Friday, August 8, 2008

State investing $31 million in Lancaster County economy, Rendell announces

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell announced $31 million in state investments in the economy of Lancaster County, Friday.

The funding was announced as part of the Governor's 16-stop "Prescription for Pennsylvania" bus tour, in which $642 million in new state investments in 25 counties over the next 12-18 months is being committed as a way to stimulate the economy and keep as many as 30,000 Pennsylvanians working.

Rendell spoke of the need to invest in public infrastructure, citing the recent 1-year anniversary of the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Minn. on Aug. 1, 2007.

To that end, the state is investing $23 million to repair 18 bridges in Lancaster County. Bridge replacements include PA-772 over Chickies Creek, the Mount Airy Road Bridge over Middle Creek in Clay Township, and the Marietta Avenue Bridge over the Amtrak rail lines in Mount Joy. Also, the PA-896 bridge over Mill Creek in East Lampeter Township, and the Slackwater Bridge over the Conestoga River in Conestoga Township will be rehabilitated.

For a fill list of bridges scheduled for accelerated repair under the $23 million in new state funds, click here.

Rendell also spoke of the need to invest in Lancaster County businesses to help create jobs.

The Mars Snackfoods, USA plant in Elizabethtown will be receiving $140,000 in state funding to help expand capacity, support growth, and create jobs.

Rendell anticipates that the investment will create 40 new jobs at the facility.

He also announced $1.1 million in funding to help boost operations at Park Place PA in Denver, the site of his Friday press conference.

Formerly United Sleep Products, the company was purchased by the Park Place Corporation based in Greenville, S.C. in 2007. The facility produces mattresses.

Rendell estimated that the $1.1 million in "state grants, tax credits, and loans" will generate 71 additional jobs at the Denver facility.

The Governor also announced $3 million "to restore and construct a multi-theme interpretive and education center, based on the legacy of Thaddeus Stevens and Lydia Hamilton Smith, at the Stevens and Smith Historic Site in Lancaster City" and $3.5 million towards renovations to Central Market in downtown Lancaster.

Renovations to the aging market house will include new lighting and electrical work, drainage, modernized restrooms, and the installation of air conditioning and energy-efficient windows.

The $3.5 million for the market house will supplement funding from other public and private sources, according to Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray.

"The City of Lancaster has contributed half a million dollars, [and] the County has contributed nearly half a million dollars," Gray explained.

"We're well on our way to nearly doubling - more than doubling - the amount of money that the state is bringing here today," he said.

Rendell predicted that the market could be a significant local attraction for visitors "very much like the Reading Terminal Market is in Philadelphia."

Notable attendees at Friday's press conference included Democratic County Commissioner Craig Lehman, State Representative Mike Sturla, State Senator Steve Brubaker, and Denver Mayor Mary Ann Fichthorn.

Mayor Gray also acknowledged State Senator Gib Armstrong, who was reported to be attending the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Brubaker, who represents Pennsylvania's 36th District, praised Rendell, saying, "It's been a delight, as a Republican, to work with a Democratic Governor who really does put the Commonwealth first and who understands where this money comes from."

Brubaker went on to say about the bridge repair funding, "This is not optional spending; this is spending and investment that we need to make."