Westmoreland Development Council Newsletter
Seal of Westmoreland County

Community Development

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program
The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the Fiscal Year 2017 allocations for the CPD formula programs, which provide funding for housing, community and economic development activities, and assistance for low and moderate-income persons and special populations across the country.  Westmoreland County’s Community Development Division submitted its FY 2017 Annual Action Plan on July 31, 2017, for HUD review, ending September 15, 2017. The municipalities and non-profit agencies that were incorporated within the plan will be notified by staff of the Community Development Division when allocations will be available to initiate projects.

Revitalization Project in Sewickley Township
The Marley Court area revitalization project has been completed.  Over several years Westmoreland County provided allocations from various funding sources to Sewickley Township, and Westmoreland County Housing Authority for neighborhood revitalization.  Phase #1 and #2 included the replacement of deteriorated sanitary sewer system lines, storm water inlets and the reconstruction of streets, sidewalks/ramps. July 2017, Phase #3 completed the project by providing sixteen (16) single family residences, the Shaner Heights affordable housing community, with new roofs and furnaces.  The development is owned and operated by the Westmoreland County Housing Authority. 

Marley Court, Sewickley Township
Before and after pictures of the revitalization project at Marley Court, Sewickley Township.

New Culvert Construction, Municipality of Murrysville
The construction of a new culvert on Washington Avenue in Ringertown was completed utilizing CDBG funds. The project was necessitated because the area had declined and subjected to flooding from a tributary that fed into Turtle Creek. The tributary above the stream of the culvert was cleaned and widened and gabion walls installed along the creek banks. The old Washinton Street Bridge was eliminated and replaced with the new culvert and road construction.

New Culvert Construction, Municipality of Murrysville
Before and after pictures of the construction of a new culvert in Murrysville. 
Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland Logo

Economic Growth Connection

EGC Announces Rate Reduction  
EGC Business Development Officer, Greg Daigle, reports that the interest rates on all PIDA eligible projects has been reduced to the low rate of 2% through the end of 2017 or whenever the funds have all been allocated to projects, whichever is first.

Eligible projects include: Real Estate, Equipment, Working Capital/Credit Lines, and Pollution Control/Energy Efficiency Loans.  The rate decrease was approved by PIDA during their July Board meeting and has been well received by the business community. “This rate decrease came as quite a surprise,” said Daigle “We had been expecting a slight increase in rate, so this is very welcome news to our Westmoreland County businesses. Interest in this new program is very high and we encourage business to contact us even if they just considering a project”.

Call EGC today to see if this loan is right for your business at (724) 830-3604 or email Greg Daigle at [email protected].

Certified IDC

What Are Job Creation Tax Credits?

If your company will be expanding its workforce now or in the future. You may be eligible for Job Creation Tax Credits. Job Creation Tax Credits (or JCTC’s) are $1,000-per-job tax credit to create new jobs in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania within three years.  

What can I use the Tax Credit for?
Tax Credits can be used to offset various business tax liabilities.

What is the eligibility for companies?
Approved businesses as determined by the PA Department of Community and Economic Development.

What are the terms?
$1,000-per-job tax credit to approved businesses that agree to create jobs within three years.  Twenty-Five percent of the tax credits allocated by the State each year must go to businesses with less than 100 employees.

How do I apply?
In Westmoreland County, an application can be made through the Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland. Call Greg Daigle at (724) 850-6871 for more details, or email him at  [email protected]

Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation Logo

Industrial Development Corporation

Siemens Signs Long-Term Lease
In June, Siemens Corporation signed a long-term lease with the Regional Industrial Development Corporation of Southwestern Pennsylvania (RIDC) for 230,000 square feet of existing space at RIDC Westmoreland, the 2.8 million square foot former Sony Plant located in New Stanton. Along with leasing the existing square footage, Siemens will construct a new addition to the building that will be over 60,000 square feet. Approximately 200 full-time employees will work at the facility when it is completed in 2018. The WCIDC and the RIDC partnered with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Westmoreland County to begin redevelopment of the former Sony and Volkswagen plant in 2012. Total investment into RIDC Westmoreland is anticipated to exceed $100 million in the next year, and will employ over 700 employees on-site. 

Rendering of Siemens at RIDC Westmoreland
Rendering of the new Siemens facility at RIDC Westmoreland.

Two Jeannette Projects Moving Forward
Redevelopment efforts continue in the City of Jeannette. The Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation (WCIDC) completed site development at the former Monsour Medical Center site this past spring. Currently, the WCIDC and the Westmoreland County Lank Bank are reviewing developer’s proposals for the 6.7-acres of property located along the Route 30 corridor. New development at this location will provide a new economic driver for the city and the corridor.

In Jeannette’s downtown, the WCIDC held a groundbreaking ceremony in May to mark the start of demolition and remediation efforts at the blighted 13-acre Jeannette Glass Site. During the ceremony, Secretary Dennis M. Davin from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development announced the WCIDC was awarded $960,300 in Industrial Site Reuse Program (ISRP) grant funding to be used for site cleanup efforts. Read more about the groundbreaking ceremony here. From now until November, environmental assessment, hazardous site cleanup, and site wide demolition will be taking place at the site.

Groundbreaking Ceremony at Jeannette Glass Site
The WCIDC held a groundbreaking ceremony at the Jeannette Glass Site on May 31, 2017.
Penn State Logo

Entrepreneurial Center to Open in New Kensington
The WCIDC in partnership with Penn State New Kensington (PSNK) will open the doors to an Entrepreneurial Center at 707 Fifth Avenue in downtown New Kensington during the 2017 Fall Semester. The Center will bring faculty, students, entrepreneurs and potential investors to downtown New Kensington.  The Center will also create an opportunity to capture the imagination of those traveling into New Kensington to encourage them to stay and invest in the developing downtown, sparking further revitalization along the New Kensington Corridor of Innovation. The corridor will run from the Penn State New Kensington Entrepreneurial Center at 707 Fifth Avenue to the Westmoreland County Community College at 1150 Fifth Avenue. Visit the Corridor of Innovation's Facebook page to get the latest new and updates. 

Company Spotlight
With its expansive area, access to major transportation arteries, comprehensive industrial park system and strong work ethic, Westmoreland County has the business climate to assure success.  That's why so many companies have grown strong right here. WCIDC is highlighting those stories in our Company Spotlight.

Our latest spotlight is on Ventana USA. This year, Ventana is celebrating a multitude of milestones. The company is marking its 30th anniversary, the workforce is at 100 employees, and window sales are on track to surpass last year’s number. Plus, the two key individuals who are at the helm, Tony and Ann Pauly, are getting ready to pass on the reigns to their sons when they retire at the end of the year. Read more about the company’s history in Westmoreland County.

Exterior of Ventana Building
Ventana USA is located in WCIDC's Westmoreland Industrial Park III in Penn Township.
Reimagining Our Westmoreland Logo

Planning Division 

Comprehensive Plan Update
Reimagining Our Westmoreland, a plan for a more livable and prosperous county, is about halfway complete. The first phases of public engagement are complete, having heard from over 4,000 residents and businesses. In May, the County Planning Division, along with our consultant team, held a Priority Issues Workshop to offer the public a chance to help write the plan, by offering goals, action steps and metrics tied to seven priority issues in the plan. Over the next few months, we’re working to create a strategy evaluation tool. This online platform will offer residents another way to be engaged in the process. Users of the tool can read descriptions of the issues, learn about the costs and benefits of certain actions, and offer their own priorities for implementation. To complement the online tool, an alternative strategies public workshop will be held. Participants in this workshop will be presented with options for strategies and provide real time feedback through the use of wireless keypads. To learn more, visit the Reimagining Our Westmoreland website or Facebook page.

Route 119 Corridor Plan
In light of the upcoming PennDOT Route 119 ($21.8 M) reconstruction project, and on the heels of a recently completed comprehensive plan, Youngwood Borough has hired the County Planning Division to complete a corridor plan. Route 119 plays a significant role in the Youngwood community. In the Borough’s comprehensive plan, the one-way couplet of 3rd and 4th Streets was recognized for its connection to the Turnpike, Interstate 70 and Route 66. Additionally, the roughly 20,000 motorists who travel through Youngwood on a daily basis offer a captive audience for the local business district. However, there are negative aspects that impact the community. The first of which is excessive speed. Speeding cars and trucks make other users feel unsafe. And with short building setbacks, the highway oriented design contributes to blighted conditions of homes, which comprise roughly 75% of land use along the corridor. Goals of the plan are to mitigate the negative aspects of the roadway, take advantage of potential opportunities, and to coordinate activities that support development and redevelopment. The plan will take about one year to complete and will set the stage for improvements in the downtown, connections to recreation and community assets, speeding, beautification, public transit operations, and traffic management. 

Laurel Valley Transportation Improvement Project
PennDOT in partnership with Westmoreland County are in the process of developing the Laurel Valley Transportation Improvement Project (LVTIP).  The LVTIP is a comprehensive approach to identifying a series of fundable, feasible, and sustainable roadway improvements to meet existing and future transportation needs along the existing Route 981 Corridor. The project area extends from the south near the Route 819/981 intersection in Mount Pleasant Township to the north along Route 981 near the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity Township. The LVTIP will include improvements to enhance safety, mobility and access consistent with projected land use and future growth in the region.

As a result of the recently completed Feasibility Study, a Draft Preferred Improvement Concept has been identified.  The Preferred Concept improves the corridor using a segmental approach with three logical projects: Route 819 to Norvelt; Norvelt to Route 130; and Route 130 to near the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport. This will allow the Route 981 corridor to be upgraded incrementally through smaller, fundable projects and reducing the duration of construction impacts within the community. 

Improvements identified along Route 981 from Route 819 to Norvelt (Section 1) have moved into the Preliminary Engineering (PE) phase of the project. During PE, the Section 1 Draft Preferred Improvement Concept will be refined. PE is expected to be completed by the end of 2018, when the project will move into Final Design to develop final construction plans.

For more information about the LVTIP, please visit the project website. 

Laurel Valley Transportation Improvement Project
Seth Koons

Welcome, Seth Koons!
The Planning Division is excited to welcome Seth Koons to the team as the newest Planning Coordinator.
Koons didn’t know it at the time but playing with Legos as a child would eventually lead him to a career as a planner. Whether it be building something with blocks to imagining projects on a larger scale, Koons has always had a passion for design. That interest lead him to pursue a career in architecture at Ball State University located in his home state of Indiana. Koons shifted his career path freshman year when he learned Ball State offered courses in urban planning. Koons would go on to earn his Bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning and Development in 2014.   

In June, Koons joined the Westmoreland County Department of Planning and Development, bringing the Planning Division back up to its full complement of staff. In this role, Koons will be assisting senior staff in all aspects of project and program delivery, including subdivision and land development review, transportation planning, and municipal services projects. Koons looks forward to playing an active role in helping the county update the comprehensive plan and contributing to the processes and policies that will guide the municipalities. “Seth’s skillset complements the Planning Division quite well,” explained Brian Lawrence, Deputy Director of the Planning Division. “We were especially happy to bring someone in from outside the county with different perspectives and experiences than what typifies county planning agencies in the region.” 

Before moving to Westmoreland County, Koons worked as a Planning Technician for the Town of La Plata located in Southern Maryland, about 30 miles southeast of Washington, DC. “I like Westmoreland County because it reminds of Indiana. It’s laid back compared to where I was in Maryland. There is a lot of Steel History here, and I’ve learned more about the region’s vast history since moving to the area,” said Koons. 

The move isn’t all about work. Koons’ fiancée is originally from Westmoreland County, and they are both enjoying being closer to family and getting ready for their nuptials in the near future.  

RACW and Land Bank Logo

Focus on Land Bank Properties
The Redevelopment Authority of Westmoreland County (RAWC) has been focusing a lot of its time on Land Bank efforts. The RAWC is constantly growing and acquiring more properties for reuse around Westmoreland County. Currently, the Land Bank has three available properties that have gone through our rehab program. The program includes getting the property up to code among adding cosmetic additions.  The properties are listed with Berkshire Hathaway

RACW Houses Available

New Collaboration with the Progress Fund
The Redevelopment Authority is teaming up with the Progress Fund in the demolition of a downtown West Newton bar. Demarchi’s Tavern on Main Street succumbed to a fire last April and is desperate need of attention. With the help of the Progress Fund purchasing the property, the RACW will be responsible for the demolition of the structure. The RAWC’s experience in these difficult take downs will prove beneficial as the structure resides directly between two adjoining buildings.  This is the first collaboration between the RACW and the Progress Fund. In the future, the RAWC will continue to utilize organizations such as the Progress Fund to address the blight in our communities.

The RAWC has been awarded another grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to assist in the cleanup of Brownfield sites. The grant utilizes services to inspect Brownfields for contamination and restore them to useful properties. The $600,000 amount will be incredibly helpful in converting these spaces into industrial or commercial properties. The Redevelopment Authority already has 25 sites in evaluation for potential use of this funding.

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