Fulton Bank’s Annville branch to close

Fulton Bank will be closing its branch at 1 W. Main St., Annville, according to the Weekly Bulletin of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Spokeswoman Lacey Dean said in an email that the Annville branch will shutter its doors April 28. Deposits will be transferred to the Cleona financial center.

There are four Fulton financial centers within 5 miles of the Annville location, plus an ATM, she said. In addition to Cleona, the centers are in Palmyra, Cedar Crest and downtown Lebanon.

Four other branches throughout Fulton’s markets are being consolidated as well. After they close, the bank will continue to operate 204 financial centers (with four more opening in 2023, bringing the total to 208 by the end of the year) as well as online, mobile and phone banking.

“While it’s never easy to close one of our financial centers, it’s sometimes necessary after we evaluate factors including how many customers use the center and how often, as well as whether there are other Fulton Bank financial centers nearby,” Fulton said in a statement.

“We are making these changes to align our services with trends in how customers conduct their banking, including growth in online and mobile banking that is reducing transactions conducted in financial centers across our industry.”

Consolidations like these “enable us to operate more efficiently and invest in new financial services,” while still maintaining a network of financial centers in which to meet with customers.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Spherion Staffing in Lebanon under new ownership

Spherion Staffing and Recruiting announced that its Lebanon office is now under the leadership of longtime Spherion franchise owners Don and Jay Ruggery.

The Ruggery brothers have filled thousands of positions for local Pennsylvania businesses since 1992, when they worked with their father, Don Ruggery Sr., at his office in Altoona. With the acquisition of the Lebanon office, they now have 12 locations statewide, a release said.

Their offices primarily focus on matching employers and employees within food, plastics manufacturing, and warehousing and distribution. Local Spherion teams specialize in filling entry-level to C-suite roles within their client organizations.

Spherion of Lebanon will remain at 827 Cumberland St.

“Don and I noticed the rapid expansion of the Lebanon area, and we’ve wanted to be a part of this community for years now,” Jay Ruggery said. “We look forward to continuing to help match people with the right career opportunities and expanding further in the community.”

“Jay and Don’s dedication to Spherion the past 30 years and their service to communities across Pennsylvania has been exemplary,” said Rebecca Rogers-Tijerino, president of Spherion. “… We know they will continue to provide excellent services to local businesses and job seekers as they work in the Lebanon community.”

Nationwide, the release said, Spherion provides workforce solutions to more than 4,000 businesses across its more than 200 offices.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Lebanon affordable housing project sets groundbreaking

Community Homes of Lebanon Valley will hold a groundbreaking 10:30 a.m. Jan. 25 for the much anticipated Canal Street Affordable Housing Project at the intersection of North Seventh Avenue and Canal Street in north Lebanon.

This ceremony, which comes after almost five years of planning and fundraising, signals the start of construction of the first eight of 23 handicap accessible one- and two-bedroom housing units for households with incomes at or below 80% of the area median income.

“This is Community Homes newest affordable housing development, and is a departure from our standard fare,” CEO Charlie Rush said in a release.

“Attendees and the public will see firsthand why we are excited to be developing affordable new housing in Lebanon County.”

Rush thanked Jonestown JBT Bank President and CEO Troy Peters for arranging a significant contribution from JBT and for rallying “his peers in the community bank industry to make contributions of their own.”

Speakers at the event will include Lebanon County Commissioners Chairman Robert Phillips; Peters; Community Homes Chairman/President Glenn Wenger; and a representative of the Federal Home Loan Bank.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Bayer investing $43.6M to expand Lebanon County plant

Global pharmaceutical giant Bayer recently broke ground on a $43.6 million expansion of its Myerstown plant to ramp up the manufacturing and packaging of its over-the-counter products. 

A release said the project – expected to be completed in 2025 – will increase production areas by 70,000 square feet at the 400 W. Stoever Ave. facility, including room for eight packaging lines and a future area for rooftop solar panels.  

The expansion “underscores Bayer’s continued commitment to the 75-year-old Myerstown site and surrounding community, as well as the critical importance that the facility plays in ensuring millions of Americans have access to key (over-the-counter) and dietary supplement products. …(It) will accelerate the modernization process, ensuring that current operations are streamlined and advanced.” 

Susan Eberly, president of the Lebanon Valley Economic Development Corp., said in an email: “Bayer has always been a shining star in (Lebanon County). This has been evident by their long-term commitment to creating and retaining well-paying jobs. … This project will also have a spinoff effect into the economy. When you factor in the increased workers to complete the expansion, the goods and supplies that must be purchased, plus the need for services in certain sectors, such as hospitality, restaurants, hotels, etc., it is extensive. It is a total boost to the overall economy of the county.” 

A spokeswoman for Bayer confirmed that there will be about 70-75 construction jobs added in the short term, as well as up to 50-75operational jobs upon finalization of the project. 

More than 630 full-time employees now operate out of the Myerstown plant, which manufactures product brands Bayer Aspirin; Aleve; Claritin; Midol; Coricidin; Philips Milk of Magnesia; Alka-Seltzer; Flintstone Vitamins; and One-A-Day supplements, the release said. 

Currently, the site is spread over 68 acres with more than half a million square feet of manufacturing space. In 2021, the facility manufactured 14.1 billion tablets, 3.9 million liquid liters and 169.1 million packaged units of product. 

The 150-year-old Bayer Group, headquartered in Leverkusen, Germany, has three divisions: pharmaceuticals, consumer health and crop science. 

In 2021, it comprised 374 consolidated companies in 83 countries, according to Bayer’s website, and employed nearly 100,000 people. 

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer 

Central Pa., Lehigh Valley projects granted funding for workforce development

Workforce development projects across Pennsylvania are receiving $5.5 million in Industry Partnership Grant funding aimed at meeting local and regional workforce needs. The announcement was made Wednesday by Gov. Tom Wolf. 

Central Pennsylvania and Lehigh Valley projects will receive approximately $2 million combined funds in grants. 

Industry Partnership (IPs) grants are administered through the Department of Labor & Industry (L&I). The program supports businesses partnering to build a stronger, more competitive job market through training, networking, recruitment, and collaboration within targeted industries and offer Pennsylvanians opportunities for pathways into careers and jobs with wages that are family-sustaining. 

“With Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate holding steady at a record low, it is our collective responsibility to make decisions that are responsive to the needs of both Pennsylvania workers and employers in sectors where talent pipelines are tapped,” Wolf said in a statement. 

“By investing in workforce development projects, and specifically industry partnerships, we can connect hardworking Pennsylvanians wit opportunities to advance their skillsets and obtain family-sustaining jobs in booming industries.” 

Pennsylvania has invested more than $40 million since 2018 to enhance opportunities for workers through apprenticeship programs and industry partnerships via Wolf’s PAsmart initiative. This new round of funding provides grants to 25 Industry Partnerships to increase awareness and implement strategies for workforce development in the agriculture, construction, education, healthcare, manufacturing, information technology, hospitality and energy industries. 

“At L&I, we strategically use resources to connect Pennsylvania employers with a highly skilled and talented workforce who can do the jobs of tomorrow,” L&I Secretary Jennifer Berrier said. “We continue to do that, first and foremost, by investing in people and their families.” 

Following is a list of Central Pennsylvania and Lehigh Valley PAsmart grant winners and their award amounts: 

  • AgConnect (Lehigh, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia – $250,000). Grant funding for technical assistance for farm and food business partners in the region for training, management, and accounting; create youth pipeline development and provide hands on experience to high school students; implement an Innovative Workplace Solutions grant program; and provide project management for the PA Cheese Guild and Growing Roots Partners’ Good Food Fest. 
  • Lehigh Valley Healthcare Pipeline Industry Partnership (Lehigh, Northampton – $250,000). The partnership will conduct healthcare industry employer roundtables and develop a Workforce Pipeline Strategic Action Plan Committee. Projected activities to support workers include identifying strategies for recruitment of adults, youth, and those in underrepresented populations. 
  • Manufacturing Alliance of Chester and Delaware Counties (Lancaster, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, York – $250,000). Funding to recruit and retain employees for participating companies. The project will also focus on outreach efforts to youth and their parents promoting manufacturing careers and create programs to connect women and female students to careers in manufacturing. 
  • Smart Energy Initiative of Southeastern PA (Berks, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lehigh, York, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia – $250,000). Goals include consumer and business education about different energy sources. 
  • The Innovative Technology Action Group (Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia – $250,000). The partnership will use its funds for employer outreach, technology education events for IT professionals, incumbent worker training, and youth career exploration activities. 
  • South Central Construction Industry Partnership (Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon. Perry, York – $204,396.44). Funding will be used for partnership start-up and convening regional partners to develop outreach strategies. 
  • South Central Manufacturing Industry Partnership (Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, York – $250,000). Funding to build a pipeline of diverse young individuals pursuing careers in manufacturing by promoting careers in the industry via social media and connections among manufacturers in the region. 
  • South Central NextGen IT Industry Partnership (Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, perry, York – $250,000). Funding for creating awareness and access to employers and resources to increase a skilled workforce that can meet the current IT needs of the region. Funds will be used to build a communication infrastructure for employers, educators, and job seekers. 
  • Opportunity for All Pennsylvania Construction Industry Partnership (Statewide – $250,000). Funding to hire a project manager that will research and develop education materials on best practices around apprenticeship readiness, diverse pipelines, and local hire/community benefit agreements.

Lebanon-based APR acquires branch locations in southern NJ

APR Supply Co. of Lebanon has acquired three branch locations in southern New Jersey. 

The branches in Bridgeton, Ocean City, and Vineland were formerly part of the Wallace Organization and service local HVAC, Plumbing, and Hydronics contractors. 

A fourth generation, family-owned HVAC and Plumbing wholesale distributor, APR celebrates its expansion as it nears the end of its Centennial year in business. 

“We are excited to expand our service area in the southern region of New Jersey and offer APR’s expanded product line to that contractor community,” APR President and CEO Scott Weaver said in a statement. “We’re excited to also add our second decorative brands showroom to the region, complementing our coastal showroom in Pleasantville.” 

APR is eyeing a combination of organic growth, acquisitions, and new markets as ways to continue its progress. 

Bryan Wallace, co-owner of the Wallace Organization and Manager at Bridgeton Plumbing & Heating Supply Co., praised the advanced warehouse technology and technical support that has been “the hallmark of APR.” 

Grocery Outlet to open store in Lebanon

Grocery Outlet Bargain Market will open its newest location Dec. 8 in Lebanon with a groundbreaking/ribbon-cutting ceremony.

A release from the discount grocer said the store at 1301 Quentin Road, North Cornwall Township, will help create up to 35 jobs.

Grocery Outlet said it offers lower prices by finding the top manufacturers with excess inventory and seasonal closeouts. Its stores are independently operated by local families.

“We are so thrilled to be a part of the Lebanon community and provide big savings on quality groceries,” Bob and Kimberlie Jackson, operators of the Lebanon Grocery Outlet, said in the release. “This partnership with Grocery Outlet gives us the ability to grow our business, create new jobs and more importantly, give back to the local community.”

The Jacksons have donated $1,000 to Lebanon County Christian Ministries.

The first 100 customers 18 years or older attending the ribbon-cutting will receive Grocery Outlet Bliss Buck gift cards ranging from $5 to $500. Shoppers will also get a limited-edition reusable bag while supplies last.

Emeryville, California-based Grocery Outlet, a third-generation family-led business, has more than 400 locations throughout California, Idaho, Maryland, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington.

In central Pennsylvania, there are single stores in Palmyra, New Cumberland, Manheim, Hanover, Chambersburg and New Holland and two each in Lancaster and York.

Stores offer a full range of products, including fresh produce, meat, deli and dairy, along with a wide assortment of natural and organic choices. Grocery Outlet also carries a large selection of beer and wine, health and beauty care products, and seasonal items.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

LVC health education building, Whole Plants expansion get Lebanon County RACP grants

Three Lebanon County projects were approved for $3 million total in the latest round of funding through the commonwealth’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.

RACP grants were awarded to:

· LVC Nursing & Interdisciplinary Health Education Facility III, Lebanon Valley College, Annville Township, $1.25 million.

This involves construction of a 37,000-square-foot building for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program and other new nursing and health programs at the college. The facility will contain multiple teaching spaces, including simulation labs, skills labs with associated exam spaces, three classrooms, a wet lab and a home health simulation area. There will also be private and open offices, meeting rooms, study areas and support spaces for faculty.

The college’s newest undergraduate major, nursing enrolled its first cohort of students this fall. Summer 2023 is the anticipated completion date for the new building.

· North Cornwall Commons, Springwood Development Partners, North Cornwall Township, $500,000.

Two phases of a construction project will be connected to an existing commercial site, and at the end the road will be handed off to North Cornwall Township. RACP money will be used for site planning; excavation; removal of topsoil and debris; installation of water, sewer and electricity; paving and concrete of curbs and sidewalks; construction of a public street and red light; and associated stormwater management facilities.

· Whole Plants Health Expansion Phase II, Whole Plants, Lebanon city, $1.25 million.

The project supports construction of two more grow rooms; an expanded workspace that will create additional capacity for staff; and an employee entrance with one-way clean room, including gowning and locker rooms and an employee break area. It will also create two additional dry rooms, an expanded vault and a loading dock facility.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Hershey to start building new Derry Township chocolate plant

The Hershey Co. announced that work will begin on its new, 250,000-square-foot chocolate facility in Derry Township after demolition of the former Friendly’s restaurant at Route 422 and University Drive, near Hershey’s Technical Center.

Pending final planning approvals, the plant – expected to be operational in early 2024 – will support production for brands like Reese’s, Kit Kat and Hershey’s.

This is the next project in Hershey’s multi-year investment strategy, which includes expanding existing facilities and developing new capabilities to drive the production of its core brands while building the capacity for continued growth.

“Our ability to grow – today and in the future – is rooted in how fast we can make and deliver our products,” Hershey’s Will Bonifant, vice president, U.S. and Canada supply chain, said in a release. “We’ve made significant investments over the past few years with new facilities and updates to existing sites to speed production and make more of the iconic brands consumers love.”

The new facility, on 55 acres near the company’s Reese’s plant, is part of an approved $1 billion investment in the company’s supply chain network. This includes not only the new facility but the addition of 13 production lines, the upgrading of 11 existing lines in other North American facilities and the opening of its first digitally enabled fulfillment center in Lebanon County’s South Annville Township.

The expansions come at a time when consumer demand for Hershey products is at an all-time high, the release noted, highlighted by 5% compounded retail sales growth in seasonal candy sales and 15% compounded retail sales growth in snack size since 2019.

“We are committed to investing to meet the needs of our consumers in collaboration with our retail partners and suppliers,” Bonifant added. “Investing in the strengths of our core brands – made right here in our hometown – will ensure that we’re meeting those consumer needs across a wide variety of snacking occasions and will help fuel future growth.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer