CLEARFIELD – In the coming spring and summer months, economic development activities will become more noticeable to residents and visitors passing through the greater Clearfield area.
Construction has already begun to erect Continental Carbonic Products Inc.’s 45,000-square-foot manufacturing facility adjacent to the Pennsylvania Grain Processing plant in Clearfield.
Continental Carbonic has an agreement with PGP for the supply of carbon dioxide from its plant. CCPI is a producer and distributor of solid and liquid carbon dioxide and dry-ice blasting machines.
Continental Carbonic’s Clearfield manufacturing facility will employ 60 full-time workers when it’s running at full production. PGP currently employs 85 workers, according to previously published reports.
Plans are also progressing for TAFCO to begin erecting a new, 100,000-square foot manufacturing facility in the Clearfield Commerce Park, located off of Interstate 80, in Lawrence Township.
TAFCO is the first company to invest in the 162-acre industrial park since it was certified for food manufacturers. It was also the commonwealth’s first industrial park certified for food and beverage manufacturers.
TAFCO is currently planning for construction of its new facility to begin in April, according to Rob Swales, chief executive officer of Clearly Ahead Development, the county’s economic development entity.
“People are going to see quite a bit of activity, especially in the greater Clearfield area with TAFCO, Continental Carbonic and Penn Highlands’ Q Care facility,” said Swales. “There’s been quite a bit of investment made in the area.”
Clearly Ahead has already been engaged in two, new significant facility projects in the DuBois area this year. The projects will combine to retain 85 jobs, create 20 new, well-paid jobs and result in a total investment of $630,000.
Another project that’s “not a guarantee yet” is Biopharma, which is proposing a medical marijuana growing and dispensary facility in DuBois.
Biopharma is currently going through a highly competitive process and applying for medical marijuana program permits from the commonwealth.
“It would be a significant project,” said Swales, in terms of job creation and diversifying the county’s economic base by adding a pharmaceutical company.
If Biopharma’s plans come to fruition, Swales explained the marijuana plants would be grown in a highly controlled environment and processed into oils and ointments.
“These are extremely secure facilities with multiple video cameras that are on live stream to federal entities watching the operations in real-time,” said Swales.
Pennsylvania has established six medical marijuana regions. Clearfield is in Region 6 – Northwest, which can receive two grower/processor permits and two dispensary permits.
In addition to Clearfield, the other counties in Region 6 – Northwest are Erie, Crawford, Warren, McKean, Mercer, Venango, Forest, Lawrence, Clarion, Jefferson, Elk and Cameron.
Swales said some other projects are developing throughout the county, but the information is sensitive. He did say these projects were geographically spread out, would result in significant job retention and growth and new products.
“There aren’t new to the area but existing companies,” Swales said, which are “growing and or diversifying their product lines.”
But behind the scenes, the four-person Clearly Ahead staff continues striving to retain all 2,143 of the county’s existing businesses and manufacturers while recruiting others to choose the area for growth and expansion.
Cleary Ahead, in the first quarter of 2017, has targeted 31 companies that are food manufacturers and “energy-intense” industries located in 10 different U.S. states and Canada.
However, Clearly Ahead is aggressively promoting the Clearfield Commerce Park with its food site certification. Swales said the Commerce Park was also recently certified by First Energy as a “premier site.”
The commerce park is one of two statewide that First Energy has certified in its service region, which includes northern Ohio, most of Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, eastern West Virginia and western Maryland.
According to Swales, First Energy receives inquiries and has connections with major companies all over the United States. He said the latest certification will put the commerce park on the “short list” of “shovel-ready” sites that can meet demands and an aggressive timeline.
Swales said in addition to outreach to major food manufacturers across the United States, Clearly Ahead will identify others in Pennsylvania in case there are opportunities to locate and grow operations here.
For 2016, Clearly Ahead reported 17 projects to Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority (PEDA) that resulted in a total capital investment of approximately $51 million. These projects created 153 new jobs while retaining 961 existing jobs.
“Our numbers for the first quarter of 2017 may seem small now, but they will begin to compound as the year goes on,” said Swales.