Development corporation president speaks to chamber members

Shawn Hardy
Mike Ross, president of Franklin County Area Development Corp., talks with Garon Gembe of Graphics Universal and Mary Cordell of F&M Trust after the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

Mike Ross, president of Franklin County Area Development Corp. made his annual appearance at a Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce breakfast Thursday morning at Green Grove Gardens.

He thanked everyone in the room for what they do to help Franklin County and the Greencastle-Antrim area.

Ross provided an overview of FCADC’s core strategies of business and job retention, selective attraction of new businesses and facilitating start-ups, with a focus on family sustaining jobs.

FCADC provides services such as information, site selection, facilitating common quality of life and economic goals, financing, serving as a liaison with political officials and policy makers and providing leadership in identifying issues impacting the county.

He talked about the unique situation of four counties in four states within 40 miles along Interstate 81 and the north-south laborshed and economy.

Summit Health is the largest employer in Franklin County at 3,360, followed by Letterkenny at 3,150. Manitowoc Cranes in Shady Grove is the largest manufacturing employer (950) .

He talked about the bookends of Exit 3 in Antrim Township and the Fayette Street Exit in Shippensburg and all the development that exists, is under way or is in the planning stages.

“Exit 3 — it’s happening. You can see the investment in the last five to seven years,” Ross said.

He listed Atapco (owner of Antrim Commons Business Park), NorthPoint’s three distribution centers under construction, the new Blaise Alexander vehicle dealership, Eldorado Stone’s consolidation and Summit Health’s planned medical office building. Also in Antrim Township, JLG is consolidating Manlift production from Ohio to its facilities on Hykes Road and Molly Pitcher Highway, the WCN Properties site on Hykes Road is on the short-listed for a development project and Manitowoc closed its Wisconsin site, moved the work to Shady Grove, invested $20 million and created 250 jobs.

He also pointed to land available for more development, including the Gayman tract east of I-81, Matrix’s 110 acres around World Kitchen, 100-plus acres in Century Business Park and the Bowman commercial and industrial property near Exit 5 and Grindstone Hill Road.

“Greencastle is the location right now,” Ross said.

The job creation will mean people moving in and challenges for a school district that is already overcrowded and underwater financially.

In addition, infrastructure, specifically I-81 is a challenge of effective growth.

“81 has to be dealt with. This is a dangerous road, an absolutely dangerous road, that needs to be fixed,” Ross said. “Twelve percent of the U.S. economy travels this road every day.”

Ross explained the financial impact of an I-81 crash: it costs Volvo $42,000 an hour if parts cannot get through.

“Even worse, someone is killed or Lifelioned,” Ross said.

He said if Congress were to pass an infrastructure bill and I-81 is prioritized, improvements could be possible in five to seven years.