The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

April 10, 2014

Developing interests

Gas-related businesses looking to build

MERCER COUNTY — Sitting squarely in the middle of the “gas action,” Mercer County is seeing significant interest from companies looking to build along interstates 79 and 80, as well as U.S. Route 19, according to Mercer County Commissioner Matt McConnell.

Without releasing the names of interested companies, McConnell said all the key players, including Mercer County Industrial Development Authority and Penn Northwest Development Corp., along with county and township officials and representatives from utility companies have all been fielding inquiries.

Along with the convenience of the interstates, the availability of locally welled gas also makes the county attractive, McConnell said, because companies wouldn’t have to pay to transport gas.

Those businesses that have expressed an interest are gas-related industries, distribution companies and other manufacturers whose product involves the use of natural gas, he added.

Randy Seitz, president of Penn Northwest, said many of the businesses checking out the county are doing so for a number of reasons, in particular the location and the availability of gas, but also the tax incentives, workforce and quality of life.

“To have access to a large quantity of gas, for a long time and at a low cost makes us a very attractive place,” Seitz said.

Additionally, a new law that limits the number of hours a trucker can drive before having to stop and rest often makes the county part of an ideal route for many businesses, he said.

“There’s been a lot of lead generation and inquires and that is some good news for us,” said Commissioner Chairman John Lechner, who added he’s impressed with the teamwork among the agencies.

“It’s working. Working like it should and in a way that I haven’t seen it work before. This started as a corridor study but it has really gone beyond that,” he said.

Lechner also said he was excited that the interest would lead to “good manufacturing jobs.”

He also mentioned eight to 10 potential developments at Grove City Premium Outlets that include a hotel and additional stores.

“There’s really some good stuff going on. I know we hear about companies moving out, but we have business moving in, too,” Lechner said.

Seitz said the county’s unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in eight years and he credits collaboration among the various agencies.

“The old way of doing things may have been secretive, talking just to a handful of people. Not anymore. I want us to be as transparent as possible. There’s no way we can convince a large number of businesses to move here by ourselves,” he said.

Currently, he said, talks are ongoing with a $16 billion-a-year company interested in moving to Mercer County.

And while all the interest is exciting, he said, the county still lacks some essential infrastructure. “Jamestown, for example, needs sewers. And while sewers are coming to the Interstate 80 and Route 19 interchange in 2016 that’s great, but we could’ve used them yesterday. We’re seeing tremendous growth out by the outlet mall, but water and sewer service is not keeping pace. We have 10 companies that could land out there if we have the infrastructure in place.”

‘Make it in Mercer County’ by the numbers

8

Months since this year’s marketing campaign began

760

Leads on business opportunities

65

Proposals sent out by Penn Northwest Development

13

Site visits to Mercer County by interested developers

2

Companies that have committed to locating in Mercer County

47

Number of volunteers used by Penn Northwest to attract Noise Solutions Inc. to Sharon

Source: Penn Northwest Development Corp.

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