By Joe Wiercinski
Herald Staff Writer
A Winner Cos. warehouse in the North Flats of Sharon is on its way to conversion into a manufacturing plant offering more than 100 new jobs.
The multi-million dollar investment by a manufacturer from Canada whose products include equipment for the oil and gas drilling industry has been on the fast track in recent months, said Randy Seitz, president and chief executive officer of Penn Northwest Development Corp., Coolspring Township.
Seitz and others involved in putting together the sale of the property bounded by Vine Avenue, Mill and Franklin streets and Alexander Place would not identify the company whose representatives will be in town next week to work on final details.
“All the major terms and conditions have been agreed on and approved,” said Jack Campbell, corporate counsel for Winner Cos. “It’s just a matter of the attorneys working out the language.”
Neither Campbell nor Ron McCall, local attorney representing the Canadian firm, would specify the sale price of the 55,000-square-foot building at 420 Vine Ave.
Seitz pegged the company’s annual revenues at $14 million to $18 million and said it hopes to begin operating the local plant around the end of August.
“This company provides support services and equipment to the oil and gas industry,” Seitz said. “They will be investing $10 million in Mercer County and employ about 150 people with average wages of about $35,000 a year.”
Mercer County CareerLink, the state’s employment office on West State Street downtown, is accepting applications for the jobs the company needs to fill, Seitz said.
“This is something that will have a large, long-term impact on Mercer County’s economy,” Seitz said.
Sharon City Council on Thursday started the process to vacate the Alexander Place parcel the company wants to develop. The project includes tennis courts owned by Pennsylvania State University, which has been asked to sell the property.
Dr. Fred Leeds, chancellor of the Shenango Campus, said he has submitted the request to University Park, noting that the courts have not been used for eight or nine years. The Penn State parcel includes the courts and other land that amounts to about half of a city block.
Leeds said any decision to sell the land would ultimately be considered by Penn State’s board of trustees.
Seitz estimated the size of the entire parcel for the development at about 3 acres, including the warehouse parcel, Penn State land and Alexander Place.
Seitz and City Manager Scott Andrejchak credited a team of 45 volunteers from local businesses, government agencies and others who met in long work sessions to help bring the project to this point.
“One of our partners is the Shenango Valley Enterprise Zone,” Seitz said. “There are funding requests to go to their board. Penn Northwest is funding a part of the project, so our committee has to meet and there is bank financing.”
Seitz said details of a package of local and state incentives requested by the company would be disclosed later.
Andrejchak cited the development as a huge step forward for the city.
“We’re all excited about getting a new company in Sharon,” he said. “Council and I are grateful to Randy Seitz and the team that Penn Northwest put together to bring more jobs to the community.”