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Butler County residents' income increasing

| Saturday, July 19, 2014, 5:48 p.m.

Well-paying jobs and property tax rates favorable to development are bringing more money to Butler County, officials said.

A report from county Controller Ben Holland this month found that income per resident rose by one-third in less than a decade, from $32,052 in 2004 to $47,076 in 2012.

Holland said he thinks part of the increase was driven by “new money,” young people with white collar jobs moving into the county or staying in the county after college.

Westinghouse Electric Co. generated some of those well-paying jobs when it decided to move its headquarters and technology center to Cranberry eight years ago. Westinghouse broke ground on the site in 2007 and has brought about 3,000 jobs to the township, company spokeswoman Sheila Holt said.

“The decision to select Cranberry Woods in Cranberry was based on the flexibility of construction options to accommodate with future growth,” Holt said. “But it was pretty clear we wanted to stay within the region.”

And the region has certainly been grateful.

“It's all part of the comprehensive plan that promotes creating high quality, family-sustaining jobs in Cranberry,” township Manager Jerry Andree said.

The plan has resulted in increased business development, from powerful, high-tech companies like Westinghouse and PPG Industries to small-business development, particularly hotels and restaurants, he said.

The township, which sits at the crossroads of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Interstate 79, is home to 90 percent of the hotels in Butler County, and there are 82 restaurants in Cranberry alone, Andree said. Route 228, or Freedom Road, is sometimes referred to as “restaurant row.”

“We've seen such a growth in the southern portion of the county,” Holland said. “Particularly the southwestern part of the county around Cranberry and Adams, but the same can be said for Buffalo Township.”

The average education level attained by a Cranberry resident is higher than the state and national averages, and the average Cranberry resident is 37, lower than the county and state averages, Andree said.

Per capita income in the county also is about $2,000 higher than the state average and about $3,300 higher than the national average.

Holland presented the income statistics in the county's 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

He attributed a large part of the economic growth to lower taxes that encourage people to live in the county.

“Wealthier people want to build bigger homes, and bigger homes have bigger tax bills,” he said.

Butler County's tax rates are lower than Allegheny County's, but residents still have the convenience of being close to Pittsburgh.

The newness of the southern part of the county, new homes and subdivisions, new public parks schools, including Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School off Route 228, have drawn people to the area, Holland said.

“With any economy, unless you're in a recession or depression, you expect (per capita income) to increase,” he said. “There's no doubt that the county has rebounded from the recession, and that's demonstrated in the numbers.”

Corinne Kennedy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7823.

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