In case you missed it: This week’s good reads from Pennsylvania cities

     A fan dresses as Darth Vader for last Sunday's Eagles game.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

    A fan dresses as Darth Vader for last Sunday's Eagles game.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

    This week we look to the force of community initiatives in the Keystone State.

    “Always pass on what you have learned” – Yoda

    Not everyone aspires to a four year degree and during difficult financial times, a two-year community college can be a perfect fit. Erie is the fourth largest city in Pennsylvania, but doesn’t have a community college. Local universities are adapting to create two-year programs in order to fill skilled manufacturing jobs.

    While some employers provide on the job training, the University of Pittsburgh took an approach similar to Erie, opening a training center for manufacturing jobs.

    “Don’t get technical with me – C-3PO

    Pennsylvania has the second largest number of electric providers. Each provider is required to have a cyber security contingency plan that is secret and exempt from open records laws. The good news? No breaches so far. (WITF)

    Tech companies don’t have to be located in the expensive Silicon Valley, but many choose to stay. Workers are willing to pay for expensive housing and some employers are providing small incentives. Sharing ideas and workers is easier when they are all located in a compact community. (CityLab)

    “Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

    Section 8 vouchers are supposed to make finding a home easier for low income renters. The problem in Pittsburgh and other cities is that the value of the voucher doesn’t keep up with the rising cost of rent.

    From, 1986 to 2013, Pennsylvania opened 42,070 affordable housing units through HUD’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. The “affordability clause” requires that properties in the commonwealth remain affordable for 30 years. What happens when the clause expires? Since Pennsylvania already has a shortage of affordable housing and federal funds, there could be a problem.

    “I suggest a new strategy” – C-3PO

    Of the more than 70 Indego bike stations, 20 are in low income neighborhoods and accept cash as payment. Results of the “Better Bike Share” outreach are mixed. (PlanPhilly)

    A recent GAO report points to the need to dedicate resources for better road design and decreased distracted driving to increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists. (NextCity)

    A reverse congestion fee would be a disincentive for drivers and would pay cyclists with credit towards bike repairs and upgrades. Stockholm and France are experimenting with ways to wean drivers off of their cars and on to their bikes. (CityLab)

    “Your focus determines your reality”-Qui-Gon Jinn

    Act 47. Brownfields. Reinvention. Sometimes redevelopment spurs new economic development. That’s the hope for 150 acres surrounding the Carrie Furnace site in Rankin, Allegheny County.  The first step for Rankin is the opening of the Rankin Bridge on Monday. (WESA)This kind of reinvention worked for the Lehigh Valley’s SteelStacks and the Manayunk Bridge.

    May the force be with you this holiday season.

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