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2017-07-28 / Community (County Spotlight)

Bedford County continues to grow as manufacturing and distribution hub

Spotlight on Bedford and Somerset Counties
By Spencer Myers
Editor

Lampire Biological Laboratories, Kennametal, Rockland Manufacturing and Mission Critical Solutions are all part of an impressive and growing list of major manufacturers that call Bedford County home.

Adding to this base of steady jobs for the county is the Wal-Mart distribution center, which employs approximately 800 residents and continues to add positions.

In another sign of growth this year, Rockland Manufacturing bought the warehouse that was left empty by Cannondale when the bike manufacturing company decided to outsource the jobs to Taiwan in 2014. Rockland currently employs 250 residents. The new facility adds 221,000 square feet of manufacturing space to accommodate the company’s growing product line.

To learn more about Bedford County’s plans moving forward, Pennsylvania Business Central spoke with Bette Slayton, who has been the president and CEO of the Bedford County Development Association since 1990.

PBC: Between Rockland Manufacturing growing into the former Cannondale warehouse and Mission Critical Solutions expanding with help from the Wolf administration, Bedford County continues to grow as a manufacturing hub. What other growth has the county seen this year and do you see it continuing?

Slayton: We’ve seen our distribution centers continue to grow. Wal-Mart hired 250 new associates in 2016 and continues to hire more people. Beyond the 800 job opportunities that Wal-Mart has created in Bedford County, Schneider Trucking, in support of Wal-Mart, has created an additional 150 jobs.

Growth in the life sciences industry continues. Lampire Biological Laboratories is expanding in many areas. The company invested $700,000 to expand its Everett farm operations, constructing a new barn to add capacity for the production of sheep polyclonal antiserum. This antiserum is used in diabetes testing. Lampire also renovated space at its lab facility to meet the needs of a $5 million contract from a Fortune 50, international pharmaceutical company.


From left to right: State Representative Carl Walker Metzgar, 69th District; George Bohrer, President, Mission Critical Solutions, LLC; Bob McGowan, CEO, Mission Critical Solutions, LLC; Executive Deputy Secretary Neil Weaver, PA Department of Community and Economic Development; Bette Slayton, President, Bedford County Development Association; Representative Jesse Topper, 78th District; and State Senator Wayne Langerholc,Jr., 35th District. 
Photo courtesy of Bedford County Development Association From left to right: State Representative Carl Walker Metzgar, 69th District; George Bohrer, President, Mission Critical Solutions, LLC; Bob McGowan, CEO, Mission Critical Solutions, LLC; Executive Deputy Secretary Neil Weaver, PA Department of Community and Economic Development; Bette Slayton, President, Bedford County Development Association; Representative Jesse Topper, 78th District; and State Senator Wayne Langerholc,Jr., 35th District. Photo courtesy of Bedford County Development Association PBC: How has the county attracted industry over the years and what can local leaders do to continue this growth?

Slayton: Certainly the growth and expansion of our existing companies has been a major priority for us. We’ve also had success in attracting new employers.

Typically our bigger projects come to us from the Governor’s Action Team. GAT is a great partner who is familiar with our available sites and buildings and works with us on recruiting new employers. Wal-Mart, REI, CaptiveAire are a few of the companies that came to us via GAT.

FirstEnergy has been tremendously supportive of our marketing efforts. Their support includes familiarization tours, creative web and mail marketing materials, arranging meetings with site selectors and commercial realtors and organizing a delegation to showcase Pennsylvania opportunities at the Medical Device and Manufacturing conference in New York.

Local leaders are excellent ambassadors in our attraction efforts. Companies talk to their customers and suppliers about the benefits of doing business here and elected officials use a variety of opportunities to extol the virtues of Bedford County.

PBC: Last year you stated that tightening state budgets would prove to be a challenge for the county. How has the BCDA met this challenge?

Slayton: The continued tightening of the state budget inhibits more pro-active marketing and business development efforts.

PBC: Have you seen much growth in small businesses this past year?

Slayton: Small business growth continues to be a priority. We are often a sounding board for folks with ideas to start a business. Often the Small Business Development Center does a great job helping folks put together a business plan.

Growing entrepreneurial businesses like Bedford Candies and 10/09 Kitchen are excellent examples of people who had a dream and then implemented their vision with hard work and creativity.

In the past year BCDA has worked with a number of small businesses to secure low interest loans through a variety of funding agencies. There is a great deal of interest in the agricultural industry to diversity farming operations. Additionally, entrepreneurs in retail, hospitality and tourism are accessing capital through various public programs. This spring BCDA hosted a financing seminar which attracted more than 30 local businesses and bankers who had a keen interest in learning more about the low interest funding that is available.

PBC: What efforts have been made to encourage entrepreneurship in the county? Have any business incubators or startup spaces been created?

Slayton: Our 24,000 sq. ft. Hess Business Center I is full and our recently built Hess Business Center II has approximately 10,000 sq. ft. available to lease. This space can be sub-divided depending on the needs of the tenant.

The Bedford County Chamber of Commerce recently announced the acquisition of the Russell House in downtown Bedford with the vision of creating a Business and Education Center. The Center will offer meeting space, business rental offices and incubator starter-space.

PBC: Bedford County seems to have a solid tourism industry with the Omni-Bedford Springs Resort as its foundation. How has the county made an effort to expand tourism in the area beyond the resort?

Slayton: Downtown Bedford, Inc (DBI) is incredibly creative with a variety of year-round events bringing visitors to the area. New trails are being developed and outdoor recreation events and opportunities attract folks from out of the area. The visitors bureau creates a broad range of brochures and an annual visitors guide which are widely distributed. Additionally, they have developed a number of videos to showcase various parts of the county. Heritage Cove Resort recently made a significant investment to enhance its campground facility at the southern end of Lake Raystown.

The Omni Bedford Springs continues to put Bedford County – and our region - on the map. This summer it opened its new $2.5 million 6,000 sq. ft. Clubhouse at the Old Course. The Clubhouse includes an 80+ seat restaurant, Tillie’s, featuring indoor and outdoor dining, a fire lounge area, pro-shop and locker rooms. The Springs expects to employ more than 500 employees this summer.

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