Business Park meets Butler County's goals
By Jodi Weigand
Published: Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, 12:31 a.m.
With a new business moving in and nearly 90 percent of the land sold, the Butler County Community Development Corp. considers the 13-year-old Victory Road Business Park in Clinton Township a success.
“It came together as we hoped it would,” CDC Executive Director Ken Raybuck said. “We had some good breaks because Aldi came in with its warehouse. They bought 100 acres, and that was a big help to pay down debt and keep us moving on the project.”
The CDC bought the former U.S. Steel sintering plant in 1999. The economic development organization completed infrastructure construction — roads and utilities — after environmental remediation.
About 40 acres of the original 350 remain unoccupied.
There are 15 companies with offices in the park. The latest to commit is Kerry Co., a Hampton-based firm that manufactures the Kerry Actuator, which combines an electric motor with a hydraulic pump. Its products are used in the mining, steel and nuclear power industries.
In order to secure Kerry Co. as a tenant, the community development corporation received a five-year extension on a Keystone Opportunity Zone designation until 2022 from Butler County, Clinton Township and South Butler County School District.
The KOZ is a state designation aimed at encouraging business development by exempting companies that locate there from paying county, local and school district taxes for a specified number of years.
That was one of the biggest selling points for the business park when it opened, Raybuck said.
“It was very effective,” he said. “At the time, we also had grant money from the state to help us do infrastructure. It wouldn't have been nearly as successful without the efforts of the state.”
The 10-year designation expired in 2010 for the developed portion of the park. Another portion of the park will remain a KOZ until 2017.
The business park is now generating thousands of dollars in tax revenue for Butler County, Clinton Township and the South Butler County School District.
The school district receives about $731,000 from 18 parcels in the park; the county receives about $193,000 and the township's share is about $32,000, according to the Butler County Assessment Office.
The business park has become an important source of revenue for the school district, said spokesman Jason Davidek.
“In the past the district has been supportive of the KOZ program, and now those revenues obviously are critical to the district … particularly as we have faced budget cuts on the state and federal level in recent years,” he said.
Even before 2010, the park generated revenue for the township, including income tax, deed transfer tax and local services tax, said Clinton Township Supervisor Mary Zacherl.
“The fact that it's a quiet, busy hub of activity is a credit to everyone who has been involved, starting with the CDC and all the governments that have helped the businesses get started in the business park,” she said.
Cygnus Manufacturing, a precision machining company, relocated to the site from Cranberry because it outgrew its old location.
“Moving gave us the opportunity to customize the building to our needs and triple the size of our building,” said Ryan Wagner, a sales and marketing representative. “It also allows us to pull from the manufacturing workforce in the Butler, Saxonburg and Kittanning areas.”
Kerry Co. will build an office and manufacturing facility on a 7½-acre site.
A key factor in the company's decision to relocate is the business park's ability to meet its electrical power needs, according to Raybuck. Additionally, about half of the company's workforce lives in the Butler County area, he said.
Michael Keegan, with Kerry Co., did not return several calls seeking comment.
Raybuck said now that the economy appears to rebounding, he and others are hopeful the remaining 40 acres will be sold.
He said that when the recession hit in 2008, business development essentially halted.
“Getting it going again now is our goal,” Raybuck said. “We're hopeful that with the remaining benefit, that it is still a KOZ through 2017, and if we can get more extensions, are selling points.”
Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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