LEWISTOWN - Plans to convert the building used by a departing local manufacturer were a key topic of discussion Tuesday during the annual meeting of the Mifflin County Industrial Development Corporation Board of Directors.
MCIDC President Rob Postal told the gathered board members that the project to subdivide Building 35-36, which currently houses Kardex USA, began early this year after at least18 months of planning.
"Seldom do projects and developments occur as quickly as is portrayed to the general public," Postal said. "This project, initially planned to accommodate Kardex USA, had been redesigned because of the Kardex closure."
Kardex announced the plan to close its Lewistown plant in November 2011. A manufacturer of automated storage and retrieval systems that previously had about 70 employees at the local facility, the plant's production operation has been transferred to other facilities owned by its parent company, Swiss-based Kardex AG.
Postal said Kardex is scheduled to vacate the building by the end of May, so the project is now aimed at subdividing the 225,000 square foot facility to accommodate as many as six small-to-medium size businesses.
"We don't anticipate a large company coming in to take over the whole building," he said. "We want to modernize the facility to better accommodate several smaller businesses."
That modernization involves a $675,000 joint investment made by MCIDC and the Economic Development Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Postal said the EDA has provided a little more than $475,000 for the project, with MCIDC funding the remainder.
"We already have three contracts under way to upgrade the roof, the sprinkler systems and to handle construction of internal walls and doors. We're on a very tight schedule, and expect the project to be completed near the end of August," he said.
In fact, one of MCIDC's client companies has already taken up residence in a portion of the building. Postal said Fidelity Paper & Supply Co. recently relocated its operation and now occupies a 33,000-square-foot section of the facility.
Postal also noted the corporation continues to serve the needs of nearly 30 companies and small businesses occupying more than 700,000 square feet of industrial space within the MCIDC Plaza and the MCIDC Business Center in Lewistown, as well as another dozen manufacturing and service companies occupying nearly 500 acres at the Mifflin County Industrial Park in Granville Township.
Other MCIDC projects nearing completion this year include the reconstruction of Expansion Drive in the industrial park; completion of Mann Edge Terrace; collaboration with First Quality Baby Products and G.E. Inspection Technologies, Wade Fisher Brewery, Letterman Enterprises, the Skills Group and others, Postal said.
"Our Work Plan for 2013-14 is ambitious. We intend to continue investments in the Plaza and target the Plaza West for further redevelopment," he said. "(We also) will explore an improvement project for 30 acres at the industrial park that would use state and local financing to complement the G.E. and Expansion drive investments."
Postal also said MCIDC will look closely this year at how to increase its marketing presence online through greater use of social media, such as Facebook.
"To be sure, the corporation began the year with some anxiety due to the pending Kardex vacancy. But, through the work of the board's Finance and Executive Committees, a short-term plan was developed and successfully implemented," Postal said. "By responsibly using our financing and leveraging other funds, we are confident that the next year will bring continuing progress for both the corporation and Mifflin County."
The MCIDC Board of Directors also held its annual reorganization meeting on Tuesday. The following individuals were elected to serve on the board for the term expiring in 2017: Susan Cannon, Corvette America; John Curto, Northwest Savings Bank; Ruth Eddy, The Sentinel; William Herkert, Lewistown Police Department; Robert L. Ingram, Standard Steel (retired); John McCullough, Juniata Valley YMCA; William Rehill, Boyer & Ritter; David Runk Sr., Mifflin County School District (retired); Jan Snedeker, Snedeker Oil; and Robert S. Wilson, AAA Central Penn Auto Club.
The slate of board officers elected for the 2013-14 term include: ChairPhyllis Palm, Lewistown Hospital (retired); First Vice ChairWilliam Lake, Lake Automotive; Second Vice ChairRuth Eddy, The Sentinel; TreasurerJames Spendiff, Standard Steel (retired); and SecretaryRobert Postal, MCIDC.
The board also elected members to serve on its executive committee, which meets monthly to address the operations of MCIDC, monitor the status of its projects and to make proposals to the board as a whole during its quarterly meetings. Board members elected to the committee include: Adele Craig, TIU Workforce Development; Gerald Hummel, Greater Lewistown Corp.; Ruth Fisher, J.C. Penney (retired); Robert S. Wilson, AAA Central Penn Auto Club; and Gary Oden, Dunkin' Donuts.
Additional information about MCIDC and its role in the community can be found online at www.mcidc.org.