LAWRENCE, MERCER Counties look to spark projects
Lawrence County has two projects it will pitch to state officials; Mercer, one.
By HAROLD GWIN
and LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR STATE STAFF
Lawrence and Mercer counties will be looking for about $10 million in assistance from the state's new Economic Stimulus Program.
The Commonwealth Financing Authority, created to oversee the $1.1 billion stimulus package, isn't expected to be ready to borrow that money through bond issues until fall.
The state has yet to set up guidelines or accept any applications for the program that passed the state Legislature in April.
The grants and loans will be available under a couple of subprograms.
There will be $800 million earmarked for what Gov. Ed Rendell refers to as "shovel ready" projects aimed at getting development sites to the point where developers can build on them.
There's also money set aside to help tourism businesses, farming, advanced technology developments and other projects.
State Line park
Mercer County has only one project ready to take advantage of the stimulus package.
The State Line Industrial Park, 82 acres of undeveloped land in Hermitage along the Ohio border, will seek about $1.5 million.
Penn-Northwest Development Corp., Mercer County's designated lead economic development agency, is the project developer and is buying the land from Farrell. Farrell got title to it through the 1987 bankruptcy of the Sharon Steel Corp., which had owned it.
The project has a total cost of nearly $1.8 million with Penn-Northwest putting up $150,000 of its own money and borrowing another $150,000 through the Hermitage Revolving Loan Fund.
The land cost is $630,000, and the rest of the project will involve site clearance, building an access road and making sewer and making various other infrastructure improvements.
Lawrence County has two ongoing projects it will pitch to state officials for economic stimulus money, said Linda Nitch, executive director of the Lawrence County Economic Development Corporation.
Nitch said they are seeking $1.5 million for land acquisition and demolition at Riverview Commerce Park, formerly Shenango China off of Sampson Street.
Nitch said that projects fits well into the guidelines for "shovel ready" sites for new business. Special emphasis is being put on brownfields that need rehabilitation, according to the state.
The former Shenango China plant has been a potential site for development for many years, but local officials have had trouble acquiring the land.
Nitch spoke to New Castle Council last week about allowing the Lawrence County Redevelopment Authority take over negotiations with the owner, a Canadian businessman. She said the owner has refused to make upgrades or sell the property to interested buyers. The redevelopment authority has the ability to take property by eminent domain, the government's legal right to take private property, usually in exchange for fair compensation.
The second project will be Millennium Park, Nitch said. Millennium Park is a proposed 500-acre high technology business park in Neshannock Township that is being considered by a semiconductor company promising 2,000 new jobs. It would be near Pa. Route 60.
She said they are hoping to get from $5 million to $7 million. That money would help pay for ramps to the park from Route 60. The project has been promised $15 million from the state Capital Redevelopment Assistance Fund.