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University Press moving to Blue Ridge Summit

February 10, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

BLUE RIDGE SUMMIT, Pa. - As many as 200 new jobs will be created by the end of the year when University Press of America and its subsidiary, National Book Network, relocate to the former TAB Books/McGraw-Hill complex on Monterey Lane, officials said Monday.

Officials from University Press of America, a publisher of academic books, and National Book Network, the second largest distributor of trade books put out by independent publishers, said in a written release Monday that many of the new hires are expected to be displaced McGraw-Hill employees.

More than 300 workers lost their jobs when TAB Books/McGraw-Hill closed in August 1996.

"We're absolutely ecstatic," said Carol Henicle, executive director of the Greater Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce. "This will help replace those jobs that were lost."

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The book publisher and distributor are moving all order fulfillment, customer service and credit and collection operations to Blue Ridge Summit from its Savage, Md., and Lanham, Md., offices.

The purchase price of the former TAB Book/McGraw-Hill complex is more than $2.5 million, according to L. Michael Ross, head of the Franklin County Area Development Corp.

University Press of America and National Book Network officials could not be reached for comment.

The publishing company will use all 150,000 square feet of the vacant industrial space, including the warehouse, for book storage, Ross said. Plans are to expand the facility by 85,000 square feet in the next three years, Ross added.

The firm will have an annual payroll of $4 million, said State Sen. Terry Punt, R-Franklin.

"We're very pleased to be able to work with various agencies ... to be able to pull this whole deal off and be able to return job opportunities to skilled people," said Washington Township Manager Michael Christopher.

Gwen Koons of Waynesboro, who worked at McGraw-Hill as a book club and mailroom manager for 17 1/2 years until June 1995, said she's enjoying retirement but would consider going back to work if she could earn her former wages.

"It's so tempting," Koons said. "I'd hate to say no if they called me back and offered me what I used to make," Koons said. "But I'm enjoying my life now. Freedom is too wonderful."

The publishing company has 220 employees in its Maryland offices. Some of them will be offered the opportunity to transfer to the new location, Ross said.

Ross said he and other economic development officials began negotiations between the publishing company and state and local governments last November.

At the time, company officials were about to sign a lease agreement to relocate in Columbia, Md., Ross said.

"We think it's a good project for Franklin County and for the region," Ross said. "It's a needed shot in the arm for the area."

The book publisher and distributor's decision to move the operations to Pennsylvania was based on the improving business climate of the state, the availability of a trained local work force and the level of cooperation extended by state and local officials, Punt said.

"It was a total team effort from state level to local, municipal level," Punt said.

The state Department of Community and Economic Development and the Governor's Action Team put together a package consisting of a $250,000 opportunity grant and a $200,000 new jobs tax credit provision to support the project, Punt said.

Officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection provided analyses of a wetland area and outlined the permitting process for the proposed expansion.

Started in 1975, University Press of America has produced an extensive range of publications, including monographs, textbooks, reference works, trade books and edited collections in the areas of the humanities and social sciences. More than 12,000 titles have been published to date.

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