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Things looking up for Lebanon County business development

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There is business activity in Lebanon County, but much of it is being done outside of public view.

Some of that behind-the-scenes work is manifested in building projects and small-business loan approvals through the Lebanon Valley Economic Development Corp., which unveiled its 2013 economic report at its annual breakfast meeting Tuesday.

Susan Eberly, who was named the organization's president in 2013, said one of the major focuses going forward is filling the available space at the Lebanon Valley Business Park in South Lebanon Township. There are 20 sites in use now compared to six in 1997, when Eberly said she joined the organization.

There are 50 acres available in the park and another 90 in the adjacent Hawk Acres Enterprise Place, Eberly said. Another park the corporation owns, Lebanon Rails Business Park, has 95 of its 130, rail-served acres available.

Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz said she believes the county has more shovel-ready land available than any county in the state.

In 2013, two companies — Regupol America and Millet Plastics Inc. — both decided to use adjacent lands on their properties in the parks to expand their manufacturing plants.

Another company recently has shown interest in a 15-acre parcel in the business park, but Eberly said she can't reveal the company and nothing has been signed yet.

Eberly said the corporation worked with both the Lebanon County Board of Commissioners to help secure Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA) designations for some business properties and with Lebanon to extend Keystone Opportunity Zone status for properties in the Aspen Business Park in the city.

That effort paid off with a commitment from a retailer to build on a parcel on Schneider Drive in Aspen Business Park, though Eberly could not reveal the name of the retailer yet.

The LERTA designations came in the northern part of the county for a proposed distribution area in Union Township, the Bell and Evans expansion project and the proposed Lebanon Valley Distribution Center, both in Bethel Township.

Eberly said the corporation also helped nine small businesses receive state-funded loans with a 30-year fixed interest rate of 1.5 percent.

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