A second study will look for potential sites for large industrial development, including Lawrence County.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Development experts plan to take a good look at the region surrounding the Pittsburgh International Airport to determine the best spots for future economic development.
While the study does not specifically include Lawrence County, it will look at sites close enough to eventually affect the Shenango and Mahoning valleys, said Ken Zapinski, vice president with the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, the group funding the study.
The Allegheny Conference is a private leadership group that dates back to the 1940s dedicated to increasing economic development in western Pennsylvania.
Looking at opportunities
"Part of the study is looking at development opportunities in the Pa. Route 60 corridor up to the [Pennsylvania] Turnpike interchange. If a project develops, New Castle and Youngstown are part of the labor pool that could take advantage of that development," Zapinski said.
The Urban Land Institute, a national organization dedicated to land use, was hired to identify sites for potential development within a 30-minute drive to the airport, Zapinski said.
A panel will look at land and interview the region's public officials from Sept. 8 to Sept. 13, he added.
The report will be used to help attract potential new employers to available sites near the airport, Zapinski continued.
Results of past studies
Past studies by the Urban Land Institute have resulted in the revival of Pittsburgh's cultural district downtown and the creation of a large office park at the former J & amp;L Steel site in Pittsburgh, he said.
Zapinski said the conference hopes the ULI will tell officials what type of businesses would best suit the region and identify prime spots that could be developed.
The conference plans a second study later this year to try to identify prime spots for large industrial development. That study will include these 10 counties -- Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Lawrence, Washington, Fayette, Greene, Westmoreland and Indiana.
Zapinski said a previous study determined that there are only four properties in the 10-county area that would be able to support a large industrial customer seeking to locate here.
"That wasn't enough inventory to take the region to where we wanted to take it," he said.
Zapinski added the conference is still working out the details of who will conduct the second study.
Economic development along the Pa. Route 60 corridor, which is the main thoroughfare to the Pittsburgh International Airport from the north, has been a priority for many area elected officials.
U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart of Bradford Woods, R-4th, is spearheading an effort to have it designated a federal highway.
Some believe a federal highway designation will attract new businesses to the region because many developers prefer connecting federal highways to state roads when looking for new sites. Route 60 intersects with Interstate 80 in Mercer County.