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Ross says Franklin County poised for new growth

March 02, 2001

Ross says Franklin County poised for new growth

By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Despite a slowing of the economy and the layoff of 1,100 local employees last year, the president of an area development agency says the county saw enormous economic progress.

L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp., said area businesses have absorbed many of the 300 workers hired and then fired by Toys-R-Us.com last year when the company decided not to open a new facility in Chambersburg, and the 800 former Grove Worldwide employees laid off since September.

"The 300 people displaced by Toys-R-Us.com, to the best of our knowledge, have been reabsorbed by their former employer or new employers," Ross said. "We have been working diligently to get the Grove workers reabsorbed."

Ross said the employment pool is a draw to new businesses interested in locating in the county.

"The biggest concern of any company is if we can find the labor. We're telling them we believe the labor is out there right now," he said.

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Ross commented on other areas of the development corporation's activities in the last year at the agency's annual meeting Thursday morning.

He said the corporation worked on 40 projects representing more than $100 million in capital investment last year, which created 893 new jobs and retained 1,937 jobs in the county.

Ross said the landscape of the Cumberland Valley is changing dramatically from Carlisle, Pa., to Winchester, Va., and Franklin County is poised to welcome the brunt of the growth as the capital region continues to extend further and further south of Harrisburg, Pa.

"I believe this is one of the only areas that can support that business growth," he said.

Ross said the redevelopment of land at Letterkenny Army Depot relinquished by the Army has surpassed expectations by so much that the development corporation is considering a partnership with the Letterkenny Industrial Development Association to construct a new building.

"Our next challenge is to go on to new construction. I believe that will be the catalyst for other things there," he said.

Looking ahead, Ross said 2001 promises to be as successful as last year, with 30 projects in various stages of development.

He applauded municipal leadership for preparing for the anticipated growth by strengthening zoning laws and comprehensive development plans.

"Hopefully, 2001 will be better than 2000 and 2002 will be better than 2001," Ross said.

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