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Volvo to expand factory

Volvo Construction Equipment, a division of the Swedish
commercial-truck manufacturer Volvo, plans to expand its Shippensburg factory.

Volvo Construction Equipment, a division of the Swedish
commercial-truck manufacturer Volvo, plans to expand its Shippensburg factory.

Volvo could start construction at the plant – expanding it
into Southampton Township,
Franklin County – early next year if municipal
reviews and permitting goes smoothly, said Chris Stone, strategic-investment
manager for Volvo Road Machinery, a subdivision of the construction group. 

“We are exploring some adjacent farmland to consolidate our
manufacturing sites,” he said.

Volvo took over the plant in its $1.3 billion acquisition of
Ingersoll Rand Road Development last year. The Ingersoll Rand division was
based in Shippensburg, Franklin
County. The borough is
split between Franklin and Cumberland counties. The division was renamed
Volvo Road Machinery.

Volvo’s acquisition of the Ingersoll Rand division and
future expansion of the plant sits well with leaders of economic-development
groups.

“Their corporate culture is one to be envied, honestly,”
said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp.
(FCADC) “They invest in their employees, their facilities and in the
communities. And they believe that’s where they get their return on
investment.”

The relationship between the Volvo factory and the
development corporation goes back 20 years, Ross said. When it was owned by
Ingersoll Rand, the plant received $3.9 million in economic-development
assistance from FCADC, including state money. Ingersoll Rand used it to
complete four projects at the Shippensburg plant, the last in 1997.

FCADC has not offered assistance to Volvo at this time, Ross
said. The company needs to put forward more specific plans first.

Any expansion of the plant would include room for future
growth, Stone said. He did not say when jobs would be added or how many jobs
would come to the plant after the expansion. Volvo has spent $250,000 to date
to upgrade and revitalize the plant, Stone said.

Volvo owns a second plant in Letterkenny
Township, Franklin County.
Between 50 and 100 people would move to the Shippensburg plant after the
expansion is complete, Stone said. It was unclear whether that Letterkenny
plant will close. The Shippensburg plant builds road-construction trucks and
equipment. The Letterkenny plant makes engines and other drive-train components
for Volvo’s construction equipment.

“It would just be nice to get everyone working on the same
campus,” he said.

Volvo has not filed plans with Southampton Township,
said Maria Misner, geospatial-information-system coordinator.

Everything is preliminary at this point, said Bruce
Hockersmith, Shippensburg’s mayor.

Still, the buzz is that the company will add jobs in the
near future, Ross said.

“The Volvo acquisition of Ingersoll Rand was a good thing
for Franklin County,
Shippensburg and all of Central Pennsylvania,”
Ross said.

In Carlisle, the prospect
of a manufacturer adding jobs to the region sounds pretty good, said Omar
Shute, executive director of the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp.

“Expansion right now is good timing,” he said.

International Automotive Components Group will layoff 47
workers by June, reducing the total number of workers at the former Lear plant
in Carlisle to less than 300, according to the
company. Michigan-based IAC makes flooring and carpeting for the automotive
industry. The company cut about 300 workers from the plant over the past
several years.

Other manufacturers in the area also are cutting workers,
including The Hershey Co., based in Derry
Township, Dauphin County.
Hershey announced last year it would slash its North American workforce,
including 650 workers at the Derry
Township factory over
three years.

Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc. will cut 300 production
jobs from its plant in Springettsbury Township, York
County, over the next
several months.

Laid-off workers from some of those plants would be a great
fit for Volvo, Shute said. The company might be non-committal about the number
of jobs to be added, but the expansion sends the right message to Central Pennsylvania, he said.

“It says a company is looking to leave their footprint in
the area,” Shute said. “They’re serious about doing business in the area. If
they were looking for a quick fix, they wouldn’t be dumping money into the
plant.”

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