GREENCASTLE — "What's going on in Antrim Township? A lot," Mike Ross, president of Franklin County Area Development Corp., said during his recent annual Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce breakfast program.

"Well over $500 millions has been invested in Antrim Township over the last five to seven years," he said, naming developments like Armada, Eldorado Stone, Staples, the new Greencastle Medical Office, A. Duie Pyle, Gate 7 and NorthPoint.

"For development potential, there's not a better place on Interstate 81 in Pennsylvania than Exit 3," Ross said.

Not only does NorthPoint offer big box options, but hundreds of other acres are available for development.

Looking forward, positive steps toward economic development include the G-A School District's recent extension of Local Economic Redevelopment Tax Assistance, an Interstate 81 corridor study by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, a U.S. 11 corridor study by Antrim Township and Exit 3-U.S. 11 overpass discussions, Ross said.

The area's opportunity is getting national attention as well.

The Greencastle-Antrim area was showcased during Vice President Mike Pence's visit to Manitowoc Aug. 1 and Pence referred to the Jamison Door project in Washington Township, which has it's grand opening today.

"We are on the radar of the administration in terms of manufacturing opportunities," Ross said.

There may be a perception that Franklin County is a transportation-logistic corridor because of its warehouses, but some of its biggest employers — such as Manitowoc, Letterkenny and Volvo and Manitowoc — are manufacturers supported by small businesses such as welders.

Economic development doesn't stop at the border, either. NorthPoint, for example, just had a project approved in Washington County, Maryland.

"This quad state region is really a quad state region ... It's all tied to the same 'laborshed,'" Ross said.

But success doesn't come without a few challenges.

Finding labor, especially skilled and technical workers, in an area with 3.2 percent unemployment is one of the challenges moving forward, Ross said. It is important to work with school districts to meet education and training needs and FCADC is very close to a multi-year lease with a workforce training provider.

The lack of industrial buildings for small to mid-size projects is another hinderance.

Ross also talked about the impact of infrastructure — namely I-81 — and the fees associated with water cleanup projects mandated by MS4 (municipal separate storm sewer system) requirements as other hurdles.

PennDOT is looking really focused on what can be done to improve I-81's Exit 5 in Antrim Township, but, "When are we going to widen I-81? Probably not in your lifetime. It's beyond frustrating," Ross said.

Overall, however, things are looking good for the county.

"We are in a great place right now," Ross said. "The challenge is to manage growth to elevate the quality of life for everyone in this room and everyone in Franklin County."