HAZLETON -- Downtown Hazleton is getting a bit of a facelift. A multi-million dollar improvement project is already underway, and now the state is chipping in another $300,000.
Scaffolding along West Broad Street in Hazleton might keep some people from coming downtown, but all these changes are the reason Jake Ripa reopened his jewelry store right in the heart of the city.
“With the development you're just going to see it snowball into adding more businesses, adding more restaurants, adding more activities in the downtown, especially Hazleton,” owner of Ripa Jewelers Jake Ripa said.
As part of the renovation project, $300,000 was awarded to continue repairs on a building in downtown that will eventually be a business incubator. It should bring in even more jobs to the city.
“It's a resource for people who are looking to start a business but don't necessarily have an education or access to resources,” Executive Director of the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress Krista Schneider said.
There are five other buildings that are also being renovated in downtown that used to be vacant for years. Now, they'll be filled with an arts center, restaurants, and other businesses.
“There's a lot of office space being renovated and so we see this as a really good opportunity for people who are looking to start a business to kind of get a jump start on things,” Schneider said.
The spark of development in downtown is only good news for business owners like Jake Ripa.
“I think within the next 16-18 months you're going to see a lot more activity in the downtown and consequently you look forward to things. You don't look back and I think this is going to be perfect,” Ripa said.
The indoor renovations on the business incubator should be finished late this year.