Large employer considers locating in Pa. industrial park

Posted: Tuesday, February 3, 2015 6:22 pm | Updated: 6:31 pm, Tue Feb 3, 2015.

Feb 3, 2015 by Jennifer Fitch

ZULLINGER, Pa. — Another large employer is eyeing Wharf Road Industrial Park as a place to build a plant, according to a leading Franklin County developmentofficial.

If the business chooses to develop Lot One and bring more than 100 employees to the industrial park in Washington Township, Pa., it would join Pacemaker Press PP&S Inc. and Fil-Tec Inc. as new tenants.

“We’re working with someone, but there have not been any commitments made,” Franklin County Area Development Corp. President L. Michael Ross said Tuesday.

He declined to identify the company.

Ross said his office is working to put together a financial package with low-interest loans and grants to offer the business.

He said one partner could be Pennsylvania’s Governor’s Action Team.

The Waynesboro (Pa.) Industrial Development Corp. is also asking the Waynesboro Area School District to extend tax incentives through a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Abatement, or LERTA, program.

LERTA designations allow eligible property owners to receive tax savings for 10 years after making improvements to a property.

Lot One, which is adjacent to CAM Superline Inc., would be a good fit for LERTA incentives because of challenges associated with doing construction on that land, Ross said.

He pointed to the significant site work that would be required due to the slope.

“To create a lot that is buildable will take a lot of work,” Ross said.

Meanwhile, another company also appears to be considering making Wharf Road Industrial Park its home. The Washington Township Planning Commission is scheduled to review an expansion of an existing building off Zane A. Miller Drive.

The 12-lot Wharf Road Industrial Park comprises 121 acres of the former Bromley orchard. In 1999, former state Sen. Terry Punt, R-Franklin/Adams/York, secured a $900,000 grant that financed the industrial park’s infrastructure.

Construction is under way for both Fil-Tec and Pacemaker Press PP&S.

Fil-Tec makes fiber-related products such as dental floss, while Pacemaker Press PP&S is a commercial web-printing company.

Together, they have the potential to bring nearly 100 jobs to the community in the next three years, according to published reports.

Ross envisions Wharf Road Industrial Park as a place where 300 to 400 people soon will be working each day. He said that the employment levels might spur the opening of a new restaurant or small businesses nearby

Former Scotland School campus open to development Greene Township OKs land use changes for commercial, residential uses

By Jim Hook @JimHookPO on Twitter UPDATED: 02/02/2015 06:55:23 PM EST

CHAMBERSBURG >> The door is open for the owners of the former Scotland School for Veterans Children to bring in hundreds of residential students as well as small shops and residential development. David Newell, president and CEO of Scotland Campus, said the organization is free to forge the relationships that can make opportunities a reality. Greene Township supervisors passed zoning changes. Ohio-based Winebrenner Theological Seminary has transferred the property to the nonprofit Scotland Campus Inc. Both Scotland Campus and Winebrenner are part of the Churches of God General Conference family of ministries. Winebrenner will lease space from Scotland Campus and continue to expand its programming, Newell said. The strategic change fulfills Winebrenner’s original plan for the 185 acres, according to Newell. It puts decision making and management of development in local hands. “To say we are a property management company is far too simplistic,” he said. “The scope of our work includes property management, development and a multitude of additional functions.” Scotland Campus, founded in 2012, will be responsible for starting educational opportunities and bringing parties together with complementary interests, Newell said. Newell’s announcement follows the resolution of zoning issues for the property. Greene Township supervisors on Jan 27 revised the township zoning ordinance allowing for more uses in an agricultural residential (AR) district specifically for reusing the former SSVC. The campus had been zoned low-density residential, and Winebrenner in August sought a change to community commercial so small shops and services might locate there. Neighbors objected to the proposal. The former Scotland School, founded in 1895, predated the township zoning ordinance. Winebrenner in June 2013 purchased the vacant residential school from Pennsylvania. Supervisors elected to change the township ordinance and allow a “higher learning campus” of at least 50 acres with dining, housing and other facilities for students in an AR district. “We are grateful for the help, cooperation and diligence put into the zoning changes on the part of the township,” Newell said. The change also allows for many school services to be open to the general public: fitness centers, health spas, salons and barber shops, massage therapy businesses, small restaurant and ballroom facilities, campus offices, conference and performing arts centers, thrift shops, bakeries, banks and laundries. Other “expanded uses” open to the public require township approval and are dependent on the continued presence of the school: • Business and professional services. • Veterinary clinics. • Art studios. • Repair services, including indoor vehicle repair. • Restaurants without drive-throughs. • Day care centers. • Small retail shops. • Military veterans centers. “We have several areas in which collaborative arrangements will benefit not only the campus, but the community as well,” Newell said. “Prior to the zoning change, we were not free to pursue them. We have been working closely with Shippensburg University to provide the college level courses. Once again, there is interest in serving veterans on the campus.” He said Scotland Campus will focus on Christian education, conferences, events and retreats, banquets and catering, property rental, concerts and business support services. Kristanny Food Service and Catering has opened at Scotland Campus. The local company is supplying meals to Korean students living on campus and is available for weddings, class reunions and business functions. Newell said that Scotland Campus, Broadfording Christian School of Hagerstown, Md., and Global Vision Christian School of Eumseong, South Korea, are negotiating an agreement that will bring 400 to 600 international high school students to live at the Scotland Campus. Some high school students will enroll in college classes. “We are in the early stages of a capital campaign to fund major infrastructure improvements as well as the renovation of structures that will help us achieve our objectives,” Newell said. “We have begun scheduling a series of events, weddings, banquets and retreats.” For more information visit or call the office at 717-552-2220. Jim Hook can be reached at (717) 262-4759.

Danish company acquires Chambersburg manufacturer

Staff report

UPDATED:   12/15/2014 03:09:03 PM EST

CHAMBERSBURG >> A Danish company has acquired a Chambersburg manufacturer.

Vacon, which makes drives used to control speed in electrical motors, is now part of the Danfoss Group.

In September, Denmark-based Danfoss announced a public tender offer to acquire all the shares of Finland-based Vacon in a $1.34 billion deal.

By the end of November, Danfoss obtained approvals from all the relevant authorities, and has now acquired more than 90 percent of Vacon shares and voting rights in Vacon.

Vacon acquired the drive business from TB Woods, opening a new state-of-the-art manufacturing center on Nitterhouse Drive, Chambersburg, in 2009.

The combination of Vacon and Danfoss will create one of the world’s leading players in the drives market, leveraging the best of the two companies.

“The clear ambition is to be a leading player in the drives market. We see that true value is created together. This is why we will create a new business, where people work together to develop the best products, applications and services for our customers,” said Niels B. Christiansen, president and CEO of Danfoss.

“Combining two strong and innovative AC drives companies will give customers an even more competitive, innovative and attractive offering of AC drives. Joining forces also means that the new business will be able to invest further in both research and development and in the sales force, which is a key success factor in our business,” said Vesa Laisi, president and CEO of Vacon.

Laisi will be the president of the new business segment, named Danfoss Drives.

“The dedicated drives focus unites both Vacon and Danfoss and distinguishes the two companies from competitors. Vesa has spent most of his career in the drives industry and he possesses very deep insights into the business. He will use this experience to guarantee world-leading product portfolio and customer service,” Christiansen said.

Danfoss also announces a reorganization of the rest of the group. The closing of the Vacon deal now paves the way for establishing four strong and global segments, the company said in a statement.

“Today, we have very strong businesses and with the new structure, we can unite these in even stronger entities to further strengthen our market positions. This is the right outset for the next part of our strategic journey with a strong focus on growth,” says Niels B. Christiansen.

Letterkenny Army Depot gets $16M for expansion

By Jim Hook @JimHookPO on Twitter

UPDATED:   12/06/2014 06:47:39 PM EST

CHAMBERSBURG>> Letterkenny Army Depot is in line to receive $16 million from the 2015 Defense Authorization bill to expand one of its main shops.

Four Pennsylvania projects are listed on the nation’s 2015 military construction budget. Worth more than $60 million, they support military operations from drones to nuclear submarines.

The House passed the National Defense Authorization Act on Thursday with and the Senate is expected to do the same next week.

Letterkenny’s Building 350 would grow by about an acre, slightly less than the area of a football field. Traditionally known as the vehicle shop, Building 350 is one of the three large industrial buildings on depot. The military construction budget refers to it as a “rebuild” shop.

“This is a big deal,” said L. Michael Ross, chairman of Team Letterkenny and president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp. “Anytime you have construction on the depot, it’s an investment to enhance the military value of the depot. Not that a BRAC is imminent, but it further helps to insulate us” from action by a base realignment and closure commission.

Letterkenny and its tenants employ 3,567 people, making the installation the largest employer in Franklin County. Its fortunes have waxed and waned with the decisions of previous BRACs.

Language in the 2015 Defense authorization act rejects the Obama administration’s request for a BRAC in 2017: “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize an additional Base Realignment and Closure.”

A largely bipartisan House vote, 300-119, approved the $585 billion Defense authorization bill, which is $48 billion less than last year’s version. The House and Senate Armed Services committees negotiated for weeks to come up with the compromise. The Senate is expected to approve the measure next week before the end of the lame-duck session.

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg, and his staff could not be reached for comment on Friday. The office voice message system in Washington, D.C., was full. Shuster represents Franklin County and is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

A spokesman for Sen. Bob Casey, R-Pa., also did not respond.

A spokesman for Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said the shop “provides maintenance on military equipment” and referred a reporter to Letterkenny Army Depot for details.

“The project will create about 45,000 square feet to relocate the metal treatment operations in Building 350 so that production lines can be improved,” Letterkenny spokeswoman Janet S. Gardner said.

The design is underway, and a construction contract is expected to be awarded before October, she said.

Letterkenny got military construction funds less than a decade ago. In the fiscal 2009 Defense authorization act, Letterkenny got $14.9 million to build an Army reserve center and $7.5 million for wider doors on ammunition storage igloos.

The 2015 Defense Authorization Act would fund projects elsewhere in Pennsylvania:

  • $24 million for construction or land acquisition for the Ohio-Replacement Power & Propulsion Facility in Philadelphia as part of the Navy’s program to build a new class of nuclear submarines equipped with nuclear missiles.
  • $5.7 million for construction of a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operations Center at the Horsham Air National Guard Station in Willow Grove.
  • $17.7 million for construction of a Marine Corps Reserve Training Center in Pittsburgh.

Jim Hook can be reached at 262-4759.

Local officials work to protect Letterkenny from future BRAC rounds

By Jim Hook @JimHookPO on Twitter

UPDATED:   11/23/2014 05:26:21 PM EST0 COMMENTS

CHAMBERSBURG >> Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s latest proposal for another round of base closings has not raised local eyebrows.

“In Washington only the administration seems to be talking about another round of BRAC,” said L. Michael Ross, chairman of Team Letterkenny. At a recent Association of Defense Communities conference, senators and representatives alike “made it clear they had no appetite for another round” of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, he said.

The fortunes of Letterkenny Army Depot and installations across the U.S. have risen and fallen with the independent commission’s decisions.

“Despite numerous efforts and almost 10 years since the last round, DOD has been unable to secure another round of base realignment and closure,” Hagel said on Nov. 15 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, in Simi Valley, California. “Today, DOD has 24 percent excess capacity in our basing and facilities — excess capacity that is costing us billions of dollars every year, money that could otherwise be invested in maintaining our military’s edge. We need Congress to help end this excess spending,”

A day later Hagel told reporters during a visit to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, “What we’re asking for, again, is for the Congress to authorize another base relocation closing commission to go in and take a hard look, an insightful, honest look, and evaluate where that excess capacity is.

Congress this year shot down Hagel’s bid for BRAC authorization in 2015.

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg, was among those who spoke up for local jobs. He represents Pennsylvania’s 9th district which includes Letterkenny, the largest employer in his district.

“As a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have been fighting in Washington to make clear that the services Letterkenny offers are crucial to national security, and cannot be performed with the same degree of skill, efficiency and cost effectiveness anywhere else,” Shuster said. “I will continue to vocally oppose any measures that would make cuts to Letterkenny, and have already taken steps such as working to craft a National Defense Authorization Act that rejected the proposed BRAC round” in 2015.

Ross on Wednesday told the Franklin County Council of Governments not to worry about the immediate future of Letterkenny Army Depot.

“Right now Letterkenny is very stable with everything going on in the world,” Ross said.

Despite an outward confidence that Congress lacks the political will to close military bases to save money, local officials are proceeding as if a BRAC is possible.

The Franklin County Area Development Corp. has acquired a $50,000 state grant to assess Letterkenny’s impact on the regional economy, according to Ross, who is also president of FCADC. “It’s essential” that the community have the information in hand before a BRAC rather than reacting at the last minute, he said.

A 2003 study of Letterkenny’s economic impact was a cornerstone of the effort to unify local communities around the depot in the 2005 BRAC round. The base closure commission however considers factors other than local economic effects.

“The commission first and foremost looks at military value of an installation and how its mission complements the overall mission strategy,” Ross said.

“I have always said that the men and women working at Letterkenny are the best at their jobs in the nation, and I continue to hold that view today,” Shuster said. “As such, I intend to do everything possible to ensure that we are not only prepared to face the prospect of another round of BRAC, but adopt a proactive stance that makes clear the depot’s crucial role in outfitting our nation’s warfighters. I and members of my staff have worked closely with Franklin County community leaders, Letterkenny employees, and Letterkenny leadership, and we are continuing to develop a strategy to prevent cuts to the depot if BRAC were to move forward. “

Pennsylvania also has moved to strengthen Letterkenny and its 10 other military bases. Together they employ 164,000 people.

The Military Community Protection Commission was established in 2011 and codified earlier this year. State Sen. Rich Alloway, R-Chambersburg, helped found the commission.

“While there is always the threat that a potential BRAC could decrease the workload at Letterkenny, our community leaders and lawmakers are doing everything in their power to minimize the potential threat,” Alloway said. “I am personally committed to preserving our military installations in Pennsylvania, in particular, to Letterkenny. Continual investment in Letterkenny from both the federal and state governments will ensure its place as a premier military support installation and reduce the chance of any future BRAC.”

Alloway earlier this year secured a $656,320 to improve rail lines accessing the depot.

The Army in January broke ground on a $32 million project to destroy rocket motors more cleanly at Letterkenny Munitions Center.

Letterkenny and its tenant agencies and contractors employ more than 4,500 people, Ross said.

The installation north of Chambersburg repairs tactical missile systems and aircraft maintenance generators, produces mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, assembles tent cities and stores munitions. It has won nine Shingo medallions for manufacturing excellence.

“Letterkenny is essential to ensuring the continued military dominance of the United States,” Shuster said. “I am confident in the men and women of Letterkenny along with the entire community that is united in supporting them. Should BRAC be authorized I am certain we will be prepared just as we were in 2005 when cuts were proposed to protect Letterkenny from being affected.”

Jim Hook can be reached at 717-262-4759

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