BEDFORD COUNTY, Pa (WTAJ)– Senator Bob Casey made a pit stop in Bedford to announce that $250,000 in federal funding would be rewarded to the Russell House Business and Education Center.
The announcement was made on Monday, August 15.
This Russell House Business and Education Center is part of the historic Russell House renovation project. The space will create an opportunity for entrepreneurs, non-profits and students to collaborate on their business ventures.
Casey, along with members of Bedford County Chamber Foundation and Chamber of Commerce, held a press conference to announce the funding and the renovation. In addition, Casey went on a tour of the upstairs area, where the space will be.
This federal funding is the first time in a decade that federal dollars are being put towards a community project. Casey noted in his speech how getting this funding is complex, but he saw the Russell Project as a priority and deserving of those dollars.
“This had to meet a high bar and a high bar as it should be for taxpayer investment,” Casey said. “But I’m grateful that the people in Bedford County can benefit from this $250,000 federal investment.”
Project Lead and board member of Bedford County Chamber Foundation Tim Weaverling said it’s an honor that Senator Casey is granting them these funds. He believes this will help the county’s future with economic development and growth.
“Getting this federal money from Senator Casey’s office will take us so much down the road,” Weaverling said. “I think we were one of the first projects on his list to fund, and to us, that’s immeasurable.”
The renovations on the third floor are budgeted for $1.5 million. It aims to have those in Bedford County come to share ideas and resources about starting a business.
The next goal is to have businesses possibly rent spaces on the house’s second floor to create jobs and diversify the business community.
“We want to provide that space for entrepreneurs, and I think it’ll attract people, and it’ll also help retain people from leaving our great county,” Weaverling said.
Casey also noted the importance of the area and what it can do for entrepreneurs.
“The jobs that will be created because of the space available here because of the economic dynamism that will flow from the engagement undertaken here,” Casey said. “The entrepreneurial spirit that will be nurtured in this house.”
The Russell House was built in 1816, where it was the home of James McPherson Russell. It then served at Pate Funeral Home and county government offices before turning to the Chamber in 2017.
The renovation’s goal is to preserve as much of the building’s historical aspects as possible.
“I think we’ll do as much as we can to preserve that because that shows how things from the past grew to the future,” Weaverling said. “It’s almost like what we’re trying to do with the collaborative space. Here’s your past now; let’s grow to the future.”
The center hopes to be completed by 2024.