City of Scranton Honors First Woman to Serve as City Councilmember

At the Scranton City Council meeting on January 23, Mayor Paige G. Cognetti and City Councilmembers issued a proclamation honoring Grace O’Malley Schimelfenig, the first woman to serve as a Scranton City Councilmember in the City’s history. Officials wanted to pay tribute to her legacy of trailblazing paths for women to participate and lead in local government.

Grace O’Malley Schimelfenig was elected to the Scranton City Council in 1974, and she served a four-year term as a member of the Community Development Committee. She led her party’s eight-candidate race with the most votes – 7,658 – in the general election.

For decades, Schimelfenig advocated for women in professional spaces, having served as a Board Member for the Lackawanna Commission for Women, former President of American Women in Radio and TV, the women’s division of the National Association of Broadcasters, and former President and Woman of the Year of the American Business Women’s Association. She also worked at WVIA-TV/FM and later served as the Borough Manager of Old Forge, PA, and Fiscal Assistant for the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

“It is essential that we recognize the women who paved the way in our city’s civic history,” said Mayor Cognetti. “Grace’s legacy merits recognition, and it is clear from her time on our City Council and record of public service that she is a powerful example for women wanting to be involved in their community and shape Scranton’s trajectory.”

Schimelfenig’s legacy has also had a direct impact on her family. Her daughter, Mari Pizur, is a proud member of the Rotary Club of Scranton. Pizur connected with Mayor Cognetti at a separate proclamation event for World Polio Day, and they realized the importance of celebrating her mom’s accomplishments and contributions to the city with this proclamation.

“We would like to thank the City of Scranton for recognizing our mom’s accomplishments,” said Pizur. “My brother and I were teenagers when she ran for City Council, and we didn’t realize until we were older that she was a trailblazer. She was just our mother.”

National Night Out Against Crime Campaign with Scranton PD

The City of Scranton is proud to be presenting National Night Out Against Crime Campaign for 2023. The goal is to promote both law enforcement and community involvement in combating crime. This event invites the citizens of Scranton to come out and enjoy a safe and crime-free night in their community.

On Tuesday, August 1, at 6:00 pm the Scranton Police Department will celebrate a night out against crime at the Scranton High School with a large festival for every resident of Scranton to enjoy. Again, the Scranton Police Department, as well as other law enforcement and community service agencies, will provide displays of their programs for the residents to see and experience. The purpose of this event is to educate the community and provide citizens with information on services available to them as well as build community confidence and pride. There will also be refreshments and entertainment provided to all in attendance at no cost.

To present National Night Out, we need your help. These projects could not happen without the financial assistance and sponsorship of businesses and organizations within our community. If you would like to donate, any donations made to National Night Out are tax deductible. The advertising pledge will not be used as a political contribution or support political activity in any way.

If you would like to participate, the National Night Out Committee would welcome you or anyone from your organization to join us in the festivities at Scranton High School. Please feel free to attend and become involved in this great event. We will provide a station (table and chairs) so you may promote your specific organization to our community.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at (570) 558-8304. Thank you for your consideration on this matter.

The Chamber Launches 2023 Educator in the Workplace Program

Scranton, PA—Skills in Scranton, The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce’s workforce development affiliate organization, welcomed 26 participants to the 2023 Educator in the Workplace Program.

Educator in the Workplace seeks to enhance classroom instruction, student learning, and career readiness for the workplace of today and tomorrow by connecting educators and school board directors with local business and industry leaders.

The 26 educators will participate in at least five one-day virtual and in-person learning sessions.

What are program participants doing?

  • Participating in and exploring career pathways in local businesses and industries
  • Interacting directly with business community leaders, gaining insight into the skills students need to succeed in their future careers
  • Establishing connections to business and industry leaders in Lackawanna County’s leading and emerging industry sectors
  • Learning about local businesses and employment opportunities

“Educator in the Workplace seeks to align and connect business and industry leaders with local school districts, the career and technical center, and the local intermediate unit,” said Amy Luyster, Vice President. “Program participants are provided experiences interacting directly with industry and business leaders to learn about industry trends, needs, and opportunities to enhance their classroom instruction, student learning, and career readiness.

This program is partly funded by the City of Scranton American Rescue Plan (ARPA) Non-Profit Covid Relief Grant and sponsored by Pennsylvania American Water and the Scranton Area Community Foundation.

The Wright Center Awarded Trio of Grants From City of Scranton

The Wright Center for Community Health recently received three grant awards from the city of Scranton as part of a distribution of federal funds to promote residents’ recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scranton awarded a total of about $1 million in wellness grants to nearly two-dozen area nonprofits. City officials focused this round of grant giving on three categories: drug overdose prevention, behavioral health and violence prevention, and wellness.

The Wright Center – a Scranton-based provider of primary health care and preventive services – is active in all three of the targeted categories and was chosen to receive a combined $145,000 in grant support. The organization will inject those public resources into three ongoing programs to benefit patients, health care providers, and the larger community.

The first award, to be used for overdose and prevention programs, will enable The Wright Center for Community Health to further engage community partners and patients in the services of its state-designated Opioid Use Disorder Center of Excellence. A portion of the $50,000 grant will provide community training on the topics of substance use disorder, medication-assisted treatment, and stigma surrounding addiction. Among the intended recipients of the educational  sessions are law enforcement professionals, first responders, and government officials. This grant also will assist with harm reduction and long-term recovery support services in the region, which aim to reduce fatal overdoses.

The second award of $50,000 will be used to enhance The Wright Center for Community Health’s existing resiliency and wellness programming. Its Lifestyle Medicine service line will be integrated more fully into primary health care services, with the intent of engaging more high-risk patients in programs designed to help them positively adjust their behaviors. A prime focus will be on treating obesity as a chronic disease that contributes to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, cancer, and overall premature death.

The third award, in the amount of $45,000, will underwrite The Wright Center’s participation in a training program conducted by the New York-based Sanctuary Institute to promote employee wellness and create a supportive, trauma-informed environment for the benefit of the organization’s workforce, patients, and the broader community. The institute’s training model is seen by many as a needed antidote to the intensified pressure on health care workers and others brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scranton’s mayor announced the wellness grant distributions at a news conference on Nov. 22. The funds are part of $68.7 million that Scranton had received through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to address the pandemic’s economic and health-related fallout on city residents.

All applications were reviewed by the city, including by its public health coordinator, Dr. Rachna Saxena, and compliance consultants from Anser Advisory to ensure that organizations were not receiving duplicate federal benefits, per the guidelines set by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Applications were also reviewed for project sustainability, service to city residents, and more.

“The thoughtful and generous allocation of American Rescue Plan Act funds by Scranton City Council will support our mission-driven efforts to improve the health and well-being of the patients and communities we humbly serve,” said Dr. Linda Thomas-Hemak, president and CEO of The Wright Centers for Community Health and Graduate Medical Education.

“Thanks to our local and federal officials,” she said, “these resources will help us to expand and augment our ongoing efforts to address the opioid epidemic and empower recovery, our resiliency and wellness programming, and trauma-informed training for our governing board, executive management, health care providers, interprofessional learners, and patients.”

The Wright Center for Community Health operates a network of primary care practices in Northeast Pennsylvania, three located in the city, providing access to affordable, nondiscriminatory, high-quality services including medical, dental, and behavioral health care. The nonprofit enterprise also maintains an administrative and educational hub in Scranton’s South Side neighborhood.

Small Business Microgrants Grant Program (CDBG)

The City of Scranton, in conjunction with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at The University of Scranton, announce the CDBG Small Business Micro-Grant Program for new or early-stage businesses located in Scranton’s low-moderate-income demographic areas (LMA). Funds, ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 per business, will assist with start-up costs, thus contributing to their initial success and continued revitalization of our community.

New and newly established is defined as businesses opened for business within the last 12 months or planning to open within 9 months of application. Business Owner must be or have worked with SBDC at The University of Scranton to complete a business education series and/or business consultation. Final applications must include a referral form from the SBDC at The University of Scranton.

Eligible Uses of FUNDS
• Inventory
• Procurement of machinery, furniture, fixtures and equipment
• Working/Operating capital (not to include interest or finance charges)
o Defined working/operating capital – Utilities, rent, business services (accounting, IT, website development)

Ineligible or Restricted Uses of Funds:
• The repayment of existing debt
• Employee/owner payroll taxes
• Reimbursement of costs incurred prior to loan/grant award
• Reimbursement for interest charges or finance changes of any kind with no exceptions
• Political or religious activities
• Lobbying any governmental entity

Interested in Applying:
If you are interested in learning more and applying for this program, please email Tricia Zilaitis tzilaitis@scrantonpa.gov who will email you the application.

Payroll Prep Tax Information

When the City of Scranton was declared a financially distressed municipality pursuant to the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act, Act 47 of 1987, as amended, (Act 47) it was authorized to levy a payroll preparation tax in lieu of the City’s business privilege tax and mercantile tax. On December 14, 2021, Scranton City Council adopted ordinance File of the Council No. 95 repealing the City of Scranton’s business privilege tax and mercantile tax and authorizing the levy of a payroll preparation tax to begin on January 1, 2022.

WAIVER OF INTEREST AND PENALTIES THROUGH JUNE 30, 2022
In the interest of assisting City’s businesses as they prepare their initial Payroll Preparation Tax return, on May 24, 2022, Scranton City Council approved Resolution No. 79 which provides a one-time waiver of the interest and penalties that would otherwise be due from June 1, 2022, through June 30, 2022. This, in practical terms, extends the due date from May 31, 2022, to June 30, 2022, of a business’s initial Payroll Preparation Tax return.

Read more about the Payroll Prep Tax on the City’s website.

Partners Announce the 2022 Edition of Scranton City Pride Cleanups & Plantings

After a strong first year of joint planning and programming, Scranton City Pride clean-ups and plantings are returning to the Electric City for 2022. Organizers are pleased to announce the weeklong event will take place in neighborhoods throughout the City, and the Downtown Business District, thanks to a partnership between Scranton Tomorrow, NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania, and the City of Scranton. Scranton City Pride will be held, June 4 through 12, in conjunction with national NeighborWorks Week.

Representatives from all three partnering organizations gathered this afternoon at Scranton Tomorrow’s office on Linden Street in Downtown Scranton to share the exciting news. Guest speakers included: Leslie Collins, President and CEO, Scranton Tomorrow; Jesse Ergott, President and CEO, NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania; Michael Gilmartin, Chairperson, Scranton Tomorrow Board of Directors; Eileen Cipriani, Director, Office of Community Development City of Scranton ; and Teddy Michel, Vice Chairperson, NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania Board of Directors.

“The success of our Scranton Tomorrow and NeighborWorks collaboration is an example of the power of partnerships,” Collins said. “Our joint venture has allowed us to reestablish the campaign in the downtown business district and our neighborhoods in every section of the City. This year’s programming ranges from cleanups to beautification, and inclusive and creative service projects. We are so grateful for this collaboration, and we invite everyone in the community to take pride in our City, and join us.”

With an increased interest in volunteer opportunities from their supporters, and national NeighborWorks Week taking place in early June, Scranton City Pride has found a natural fit for NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania.

City of Scranton Launches Online Permitting and Licensing Portal

Mayor Paige G. Cognetti announced that the City of Scranton has officially launched a new online permitting and licensing portal powered by cloud software provider OpenGov. The City is now inviting residents to apply for a select group of permits and licenses online via the new online service portal, accessible HERE. Over the next few months, more permit and license types will be added to the portal.

When the City of Scranton decided to make the transition to online permitting, its primary goal was to move away from a long-standing paper-based process. Along with streamlining internal processes, residents will experience convenient self-service, the ability to track, manage, and converse about applications in a single portal, and conditional forms that will improve application accuracy and reduce application time. Applicants will be able to print their permits and licenses from home and receive email notifications updating them when there are changes to their applications.

This move is part of a greater transformation of the City’s IT platform, which is rooted around four core applications: OpenGov Financials, OpenGov Citizen Services, NeoGov, and Cartegraph which will individually be utilized to modernize the City of Scranton’s Financial, License and Permitting, HR, and Fleet Management systems throughout 2022.

The City will continue accepting paper applications for the time being. The City will also maintain its current payment methods but will be moving to online payments soon.

“We are pleased to announce the launch of the city’s new online permitting and licensing portal powered by OpenGov’s Citizen Services Suite,” said Mayor Cognetti. “Maintaining long-standing, outdated processes is not a viable option for a modern city. Our taxpayers demand better services and replacing the City’s operating technology is an opportunity to change in how we meet our constituents’ needs and, especially with improved permitting services, support our economic development efforts.”

For additional help applying online, you can come to the front office in City Hall when it is open to the public, or you can go to the Scranton Public Library. The library offers free access to computers and trained library staff to assist patrons one-on-one. In the near future, the Library will offer free classes to teach the public how to use the Citizen Portal. These classes will be held in the library’s Technology Lab and taught by the computer instructor. Community members can reach the library by calling (570) 348-3000.

Email ahallock@scrantonpa.gov with questions.

You’re Invited: Scranton Economic Development Town Hall

The City of Scranton is developing a Strategic Economic Development Plan which will serve as an actionable and forward-looking vision to build upon the initiatives already underway throughout Scranton. The City and their partners at Fourth Economy Consulting are taking a stakeholder driven approach to the planning process by incorporating numerous community engagement opportunities, including one-on-one interviews and small group discussions. 

A summary of the team’s key quantitative and qualitative findings to-date can be found here.

In December, Fourth Economy hosted a series of Build Sessions – interactive workshops where community stakeholders came together to brainstorm and build solutions that will shape the Strategic Economic Development Plan. The workshops covered the following topic areas:

  • Industry
  • Talent Attraction & Retention
  • Community Identity & Neighborhood Reinvestment
  • Infrastructure
  • Housing

As follow up, the City of Scranton and Fourth Economy will be hosting a town hall meeting to share outputs from the Build Sessions and gather feedback on the initiatives that have been identified to date and insights into what may be still outstanding.

You’re invited to participate in this Town Hall on Thursday, January 20 at 8:30 a.m. It will be a virtual session open only to our collective membership. 

Once you register, you will receive a confirmation email with a calendar invite.