Crowd sourcing question: Should Spirit newspaper have gotten Penn Treaty funds?
I've got a question and I really want to get a feel for what local residents think.
Here's the deal, the Penn Treaty Special Services District (PTSSD) has granted more than $20,000 to the Spirit community newspaper to pay for new computers.
This is the first "for profit" company that has, so far, received any funding from the PTSSD, which is given a share of money every year from Sugarhouse casino, ostensibly to be used for the benefit of the entire community within the SSD's boundaries.
Now, full disclosure, I'm a reporter for the Star, a competing newspaper that covers the riverwards.
I'm on the fence with this issue.
I believe it's fair to say that a community newspaper does provide a valuable community service, however, why would this pot of community money - set aside for the benefit of the entire SSD - be handed over to one specific for-profit business?
Now, (and I'm sorry this is getting a little long winded), but I contacted the PTSSD board and they said they felt "the Spirit would be able to enhance the quality of life in the community with the addition of graphic design and journalism interns"
These are interns from local colleges - like Drexel and Temple - who would intern with that paper and could then freelance for the paper after graduation. However, these students aren't necessarily neighborhood residents and, is graphic design really a community benefit?
Finally, in other areas of the city where there are Special Services Districts, funds aren't given to single businesses - so, community newspapers in South Philly don't get funds from the stadiums' SSD - instead, funds have been used in marketing project in support of all businesses within the SSD.
So, here's my question....what do you think? Is this a good use of the community's casino money or is it simply handing funds meant for the public over to a private entity, indicating a potentially dangerous step in a direction away from the original intent of the SSD?
Any resident of the Northern Liberties, Fishtown and the rest of the SSD is welcome to comment. Please me know, I'd like to put something together for our paper next week.
Note: anything posted here could be included in an upcoming article.
Northeast Times and Star newspapers
Ummmm... $20k?!?! How many friggin' computers does a little newspaper need?!?! I know much larger publications that run on less than $20k worth of computers.
Sounds a little funky to me. Obviously, there is no shortage of community groups around here that can use the money. It would also most likely be better utilized by a community group, which would benefit more of thr community. Giving to a for-profit business doesn't seem reasonable. Especially the amount given. $20,000 for new computers is a bit much.
Yeah-when I did prepress, I think 6 publications were made from less than 10 computers.
Originally Posted by SeaLyons
Even in a major press room, there's absolutely no way that a place has to ride off of anything more than mac minis or iMacs. PC's? Even cheaper.
To answer the OP's original post-
I was on an SSD board for 8 years, and there are often grants dispersed from SSDs to small businesses. There is, however, generally an application and vetting process. Did the paper apply for the grant?
I also wondered about this grant. Here is the response I got from Kerry Auge, who is the Administrative Assistant.
"Per your email request, I've provided information below with regard to the grant funded to the Spirit. The Spirit's grant request was for $21,101 and was fully granted for new Mac computers. While the Board discussed the concerns with regard to granting money to a for profit entity, the decision to approve the grant was based wholly on the extensive ways in which the Spirit assists the community (as would a non-profit). Some of the MANY non-reimbursable benefits the Spirit offers the community include:donating free press/ads for many local non-profit organizations; acting as a hub for seniors and/or others without technology at home to use computers, fax machines, copiers;being a venue for local organization to sell tickets/shirts, etc.In addition, the Board felt strongly that the Spirit would be able to enhance the quality of life in the community with the addition of graphic design and journalism interns, for which the new computer systems were a necessary addition for these interns to function. The interns are students from Temple, Drexel, the University of the Arts and Moore College of Art that could potentially move into the community in future years."
Not too keen on the internships if they aren't going to be given to local students. The other things such as letting neighborhood people use the computers is good but I'm not sure how many people know about it. Until recently i lived around the corner from the Spirit and didn't know that they did these things.
I also asked where I could find more information about the projects that have been given grants but I am still waiting for that information.
As far as i know, all grants have to apply and present to the board.
Here's the info regarding who got what.
Welcome to the Penn Treaty Special Services District
I don't have a problem with the Spirit getting some of the money. Everyone has an oppurtunity to apply. I have more interest in why organizations (whom I'm sure do good work) NOT in the district get money? Maybe they do something in the district I'm not aware of.
Contact Info | The Travis Manion Foundation - "If not me, then who..."
Welcome to Back On My Feet
I hope its not sour grapes on the Stars part. They could still apply, maybe they could get it even if they're not located in the neighborhood.
Thanks for the replies everyone.
About Back on My Feet, I asked them about that and the group works with homeless members of the shelter on Girard - across from Milkcrate Cafe.
So, there is a neighborhood impact.
Also, I hope this isn't "sour grapes" but I understand how it could look that way.
Instead, I am more curious about the fact that the funds went to a for profit business.
To the user who had at one time been on an SSD board, where was the board and what type of businesses got funds? I've been reading up on the SSDs in Univercity City and in South Philly around the stadiums and I haven't seen a similar use of funds, as in, the funds were delivered to purchase equipment for a for profit business. Instead, I've seen things like a local business might get funds...but it's to clean and green an area or something similar.
Anyway, that's why I was asking. As a part of a competing newspaper, I might be too close to the issue to make a judgement. Getting input from residents like this, I thought, would really be the way to go.
Thanks for your input everybody,
Hayden - Hope all is well. I posted my response to the question on the Northern Liberties site. There are a few comments there as well.
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