CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Letterkenny Army Depot sustained Franklin County's economy when other top manufacturers were suffering the effects of the recession, Franklin County Area Development Corp. President L. Michael Ross said Thursday.
"Our major guys really struggled in 2009 — the end of 2008 and all of 2009," Ross said at FCADC's annual membership meeting, held over breakfast at The Lighthouse Restaurant on U.S. 11.
Franklin County's unemployment rate peaked at 9.1 percent, its highest level since 1984, Ross told a crowd of nearly 100. He said that would've been different if not for Letterkenny Army Depot in Chambersburg.
"Our unemployment rate might have been 19.1 percent. ... It's important for us to support the retention and expansion of Letterkenny Army Depot," Ross said.
Ross told FCADC supporters the big manufacturers started picking up more work in 2010. That was evidenced by a great demand for welders, he said.
Tyco Electronics in Waynesboro, Pa., added 7,000 square feet and 60 jobs in 2010, Ross said.
"One of the challenges they have is finding employees," he said, noting that the corporation relocated some operations from Virginia.
2010 saw the closure of National Book Network's call center in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., and the moving of Jerr-Dan's operations from Greencastle, Pa., to McConnellsburg, Pa., Ross said.
Volvo Construction Equipment completed a $45 million expansion of its Shippensburg manufacturing facility, then consolidated all of its North American manufacturing of road machinery in Shippensburg, Ross said.
FCADC developed a building in the Cumberland Valley Business Park for DeeTag USA Inc., a Canadian-based preferred vendor for Volvo Construction Equipment, he said.
"Over the next six months, we're optimistic you'll see a series of announcements that should have a significant impact in Franklin County," Ross said.
He said the revitalization of downtown areas pose challenges.
David Keller, chairman of the Franklin County Commissioners, said the newly formed Franklin County Redevelopment Authority will be working on some of those projects.
"The focus of the authority is redeveloping our older residential and commercial properties in the county," Keller said.