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Franklin Co. wants more government business for Letterkenny

June 10, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA.

General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon do a lot of business with the Department of Defense, and county economic development officials want to see some of that work come to Letterkenny Army Depot.

On Thursday, representatives from those corporations and about two dozen more went to the first Letterkenny Business Showcase to hear presentations on private sector opportunities at the federal facility. The industry representatives also toured the depot as part of the showcase, sponsored by the Franklin County Area Development Corp. (FCADC) and Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce.

On Friday, there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a project that exemplified the kind of partnerships available at the depot and the adjacent Cumberland Valley Business Park, a warehouse and office building owned by the FCADC, leased by a private firm and subleased to a Defense Department operation.

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FCADC President L. Michael Ross said after the ceremony at the 23,100-square-foot building on Technology Avenue that the development corporation plans to build a similar structure next door. The corporation's investment in the building dedicated Friday was about $1.55 million.

The building is being leased to Ram Tech Inc., which provides temporary employees to support missions throughout the depot, said Randy Misner, its executive director. In the case of Ram Tech, he said temporary employment can mean jobs lasting for up to a few years.

Misner said Ram Tech employs about 300 people nationwide, including welders, machinists and other skilled workers at Letterkenny.

"Our number one thing we're supporting right now is the Humvee mission," Misner said. Seven years ago, he said the company's first contract with the depot was shoveling snow.

In the case of the warehouse, Ram Tech is subleasing it to the Lower Tier Project Office, which will use it to store components for the Patriot surface-to-air missile system, one of the depot's major missions.

This is the third building the development corporation has built and filled in the past few years, Ross said. Two of them have been at the Cumberland Valley Business Park, he said.

At a press conference earlier this week, Depot Commander Col. Robert Swenson said Letterkenny, the county's largest employer with about 2,800 Defense Department employees and contract workers, actively is seeking partnerships with private industry.

"I think we've proven ourselves a world-class depot," Swenson said.

For businesses looking to work in partnership with the military, Swenson said the installation has underutilized space in its vehicle, hydraulics and machine shops, as well as other areas.

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