Just in time for Christmas, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration has posted the names of 58 developers, industrial plants, corporate and nonprofit hospitals, museums, private colleges and other institutions that will share $133 million in state matching grants for favored projects across the Commonwealth. It’s the latest installment of the Redevelopment Authority Capital Program grants, a program that’s been popular with lawmakers and developers since the 1980s.
Fourteen years after Chuck Sanders opened a small storefront in Bellevue providing title and settlement services to people buying houses, that single business has mushroomed into a nationwide empire of about 13 companies, with some 2,400 employees and annual revenues this year that will be in the neighborhood of $200 million.
His flagship company, Urban Lending Solutions, headquartered Downtown in the Federated Investors Tower, provides back office support servicing mortgages for major financial institutions such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo and SunTrust.
New York-based Inc. magazine, which publishes an annual list of the 500 fastest growing companies in the U.S., this year ranked Urban Lending Solutions as the eighth-top job creator in the U.S. for creating 1,022 new jobs within the prior 18 months. Black Enterprise Magazine, known for its annual list of the country’s largest African-American owned firms, ranked ULS the nation’s 16th largest with 2012 revenue of $183.5 million.
Pennsylvania plans to join a high-stakes competition for the chance to assemble the Boeing Co.’s new 777X jet, a competition that likely will require the players to pony up tax breaks and other economic incentives in hopes of winning.
The commonwealth intends to submit a proposal to Boeing by the deadline today in a bid to land the jetliner’s production and lure thousands of well-paying jobs from Everett, Wash.
“Any time there’s an opportunity to attract jobs and investment to the commonwealth, we’re certainly going to do that,” said Steven Kratz, spokesman for the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
But Pennsylvania hardly is alone. The competition for the assembly plant — and the 8,500 jobs it could create at its peak — is likely to be fierce. As many as 12 to 15 states received invitations from the Chicago-based jet manufacturer to bid for the plant, with the goal to start production of the 777X in 2017.
Hazelwood leaders don’t want the neighborhood to find itself on the wrong side of the railroad tracks separating it from the former LTV Steel Co. site along the Monongahela River.
If a $1 billion investment goes as planned, the sprawling brownfield site would become home to offices, housing, retailers and light industry.
As large machines prepare the 178 acres for development, groups such as the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority, Hazelwood Initiative and ACTION-Housing Inc. are working to prepare the distressed neighborhood for growth.
“We don’t want people to just stay on the LTV site. We want them to get into the neighborhood,” said Councilman Corey O’Connor, who represents Hazelwood, where LTV had the city’s last operating steel mill.
Fifteen Easton properties, including the Gov. Wolf Building and Simon Silk Mill, are among those approved for state tax incentives aimed at getting the properties redeveloped, officials announced this afternoon.
The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. said the properties have been granted Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone status, meaning they’d be exempt from state and local taxes for a decade.
In addition to the Easton properties, the long-abandoned Dixie Cup factory in Wilson Borough also qualified for the status, the LVEDC says in a news release.
The designation marks a significant victory for local officials and developers who have been trying to get new, and in some cases ambitious, projects off the ground.