Antrim Township development ‘makes your head spin’
Ross called his presentation “the most comprehensive” he’s put together in a while and took the nearly 120 local business representatives at the breakfast meeting on a whirlwind tour up and down the Interstate 81 corridor and east and west to Waynesboro and Mercersburg.
“We don’t create the jobs, it’s the people in this room and around the county. It’s our job to support them,” Ross said.
He offered a refresher on the non-profit’s mission of “formulating, implementing and promoting a comprehensive county-wide economic development policy and core strategies” while striving to “create an atmosphere that nourishes planned growth and family sustainable employment opportunities.”
FCADC’s core strategies are retention and expansion of existing businesses; selective attraction of new businesses to diversify the local economy; and start-up of new businesses.
2020 & 2021 Successes
Under a PowerPoint header called “2020 and 2021 Successes,” Ross highlighted COVID-19 relief funding distributed throughout the county that FCADC was involved with, including:
- Franklin County First Fund
2 loans totaling $150,000 for James Buchanan Hotel and Pub in Mercersburg and Greencastle Sunoco
- COIVD Working Capital Access Program
13 loans totaling $813,000
- Franklin County Small Business Recovery Grants
177 applications recommended for approval totaling $5.6 million in grants
- COVID Hospitality Industry Recovery Program Grants
36 applications approved totaling $1.735 million
50% to women- and minority-owned businesses
The recently completed $10 million transaction involving F&M Trust, FCADC and Chambersburg Area Development Corp. is a “win, win, win … good for the community, F&M, FCADC and CADC,” Ross said.
F&M purchased 1550 Nitterhouse Drive, Chambersburg, from FCADC and CADC for its its future corporate headquarters, while FCADC and CADC purchased F&M’s current headquarters at 20 S. Main St. in downtown Chambersburg.
FCADC sold its building at 1101 Sheffler Drive, Chambersburg, to Wipro, a hydraulic cylinder manufacturer already located there, in November 2020, retaining 25 jobs, and closed the sale on its 33,000-square-foot spec building on Wharf Road, Zullinger, on Aug. 17, a day after the chamber meeting.
Major Projects of Note
Ross started his high-speed run down I-81 of “major projects of note announced, underway or complete” beyond the bounds of Franklin County by touching on Smucker’s and FedEx facilities at Newville in Cumberland County.
Heading south to Shippensburg, he said, “There’s a lot going on … it’s not quite Antrim Township, but its not Death Valley.”
There’s the Lowe’s distribution center; commercial and retail development, including Patriot Credit Union; JLG looking to expand; Volvo’s updated training center; and interest in other buildings.
Franklin County’s $67 million courthouse and administration project in Chambersburg is nearing completion. Also close to downtown Chambersburg, First Step Partnerships for Children and Families is using the former J. Schoeneman Co. building on Stanley Avenue; Luminest invested $10 million in “beautiful, beautiful” affordable housing; and the former Central Junior High is now Rose Rent Lofts, renting for $1,000 to $2,200 a month with a waiting list of 40 people.
Letterkenny Industrial Development Corp. completed the first of three buildings on Coffey Avenue and has interest from a potential user of all three. The ribbon was recently cut at the U.S. Army’s $34 million ARMD rocket motor demilitarization chamber at Letterkenny Army Depot, where $250 million in investments are expected in the next five to 10 years, Ross said.
FCADC is working on two significant manufacturing expansions in the Waynesboro area, one in the borough and the other in Washington Township on Wharf Road.
For a town of 1,700 there’s a lot more in Mercersburg than people realize, Ross said, citing existing businesses like the D.L. Martin machine shop and APX Enclosures and the planned Tractor Supply store and Dollar General relocation.
Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch, a $100 million investment that will ultimately be home to 2.2 million chickens, is being developed on Corner Road.
“If you are eating an Egg McMuffin east of the Mississippi, you’re eating a Herbruck’s egg,” Ross said.
In Antrim Township
Earlier in the week before the chamber breakfast, Ross drove around Antrim Township with Brad Graham, township administrator, and David Mackley, FCADC project manager.
“It’s remarkable what’s going on … it makes your head spin,” Ross said.
For the first time publicly, Ross said a NorthPoint Development Project at Exit 3 of Interstate 81 is a Walmart e-fulfillment center. It’s been somewhat of an open secret unconfirmed by Walmart. It has a 1.94-million-square-foot footprint, but because of its height contains 3.2 million square feet of operational space. The fulfillment center is projected to employ 2,000 people and Ross noted because its high-tech automation, the first 25 will be software engineers.
The Antrim Township part of Ross’ program looked south of the Borough of Greencastle and included A. Duie Pyle’s integrated transportation center; ATAPCO’s discussion for a 250,000-square-foot building just north of Mason-Dixon Auto Auction; the expansion of Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs; U.S. Cold Storage’s planned building on Hykes Road; a partnership for the Fulton property at Mason-Dixon and Greenmount roads; additional NorthPoint projects; the recently announced contract for the Century Inc. property along U.S. 11; the reopening of the Norfolk Southern’s intermodal facility; and the two spec buildings — one 500,000 square feet and one 400,000 square feet — constructed by Matrix behind Corelle Brands.
Ross said Andy Papoutsis, president of APX Enclosures, has been like a “one man economic unit.” APX has a number of businesses in Franklin County, including machine shops, and York County.
The APX renovation of the former Eldorado Stone building along U.S. 11 north of Greencastle turned a challenging property into a state-of-the-art facility meeting the company’s needs now and in the future.
East of Greencastle, Bowman Development is planning 140,000 square feet of flex space on Grindstone Hill Road.
“There probably another 5 to 7 million square feet planned in Antrim Township,” said Ross, who also pointed south along I-81 to development in Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia.
Infrastructure is one of the main challenges that comes with growth and development, including Interstate 81. I-81 needs widened, but even if it gets funding in the federal infrastructure bill, work would not happen until the early 2030s.
Another infrastructure component is broadband, and Ross wondered why there is “perfect cell service in Afghanistan and not Waynesboro.”
Another big challenge is labor, which “transcends every industry sector.” According to the 2020 census, Franklin County grew by more than 6,300 residents — 4.2% — to 155,932 in 10 years.
“We’re growing, but we’re not keeping pace with job growth,” Ross said.
“It’s a different world out there,” Ross said, noting he doesn’t know how WellSpan can hire at $15 an hour and the hospitality sector is especially suffering. Restaurants aren’t open for lunch because they can’t find staff.
Martin’s Potato Rolls is advertising for weekend work at $32 to $40 an hour and seasonal workforce demands “go off the charts” from August to late November or early December at distribution centers.
“We all want something delivered, and we want it delivered tomorrow,” said Ross, who also touched on the ruling against the Transource Energy project, solar farms in the county, housing and child care.