(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Governor Wolf visited Erie Thursday to highlight a $5 million state investment that will be used to help expand the expERIEnce Children’s Museum in downtown Erie.

The $5 million state investment, through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP), will help the museum to build a three-story, 19,000-square-foot addition in an adjacent vacant lot.

A new outdoor area will also allow for open-air programs.

Since Gov. Wolf took office, 34 projects in Erie County have been awarded $80 million in RACP funding.

“expERIEnce Children’s Museum has been an anchor of downtown Erie for more than two decades, providing a safe, innovative space for children to learn, create, and play,” stated Gov. Wolf. “The museum has made a difference in the lives of countless children by preparing them for a life of innovation, creation, and exploration. Those are the skills kids need for a life of success and I’m proud to invest in institutions that lay the foundation for a brighter future.”

“We are deeply honored to have received state funding and recognition of expERIEnce Children’s Museum’s role as a trusted community resource,” said Ainslie Brosig, executive director, expERIEnce Children’s Museum. “We are so grateful to the governor for this grant, which will enable us to expand our reach in providing a safe, family-centered educational experience that inspires creativity, exploration, and imagination through play, interactive exhibits, and innovative programming.”

The funding will also help the museum renovate 14,000 square feet of its 100-year-old building to improve its infrastructure and make it more accessible and energy efficient.

“We, at the city, are really excited that the ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum was awarded a $5 million state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant,” said Mayor ​Joe Schember. “The Children’s Museum is an incredible resource for our community and for the downtown, and this funding is going to enable them to expand and grow to a whole new level. Our thanks go out to Governor Wolf and his team for seeing the value in this project and believing in Erie.”

Watch the full news conference in the player below

According to the governor’s office, an economic analysis conducted last year reported the renovated museum could bring up to $10.4 million in economic output and support 171 total jobs annually.

“We are grateful for the governor’s support of the expERIEnce Children’s Museum project through the RACP program and the lasting impact this funding will have on children in our region,” said Tim NeCastro, president and chief executive officer of Erie Insurance and chair of the museum’s capital campaign. “Our campaign team set an ambitious fundraising goal from the start because we believe families in Erie deserve the best that a children’s museum can offer them. This project is also an important part of a renaissance happening in downtown Erie, a city benefitting from unprecedented investment and partnership with the public sector and well on its way to becoming a vibrant place for all to live, work and play.”

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The Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program funds support critical expansion projects, providing opportunities for additional employment training, job creation and community services across the commonwealth.