Shale-Related Plant Coming to Altoona

On Tuesday, October 18, 2011 0 comments

The Altoona area will share in the growth from the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom with Gardner Denver's construction this winter of a 70,000-square-foot manufacturing plant near Tipton.

The $15 million project will create 40 jobs within three years, according to Marty Marasco, CEO of Altoona Blair County Development Corp., which helped broker the deal.

The company will manufacture and remanufacture "fluid ends" on big high-pressure pumps, Marasco said.

Average pay will be $42,000, with a few management jobs requiring college educations and production jobs requiring machine-oriented experience, according to Marasco.

The company will try to hire as many workers as possible from central Pennsylvania, he said.
Gardner Denver chose Blair County because it's midway between the two poles of Marcellus activity in northeast and southwest Pennsylvania, and the company chose Tipton in particular because of its easy access to Interstate 99, according to Marasco.

Last year, Gardner Denver moved its headquarters from Illinois to Wayne, Pa., bucking a decadeslong trend, thanks to the lure of the burgeoning Marcellus Shale industry, which the equipment manufacturer serves.

The development corporation has been angling to take advantage of "downstream" Marcellus activities since the beginning of the boom, Marasco said.

Although some existing Blair County firms have been selling Marcellus products and services, "this is the first direct success," he said.

The company made the first contact in its search for a site for the plant.
"The location sold itself," Marasco said.

Gardner Denver will be the first tenant in the I-99 Enterprise Campus Business and Industrial Park on Old Route 220 about half a mile south of Del Grosso's Amusement Park and across from an S&A Homes development.

The company will take two lots comprising 10 acres.

Utilities and a highway occupancy permit are already in place.
Founded in 1859, Gardner Denver is a "global manufacturer of industrial compressors, blowers, pumps, loading arms and fuel systems," according to the company's website. The firm has 40 plants worldwide, with offices in 36 countries and revenues of about $2 billion a year, according to the company website.

Work on the project in Antis Township began about two weeks ago and should finish in March, when production will begin, according to Marasco.

Neyer Inc. of Cincinnati will be constructing a 32-foot high, single-story building of prefabricated concrete panels shipped to the site.
Workers will outfit the production area with cranes.

The building will include 5,000 square feet of office space.

Gardner Denver is also building plants in Pittsburgh and Fort Worth to accommodate Marcellus demand, according to Marasco.

ABCD is serving as developer for the project, although it normally prefers not to take that role, Marasco said.

Gardner Denver received a $200,000 Pennsylvania First Grant and $18,000 in job training assistance, according to a news release from the governor's office.

The Governor's Action Team, First National Bank, the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority, Penelec, the Altoona City Authority, Northern Blair Regional Sewer Authority, the Blair County Soil and Conservation District and the Blair County and Antis Township planning commissions participated in the project, according to an ABCD news release.

The rest of the business park is already "spoken for" by two other potential tenants - although one may opt for another Blair County location, Marasco said.

"It's a great investment," Marasco said of the Gardner Denver project. "It's kind of an image builder for the Marcellus Shale industry - that a company like Gardner Denver would consider the Altoona area and the I-99 corridor."

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