Manufacturing in Armstrong County on upswing
Contrary to what some might think, manufacturing in Armstrong County is not dead.
In fact, it's alive and well and growing, according to economic development data tracked over the past five years by the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA).
“A common perception is that manufacturing (in southwestern Pennsylvania) is going away,” said Dewitt Peart, PRA president.
However, Peart noted that data gathered, especially from the past year, shows many existing companies in the region have expanded despite the overall tough economy experienced by many across the country and have actually come out on top in areas of economic development deals or “wins”
“When you look across the region, manufacturing has been a top performer with 59 wins across the region,” Peart said.
In early April, PRA Partnership recognized top performing industries within the Pittsburgh region.
Armstrong County showed a solid performance in 2012 in terms of job growth and expansion within high-wage industries, said Philip Cynar, PRA's senior communications specialist.
Michael Coonley, executive director of the Armstrong County Department of Economic Development, noted that new companies are not necessarily bringing in 1,000 employees, but are expanding by 20 or 30 new hires.
Among those earning a winning scorecard in the manufacturing sector were Flir Systems Inc. in South Buffalo; Belle Flex Technologies in Ford City; and Sloan Brothers Lubrication Systems in South Buffalo.
Walter Sloan, president of Sloan Brothers Lubrication Systems, said during a conference call, that Coonley was instrumental in bringing his company to the county.
“Armstrong County is really, really close (to Pittsburgh) and is just a hop, skip and a jump up Route 28,” said Sloan, adding that his company, which moved to the area from Oakmont, Allegheny County, hired seven new employees this past year.
“The partnerships we've been able to establish in the area have been fantastic,” he said.
Those partnerships have allowed the company to increase its manufacturing output in the region from 25 to 75 percent, said C.J. Sloan, the company's information technology and programming specialist.
In the past, Sloan Brothers outsourced much of its manufacturing, said C.J. Sloan.
“Now, we're bringing manufacturing in house and partnering with others to fabricate items,” he said.
Peart said part of the strength of the region is its diversified economy which creates a supply chain for major corporations.
BelleFlex Technologies, a subsidiary of Blair Strip Steel Co., recently purchased a Ford City location (in the Ford City Heritage Industrial and Technology Park) because it had outgrown its space, Coonley said.
Three years ago there was just a single person and now there are 27 employees — all local hires, Coonley said.
The company is noteworthy, said Coonley, because it competed internationally and was recently awarded a subcontract through Boeing to manufacture springs for the docking system on the International Space Station.
According to the 2012 regional progress report provided by PRA, BelleFlex, Inc. has invested $2 million in Armstrong County.
Flir Systems, which makes infrared and night vision products for commercial and military use, invested $2.2 million in the county and added 15 new employees in 2012.
Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- School bus, car crash in Armstrong
- Historical society seeks to grow interest in Armstrong County museum, library
- Peanut Butter Festival to whip up family fun in New Bethlehem
- Dollar General to take place of Spagnolo’s Foodland
- Armstrong School District credits grant with healthy habits
- Remembering 9/11 with commemorative run in West Kittanning
- Armstrong County married dentists passing torch to their children
- Kittanning YMCA events for kids opened to non-members
- Reading program fun under the stars at West Hills school
- Hard to Recycle Day coming Saturday in Armstrong
- W. Kittanning to weigh police coverage offer