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State financing benefits many Pa. businesses

June 18, 2000|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- The announcement in April that Toys R Us was opening an e-commerce distribution center in Chambersburg was the biggest economic development news in Franklin County this year, but 15 other companies have also received state-backed financing to start up or expand, according to Franklin County Area Development Corp. Executive Director L. Michael Ross.

The $75 million Toysrus.com project in Chambersburg will create up to 500 jobs by the time it opens this fall, but the other projects will create 223 jobs and help retain another 831, Ross said. The other projects total just over $5 million in capital investments, he said.

The 16 projects in the first five months of the year were approved for $2.8 million in low-interest financing from the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority, Small Business First Fund and other state economic development agencies, Ross said.

Aside from the toy retailer, the biggest job creator was International Apparel Group, which bought a $300,000 warehouse at the Cumberland Valley Business Park to make clothing. The company received $200,000 in financing for job training and equipment purchases, and created about 100 jobs, Ross said.

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The Cumberland Valley Business Park is being developed on a portion of Letterkenny Army Depot that has been turned over to the private sector. Graphics Universal Inc., of Greencastle, Pa., also bought a $300,000 warehouse for an expansion that will create eight jobs.

World Kitchen Inc. in Greencastle, will create 53 jobs by expanding customer service operations, Ross said. The company, which employs 724 people, was approved for $100,000 in financing on the $1.7 million project.

Ross said start-up operations by Miller Metals Inc. and Menno Haven Day Care, both of Chambersburg, and Perry Fence Co., of Fayetteville, Pa., created 37 new jobs. The projects represent $700,000 in new investment and received $276,000 in low-interest financing.

Rhino Linings of Orrstown, Pa., which applies sprayed on linings to truck beds, is moving to the former Roadway truck terminal on Sunset Pike, Chambersburg, and Physical Therapy of Chambersburg Inc. is moving to Wayne Avenue. Those projects are expected to create 10 jobs and preserve 17 more.

Ross said other expansions include Carl. D. Bert & Associates, a Shippensburg, Pa., surveying firm; Chambersburg Machine Co., a metal fabricating company.; Robson & Kaye, a Chambersburg printer; Lehman's Egg Service of Chambersburg; TruckCraft Corp., a Marion, Pa., a parts manufacturer; Future Cast, a Greencastle casting company; and Wenger Feed Mill in Shippensburg.

Ross said the development corporation has also teamed up with Duquesne University in Pittsburgh to create the Cumberland Valley Educational Consortium, which will offer an MBA program in September.

"We're trying to support post-graduate education for companies that want to retain certain people in the area," Ross said. Classes will be offered at Shippensburg University, Wilson College in Chambersburg and the Penn State University Mont Alto campus, he said.

"It's possible some of the classes may be taught on-site at the location of businesses," Ross said. None of the local colleges offer an MBA program and Ross said this will allow companies to educate and promote key personnel and attract new talent.

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