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Governor Rendell Says 'Protetcting Our Progress' Plan Holds Potential for
February 7, 2008
JOHNSTOWN -- Protecting Our Progress, Governor Edward G. Rendell's $2.3
billion initiative to invest in Pennsylvania's infrastructure, communities and
citizens – and unveiled as part of his 2008-09 budget – will create jobs in the
Johnstown-Altoona area and continue to grow the local economy.
"If the legislature adopts my proposals, we can start development at the SKF site
in nearby Altoona," the Governor said at a news conference here today. "It's a
former manufacturing site where a large, old building is in the process of being
demolished. The redevelopment plans call for the construction of 80,000 square
feet of new commercial space on approximately 12 acres. S&T Bank has already
built a new corporate facility on some of the former SKF land. With a little more
economic stimulus from the state, we can attract more private investment in that
property. With a little help, there can be a great future there."
Governor Rendell's Protecting Our Progress strategy has three key elements:
•Immediate, targeted tax rebates to keep struggling families afloat given rising
energy and fuel prices;
•Release of state funds to meet the pent-up demand for public construction
development projects; and
•Stimulating business expansion and job creation and retention.
The Governor pointed to a top wind turbine manufacturer's choice to locate its U.
S. headquarters in Cambria County as an example of what smart government
investment can do.
"You all know about Gamesa, one of the top five wind turbine manufacturers in
the world," Governor Rendell said. "When this Spanish company was looking to
establish a U.S. manufacturing operation, it chose a site in Ebensburg. Why? It
came here because we provided a strong financial assistance package. It also
helped that Gamesa knew about the strong work ethic in the Johnstown area.
More than 200 people now work at the Gamesa plant in Ebensburg – at solid,
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Governor Rendell's Protecting Our Progress plan would also stimulate local
economies by providing a one-time tax rebate of up to $400 per household to
more than 475,000 lower-income working families. The $130 million for the
rebates would come from the Rainy Day Fund and be repaid at the end of the
current fiscal year.
Other Protecting Our Progress components are designed to infuse critically
needed capital into the business sector, rewarding job creation and lowering the
cost of business expansion.
"Over the past five years, jobs in Cambria County have increased by 4 percent —
and the county's unemployment rate went from 7.3 percent in 2003 to 5.7
percent last year," the Governor said. "The job growth and economic progress
we've made here, and across the commonwealth, didn't happen by accident. Our
progress is the result of strategic investments, such as the more than $150
million the state provided to repair roads, improve parks and grow businesses
"What I am asking the General Assembly to do now is work with me to ensure
that this sort of progress continues," he said.
In addition to providing the tax rebates, Governor Rendell's Protecting Our
Progress plan calls for:
•Quick passage of an additional $750 million in Redevelopment Assistance Capital
Program, or RACP, funding to jump-start $1.5 billion in community and economic
development projects. Nearly $200 million worth of projects are ready to go by
the end of this year, and nearly a billion dollars more are in various stages of
readying for development.
•Immediate enactment of The Jonas Salk Legacy Fund to provide $1 billion to
build new facilities for health-related research. Right now, $750 million in projects
are ready to break ground before the end of this year. Tobacco Settlement Funds
would cover half of the development costs at no cost to taxpayers.
•Enactment of the Energy Independence Strategy to put $850 million to work
expanding the alternative energy sector and helping consumers bring down their
household energy costs, attracting $3.5 billion in new private investments and
creating 13,000 jobs.
•Launching "Rebuilding Pennsylvania" to repair the state's aging infrastructure
with more than $700 million to accelerate progress in the next three years to
repair at least 1,000 bridges, all state-owned high-hazard dams, and help local
governments repair their dams. In addition, capital funds will provide targeted
infrastructure improvements to expand rail freight and aviation facilities and
•Replenishing one of the commonwealth's most successful economic stimulus
programs —Business in Our Sites — with $100 million to continue cleaning up and
revitalizing old industrial sites, making them "shovel-ready" for business reuse.
The Department of Community and Economic Development has a waiting list of
projects worth $50 million. Approval of the funds would clear the way for
business development that could commence by the end of this year.
•Increasing incentives for job creation from $1,000 per job to $3,000 per job
through the job creation tax credit program and lowering the interest rate
charged for key commonwealth economic development program loans to two
percent below the prime rate.
•Adding $10 million to the infrastructure development program. There now are at
least 10 businesses, including new and expanded manufacturing facilities in the
pipeline that could put these funds to use by the end of this year. These funds
leverage an additional $250 million in private capital.
•Extending the Keystone Opportunity Zone program to encourage development of
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underutilized land and buildings, creating business districts to revitalize local
economies, spur job creation and improve the quality of life in KOZ areas.
Governor Rendell is in the middle of a five-day, eight-city bus tour of the state to
discuss his economic stimulus strategy. He plans to make stops in Lancaster,
Reading, Allentown, Scranton and Philadelphia.
More information on Governor Rendell's 2008-09 budget proposal and his
Protecting Our Progress initiatives is available at www.pa.gov.
Office of the Governor
Governor's Press Office
Room 308 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120
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