By Joe Wiercinski
Herald Staff Writer
Northeast Industrial Manufacturing Inc., and Greenville-Reynolds Industrial Park have been working for the last several years to turn the former Damascus-Bishop brownfield into a greenfield employer, said Brad Gosser, director of operations for the industrial park in Pymatuning Township.
Tom Cusick, owner and president of Northeast Industrial Manufacturing Inc., has agreed to redevelop the 32-acre site owned by Bishop Tube Co., Homestead, Pa. It has stood vacant since Dec. 31, 2002, when Damascus-Bishop stopped stainless steel tubemaking operations, Gosser said.
The $5 million project involves demolishing sections of dilapidated buildings, renovating a 35,000-square-foot section that contains a neglected 10-ton crane, refurbishing the crane, reinstalling building wiring and upgrading plumbing and other infrastructure.
The state is supporting the project with a $2 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant. Northeast will provide the rest of the financing to buy the property and plans to return the building back to production by the end of 2014, Gosser said.
Northeast, of 640 Keystone Road in the park, produces a line of heavy-duty containers and other products such as custom-built Dumpsters and other equipment used in the scrap, recycling and construction-demolition industries.
“Everybody who drives past can see that it looks pretty bad,” Gosser said of the Bishop site at the northeast corner of state Route 18 and Kidds Mill Road. “When the weather breaks, we’ll be busy simultaneously with demolition and cleanup, sandblasting, painting and new construction.”
Gosser credited Cusick, who started Northeast about 20 years ago, for his commitment to the project and to local manufacturing.
“It has been a complicated process to work through,” he said. “We went through more than five years of a slow economic time but now that we’ve turned the corner, we’re excited to be at this point. We think this project will have an impact on the park and on the region.”
In addition to the grant, the state recently designated the site as a Keystone Opportunity Zone. Developments in a KOZ are eligible for state and local tax benefits in exchange for creating jobs.
Reynolds school directors, Pymatuning Township supervisors and Mercer County commissioners have approved agreements that call for local real estate taxes to be paid at current rates and the postponement of higher taxes on building improvements for 10 years, through 2023.
“We have never asked our municipalities to take a reduction,” Gosser said. “We like to try to keep our municipalities whole as we work to add new jobs to the local economy.”
State Rep. Mark Longietti, Hermitage, D-7th District, who wrote a letter of support for the grant application, said the developers submitted their business plan in March to Gov. Tom Corbett’s office.
“That last approval is the hardest one to get,” Longietti said. The site “now has the potential for occupancy and new job creation for our community, and I am gratified to have played a role in releasing that potential.”