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Governor Wolf takes walking tour of revitalization efforts in South Scranton

Governor Tom Wolf and Senator John Blake stop by Tortilleria El Buen Amigo, one of the local businesses that has opened up in South Scranton.

People trek Cedar Avenue every day, but today, there was a new kid on the block: Governor Tom Wolf.

He hoped to get a look at effective revitalization efforts by United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

"Years ago, this neighborhood, people would be afraid to walk down it, even during the day. Now crime rates are down, the residents are part of the redevelopment, they're very involved in this community. So it's really a lot of hopeful, hopeful things that have been happening," said United Neighborhoods Centers CEO Michael Hanley.

UNC is a nonprofit that has focused a lot of its community development work on this neighborhood, leveraging state, federal and private funds over the last decade, totaling more than $20 million dollars.

"I think it was kind of a bleak atmosphere. Not many people wanted to walk over here," said Suzette Wayman. She grew up in the neighborhood, and has come back since its gained new life in the last couple years.

"They're willing to do store fronts, we have a farmer's market on Saturday, all these buildings are redone. I mean, they're doing great things," she said.

"There were people here that just didn't care about the community, and they were all outside people that would come in and do whatever they wanted to do and leave. Now, you have people who really care about it here," said South Scranton resident Trevor Dennison.

And when the governor heads back to Harrisburg, he'll be taking home some fresh tortillas from Tortillera El Buen Amigo, one of the local stores that's popped up with the revitalization. But community leaders hope he takes ideas from South Scranton's innovation to transform with him as well.

"When you're doing a budget and you're sitting in your office and you see a line item on a budget, it's one thing. But when you can actually see the bricks and mortar, when you can see the faces of the people, and see first hand how that effects people, I think that makes a much bigger difference than just looking at numbers on a paper," said Hanley.

Governor Wolf said he was very impressed with the work by UNC.

"In Harrisburg, the idea is to try to support as much as we can the work of local areas and economic development, community development, and all the things you're seeing here," he said.

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