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Lebanon tech park to be studied v


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Economic development officials in Lebanon are moving ahead with plans to build a technology park in the city and expect to soon select a company that will study the idea.
The study is one of several projects being pursued through an effort to promote regional development in Central Pennsylvania.
The Lebanon Valley Economic Development Corp. had set a June 17 deadline to receive proposals from companies that want to perform the study, said Bob McNary, the organization’s president. The organization hopes to select a company by the end of June. The study should be finished by the end of August, McNary added.
Lebanon received a $50,000 federal grant several months ago to fund the study. A regional economic-development district created last year made the funding possible, McNary said.
The district brings more money and regional cooperation to economic development efforts in Central Pennsylvania, he added.
“We’re always competitors, but we’re friendly competitors,” he said. “It’s good for us to have a regional focus.”
The U.S. Department of Commerce created the economic-development district program in the early 1970s. The program provides funding to regional planning and development efforts, said Paul Matyskiela, mid-Atlantic division chief for the department’s Economic Development Administration. The administration operates the district program.
“In most areas, the economy is regional,” Matyskiela said. “We’re looking at how to serve those regional economic priorities.”
There are seven regional economic development districts in Pennsylvania, Matyskiela added. Central Pennsylvania’s district includes the cities of Harrisburg, Lebanon, York, Lancaster and Reading.
The Economic Development Administration gave conditional approval to the district in January, said Russ Montgomery, president of Regional Economic Development District Initiatives of South-central Pennsylvania. Montgomery said his organization would apply this month to have the district expanded to include the Gettysburg and Chambersburg areas.
The district makes federal money available to local organizations, money that the organizations would not be eligible for on their own, said David Black, president and chief executive officer of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and the Capital Region Economic Development Corp.
“That’s obviously the advantage to doing it,” he said. “It’s another step forward in fostering cooperation.”
The federal funding gives a boost to economic development projects in Central Pennsylvania, Black added. For example, in April, the Capital Region Economic Development Corp. applied for $685,000 to help pay for an expansion of the Murata Business Center in Carlisle. Black said CREDC expects to get a response from the Economic Development Administration within six weeks.
Reading has applied for $1.3 million to redevelop a 40-acre site in the northwest part of the city to create an industrial park, said Debra Millman, director of business development for the Greater Berks Development Fund.
Millman said she hopes to hear a decision on the application by the end of the summer.
Charles Maneval, Lancaster city’s director of economic and community development, told the Business Journal in May that the city will use $800,000 in U.S. Department of Commerce funds to make infrastructure improvements at an industrial park near downtown. York has not yet submitted any applications to the Economic Development Administration, Montgomery said.

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