Township supervisors back ABCD proposal

The Altoona-Blair County Development Corp. will ask the state to create a new enterprise zone comprised of Altoona and Logan Township in an effort to encourage job-creating economic developments.

Township supervisors voted Thursday to support ABCD’s proposal for a Keystone Communities Enterprise Zone that Altoona City Council agreed to earlier this month.

ABCD Executive Vice President Patrick Miller told supervisors that the application should be ready soon to submit to the state Department of Community and Economic Development. If approved, the zone could be in place as early as July 1, Miller said.

“I think this is a great example of getting two municipalities to work together,” Logan Township Supervisor Ed Frontino said. Frontino volunteered to serve as the township’s representative on an advisory committee that ABCD will create as part of the effort.

As with enterprise zones created in the past, tax credits and financial support through grants and loan programs will be available to those businesses or partnerships creating jobs within the boundaries.

But unlike past enterprise zones, which defined specific areas that are part of a zone, the proposed new zone includes all of both municipalities, subject to zoning rules.

“Your zoning will dictate your investment area,” Miller told the supervisors.

Supervisor Jim Patterson asked about the land above Logan Town Centre, identified years ago as the possible site of a business and technology park. While the site would take a lot of effort to develop, it’s currently zoned industrial so Miller said it would be included in the new zone and any developments could be eligible for the program’s benefits.

Since 1986 when enterprise zones were introduced, Miller said ABCD has worked on 78 projects eligible for help as part of regional enterprise zones stretching through multiple municipalities in Blair County.

Based on the state’s latest rules linking new zones to municipal zoning rules, Miller said ABCD decided to propose a zone specifically for Altoona and Logan Township. The creation, Miller said, requires no financial commitment from either municipality.

“It’s a win-win situation,” Supervisor Joe Metzgar said.