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Express Scripts moving from North Versailles to North Huntingdon

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 12:51 p.m.
 

A national pharmaceutical supply company will move from a facility in North Versailles Township to new location in North Huntingdon Township.

Express Scripts Company spokesman Brian Henry said the firm announced to local employees Monday it will move its center near the intersection of Route 30 and 48 to a yet-to-be-built facility in North Huntingdon.

Henry said staffing levels will not be affected.

The facility employs about 700 people, according to North Versailles.

North Huntingdon recently granted a five-year tax break to Lincoln Hills Commercial for construction of the new facility on a parcel of land just west of the Pennsylvania Turnpike interchange.

Henry said the Express Script's existing site was in need of investment and the company believes the new location will lead to improved productivity and allow for growth.

North Huntingdon commissioner Rich Gray said the township is thrilled the mail order pharmacy company decided to locate there. He thinks the lower tax rate in Westmoreland County and North Huntingdon's proximity to the existing center just across the border in Allegheny County made the township an attractive option for the company.

North Versailles code enforcement officer Allen Wagner said township officials reached out numerous times to Express Scripts with competitive offers designed to beat any of the deals North Huntingdon was offering but never got the chance to present them.

“They wouldn't even talk to us,” said Wagner. “They wouldn't talk to us and I'm not sure why.”

In addition to tax breaks, Wagner said the township had a $250,000 grant from the Allegheny County Infrastructure Tourism Fund and another grant of equal amount from the state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program that could have been used to pay for initial site development costs.

North Versailles had a list of potential building sites for a new Express Scripts building that included the Naser site located near the current facility, the former Loews theater site, Eastland, and the Sullivan property along Route 30.

Wagner said the situation reminds him of one in New Jersey recently in the news where Express Scripts left one community for another nearby in pursuit of tax breaks.

According to a news report in The Inquirer earlier this month, the company plans to move from Willingboro to Florence, N.J., for a property tax break. According to the report, Willingboro Mayor Eddie Campbell Jr. said the move will leave the town with a “big, empty building.”

Concerns the company might leave North Huntingdon after the tax abatement period ends, Gray said, “That's always a possibility,” but added, “We'll have a property down there that will still be taxable. We will still benefit from the development.”

Gray said North Huntingdon officials will try to expedite passage of a site plan so developers can meet a targeted June start date for construction.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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