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HERMITAGE, PA. State OKs grant for technical park



Published: Fri, September 14, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The city has no firm commitments from any companies yet.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

HERMITAGE, Pa. -- Development of a proposed planned technical park along Pa. Route 18 should attract $77 million in private investment and create 1,750 jobs, city officials said.

Gateway Commerce Park is a joint effort between the city and KAKE Development Co. which already owns part of the park land.

The state gave the project its support Thursday in the form of a $2.5 million capital budget grant.

The park will eventually cover 117 acres. KAKE Development already owns 48 of those acres and has one tenant on the site.

Boost jobs: The state grant is part of $5.7 million needed to buy the remaining 60 acres and put in infrastructure improvements. The goal is to attract businesses that offer high-tech, good-paying jobs, said Ann DiTullio, director of the Governor's Northwest Regional Office.

Gary Gulla, assistant city manager and city community development coordinator, said Hermitage is talking with several prospective tenants and, based on those discussions, is estimating the park could eventually provide 1,750 jobs and bring in $77 million in development.

The city has no firm commitments for any parcels in the site yet, he said.

The city and KAKE hope to be able to fill the park in five to seven years, Gulla said.

The state capital budget grant requires a 100 percent local match with at least 50 percent of that on hand before the state money will be released.

Gulla said Hermitage and KAKE have 75 percent of the match. KAKE has $1.6 million invested in the site and has pledged over $500,000 more, Gulla said. The city has pledged $250,000 so far and will contribute over $300,000 more, he said.

Hermitage and KAKE are looking for about $500,000 more from local government and economic development sources.

The plan is to attract pharmaceutical and computer businesses to the park, said Bill Scanlon, president of the Hermitage Board of Commissioners.

"We want to be ready," added Gary Hinkson, city manager, pointing out that the project calls for the extension of infrastructure throughout the project site so that developers can move in quickly.

Gulla said part of the project involves spending some $400,000 on trails and green areas in the park.

"This project moves us into the 21st century," said state Sen. Robert Robbins of Greenville, R-50th. He and state Rep. Michael Gruitza of Hermitage, D-7th, were credited by local officials with helping to secure the state grant.

Other grants: DiTullio said this is the fourth capital budget project approved for Mercer County, all funded by what is commonly referred to as the "stadium bill," which produced the money to help build professional sports stadiums in the state.

Other Mercer County funding was $7 million for the Westinghouse plant revitalization project in Sharon; $2.2 million for a regional recreation project in Greenville and $500,000 for revitalization of a commercial/residential section of Farrell, she said.




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