The Route 208 corridor that encompasses Grove City and Pine and Springfield townships was the main focus at Friday’s annual meeting of the 79-80 Interstate Development Corp., its members learning more about current and potential projects.
“Where are we today? What do we have to overcome?” guest speaker Tim Wachter asked the crowd gathered at The Legacy Banquet and Conference Center, Pine Township.
Watcher is a lawyer with the Governmental Practice Group, Knox, McLaughlin, Gornall and Sennett, and his talk, “The Regional Impact of the Route 208 Corridor,” hit a variety of issues while stressing the need for the municipalities to continue to work together.
Beth Black, the IDC administrator and executive director of the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce, began the meeting with the same thoughts, saying they all share a passion for economic development.
The IDC is one of the region’s leading organizations that works to attract businesses, identify gaps in the economic infrastructure and support progress, she said.
“We’re carrying out the vision and mission,” Black said.
One of the main objectives of the IDC is to assess the status of development within the Route 208 corridor and identify any challenges to future growth, Watcher said.
It’s important to note that more than 6 million visitors a year come to the Grove City Premium Outlets in Springfield Township, he said, adding that area now includes the new Wendell August Forge facility as well as Springfield Commons, a new retail development in the works.
Watcher reviewed data from the Mercer County Tax Collection Committee, which showed that more than $28 million was earned by the 4,231 people who worked in Springfield Township in 2013.
He also went into detail about local water availability, explaining how Buhl Community Water Co. is a non-profit, member-owned company with 75 connections; 75 percent of them are residential and 25 percent are commercial.
“It’s small. Their mission is to serve customers with safe, clean water,” he said.
Buhl, which is governed by a seven-member board of directors elected yearly by the members, has only 9,000 gallons of water a day available to serve new development, which is not a lot, Watcher said.
“They don’t have incentive to grow. That’s not a negative. That’s a reality,” he said, adding the company has no current expansion plans.
Buhl’s immediate priority is to ensure their existing customers have viable service and a back-up water source.
The next issue is sewage in Springfield Township, which Watcher said flows through Springfield’s lift station to a lift station in Pine Township to the sewage treatment plant in Grove City.
The flow is limited, but the three municipalities have been working together to ensure immediate priorities are met, and Springfield is undergoing necessary upgrades, he said.
Watcher then reviewed parts of an economic impact analysis of prospective commercial development in Springfield Township, which was commissioned by Penn-Northwest.
It showed 11 potential developers for the Route 208 corridor will create 609 new jobs, and Watcher said he got permission to announce Friday that Volant Mill Winery is building a new store next to the Wendell August property, which includes space for numerous retailers.
The analysis projects that those 11 developers will have an economic output of nearly $3 billion after 20 years of operation, he said.
“That’s a lot of money,” he said.
To achieve this regional economic impact, key partnerships need to continue to develop among Springfield, Pine and Grove City officials.
“There’s more to this story,” said Watcher, who credited the IDC with making sure everyone is working together.
More discussions about water and sewer will be necessary, along with a need to update the existing sewage study.
“It’s like a broken record here, folks,” he said of keeping the lines of communication open.
Published April 2, 2014, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.