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Rendell brings good tidings of great grants

January 12, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

McCONNELLSBURG, PA.

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell announced Wednesday that JLG Industries Inc., a major manufacturing employer in the central part of the state, will receive nearly $4.8 million in grants and assistance to create jobs, expand facilities and increase production.

Officials with JLG Industries, a manufacturer of access equipment for construction, said they will use the money to create at least 335 jobs in McConnellsburg and 240 jobs in Shippensburg, Pa.

Rendell visited Fulton, Cumberland and Bedford counties Wednesday to describe the financial package that includes $2.25 million through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority, an $800,000 Opportunity grant, $250,000 in job training assistance and $1.48 million in job creation tax credits.

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Also, Rendell said the 36-year-old manufacturing company is eligible for as much as $10 million in low-interest loans through Citizens Bank.

Sheltered from cold, rainy weather in one of JLG's McConnellsburg facilities in Fulton County, CEO Bill Lasky greeted the governor, Sen. Robert Jubelirer, R-Altoona, and Fulton County commissioners.

"We don't care about the rain because we have a bright future," Rendell said.

In addition to the expanded work force, JLG plans to construct a 35,000-square-foot building for research and development in McConnellsburg. It also will invest $1.8 million in additional manufacturing equipment at the Shippensburg plant, according to a news release.

JLG recently entered into a 20-year commitment with Caterpillar to produce telescopic material handlers that lift and place items at heights. The equipment often is used by masons, Lasky said.

Caterpillar had been producing those machines on its own in the United Kingdom, according to Lasky.

"They looked around and felt JLG could do a better job," he said.

JLG will produce the telehandlers in Pennsylvania and Belgium. The deal brings an anticipated revenue of $325 million to $350 million in the first full year alone, said Lasky.

JLG currently has about 2,200 employees in McConnellsburg and 200 in Shippensburg. The new jobs that Rendell announced will mostly be on product assembly lines and will be phased in beginning in March, said Lisa Corona, a human resources official with JLG.

Lasky said about 100 distribution jobs in McConnellsburg will be affected when warehousing operations are moved to Ohio during the coming changes.

Corona said those workers will be given the opportunity to move into other positions.

"We want to get the most out of these facilities," said Lasky.

Rendell called manufacturing jobs the "best jobs we have in Pennsylvania (with the) best benefits, best salaries."

Jubelirer, president pro tempore of the state Senate, described JLG as the "economic backbone" of the McConnellsburg area.

"What is good for JLG is mighty good for Fulton County," he said.

Rendell noted that when he became governor in 2003, Fulton County had a high unemployment rate, being ranked 64 out of Pennsylvania's 67 counties. Today, he said, Fulton County has an unemployment rate of 4.6 percent, ranked 14th in the state.

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