ABCD gets $1.5M to develop new business park

The federal Economic Development Administration has awarded a $1.5-million grant to help Altoona Blair County Development Corp. develop a new business park in Sproul, according to a news release from U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th District.

The grant will help pay for a 16-inch water main, fire hydrants, an 8-inch sewer main, storm water piping, a storm detention system, roadways and curbing and erosion and sedimentation controls at the South Blair County Business Park, according to the news release.

The grant also will help pay the Claar estate for the 142-acre former farm and sand-quarry property on which the corporation plans to create the park, next to the existing Walter Business Park, said Marty Marasco, CEO of ABCD.

Eighty-five acres are developable, with the rest off-limits because of wetlands, a flood plain and an archeological site, Marasco said.

The corporation began scouting for new business park land three years ago, when officials realized they were running out of “shovel-ready” ground to help entice companies to locate or expand in this area, Marasco said.

About 40 acres soon will be available at the DeGol Industrial Center in Hollidaysburg, about two acres are available at the South Altoona Business Park, while 15 are available at the Walter Business Park and 15 at the I-99 Enterprise Campus in Tipton – but the Walter ground is committed to Sheetz, and the Tipton ground is owned by Value Drug, which bought it, then decided to build elsewhere, Marasco said.

The new park will be suitable for manufacturing, Marcellus shale industry, logistics and even commercial operations, he said.

The corporation expects to close on the ground Sept. 23, finalize infrastructure design by the end of this year, begin construction in spring and finish by fall 2014, Marasco said.

The corporation doesn’t have any tenants lined up for the new park yet, Marasco said.

The park will provide four to six sites that could host investments of $40 to $50 million and 200 new jobs, according to the news release.

In addition to the $1.5-million EDA loan, the corporation is using a $3.5-million state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant, a $1.5-million loan from the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority and between $500,000 to $1 million of its own money, Marasco said.

The corporation has used EDA funding many times previously for business park projects, Marasco said.

Southern Alleghenies Planning & Development Commission applied for and became conduit for the EDA grant, because it is the agent for this area’s federal development district, Marasco said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.