at the heart of this evolution.
Since 2008, the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority (ECGRA) has strategically invested more than $38.8 million of gaming funds in education, workforce development, neighborhood and municipal innovation, inner-city renewal, business growth, and community and cultural assets. ECGRA is also engaging like-minded business, nonprofit, education, and government leaders, bolstering the economy and fueling a renaissance in ways never anticipated.
ECGRA’s innovative use of funding is helping deliver on the legislative promise made when lawmakers enacted Pennsylvania’s Racehorse Development and Gaming Act in 2004. This report speaks volumes in support of gaming revenue recipients being made whole and maintaining local control.