DCED acting secretary visits Mon Valley

Paul Paterra

Neil Weaver, acting secretary for the state Department of Community and Economic Development, got a firsthand look Monday at some investments made in the commonwealth’s manufacturing industry in the Mon Valley.

“The governor is very interested in the investments that we’ve made over the past 7 1/2 years, making sure that we know where that money went, making sure that we’re seeing what the results were,” Weaver said. “The results out here in Southwestern Pennsylvania are awesome. These kind of projects are exactly what we’ve been looking at doing and have refunded over the past 7 1/2 years.”

Weaver’s stops Monday included Retal Americas Holdings and Barchemy in Donora Industrial Park; Valley Tire Co. in Speers Industrial Park, and Bakery Barn and Bloom Engineering in Alta Vista Business Park, Fallowfield Township. Each of the three business/industrial parks visited are Mon Valley Alliance projects.

The businesses are among those in which the administration of Gov. Tom Wolf has made investments through the DCED’s Neighborhood Assistance Program. For example, chocolate and confectionary maker Barchemy received a $500,000 tax credit through the program to expand its facility.

“We couldn’t be more appreciative of the support we’ve gotten locally at a state level because it allows us to continue to do what we need to do, which is serve our customers and serve our employees and be more competitive,” said Chris Leonard, Barchemy’s vice president of finance. “We look forward to having the Mon Valley as our home.”

Since 1967, thousands of businesses across Pennsylvania have been participating in the Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) and receiving tax credits for it.

“It’s a community-based program in which businesses get tax credits for donating funding to a particular nonprofit organization,” Weaver explained.

Jamie Colecchi, chief executive officer of the Mon Valley Alliance, was proud to display the MVA’s Regional Enterprise Zone.

“I think it’s great that they come out and see the benefits or the results of the Neighborhood Assistance Program, specifically our enterprise zone in the mid-Mon Valley,” he said. “They’re seeing the return on investment, which has been about $21 million in private investment in the Mon Valley.”

Weaver was particularly enthusiastic about the fact that businesses he toured Monday, such as Retal and Barchemy, are relatively new to the area.

“You see the growth coming back to some of these industrial areas that once were vacant and now they’ve got businesses that are running and producing results and are employing people, which is the most important thing to us, getting jobs, creating them and bringing them back to these communities and neighborhoods,” he said.

As Weaver walked along the outside of the Barchemy facility, he mentioned how happy he always is to see construction taking place.

“It’s exciting,” he said, referring to the expansion that some of the companies he visited are undertaking. “Every time we see construction at a company, it’s exciting to us. It’s growth. It means new jobs. It means retaining jobs. Pennsylvania is the place to do that and we see that more and more. Companies are not only expanding, but are bringing in new companies as well. They’re coming here. They’re seeing how attractive Pennsylvania is.”