SHARON, FARRELL – A $600,000 grant has been awarded to a local agency that could pave the way for future industrial development along the Shenango Valley’s key industrial corridor.
“The grant could allow us to open up tracks of land for industrial and commercial development,’’ said Gary Dovey, vice president of business development for Penn-Northwest Development Corp.
Penn-Northwest, Mercer County’s lead economic development agency, was awarded the grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which is funneled through the state, he said.
The area to be tested, better known as the Broadway corridor, starts in Sharon on Sharpsville Avenue, runs down Dock Street through Farrell then stops near Church Street in Wheatland.
Testing on Sharpsville Avenue won’t include the former Westinghouse Electric plant since it falls under the federal Superfund program, Dovey said.
“But it does allow us to test on the opposite side of the street,’’ he said.
As part of the program, preliminary testwork, known as a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment, will be conducted on the soil. If a test reveals contaminants, there will be a more detailed study then, if necessary, a cleanup.
“If anything shows up that might threaten development, we would go after additional grants or loans for environmental remediation,’’ Dovey said.
When land is given a clean bill of health, it makes it far easier to sell the property, he added.
“It eliminates any risk for development,’’ Dovey said. “In the past, a company might come in and look at a property and be a little scared to build there.’’
Property along the corridor in Farrell that is owned by NLMK Pennsylvania will be included in the test since the steelmaker is looking to expand its operations.
Testing is scheduled to begin later this year and to be completed by 2021.
“We’ll be partnering with businesses and communities in developing the area,’’ Dovey said.