Rep. Glenn Thompson | Corrections facility a boon to economy

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Soon the Federal Bureau of Prisons will make a decision about the future of the Moshannon Valley Correctional Institution in Decatur Township, Clearfield County.

Since 2006, it has been the Bureau of Prisons’ preferred facility in the Northeast region for low-security, criminal alien populations, who have less than 90 months remaining on their sentences.

Although there rightfully were initial concerns from some in the community about locating a facility of this type in our area, for nearly a decade the Moshannon Valley facility has provided the region with an economic driver, contributing to about $20 million in annual payroll activity that supports roughly 260 family-sustaining jobs.

Furthermore, the facility brings in about $600,000 each year in local property taxes, $445,000 of which directly benefits local schools.

Our community’s support for the facility has been outstanding, and Moshannon Valley Correctional’s local involvement has been commendable, partnering with several charitable and civic organizations to enhance the lives of area residents.

Although the current contract for the facility continues until 2016, federal regulations require two facilities of this type nationally — one specifically in the northeast region and one anywhere else in the United States.

This creates the distinct possibility that Moshannon Valley Correctional, Pennsylvania’s only facility of this kind, may be in direct competition with a similar facility in Ohio.

Since this development became public, local residents and community leaders including the Phillipsburg-Osceola school board, Decatur Township, the Moshannon Valley Economic Development Partners, the Clearfield County Department of Emergency Services, the Keystone Insurers Group, Penn Highlands Healthcare and the Clearfield County Economic Development Corp., among others, have advocated keeping this facility in Clearfield County.

I along with 13 members of the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation and two senators have engaged with the Federal Bureau of Prisons to ensure that the unique benefits the Moshannon Valley Correctional Institution offers the community, commonwealth and region are taken into account while the procurement process moves forward.

If the contract continues, the GEO Group Inc., which operates the facility, has indicated that it would lead a $10 million expansion, creating upwards of 50 construction jobs and 24 new, full-time positions.

This is an exciting prospect and welcome news that we all would like to see happen.

Given the regional implications and excellent track record of the facility and our local workforce, it is incumbent on our community and local leaders to continue our joined advocacy and let the Federal Bureau of Prisons know that we as a community support the continuation of the Moshannon Valley Correctional Institution.