Forward Lawrence Advances Growth Plan

NEW CASTLE, Pa. – The launch of Forward Lawrence, a countywide vision for the future of Lawrence County, made for a banner year at the Lawrence County Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Forward Lawrence is designed to guide economic, community and workforce development in Lawrence County. A steering committee of community leaders and stakeholders selected Garner Economics LLC as the site selector consultant that performed the economic research and gathered community input from nearly 150 individuals.

The final report, Elevate Lawrence County, offered recommendations that would increase local employment opportunity, expand the tax base, raise the standard of living and ultimately achieve economic stability, says Alex McCoy, chamber CEO.

Also in 2021, the Lawrence County Economic Development Corp. a sister organization to the chamber, oversaw several important projects set to expand the county’s economic base. 

LCEDC helped to secure $5 million in state funding and a revised local tax abatement for Stonecrest Business Park, allowing Pittsburgh developer John LaCarte’s vision for the Stonecrest Golf Course to take shape, says Linda Nitch, executive director.

The 213-acre golf course in New Beaver Township, which will remain open for business during 2022, is being repurposed as a 100-acre industrial park, with a proposed 1.2 million square feet of buildings and the potential for 1,000 jobs.

 “With the close proximity of I-376 and I-76, Stonecrest is well-positioned to attract warehouse and distribution centers to the area,” Nitch says.

LaCarte, working with HRG Engineering Consultants, plans to extend utility lines along the Route 18 corridor at an estimated cost of more than $2 million.

Sanitary sewer service would be provided by Wampum Sewer and water by Pennsylvania American Water. Penn Power and Columbia Gas are working on needed service extensions, with utility construction planned for spring, Nitch says.

LCEDC also helped to secure and administer two $1 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grants to fund the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers apprenticeship training center in the Neshannock Business Park. The 23,000-square-foot facility serves the continuing education needs of journeymen and apprentices for IBEW Local 712.

An additional $1.5 million RACP grant was secured for the Keystone Compliance project. Keystone Compliance, based in New Castle, Pa., has a growth plan that includes the acquisition of an additional building, expansion of its existing building and construction of a free-standing building.

Meanwhile, on behalf of the city of New Castle, LCEDC applied for multimodal grant dollars from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. The $1 million grant the city received will be used to improve infrastructure along East Washington Street between Court Street and Croton Avenue. Plans include new sidewalks, curbing, lighting, roadways and rail crossings.

“Redevelopment occurs when the community combines its skills to create a coalition to make a project a reality,” Nitch says.

In addition, LCEDC helped Lawrence County Commissioners distribute nearly $1 million in grant funding through the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program to eligible county businesses. The organization processed 53 grant applications from area small businesses to aid the hard-hit hospitality industry.

Internally, the chamber hired a new investor experience/events specialist, Lyndsey Overby, bringing full-time employment to five. Former Duquesne University small business consultant Paul Bucciarelli joined the team on a part-time basis as the business retention and workforce specialist. Jeff Dereume now serves as Small Business Development Center business consultant, assisting local businesses in business plan development, financial planning, marketing and development.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.