Another Very Strong Year for Blair County

 In News

Every year we are proud to be a part of the Altoona Mirror’s annual economic development spotlight in January looking back at the previous year’s accomplishments and goals for the upcoming year.  Below please enjoy the Blair County, PA portion of the article that was published on January 1, 2019 and at the end of this post is the link to the entire region’s individual county reports.

Blair County Report for 2018

Last year was another very strong year for Blair County.

“The number of projects and overall investment remained robust throughout the year. Private sector investors appear to remain optimistic, and in many cases are demonstrating that by moving their money into real estate development and business expansions,” said Stephen McKnight, president/CEO of Altoona-Blair County Development Corp.

In 2018, ABCD facilitated 24 business financing projects that represented $31.5 million in total capital investment and $9.6 million in program funding.

“We assisted more than 150 clients and have helped to create 201 new jobs while retaining 106. In almost all cases, ABCD partnered with local banks in all of the projects,” McKnight said.

Highlights of the year included the April announcement that St. Louis-based Centene Corp. would be opening a new operation in Blair County, creating almost 300 new jobs, and the grand opening of the new Sheetz Operations Office Complex.

Combined, the two projects represent more than $30 million in new capital investment and the retention of hundreds of jobs.

“While we have not yet seen construction begin on that project (Centene), we hope that will happen in the coming months,” McKnight said.

Other highlights included the announcement that Silk Mill Properties Inc. would redevelop the Puritan Silk Mill building.

That will create needed new class A office space along with 10 to 12 new market rate residential units on the top floor and that Tram Bar Packing LLC will be establishing a new food manufacturing operation here creating 30 new jobs.

“We will be working to see construction on that project begin in early 2019,” McKnight said.

McKnight expects the trend to continue.

“We are currently working with several developers that hopefully will announce several new projects downtown and along key urban corridors,” he said. “They will include a mix of office, retail and housing projects. Housing remains a critical part of our overall economic development efforts.”

ABCD will also focus on expanding its capital loan resources.

McKnight said ABCD “will set out to create a new Economic Growth Revolving Loan Fund. Without a level of patient capital inserted into higher risk projects, it is tough to jump start the market conditions needed for a private investor to take on those risks, especially new housing in the urban center. We will work with key investors in the community to seed that revolving loan fund.”

  • For the complete article and information on surrounding counties click here.
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