Eyeing expansion and new hires, Centre County business requests extension of tax credit

When CEO and President John Bonislawski founded Homeland Manufacturing Services, the electronics manufacturing services provider operated out of his basement. With over 40 employees and a nearly complete facility in the Benner Commerce Park, the family-owned business is already planning for future expansion.

A designated Keystone Opportunity Zone through 2024, Benner Commerce Park businesses can receive a tax credit of up to $100,000 annually for 10 years. HMS is in the process of applying for a KOZ extension that would allow the business to use funds to expand and offer additional employment opportunities. With an application deadline of Oct. 1, Bonislawski is looking to extend the timeline to receive KOZ benefits which are scheduled to expire in 2022.

With Benner Township and Bellefonte Area School District unanimously passing a resolution that allows HMS to move forward, Bonislawski and wife Jennifer presented their vision for growth to the Centre County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.

“We built the business up,” Bonislawski said. “We were doubling in sales every year.”

In March, HMS purchased seven acres in Benner Township and began building a 12,500-square-foot facility that will be completed January 2020. The total acreage will allow up to 80,000 square feet of expansion, and although the “new permanent home” is not yet occupied, Bonislawski said the building is already at capacity.

“With seven acres, I’ve got plenty of room to expand, but specifically, I’m asking for support in extending the benefits,” Bonislawski said. “That’ll help; 100% of that money is going to be invested back in the business.”

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John Bonislawski, president and CEO of Homeland Manufacturing Services Inc., talks in January about the circuit boards the company makes. Abby Drey Centre Daily Times, file

HMS builds electronic circuit cards, ranging in size. The company supplies its product to over 20 businesses and industries throughout the United States and internationally. The electronics are used in a number of fields, including military and defense, medical, space, commercial and industrial sensors.

Since opening, Bonislawski said he and his wife have “not taken a dime in profits” and have used money to invest in the business, hire new people, buy equipment, invest in training and bring on new customers.

“I have customers in Pennsylvania and on the East Coast that want us building their product, and I can’t do it yet because I need more facilities,” Bonislawski said. “I need to hire more people.”

HMS builds electronic circuit cards and cables for over 20 businesses and industries. Their products are used in a number of fields, including military and defense, medical, space, commercial and industrial sensors. Providing products for more than 10 and helping support more than 10 local startups , Bonislawski anticipates HMS’s number of open positions will continue to grow.

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John Bonislawski of Homeland Manufacturing Services Inc. shows one of the company’s circuit boards in January. Abby Drey Centre Daily Times, file

Bonislawski said he plans to use the KOZ tax credits to expand the business, train employees, upgrade equipment and create jobs. In addition to helping support 10 local startup businesses, Bonislawski told the BASD board that HMS plans to offer internship and employment opportunities by partnering with the district.

Whether an individual has a high school or graduate degree, Bonislawski said HMS is looking to hire and train eager learners and hard workers.

“I am open to anything,” Bonislawski said at last week’s BASD board meeting. “We really need people at this point. I know there are sharp kids out there that are hands on that probably aren’t going to go to college for one reason or another. They can make a decent living and have a career at Homeland.”

Before unanimously moving the resolution to next week’s consent agenda, Commissioners Michael Pipe and Mark Higgins said HMS is a perfect example of local success, adding that its continued support of Centre County startup companies will only further other county businesses in their success.

“You’re kind of a physical embodiment of what’s been happening in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Centre County,” Higgins said. “We have electronic startups. We have a local supplier. Because you do high-quality work, they grow. Because they grow, you grow. Pretty soon, we have hundreds of jobs created in just one part of our ecosystem.”

Marley Parish reports on local government for the Centre Daily Times. She grew up in Slippery Rock and graduated from Allegheny College.