MERCER COUNTY Development brought 460 new jobs in 2003

MERCER, Pa. -- The local economy may be lagging, but 460 jobs were created in Mercer County in 2003, says the Penn-Northwest Development Corp. and Team Mercer County.
Leading the list of new employment opportunities were US Investigations Services of Grove City and Winner Steel of Sharon. Other companies announcing new hires were Dean Foods, Kalco Metals, Novocell Semiconductor, Primary Health Network and Wintronics.
Total new investments that created those jobs amounted to $46 million.
Largest project
The largest job-retention project was the acquisition of Hodge Foundry by a local group of investors, which resulted in a $5 million investment and the retention of 88 manufacturing jobs in Hempfield Township, says a year-end report issued by Penn-Northwest.
As a result of the Team PA Call Program, which stresses support for current industry, the Mercer County Call Program made calls to 242 companies, and 33 percent of them resulted in assistance, said Brad Ehrhart, Penn-Northwest assistant director and manager of the call program.
Government grants provided $966,000 to assist business and industrial development. Low-interest loans accounted for an additional $1.98 million.
Penn-Northwest and Mercer County Industrial Development Authority packaged $4 million in loans, grants and tax credits, the report said.
In July, Penn-Northwest's board of directors adopted an economic development action plan for Mercer County with goals and objectives in eight work areas, including business retention, economic development marketing, sites development, entrepreneurship and technical assistance, work force development, and regional initiatives and incentives.
Sites development
Strategy 1000, the sites development plan component, is on schedule with target market assessments being completed by Gannet Fleming Inc. and Delta Development in cooperation with the Mercer County Regional Planning Commission's update of the Mercer County Comprehensive Plan.
As a result of general economic conditions, loans were off from prior-year levels, with Penn-Northwest making three loans totaling $387,150.
Proceeds were primarily for expansion projects, including Paramount Games, Wintronics and Novocell Semiconductor.
In-house affiliate organizations continued to expand services in the county with Gannon Small Business Development Center assisting 168 clients with various planning services and entrepreneur assistance.
In March 2003, Penn-Northwest was honored for its years of service and accomplishments with the Pa. Economic Development Association Small Agency of the Year Award.

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