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Shippensburg Area school board OKs tax breaks to entice business, jobs

26 March 2013 No Comment

By BRIAN HALL
@bkhallpo
SHIPPENSBURG — The Shippensburg Area school board on Monday night approved a new tax-abatement zone for a section of farmland adjacent to Interstate 81 and the owner hopes to entice a major distribution center tenant.

A possible tenant has emerged for a property owned by Liberty Property Trust. L. Michael Ross, executive director of Franklin County Area Development Corp., described the company with the “national profile and global profile comparatively to Volvo.”

“What makes it more significant is we’re looking a lot at the uncertainty of Letterkenny right now,” said Ross. “In particular, with Letterkenny going to a four-day work week and the sequester, we’re concerned how it could affect the future. We couldn’t have scripted the timing for this any better.”

Ross said the employer predicts as many as 963 jobs could be created in the area with starting wages mostly between $37,000 and $53,000 per year, but as high as $187,000.

The potential tenant is considering two sites in Pennsylvania for a distribution center. The other site already has a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act in place.

Ross said a decision is expected soon.

“Within the next 30 days, we’ll know one way or another,” said Ross. “We’re cautiously optimistic.”

The Shippensburg site is between Olde Scotland Road and Interstate 81 in Southampton Township, Franklin County. LERTA could last up to 10 years at the property, providing real estate tax exemptions starting with 100 percent the first year and decreasing by 10 percentage points each consecutive year.

Michael Alderman, vice president of leasing and development at Liberty Property Trust, Ross and others first approached the board about LERTA a year ago.

“Since then we have worked very hard to attract a company or companies to the site,” said Alderman. “For varying reasons, those companies decided to locate to many other areas in Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia. We have active interest from a large company.”

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Brian Hall can be reached at 262-4811 and bkhall@publicopinionnews.com, or follow him on Twitter @bkhallpo.

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