Centre County has lost more than 50 percent of its manufacturing jobs in the past 10 years, but is making a push to get some back, Board of Commissioners Chairman Steve Dershem said Tuesday.
The board approved a resolution at its weekly meeting declaring the Titan Energy Park a Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone.
The goal is to bring up to 200 new jobs in the area.
“There is some significant economic opportunity in the winds that affords us some big job creation opportunity in the county,” Dershem said.
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The KOEZ distinction locks the property in at a tax rate of 110 percent of the 2012 tax assessment for 10 years, making owners immune from future tax increases over the period. The resolution has already been approved by Spring Township and the Bellefonte Area School District.
Dershem said this is a method to make Centre County more competitive in attracting jobs, and the site already has two interested companies. The board did not name the companies because they are still in competition with other locations.
Under the terms of the agreement, the park must create at least 50 new jobs or a fee would be paid to the county.
The Titan Energy Park, the former home of Cerro Metals, is managed by Navitus LLC and has about 500,000 square feet of space available at the 2022 Axemann Road location.
Navitus Secretary Joe Leahey said the site is occupied by five smaller companies that would not be displaced with new arrivals. He added that the site could start seeing new occupants within the next three to six months.
Vern Squier, Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County president, said this is a big step in attracting some manufacturing jobs back to the county.
“I think you’re going to start seeing a little bit of a waterfall effect,” he said.
Squier said the CBICC will continue to aggressively pursue manufacturing jobs through outreach.
Commissioner Michael Pipe said the industrial park is in a favorable location because of the proximity to Spring Creek and a railroad, which is attractive in the climate of rising fuel costs.
He is hoping the endeavor can bring quality jobs to the county.
“They’ve done an excellent job and this would hopefully get them one step closer to sustaining some high-paying, family supporting jobs,” Pipe said.