Greencastle-Antrim Area Development Corp. meeting features Mike Ross

Shawn Hardy

The Greencastle-Antrim Area Development Corp. had a small role in B Street 104, the restaurant that opened last summer in remodeled space at 104 E. Baltimore St.

“We’re so happy for what Kevin’s (Benner) done here,” said Frank Traver as he opened G-AADC’s annual meeting Thursday at the restaurant, where it was announced that John Blubaugh and Duane Kinzer has been re-elected to the board of directors.

Traver noted G-AADC is one of the oldest local corporations assisting development and one of its early ventures was Corning.

The group is looking for a project or a property and “we would love to talk to you,” said Traver.

He said this area is blessed for four reasons, “location, location, location and Mike Ross and Franklin County Area Development Corp.” before turning the program over to Ross, FCADC president, who gave a whirlwind tour of the county and beyond.

Ross said the core strategies of FCADC are retention of existing businesses, selectively attracting new business and facilitating startups.

He cited Eldorado Stone, which is moving from U.S. 11 north of Greencastle to Antrim Commons Drive near Exit 3 of Interstate 81, as a job retaining expansion assisted by FCADC.

The selective attraction of new businesses is important so the area is not dependent on one business or sector, like it was relying on Letterkenny Army Depot and Grove Manufacturing when FCADC started in 1986.

Startups are critical, Ross said, noting the county’s oldest was TB Wood’s in 1857, followed over the years by scores of others, including Grove, JLG, D.L. Martin and other “people operating out of their garages who now employ hundreds of people.”

FCADC’s services include being a repository for information, assisting with site selection and services, financing, facilitating common economic development and quality of life goals, serving as a liaison with elected officials and policymakers and leadership in identifying issues that impact Franklin County.

Franklin County is the sixth fastest growing county in the state and is doing well, along with every other county that touches Interstate 81 or 78.

It also is part of the unique Quadco Economic Alliance, which Ross called a big deal — four states, four counties and 40 miles along Interstate 81, where development includes an expected 700 jobs from Proctor and Gamble in Martinsburg, West Virginia, and 1,000 from Amazon near Winchester, Virginia.

Places like Greencastle and Waynesboro are sort of suburbs to Hagerstown and Ross expects some of the P&G employees to move to the Greencastle area because of the schools.

Health care is the biggest employment sector and is growing, not just Summit Health, but Keystone Health Services and area retirement communities. Defense is the second biggest industry, with about 3,000 employees at Letterkenny Army Depot.

The biggest manufacturers in the county are Manitowoc, JLG and Volvo. They’ve been flat in recent years, “but are seeing an uptick. They aren’t ready to break out the champagne, but they’re ready to buy party hats at the dollar store.”

Manitowoc is consolidating its crawler division in Shady Grove and JLG is moving Manlifts from Ohio, with jobs going to McConnellsburg, Shippensburg and Greencastle facilities.

Ross touched on what’s happening in Shippensburg, Chambersburg and Waynesboro, and spent some time at Exit 3 in Antrim Township.

“This is the best designed interchange of I-81 and it’s starting to reflect this,” Ross said, explaining traffic can get off southbound I-81, come to a traffic light then go straight into the industrial park.

He talked about the NorthPoint warehouse development, which if it goes as planned could produce 2,500 to 3,000 jobs.

“This interchange is significant,” he said, rattling off a list of new and existing businesses including Eldorado Stone, Blaise Alexander, Summit Health, Armada, Gate 7, World Kitchen and Food Lion.

When he looped around to the Tuscarora School District area, he noted that the 66,000-square-foot Altas Copco building, which created 50 manufacturing jobs, was constructed by Eagle Construction of Greencastle, where Traver is president.

Near the end of his presentation, Ross said the region is at full employment and there needs to be a long-term solution for future labor demands. A key to that he said is more investment in preschool education to give kids the best opportunity to succeed so that when they are sent out they go work, not to Opportunity Avenue, home of the Franklin County Jail.