Shovels Turn Friday for Two Big New Castle Projects

Shovels Turn Friday for Two Big New Castle Projects

NEW CASTLE, Pa. – Friday is shaping up to be a busy day for New Castle as two companies, Ellwood Quality Steel and Steelite International, are set to break ground on large expansions that will bring increased capacity and more jobs with them.

Ellwood Quality Steel’s project will add 110,00 square feet, says President Mike Morgus, to house equipment for vacuum arc remelting and electroslag remelting, bringing the processes in-house.

“They’re used to make products for the aerospace industry, the military and oil and gas industry. Currently, we depend upon outside sources to do this,” Morgus said. “We wanted to travel around the world and benchmark the latest and greatest technology.”

The expansion has been in the works for several years, he continued, and was approved by parent company Ellwood Group in May 2017. Morgus said there’s “an aggressive timeline” to complete the expansion by the end of the year. The expansion will bring in 25 hourly jobs plus about 10 upper-level positions like managers and quality control engineers.

“It’s natural for us to grow in Lawrence County,” he said, noting that the company considered other sites before settling on New Castle. “We have other facilities here that we’ve had success with. There’s access to infrastructure such as rail and highways. And we have access to a labor market that has an industrial and manufacturing background.”

Shortly before Ellwood breaks ground on their expansion, Steelite International has another groundbreaking scheduled about five miles away just off Interstate 80. The tableware company’s expansion will add 52,000 square feet of warehouse and light manufacturing space, says director of marketing Alison Clingensmith.

“It will double what we currently have,” she said. “We’re building a facility that will not only accommodate what we’re doing at the moment – which we definitely need more space for – and in the future as well.”

In February, Steelite CEO John Miles announced the company would move its New Castle showroom to the Commerce Building in downtown Youngstown. That space on the top floor is under renovation and expected to be completed this summer. The now empty space in New Castle, Clingensmith said, will be turned into more office space.

“They’ll be working in tandem. The Youngstown space will be doing off-site training, the hotel’s there for senior-level people that we bring in for things throughout the year like trends events,” she said. “Then they’ll be traveling to New Castle for tours of our facility here as well.”

The New Castle project is supported by a $1.5-million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant from the state of Pennsylvania. The Lawrence County Regional Chamber of Commerce assisted Steelite, whose warehouse and offices are in the Millennium Technology Park, in applying for the grant, says CEO Alex McCoy. The chamber is also providing legal assistance to help the company clear land for the expansion.

“In order to build their pad, they have to do a tremendous amount of ground disturbance. They want it to have the same, or near the same, floor level and the building has a hill behind it they’ll have to dig into,” McCoy said.

The two groundbreakings – Steelite’s is set for 10 a.m. and Ellwood Quality Steel’s for noon – are just the latest large developments in the county. In August, New York Blower announced a 30,000-square-foot expansion to its New Castle site in the Shenango Commerce park. That same month, construction began on the $863-million Hickory Run Power Plant in North Beaver Township. Meanwhile, in New Beaver, Pennsylvania American Water opened a new treatment plant last year as well.

“We’ve got a billion dollars in projects on the table,” McCoy said. “Obviously there’s something going on here. This is a really happening area. Not just here but down in Beaver County with the cracker and shale play in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Suppliers are scouring the countryside for sites. I think that soon, you’ll start seeing other sites here as well.”

As for having two major projects get underway the same day, the chamber executive noted that while his threshold for what constitutes exciting isn’t the highest, it’s still something that businesses should take note of.

“When I hear a downtown business is adding a part-time employee, I get excited,” he said with a laugh. “To have projects of this size occurring in our community, it’s absolutely exciting for us. People often don’t give the credence that’s needed to business expansion, but I think it’s truly a great testimonial that the businesses in our community, who’ve been here a long time and could do their projects elsewhere, chose to do it in Lawrence County.”

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