HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Governor Edward G. Rendell has announced that new investments totaling $2.5 million will be made to benefit Pennsylvania's tourism and agriculture industries.

"Pennsylvania's economy continues to grow, but it is not happening by accident," said Governor Rendell. "We are making strategic investments in key industries to provide new opportunities, improve our economic competitiveness, and support the revitalization of our communities.

"Agriculture and tourism are two of our most important industries and these projects will have an impact across the state. Nearly one million people work in agriculture and nearly 460,000 work in tourism. From the development of a new tourist destination in Berks County to the creation of a digester facility in Blair and Bedford counties, our investments and economic policies are driving Pennsylvania in the right direction."

The projects, approved by the Commonwealth Financing Authority, will receive a total of $2.5 million. Since last year, the CFA has approved more than $25 million for 170 projects throughout the commonwealth.

The $150 million First Industries Fund is a vital part of the Governor's economic stimulus package, and is administered by the Commonwealth Financing Authority. The program provides grants, loans and loan guarantees to businesses in the agriculture and tourism industries.

Here are two examples of projects receiving grants approved by the CFA:

Freymoyer Farm in Berks County will receive a $75,900 tourism planning grant to transform its 120-acre tree farm into an overnight lodging and commercial wingshooting operation for outdoor enthusiasts, hunters, and tourists. The facility will offer various activities including upland bird and dear hunting, guided fly- fishing and instruction, escorted birding and hiking, and float trips on the Schuylkill River. The funds will be used for economic feasibility studies, habitat restoration and design, architecture, zoning, engineering and marketing strategies.

In Blair and Bedford counties, the Cove Area Regional Digester Project will receive a $75,500 agricultural planning grant to conduct a wastewater handling and disposal analysis and a site development study for a digester to be built in North Woodbury Township. Upon completion, the digester will treat, process and dewater manure to produce a viable product that could be used for bedding, greenhouse potting soil and soiling amendments. The funds will be used to determine the feasibility of developing the project in the selected site. The entire project cost is estimated at $20 million.

For guidelines and more information on the First Industries Fund and other economic stimulus programs, go online or call 1-866-GO-NEWPA (1-866-466-3972).

SOURCE: Pennsylvania Office of the Governor via PR Newswire.