Westmoreland Development Council Newsletter
Seal of Westmoreland County

Community Development


Community Development Block Grant Program


Preparations are underway for the Fiscal Year 2020 Community Development Block Grant program. The Community Development Division received 31 project applications from municipalities and nonprofit agencies requesting nearly $5 million in funding.

The proposals covered a wide variety of projects — including public services, demolition, emergency rehabilitation and infrastructure improvements such as street reconstruction, stormwater facilities and ADA-accessibility improvements.

The staff of the Community Development Division currently is conducting site visits and evaluating each proposal for eligibility and compliance with HUD regulations. Eligible projects will be submitted to the Westmoreland County Commissioners for their approval to be included in the county’s 2020 Annual Action Plan to HUD.

Public meetings scheduled for input on five-year Consolidated Plan

In addition to the 2020 Annual Action Plan, Westmoreland County is required to submit a five-year Consolidated Plan to HUD for fiscal years 2020-24. The purpose of this plan is to outline specific goals and to guide funding decisions in the next five years regarding specific federal funds received for housing and community-development activities. As required by HUD, the county must solicit citizen input into the development and implementation of the consolidated plan.

To encourage citizen participation and to gather feedback as part of the planning process, the Community Development Division has scheduled a series of public-needs meetings. The meetings will be held as follows:

  • Jeannette: Tuesday, Dec. 17, starting at 6 p.m. in Jeannette Public Library, 500 Magee Ave.

  • Greensburg: Thursday, Dec. 19, starting at 6 p.m. in Greensburg-Hempfield Library, 237 S. Pennsylvania Ave.

  • Youngwood: Monday, Jan. 6, starting at 6 p.m. in St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 126 N. 4th St.

  • Irwin: Monday, Jan. 13, starting at 6 p.m. in the Lamp Theatre, 222 Main St.

Citizens also may submit comments via email to Deputy Director Janet Thomas at jthomas@co.westmoreland.pa.us or online at www.co.westmoreland.pa.us. The Consolidated Plan will be on public display from Feb. 4 through March 5. It then will be presented for formal approval by the county commissioners at their public meeting.

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Belvedere Hotel
The demolition of the former Belvedere Hotel was perhaps the most notable of the 2019 DEMOFUND projects. For details, see the Redevelopment Authority section of this newsletter.

Westmoreland County Act 152 DEMOFUND

In this, its inaugural year, the Westmoreland County Act 152 Demolition Fund program successfully razed nine properties that had been identified as community eyesores. The DEMOFUND provided $273,999 for the demolition of four residential buildings and five commercial structures. 

Established by the county commissioners to help remediate blight and to alleviate the costs associated with the demolition of abandoned and blighted properties, the DEMOFUND program was made possible by Pennsylvania Act 152, which authorizes counties to fund demolition projects by collecting a fee of up to $15 for each deed and mortgage recorded.

Applications for the 2020 DEMOFUND program are now being reviewed and are expected to be awarded by the end of the year.

 
 
 
Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland

Economic Growth Connection


PIDA loan to help Product Evaluation Systems enhance equipment during expansion 


A low-interest state loan facilitated by the EGC will help Product Evaluation Systems, Inc. enhance its equipment as it completes an expansion of its plant in Unity Township. Approved by the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority, the newly announced loan will be drawn from the PIDA Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund.

Product Evaluation Systems plans on using the nearly $600,000 to help with the purchase of equipment that will be used on specialized testing for aerospace work. The company previously was approved for a $1.05 million PIDA real-estate loan to help with construction of a 12,500 square foot steel building that will connect to their existing 18,000-square-foot building on Donohoe Road in Greensburg. The EGC also facilitated this loan.

PIDA loans are at historic lows


Do you have a project that the EGC could help with? PIDA loan rates are at historic lows, so now is a good time to consider the PIDA program for financing projects, growing/expanding your business or starting a new business! Contact Business Development Officer Kyle Martin or President Jim Smith find out how we can help.

Forum for Workforce Development offers VR job-shadowing experiences


The Westmoreland County Forum for Workforce Development is proud to announce the completion of its first virtual reality job-shadowing experience in partnership with Westmoreland County Community College’s Advanced Technology Center. This experience uses Google's web-based Expeditions software to take students, parents and educators into the ATC to tour the different program and classroom offerings. This technology enables the Forum to break down barriers associated with transportation cost and geography for partnering school districts, while also providing increased visibility for regional businesses that wish to interact with and help shape the workforce of tomorrow.

Austin Anderson joins Forum as business development officer


The Forum is happy to announce the hiring of Business Development Officer Austin Anderson. Austin — a graduate of West Virginia University who originally hails from New Market, Tenn. —  comes to Westmoreland County by way of Ashville N.C. 

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EGW recognition
State Sen. Kim Ward and EGC President James Smith flank retiring Westmoreland County Commissioner Charles Anderson and General Carbide CEO Mona Pappafava-Ray on stage at the Palace Theatre.

EGC honors Commissioner Anderson, Pappafava-Ray of General Carbide 


The EGC would like to thank everyone who attended our 2019 Annual Awards Reception at the Palace Theatre in Greensburg. Held at the Palace Theatre in Greensburg on Oct. 23, the event kicked off with us honoring retiring Westmoreland County Commissioner Charles Anderson and Mona Pappafava-Ray, president and CEO of General Carbide Corporation. We appreciate their leadership and commitment to Westmoreland County.

Elliott Group groundbreaking
Elliott Group broke ground on a $60 million cryogenic pump testing facility on Dec. 3. The facility is expected to open in spring of 2021.
Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation

Elliott Group breaks ground for $60 million facility at former Jeannette Glass site


After finalizing the purchase of the Jeannette Glass site from the IDC in October, Elliott Group held a Dec. 3 groundbreaking ceremony for a $60 million cryogenic pump testing facility that will employ about 130 workers.

“When completed, this world-class facility will be the most up-to-date, modern testing complex in the industry,” Elliott Group CEO Michael Lordi said during the groundbreaking. “Highly engineered, uniquely designed cryogenic pumps and expanders will be tested and shipped to facilities around the world from this very location.”
 
Jeannette Mayor Curtis Antoniak, who grew up a few blocks from the site when the Jeannette Glass Factory was booming, was among those thrilled to be at the groundbreaking ceremony.

"This is just a huge day. Jeannette’s on its way back,” Antoniak said. “I’m glad I was here when Jeannette flourished, and — did I think this day was going to come? It was a dream, but today that dream has come true.”

State Sen. Kim Ward, who helped secure $2.1 million in state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Project funding for the IDC to redevelop the site, said the addition of the facility will catalyze the city’s revitalization efforts.

“One-hundred thirty good-paying jobs. That means a lot,” Ward said. “It means a lot to the school district, it means a lot to taxes, it means a lot to the quality of life in Jeannette. It means a lot to the businesses up here in Jeannette — the restaurants, the shops. It’s just a great opportunity for the city.”

For nearly 100 years, the site was home to Jeannette Glass Co., a company that employed as many as 1,500 workers and helped earn the town its “Glass City” moniker. But after the company closed in 1983, the dormant industrial lot became eyesore and safety risk to the community. It wasn’t until a 2016 Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling upheld the IDC’s purchase of the land and cleared the way for redevelopment. The IDC quickly went to work; it took just 27 months to demolish the old factory buildings, perform environmental remediation, grade the site and “daylight” an old stormwater tunnel on the property to improve stormwater management along Bull Run stream and beautify the area.

Cost to redevelop the site was $4.1 million. Elliott Group will spend tens of millions more to build the testing facility. During the groundbreaking event, IDC Executive Director Jason Rigone said it was money well spent.

“Yes, it’s an investment of money, but more importantly, it’s an investment into the future of Jeannette, of Westmoreland County and of Pennsylvania,” Rigone said. “Your investment not only speaks to the future of manufacturing; it also shows what can be gained and achieved from strong partnerships.”

 
 
FAM Tour - ATC
FAM Tour - workforce discussion
FAM Tour - The Corner

IDC showcases opportunities to Pittsburgh Regional Alliance during FAM Tour


The WCIDC showcased several development opportunities in the county when it welcomed representatives of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance on Nov. 7 for the PRA's biennial FAM tour.
 
The PRA promotes economic development in a 10-county area in southwestern Pennsylvania. The FAM tour is a great opportunity for IDC staff to familiarize PRA officials with development opportunities and resources in Westmoreland County. This year’s tour was especially useful in that it provided new PRA President Mark Thomas with an appreciation of what the county has to offer.
 
The tour started with a visit to Westmoreland Logistics Park – Rail-Freight Terminal for an overview of the facility’s rail-to-truck capabilities. The presentation highlighted not only the terminal's proximity to the New Stanton transportation hub but also the fact that the 33-mile, WCIDC-owned Southwest Pennsylvania railroad connects the terminal to an international rail network.

Next stop was RIDC Westmoreland, where the PRA was hosted by the RIDC staff. The contingent checked in at the Siemens Corp. facility and then toured Westmoreland County Community College’s Advanced Technology Center. David Pistner — WCCC vice president of continuing education, workforce and community development — detailed how the school is partnering with industry to better prepare students to enter the workforce. Then the PRA contingent stepped next door to learn about the 3D/additive manufacturing work taking place at Tronix3D.
 

Attendees then took a mobile tour of Technology Park I, Technology Park II, Distribution Park North and the newest addition to the WCIDC’s family of industrial parks — Commerce Crossing at Westmoreland. Discussion during this leg of the FAM tour focused on available buildings and potential uses for pad-ready sites.
 
The final stop took the PRA team north to visit to The Corner corworking space in downtown New Kensington, where Dr. Kevin Snider, chancellor of Penn State New Kensington, discussed how efforts such as The Corner can help rust-belt towns overcome challenges and evolve to be competitive in an Industry 4.0 economy.

Xodus Medical options lot at Westmoreland Business & Research Park


Xodus Medical, Inc., a medical device manufacturer that serves more than 10,000 hospitals and surgery centers, plans to expand its presence in Westmoreland Business & Research Park. The growing company, which already employs 120 at its existing B&R Park facilities, has signed an option agreement to purchase a 2.1-acre parcel in the park. Xodus moved to the B&R Park in 2004 and currently has a total of 62,000 square feet of office/production/warehouse space there. It plans to build a 20,000 square foot building on the lot.

 
 
 
Commerce Crossing 120219

Update: Commerce Crossing at Westmoreland


Infrastructure work and land-site development is nearly complete at Commerce Crossing at Westmoreland, the newest addition to the county's robust industrial park system. Paving began in mid-November and will continue as long as weather permits. Paving will resume after a winter hiatus, and crews will plant vegetation and complete a stormwater-retention pond before an anticipated spring grand opening for the park.
 
When finished, Commerce Crossing will feature five pad-ready parcels, each ranging in size from 19 to 29 acres. Given its location along Waltz Mill Road in Sewickley Township, the park will accommodate the need that companies have for pad-ready sites with direct access to active rail and the interstate highway system. The site will be served by the Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad, which offers daily service to and from connections with Norfolk Southern, CSX Transportation and Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway.

Two of the five Commerce Crossing parcels already are under an option agreement with Al. Neyer, which plans to construct speculative warehouse/distribution-type buildings of 270,000 and 230,000 square feet on the lots. 

Rolf Glass
Company Spotlight: Glassautomatic Inc./Rolf Glass

Company Spotlight: Glassautomatic Inc. | Rolf Glass


Rolf Poeting was born into the glass industry, but after selling his family's glass-making machinery, he chose to start his own business in the industry. Nearly 40 years later, he looks back on the three biggest obstacles his company faced, and he shares his enthusiasm for the opportunity presented by online marketplaces such as Amazon. For the Glassautomatic story, click here.

Seal of Westmoreland County

Planning Division


Local leaders, county planners identify key areas for Alle-Kiski land-use map


Municipal and county partnership is a major theme of the county’s comprehensive plan, Reimagining Our Westmoreland. To strengthen those types of partnerships, the Planning Division led a series of land-use exercises with officials from the 11 municipalities that make up the Alle-Kiski Planning District.
 
During several months of conversations, local leaders identified key areas to preserve, enhance and transform. This information will be used to create a land-use map of the Alle-Kiski Planning District that will help inform future development and aid in attracting, developing and retaining a diverse and stable workforce that will sustain a healthy economy.
 
Looking ahead to 2020, municipal leaders will continue to work together to align specific strategies from Reimagining Our Westmoreland with locations throughout the Alle-Kiski area. They also will engage in mobility planning to address transportation issues. This effort is part of our planning-district process, which aims to align countywide strategies with local priorities while improving communication, addressing gaps in services and, ultimately, strengthening the fabric of Westmoreland County.
 
The county comprehensive plan has identified seven sub-regions, and this process will be repeated in the other six.
 
The Alle-Kiski sub-region contains Allegheny Township, Arnold, East Vandergrift Borough, Hyde Park Borough, Lower Burrell, New Kensington, Oklahoma Borough, Upper Burrell Township, Vandergrift Borough, Washington Township and West Leechburg Borough. To learn more, see Reimagining Our Westmoreland.



Westmoreland County opportunity zones

Created through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, opportunity zones are federally designated census tracts that provide tax benefits to investors who invest capital gains into Qualified Opportunity Zone Funds. The Opportunity Zone Program is designed to encourage and incentivize the investment of capital and resources into low- and moderate-income communities, which ultimately strengthens both the local and state tax bases. By bringing necessary resources to help spur economic development and job creation, the Opportunity Zone Program can be a powerful tool to revitalize distressed communities,
 
Westmoreland County has four federally designated census tracts in two opportunity zones in the New Kensington and Jeannette areas. The Realtors Association of Westmoreland, Indiana, and the Mon Valley has taken a leadership role in promoting the county’s opportunity zones. As the group continues to build connections and partnerships, its members will be working to host an opportunity zone development conference in Indiana and Westmoreland counties early next year.

To view properties available within the county's opportunity zones, click the "Opportunity Zone Buildings" tab at www.westmorelandsites.com.

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SmartMoves logo

Transportation and regional transit updates

TIP Funding: Every two years, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, in collaboration with PennDOT and county planners, identifies the highest-priority transportation projects for the region as part of the Transportation Improvement Program to be completed over the next four years. Due to state and federal transportation funding cuts, TIP funding will decrease by 21 percent from 2019 to 2021. This means there will be $325 million less available for transportation-related projects moving forward. As less transportation funding becomes available across Pennsylvania, local municipalities will be faced with the implications of a lack of transportation funding.

Completed projects: The following transportation projects recently have been completed throughout Westmoreland County:

  • the I-70/New Stanton Interchange in New Stanton Borough,
  • the Westmoreland Heritage Trail Phase IV, which extending the trail from Murrysville to Export Borough, and
  • the SR-981/Kennametal highway improvements in Unity Township.

Currently underway: Projects that are currently underway include the US-119 Youngwood Reconstruction project in Youngwood Borough, improvements to the Western Section of the US-30 corridor and the West Newton Bridge rehabilitation project in West Newton Borough. 

On deck: Improvements for the SR 819-to-Norvelt and the Norvelt-to-Pleasant Unity sections of the Laurel Valley Transportation Improvement Project are expected to move forward. This work will improve access, safety and mobility along the Route 981 corridor. Additionally, it will connect major manufacturing and job centers in Latrobe and Unity to the interstate. Long-term partnership between PennDOT, the Federal Highway Administration, the Turnpike Commission and Westmoreland County have made this project possible.

Laurel Valley Transportation Improvement Project, Section 1: The Laurel Valley Transportation Improvement Project received environmental clearance on Nov. 19. Environmental clearance marks the end of preliminary engineering, and the project now is in the final design phase. In early 2020, the project team will begin contacting the owners of properties along the SR 981 corridor to acquire necessary rights of way to construct the proposed improvements. Environmental permitting, utility clearance, rights-of-way acquisition and the final roadway construction plans also will be completed in the final design. In spring of 2020, a public meeting and refreshed project website will update the community on the project progress. For details, see www.laurelvalleyproject.com.

SmartMoves for a Changing Region: In June, SPC adopted SmartMoves for a Changing Region, a regional transportation and development plan for the 10-county region. This long-range plan envisions a world-class integrated transportation system that is safe, well-maintained and provides mobility for all. The goal here is to enable resilient communities and to support a globally competitive economy.

To take on the goals and directions outlined in the transportation plan, SPC is developing SmartMoves Connections: A Regional Vision for Public Transit. This major regional project envisions the next phase of public transit and aims to coordinate transit service while building strategies around multimodal hubs and corridors. This effort will help Westmoreland County continue to address the changing transportation needs identified in Reimagining Our Westmoreland and ensure that the county remains connected to the larger region and beyond.

2020 Census

Mark your calendars for April 1 — Census Day! This will be the 24th U.S. Census, and for the first time ever, there will be options to respond by phone or online in addition to the traditional paper form. Census workers will be targeting hard-to-reach areas by foot on that day, and your participation is essential.

The decennial — or “once-a-decade” — census is a valuable tool that provides the primary source of data on the nation’s population. Information gathered through the census is used not only to determine accurate political representation but also to allocate more than $675 billion in federal funds annually. This means the census impacts funding for things such as transportation, housing, education and employment. Getting a complete and accurate count of every Westmoreland County resident is essential for maintaining and improving the county’s programs and services. Learn more about the 2020 Census by clicking here.

Counting every person is no easy feat. As such, the Census Bureau is hiring more than 500,000 part-time and temporary workers across the country, including here in Westmoreland County. For details on open positions and how to apply, click here.

Census infographic
Redevelopment Authority of the County of Westmoreland

Redevelopment Authority


9 OUT OF 9: WCLB Homeownership Program enjoys continued success


The Westmoreland County Land Bank has accepted the ninth sales offer for its Homeownership Program for a residential property in South Greensburg. This offer makes nine out of nine homes sold or under agreement in the program.

The Homeownership Program is an initiative to rehabilitate properties that can then be sold to low- to moderate-income residents within Westmoreland County. The program is made possible through the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE).

The program has had a significant impact, with rehabilitations taking place in Trafford, Jeannette, Irwin, Greensburg, Derry Township, Mount Pleasant and South Greensburg. These projects stabilize the surrounding neighborhood by increasing market values while simultaneously removing blight. Properties have varied greatly in price as well as in the buyers' income, making it an inclusive program across multiple demographics.

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Belvedere Hotel
Belvedere Hotel remains
Belvedere site

Thanks to DEMOFUND, Belvedere Hotel site successfully cleaned up


The Redevelopment Authority — in coordination with the Community Development Division and Oklahoma Borough — successfully completed the demolition and site cleanup of the former Belvedere Hotel in Oklahoma Borough following a devastating fire that occurred on July 24.
 
Funding was provided entirely through the county’s DEMOFUND, which enabled Oklahoma Borough to retain its proposed contribution for use toward other local projects and services. Eveready Contracting completed the contract with a $48,669 project total, resulting in significant cost-savings. PennDOT and the state Department of Environmental Protection’s partnership and timely review of regulatory requirements were vital to the successful and expeditious completion of the project.
 
The Act 152 DEMOFUND program was created to assist with projects of similar scale and nature. It provides the county with another avenue of funding to achieve its slum- and blight-clearance objectives.

Trafford demolition
Demolition is under way at the intersection of Cavitt Avenue and 5th Street in Trafford.

CDBG Monies Contribute to Trafford Demolition


Demolition is under way of the former Trafford Inn/Mellon Bank building in Trafford Borough. This blighted commercial structure — which is located at 501-503 Cavitt Avenue — posed a threat of collapsing onto the nearby busy street.

Substantial completion of the demolition is scheduled by the end of this year, ensuring the safety of travelers and improving removing a blighted property along the main road into downtown Trafford.

From Glass to Green

RAWC makes national headlines for use of federal funds


Federal EPA Brownfields Assessment Grants were essential in preparing the former Jeannette Glass Plant site to host the Elliott Company’s expansion plans. The funds also facilitated the addition of greenspace in Jeannette's urban environment. The project was noted as a success story in the Environmental Protection Agency’s September 2019 publication as an example of how to productively use its funding to prepare for a productive reuse.
 
RACW will make an appearance at the U.S. EPA National Brownfield Conference this December in Los Angeles. The conference takes place every two years, acting as an educational and networking workshop for grant recipients, field professionals and administrators dedicated to brownfield remediation cleanups.

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