is Erie Coke still in business
New website promoting Erie's abundant freshwater resources to attract industry:
Erie tires-to-energy plant loses appeal
Thursday, December 18, 2008
The Associated Press
ERIE, Pa. -- A judge has rejected the zoning appeal of a company planning a $300 million tires-to-energy plant.
Erie Renewable Energy LLC wants to build the 90-megawatt power plant in Erie. But zoning officials rejected the plan because two 165-foot boilers are higher than the city's 100-foot limit.
The company argues that zoning allows for exceptions if the boilers are a "necessary mechanical appurtenance" to the main plant.
The city says the boilers aren't part of the main building and don't qualify. But the company says pipes connect the boilers to the building's main turbines, which can't operate without the boilers.
The company's attorney is reviewing the ruling for another possible appeal.
Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
^ I wish this was the end of this whole ridiculous ordeal. They're filing other plans and appeals constantly... determined to get it built, even though there has been a lot of strong oppostion to it from government bodies and private industries in the area.
The whole project is an obscene joke and it angers me that it is even being considered. The whole "energy" part is a marketing gimmick, since it will not be a net energy producer at all, given that it will require more energy to run the tire gasification process than will be produced by the process. It's basically just a money-making scheme for a business outift with a far less than respectable past.
ERIE'S ECONOMY: A SPECIAL REPORT
On the surface, Erie is a city that seems to be in the process of change. The image of a dying steel town out of step with the rest of the country is finally being shaken, and the terms "revitalization" and "redevelopment" have become buzz words around the city, but is our city growing enough to survive into the next generation?
:previous: Sounds like a lot of western PA cities and towns.
Erie firm powers first transcontinental biodiesel flight
I know a similar concept is talked about in Columbus (went to HS there).
Basically, they're trying (and struggling) to keep 20 somethings there after they graduate from OSU. And all I remember from HS is everyone bitching about how boring it was there, and how they wanted to move (which is why, in retrospect, looking at facebook and the # of folks still there is kinda surprising).
I really think that whole region has an uphill battle, though, which is unfortunate for those who lack the means to pack up and leave.
Erie locomotive plant laying off 1,550
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The Associated Press
ERIE, Pa. -- Erie-based GE Transportation says it is laying off 1,550 workers, including 350 whose jobs will be cut permanently.
The locomotive manufacturer is blaming the global recession and lower production for the cuts.
The layoffs will take place this year. The company says in a statement today that 1,200 layoffs are lack of work furloughs that should eventually end.
But 150 salaried workers and 200 hourly workers will lose their jobs permanently.
The company says most of the cuts will come at its primary plant in Erie, but that other GE Transportation sites will lose jobs, too.
Ugh, this will probably effect the GE Grove City plant as well:(
^ yeah, this is not good news for Erie at all.
It's also interesting that GE just opened a plant in Las Vegas amidst all of their financial struggles.
Unfortunately, I believe that, despite all of GE's claims that they are committed to Erie and to keeping GE Transportation primarily an American enterprise, they will continue to "branch out" operations internationally (especially into China and SE Asia). I really hope I'm wrong, but I feel it is inevitable that GE Transportation will see its primary operations in China in the relatively near future.
Erie County maple syrup industry featured in the Washington Post!
Joy in Meadville: 'Tool City' Weathers Downturn
By TIMOTHY AEPPEL
MEADVILLE, Pa. -- The tool-and-die shops that drive this region's economy and give this town its "Tool City USA" nickname are faring better in the current downturn than they did in past recessions.
"You're not seeing the wholesale disruptions you might expect, because they learned from hard lessons in the past," says Mark Turner, executive director of the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County, which includes Meadville.
One of those lessons is to diversify. The region's tool-and-die industry -- some 130 small and medium-sized companies making tools and parts for everything from satellites to Segway scooters -- was once heavily focused on serving the U.S. auto industry. Many, especially the smaller shops, also tended to rely on just one or two big customers, which increased vulnerability during economic declines.
The 2001 downturn, which coincided with a wave of fierce foreign competition, was particularly brutal. Industry analysts estimate 15% of the region's tool-and-die makers didn't survive that shakeout. But many of those that remained have grown and altered how they do business.
A decade ago, Starn Tool & Manufacturing Co. did 80% of its business with suppliers to the car industry. Today, that segment of its business is 5%. The 54-employee company now makes tools used in minimally invasive spine surgery and parts that end up in everything from Boeing Co.'s new Dreamliner jets to the Kepler space probe.
Strolling through a shop filled with the noise of computer-guided machines cutting metal, William Starn, the company's president, says that customers in the hardest-hit industries still have to buy some tools and finished parts, though they have cut back their purchases. For instance, an air-conditioner manufacturer that normally took shipments once a month is now getting them every two months.
Meanwhile, the company is seeing glimmers that other big manufacturers are starting to buy more freely again. "You can't say 'No' forever," Mr. Starn says.
Not everyone is so upbeat. Mark Hanaway, director of marketing and sales at Tech Tool & Molded Plastics, says he worries that the recession is pushing more of his customers to look for cheaper sources of tools overseas. Tech Tool laid off about a dozen workers -- roughly 15% of its employees -- at the end of February.
The tool-and-die industry is usually among the first to register shifts up or down in the industrial sector, because it makes the tools needed to make final goods. Meadville's shops make everything from molds for plastic components to the dies used to cut and form parts on factory assembly lines. More of them also make the parts that their tools are designed to produce, saving their customers the time and cost of running those operations themselves.
The industry exists in pockets throughout the country, but took root in Meadville in northwestern Pennsylvania because of zippers. The first commercially successful zippers were designed and manufactured here early in the last century, and it was the need for intricate tooling to make them that gave rise to the local tool-and-die sector.
"The slowdown is hitting all of us, but we're coping by finding new customers and new businesses to move into," says Robert Smith Jr., president of Acutec Precision Machining Inc., which has two plants in the area.
Mr. Smith notes that after growing 25% a year for the past four years, his business will be flat in 2009. His company designs and builds its own tools, but has mainly grown by taking over the production of parts and sub-assemblies for large customers, mostly in aerospace. He hasn't shed any workers and still has some on his staff putting in heavy overtime.
Despite the surprising strength of its tool makers, the county that includes Meadville has seen its unemployment rate rise steadily in recent months, hitting 10% in February. That is twice the level of last April, when many companies here were struggling to find and hold onto their skilled workers.
Unlike places that have fought to shed their industrial past, Meadville embraces its heritage. One of the crown jewels of the community is a thriving technical school where students learn industrial trades. Among the plaques hanging in the entryway is one dedicated to Dr. Gideon Sundbaeck, "father of the modern zipper."
Write to Timothy Aeppel at email@example.com
Two Northwestern Pennsylvania companies made this year's Fortune 1000
686 - Erie Insurance Group - Erie
688 - United Refining - Warren
^ Shit. What happened? :) Erie insurance was a Fortune 500 company just a year ago. I think it peaked at 460 or so.
Tires-to-Energy Plant Protesters Take to the Streets
Reported by: Jeremy Beecher
Friday, May 1, 2009 @10:48pm EST
They packed both sides of East Lake Road – young, old and everyone in between – all saying the tires-to-energy plant would be a big step backward for Erie.
“It’s going to affect everyone,” said Donna Burkhart of Millcreek, “children, pregnant women, the elderly.”
"Erie is a beautiful place, and this tire plant is just going to ruin it,” said Sarah Hulsko, a student at Mercyhurst College. “It's going to be what Pittsburgh was 20 years ago."
The prospect of the plant is weighing especially hard on Robert Kennerney, who is deciding whether to stay in Erie or move back to Ireland after he graduates from Mercyhurst College later this month.
"It just makes you think, it makes you wonder,” Kennerney said. “If I were to settle in Erie, would I like to have a family here? Is this the kind of place I want to be? "
But not everyone is convinced the plant is such a bad thing.
For months, several local unions have been supporting it, saying its construction and long-term operation will create hundreds of badly needed jobs.
"It’s a great opportunity for the city of Erie,” said Jack Lee, a union member who attended the zoning board hearing that cleared the way for the plant. “We've lost a lot of industry [and] a lot of jobs. And with this tires-to-energy plant, [there will be] another tax base for the city, [to] help them balance the budget [and] give people jobs."
For now the plant has a green light.
But the zoning board has to give a written explanation for that decision within a week.
Once they do, opponents, including KEEP, vow to appeal the ruling to the Erie County Court of Common Pleas.
AP: Eastern Ohio economy may take cues from Pa.
By GENARO C. ARMAS
Associated Press Writer
ERIE, Pa. (AP) - This part of the Rust Belt near the Pennsylvania-Ohio border finds itself at an economic crossroads again, much as it did in the 1970s when manufacturing began its long decline.
But choices in the years since are making the future look slightly brighter on the Pennsylvania side even in places such as Pittsburgh, while Ohio cities and towns such as Cleveland suffer more.
``We jump back 30 years, when the steel industry all collapsed at the same time, I think (Pennsylvania's) industry transitioned from steel to other things,'' said Joseph Mayernick, executive director of Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County, an economic development agency in northeastern Ohio. ``We transformed to other things that were still tied to the automobile industry.''
The Associated Press Economic Stress Map shows that although the recession has hit both states hard, the troubles in Ohio are clearly much worse. The color-coded map is based on an index of unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcies in more than 3,000 U.S. counties - the higher the index's number for a county, the worse the recession's impact.
Ashtabula, Ohio's northeasternmost county, had an index score of 16.17 in the latest figures from May, up nearly eight points since the recession started in October 2007. Progress to diversify there has been slow, and made tougher by the recession, Mayernick said.
Erie County, Pa., Ashtabula's neighbor just east, had a rating of 10.07, up more than four points during the same period. One reason is that one in five Erie residents work in manufacturing, compared with about one in four in Ashtabula County, according to U.S. Census data.
There were similar trends farther south.
Trumbull County, Ohio, had one of its state's highest scores at 17.15. General Motors Corp.'s plant there in Lordstown employs more than 2,200 workers.
The factory is silent again during another temporary summer shutdown. Dozens of suppliers in surrounding communities, including in Ashtabula County, rely on automakers to stay afloat.
Mahoning County, which includes Youngstown, was at 14.91. The recession delivered another blow to a city still trying to recover from the demise of steel and other blue-collar businesses.
``We're surviving. We're hanging on,'' said Benny Naples, 50, who helps run the Golden Dawn restaurant in Youngstown, owned by his father since 1934.
Bankruptcies and foreclosures are up, and companies have shut down that ``people didn't think would shut down,'' Naples said.
Heading south from Erie on the Pennsylvania side, Crawford County's index rating is 10.71, while Mercer County is at 12.36, and Lawrence County is at 10.72. Those are among the highest ratings in Pennsylvania.
But scores lower than Ohio's show that western Pennsylvania's economic diversification is paying off. In the Erie region, for example, there has been growth over the years in the leisure and hospitality sector, as well as higher education and health care.
Allegheny County, which encompasses the regional urban hub of Pittsburgh, has a rating of 8.36, compared with the 13.64 rating for Cuyahoga County in Ohio, which includes Cleveland.
Once heavily reliant on steel, Pittsburgh's economy is now more closely tied to somewhat ``recession-proof'' fields including health care and education, said U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire, a Democrat from western Pennsylvania.
``If you look at what Pittsburgh went through in the 1970s and early 80s, I think that is what Ohio has gone through and maybe hasn't quite recovered to the extent that Pittsburgh has,'' Altmire said.
Richard Golonka, chief financial officer of Snap-Tite Inc., said his company is ``holding its own'' in the recession, having laid off about 15 percent of its 600 workers with business leveling off. The Erie-based firm makes couplings, hydraulic valves and other fittings.
``We're waiting patiently for things to turn around,'' Golonka said at a reception held by the Manufacturer & Business Association in Erie before an appearance by former President George W. Bush. ``People got to start buying. When they buy, orders will come in, but we have no idea when that will start happening.''
Golonka, 63, who has lived in the area for almost three decades, agreed that Erie's economy hasn't suffered as big a hit now because it is less reliant on manufacturing.
Damian Kuzmin, president of Rapid Mold Solutions in Erie, said he decided about six years ago to transition more of his business away from the automobile industry in an effort to diversify. Now, his company also makes molds to produce items like decoy duck heads and medical devices.
Kuzmin estimates about 35 to 40 percent of business today is auto-related, down from about 60 percent earlier this decade.
``It's always been our outlook not to put all our eggs in one basket,'' said Kuzmin, whose business has expanded twice since opening 10 years ago. ``We'd been involved in auto a number of years, but we had seen the handwriting on the wall.''
More regional collaboration is seen as one solution to help economies on both sides of the state line. It's relatively common for residents who live near the border to commute to the other state for work if needed.
Altmire and Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, whose districts abut each other, have collaborated to promote a ``Tech Belt'' in western Pennsylvania and northeastern Ohio that they hope creates jobs in advanced services and industries.
``We want to use all the resources that we have. Let's all work together,'' Altmire said in a phone interview. ``When I say, 'Silicon Valley,' you know what that is. We want to develop that 'Tech Belt' in the same way.''
One characteristic shared by Pennsylvania and Ohio residents was blue-collar optimism that the area - regardless of which side of the state line - would rebound from the latest financial crisis.
``The one thing about this area, people stick together,'' said Daryll Clark, 49, who has been laid off from his job as a press operator for about seven months. Clark, whose son is the starting quarterback for the Penn State University football team, sat in a booth with Naples at the Youngstown restaurant.
The region ``has had tough times before, and they've come out of it,'' Clark said.
07/09/09 10:43 © Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained In this news report may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.
that sucks so bad... I thought that unit was successful even during the downturn?
^ Yeah, this has the potential to be crushing for the Erie area. For all the talk of this being GE's most successful division over the past few years, this news doesn't seem to jibe.
As I said a few months ago when there a lower number of layoffs, I think the bulk of the GE-Transportation division will eventually be moved to China or Mexico.
that is really horrible ... though not surprising after touring it extensively last year
U.S. fortifies Erie security
By Craig Smith
Sunday, October 11, 2009
As dawn broke over Lake Erie, two Customs and Border Patrol agents made their way up the aisle of Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited, which runs from Chicago to New York. They looked at every passenger.
"Are you a U.S. citizen?" one agent asked a man who stood to stretch his legs when the train stopped in Erie.
"Yes," the man said, reaching for his wallet. The agent waved him off and moved farther up the aisle to where his partner was inspecting another passenger's paperwork. After verifying the information by phone, they moved on.
Many people don't think of Erie as a border town, said Agent Robert Signorino, because the U.S. border with Canada sits in Lake Erie in water up to 200 feet deep.
But Erie is a choke point for land and water transportation, agents said. Major north-south bus routes pass through town. Erie is a stop for trains traveling between Chicago and New York. Boaters fish in secluded coves and inlets that dot the shore.
All this appeals to illegal immigrants trying to quietly blend in, officials said.
"We're looking for the immigrant who walked across the border at Dylan, Ariz., ... maybe got a smuggler to bring them up here on their way to Chicago or New York," said Signorino, a Uniontown native who has served with Customs and Border Patrol in Erie for two years.
"They are not expecting to see border patrol agents in Erie, Pa.," said Patrol Agent in Charge Andrew Scharnweber.
But the border patrol has increased its presence in Erie.
The Erie border station, the only one in Pennsylvania, opened in 2004 with six agents. Next year, it will move from its headquarters in an old cruise ship terminal to a facility that will be located near a notorious drop-off for illegal aliens that is in a cove abutting a residential neighborhood. The new office will accommodate 50 agents, up from 30.
The agency was directed in 2005 to track terrorists and halt transport of illegal aliens.
In 2007, 12 agents were added to Erie's original staff of six as part of a nationwide push to add 6,000 agents by this year. The Erie station's coverage area extends from the Pennsylvania-Ohio line to Dunkirk, N.Y., south of Buffalo.
During the fiscal year, from Oct. 1, 2008, through Sept. 30, Erie Border Patrol agents apprehended 558 people, an 8 percent increase over last year, and confiscated 1,330 pounds of marijuana and $18,555 in cash, as well as smaller amounts of heroin and cocaine, Scharnweber said.
The Erie arrests were part of more than 2,600 made in the Buffalo sector of Customs and Border Patrol during that period.
"Intelligence gleaned from these apprehensions has provided a significant increase in our situational awareness regarding both smuggling trends, criminal organizations and their activity," said Agent A.J. Price, spokesman for the Buffalo sector, of which Erie is a part.
The Erie station averages two apprehensions a day, Scharnweber said. Forty-one percent of apprehensions in Erie happen at bus and train stations, Signorino said. The Erie station has three K-9 teams trained to sniff out drugs and another smuggled commodity: people.
"They hide under the dashboard or in the seats of cars," Scharnweber said.
Erie agents made the following arrests during the 12 months ending Sept. 30: 307, or 55 percent, were Mexicans in the country illegally; 234, or 42 percent, were from countries other than Mexico and Canada; 3 percent were considered "aliens from special interest countries," those known to have ties to terrorists or countries that support them.
"It's more difficult to find terrorists. You can't just follow footprints in the sand," Signorino said.
The climate and geography of Erie challenge that mission, said Signorino, who began his career patrolling the country's border with Mexico.
During the day, fishermen stand almost shoulder-to-shoulder along the lake shore trying to hook Lake Erie steelhead. Under cover of darkness, the coves and inlets offer privacy for those trying to enter the country illegally. Border patrol agents travel back roads and suburban streets to reach the shoreline.
Winter along the lake can be brutally cold, making surveillance difficult.
Beefing up Customs and Border Patrol in Erie has had an impact, said Charbel G. Latouf, an immigration attorney.
"They've assisted local police with people who have no identification," he said, "There was a time when local police officers didn't know what to do. ... If there was no crime, they'd just let them go."
Randy Bowers, deputy police chief in Erie, said border patrol agents have acted as interpreters and helped police deal with suspected foreign nationals. Before the border patrol station was established, police called the Immigration and Naturalization Service or anyone they could think of for help, he said.
"We did a lot of waiting," Bowers said. "Having them up here makes a lot of sense."
Nationwide, from January through September, Customs and Border Patrol officers identified and denied entry to 129,779 inadmissible aliens at ports of entry, 23,386 of whom had criminal backgrounds. Patrol officers seized 19,530 fake or fraudulent documents.
When an agent questioned David Hess before he boarded a bus in Erie recently, he said he understood the reason for the scrutiny.
"I'm from Florida. They need them there. It's been completely overrun. You don't know who's coming in," he said as he waited for his bus to Meadville.
:previous: Mercer County is also a major thoroughfare for illegals and drugs, with I80 and I79 intersecting. I can recall when working as a 911 dispatcher there were weekly arrests of illegals and major drugs busts on the Interstates.
I didn't realize that they were beefing up the border patrol presence so much in Erie. Though I know that the number of illegal immigrants in the area is said to be high. A city cop that I know from high school joked recently that if the census counted all the illegals here, Erie would be the 3rd largest city in PA once again.
Keep politics out of this thread, and post articles according to forum guidelines.
PUBLISHED: MAY 05. 2010 6:16PM
Inland port developers eye land in western Erie County, Conneaut, Ohio area
The Economic Development Corp. of Erie County is eyeing roughly 2,000 acres in western Erie County and the Conneaut, Ohio, area as it moves forward with the multimillion-dollar plan to develop a sprawling, regional transportation hub.
John Elliott, chief executive of the Economic Development Corp. of Erie County, said the land is being evaluated in hopes that some of the properties -- somewhere between 200 and 700 acres -- eventually will become part of the Erie Inland Port project.
The properties are all located near existing railroad lines, as well as Interstate 90, Elliott said.
"With some of the land, we have options to purchase," Elliott said. "Will all of the property become part of (the project)? Probably not. We're doing site analysis to determine whether the properties fit our needs."
The multiple-site project could be operating as early as 2013, Elliott said.
-- Staff report
Interesting bayfront photo from what looks to be the early 1990s. Quite a difference! Interesting what it doesn't show on those then-empty docks... Erie County Library/Maritime Museum, cruise ship terminal, Bayfront Center for Maritime Studies, intermodal transportation center, Bicentennial tower, Sheraton Hotel, Convention Center. Note the demolition of the Penelec generating station - the first step in Bayfront redevelopment.
Photo Credit: Public record at USACE
Most of the talk in Erie is against a merger with either UPMC or the Cle-Climic, the other suitor.
Heard most often...
"As soon as the econ takes another nose dive and there is a need to cut expenses (read jobs here), do you think they'll cut in Pitt the hdq city?"
Not likely, then there goes so more jobs out of Erie.
Downtown football stadium nearing completion
Cathedral Prep Events Center almost done
By DANA MASSING
School officials expect to get the keys to their new $9 million Cathedral Prep Events Center today, along with the "certificate of occupancy" that lets them take it over from the contractor.
"It's being delivered 45 days early and on budget," said Chris Hagerty, Cathedral Preparatory School's director of advancement.
Hagerty said Perry Construction Group, the general contractor, was putting finishing touches on the center today.
The Rev. Scott Jabo, president of the Catholic high school, said July 4 would probably be considered the "official" finish date.
Ground was broken in November 2008 for the facility on the former Gunite/EMI plant site at West 12th and Cherry streets. The events center at 501 W. 12th St. includes a 12,000-square-foot building with locker rooms, concessions and restrooms; artificial turf field; an eight-lane track; and stands seating 1,800.
A few changes were worked in after Prep and Villa Maria Academy became campuses of the same umbrella known as Erie Catholic Preparatory School.
"The girls locker room is blue and white," Hagerty said, referring to Villa's school colors.
He said Villa girls will use the facility for soccer, track and lacrosse. Prep boys will use it for those sports plus some of its football games.
The first Prep football game there will be Sept. 10, with a blessing of the field before the game.
Even before that, the facility will be used during Prep's reunion weekend. A picnic is planned for July 30.
"That will be our first official event there," Jabo said.
He said a small private party will be held there before then.
Teams will start practicing on the field this summer, and parochial school football games are being scheduled, Jabo said.
He said it's also possible to hold small banquets at the events center, which has a kitchen.
Plans for the addition of a gymnasium and a swimming pool are still in place but are contingent on raising $10 million.
"Realistically, it's probably going to be a few years out before we embark on that," Jabo said.
DANA MASSING can be reached at 870-1729 or by e-mail.
Also ahead of schedule
Erie's $1.1 million State Street makeover ahead of schedule
By GERRY WEISS
For those driving or walking past it, the beautification project along State Street from the Bayfront Parkway to Dobbins Landing doesn't look too beautiful these days.
Backhoes digging through chunks of cement. Construction and sewer laborers working near portions of closed-off sidewalk that are surrounded by caution tape and plastic orange cones.
But the $1.1 million makeover, which began at the end of April, is ahead of schedule and on target to be completed by Labor Day weekend in early September.
"Barring any obstacles or new developments, we'll probably finish a month early," Jack Laver, project manager for Mayer Bros. Construction, said Thursday.
The Erie company received the contract to handle the enhancements of the downtown face-lift.
Doug Pomorski, director of operations and harbor master for the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority, said the project has "progressed extremely well." He added that an original plan to remove about 25 parking spots at the foot of State Street for a planting area has been changed, and that the area has been reduced in order to allow for continued parking at the location.
"To have those spots available will be very beneficial to the businesses down there," Pomorski said.
The stretch from the parkway north toward Presque Isle Bay will be narrowed from four lanes to two, and four pedestrian walkways will be added across State Street. Officials said Thursday that asphalt paving and resurfacing would begin in about two weeks, construction that will allow only emergency vehicles and minimal traffic in that location for about three days.
New sidewalks, handicapped ramps, and lighting, along with additional trees, flowers and shrubs, are part of the makeover's landscaping. Most of that installation has been completed on the west side of State Street, officials said, adding that similar work on the east side of State Street would begin soon.
Ray Schreckengost, the port authority's executive director, said some of the flowers, grass and shrubs could not be planted in the warm and dry summer months, and would need to be planted in fall.
On Thursday, crew members with the Erie Sewer Authority spent hours building new catch basins to improve drainage in the area, officials said, and construction laborers continued to work on adding a new boulevard to the street.
Funding for the makeover came from federal stimulus money and about $300,000 in Growing Greener II funds from the state.
GERRY WEISS can be reached at 870-1884 or by e-mail.
500 jobs added at PI Downs Casino
The tables and the casino's 2,030 slot machines are open 24 hours a day.
At Presque Isle Downs, the games began at 10 a.m. after casino spokeswoman Jennifer See used an oversized pair of scissors to cut a ribbon with Erie's name on it and state Sen. Jane Earll and casino officials made opening remarks.
The casino spent $25 million on table games, including $16.5 million for a one-time state licensing fee. The rest of the money was spent on a building expansion that includes a table games and slots area, and on the table games themselves and other costs.
The opening of the games also will provide more elbow room for gamblers at the one-mile oval thoroughbred horse racing track. All of the patio overlooking the track is open, now that construction of the new table games area and Triple Crown Buffet has been completed.
The casino has placed more tables and seats on the patio, See said. And it will install benches on the asphalt between the patio and the track in the next couple of weeks, she said.
"It's been booming,'' See said Thursday afternoon.
The casino tables were still packed early Thursday evening.
"We've had several thousand people (at the casino) today,'' See said Thursday evening.
Although See didn't have a figure on the amount of people who played table games by early Thursday night, she estimated the tables "have been 90 percent full all day.''
Some of the dealers, most of whom had never dealt in a live setting, had jitters Tuesday, said Kevin Ryan, director of table games. But Ryan said he thinks they got over any nervousness on the test day.
Full-time dealers can earn $30,000 to $40,000 with tips, casino officials have said.
Cooper, the blackjack dealer, didn't have any opening-day nerves because she had worked as a dealer at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort in Chester, W.Va. Mountaineer is MTR's flagship property.
Cooper moved to Erie two weeks ago with her three kids.
I love it here. It's great,'' Cooper said
$80.5 million Erie Int'l Airport expansion underway
A ground breaking ceremony took place near the Erie International Airport at Powell Avenue in Millcreek Township July 1. The ceremony marked the beginning of construction for an $80.5 million runway extension that will add almost 2,000 feet to the existing airport runway. The runway will be almost 7,500 feet long when the project is completed in 2012.
"East Side Connector" to downtown to be closed for 3 wks to allow for new construction of a
3000ft railroad track spur to DonJon Shipbuilding. This is due to the need to use rail for larger precast steel sections used in the ships being built on Erie's bayfront.
LECOM to open dental school
(Updated: 4:30 p.m.)
The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine plans to do something no one in Pennsylvania has done in 114 years: Open a dental school.
LECOM expects to open its four-year dental school in 2015. It will be located on the medical school's Erie campus, 1858 W. Grandview Blvd.
"We will build a brand-new building, though we don't know exactly where on campus it will be," said Michael Visnosky, chairman of the LECOM board of trustees.
Visnosky announced LECOM's plans this morning during an Erie City Council meeting. He asked council to facilitate a $1 million state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant to begin construction.
Council members unanimously approved the resolution.
"The $1 million is just a start. It's an expensive proposition," Visnosky said. "It will cost between $37 million and $47 million to construct the school. This is the first of three grants we hope to receive."
This is horrifying news. Troyer Farms has always been my favorite potato chip... and is as identifiable with Erie/NWPA as Rolling Rock was with Latrobe. I will never eat another Troyer Farms chip... this move is bound to destroy the brand.
^ yeah, really sucks. When the York company bought Troyer Farms a couple of years ago, I knew it was a bad sign. Here's the news story from 2008.
Troyer Farms Agrees to Sale
Erie Times News - December 16, 2008
WATERFORD — A local tradition and one of the region’s signature products will soon be in the hands of a new owner, but the jobs are staying here.
Waterford Township-based Troyer Potato Products Inc., which bills itself as the nation’s only grower-owned chip maker, has agreed to sell itself to York-based Bickel’s Snack Foods Inc.
This purchase, which is expected to close by the end of the month, represents more than the marriage of two small snack-food companies.
Bickel’s, which was founded in 1954 by Luther Bickel — offering a unique “seared” chip in a variety of flavors — makes snacks at five plants under its name and a variety of private labels.
That company was bought in 1998 by Hanover Foods Corp., the largest independently owned maker of frozen, canned, fresh vegetables, as well as salted snack-food products in the nation.
“This will make a much larger company that’s able to compete against the Frito-Lays,” said Tricia Briggs, Troyer Farms’ chief financial officer.
That David-and-Goliath battle had become increasingly more difficult to win with each passing year.
In recent months, Troyer Farms — as the company is commonly known — rode the turbulent waves of supply and demand, watching the price of corn oil rise by as much as $200,000 a month.
“Talk about cutting into your profits,” Troyer Farms President Mark Troyer said at the time.
Troyer Farms doesn’t look much today like the company that brothers Clifford and Cletus Troyer founded back in 1967, when they decided to start cutting and cooking the potatoes that the family had been growing since the late 1930s.
Troyer Farms, which bought Cleveland-based Dan-Dee in 1984 and acquired Seyfert Foods, an Indiana-based snack-food maker, in 1984, employs about 325 people, and sells snacks in six states.
Together, those employees produce about 17 million pounds of snack food a year, including 10 million pounds of potato chips.
It sounds like a big number.
But that 10 million pounds is also equal to the extra amount of chips that Frito-Lay makes each year for Super Bowl consumption.
Explaining that competition for market share is fierce, Mark Troyer said this wasn’t the first time company officials toyed with the idea of selling.
“We have been in negotiations for years,” Troyer said, adding that past offers haven’t guaranteed the future of the company’s 325 or so employees, about 150 of whom work in Waterford.
As a result, Troyer said, previous offers weren’t seriously considered.
“The future of our employees is very important,” he said. “They are like family to us, and we know they play a major role in this business.”
Those same workers will continue to make and bag chips in Waterford that carry the labels of Troyer Farms, Dan-Dee and Seyfert.
But company officials expect there should be more work to do.
“Our distribution networks really won’t change,” said Briggs, Troyer Farms’ CFO. “They will just be getting a paycheck from Bickel. They will do the same thing, but they will also produce Bickel chips on our potato chip lines.”
Troyer, who spoke Monday afternoon with employees about the company’s plans and their future, acknowledged that some changes will take time.
“I expressed that we develop a relationship working side by side with them,” he said. “It certainly is a kind of a loss. But we wanted to be certain about the future of the plant going forward.”
The Troyer family won’t be walking away from the business completely.
The family will continue to own and operate a pretzel factory in Canonsburg. They’ll also continue to grow potatoes for the plant and to provide trucking services for the company.
Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
Port study urges new businesses, building multiuse cargo facility
BY KEVIN FLOWERS, Erie Times-News
Erie port officials would be wise to focus on attracting new businesses such as wind energy companies and wood pellet/biomass exporters, according to a freight and strategic development plan that consultants unveiled today.
Port officials should also consider building a multimillion-dollar, multiuse port facility that can handle several different types of cargo, one consultant told members of the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority this morning.
Martin Associates, a Lancaster-based consulting firm, gave the Port Authority an analysis of freight flowing through the Port of Erie as part of its $268,425 study.
The company is working with another consulting firm -- Vickerman & Associates, of Williamsburg, Va. -- that studied the port's facilities and any infrastructure changes that might be needed to boost port business.
John Vickerman, owner of Vickerman & Associates, told Port Authority members that the new waterfront facility -- the cost of which has yet to be determined -- would enhance the ability of Erie's port to compete with other Great Lakes ports.
Container port operations in Erie's future?
Dock project, part of Erie Inland Port, eyed for Presque Isle Bay
BY KEVIN FLOWERS, Erie Times-News
There is no guarantee it will ever be built.
The project might take years to develop, and the price could likely exceed $25 million.
And there is still plenty of legwork ahead to determine which companies that import and/or export goods would be the best fit -- and whether they would sign on to use it.
Nevertheless, local officials looking to improve Erie's waterfront port as part of a multiyear plan to create a large-scale logistics hub in the region are intrigued by the idea of a new, 2.5-acre dock, built out into Presque Isle Bay, that would partially rim an 18-acre parcel of property owned by the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority.
The property is west of the Mountfort Terminal, where ships load and unload, and south of the entrance to the channel that connects the bay and Lake Erie.
The new dock would extend into water that is about 20 feet deep, which would allow large cargo ships to enter that area without having to dredge the bay bottom, said Ray Schreckengost, the Port Authority's executive director.
The new dock would also be large enough to host heavy cranes and other machinery, as well as new storage and cargo facilities.
"This could take years to put together," Schreckengost said. "But we could use more space down there now, and if the market opportunities are there, it is certainly worth looking at.
"If you can get the right businesses interested in coming in here, you want to go ahead and do it," Schreckengost continued. "There are market opportunities out there, and if the right ones come up for Erie, we certainly want to be in a position to capitalize on them."
D. Tod Eagleton, dock operations supervisor for Carmeuse Lime & Stone, Erie Sand & Gravel Operations, said the need for an expanded dock has been discussed for a long time.
"It would give us more dock space, more back space (room for unloading and storage) and more room for ship repair," he said.
It would also provide extra space for unloading container ships if plans for a logistics hub become a reality.
"It would benefit the port operations and our operations if that goes through," he said.
The dock project is included in a long-range master plan for enhancing Erie's port. Two consulting firms, Martin Associates, of Lancaster, and Vickerman & Associates, of Williamsburg, Va., are studying the port's facilities and any infrastructure changes that might be needed to boost port business.
Martin Associates has also given the Port Authority an analysis of freight flowing through the Port of Erie as part of the $268,425 study.
Erie's port generates about $60 million in annual revenue and about 940 people have jobs directly or indirectly related to the cargo and shipyard activity that takes place on Erie's waterfront, according to consultants.
About 1 million tons of cargo, including limestone, salt and sand, move through Erie's port each year.
Consultants have urged local and port officials to focus on luring emerging businesses -- especially those involving wind energy and wood pellet/biomass exporters -- to increase the Erie Port's volume of business, according to a new freight and strategic development plan.
That is where the proposed dock comes in: The theory is that to capitalize on some of these new business opportunities, Erie will need ample space for loading and unloading cargo, as well as storage. The Erie port's waterfront access, as well as nearby railroad lines, could make it an attractive option for various companies.
"It may be the only thing that enables what comes next," said John Elliott, chief executive of the Economic Development Corp. of Erie County and a driving force behind what's known as the Erie Inland Port project.
The Economic Development Corp. is working to establish a business park -- at least 200 acres -- focused on the distribution, transportation and warehousing of goods.
Infrastructure enhancements at the ports of Erie and Conneaut, Ohio, are also part of the plan, which likely will cost more than $50 million in public and private funds and is expected to include multiple sites. Erie County government has provided $3 million toward the project.
"We know what some of the market opportunities are, like equipment for wind power and biofuels," Elliott said. "These companies are looking for (import/export) space.
"We have to explore those potential market opportunities to determine whether we build something new," Elliott said, "But we don't want to be limited by what we have either. ... If you visit other ports, you will see docks and terminals that service different types of containerized cargo, etc. Some of these industries that might have the opportunity to grow in Erie may require different dock facilities to do that."
John Vickerman, the owner of Vickerman & Associates, told Port Authority officials at a Feb. 22 meeting about proposed port enhancements that consultants were simply providing "a road map" of options for local officials.
"Take the hard-hitting results, focus on the opportunities and develop a plan that focuses on the potentials," said Vickerman, who is coming up with both a concept plan for the dock that will show what it might look like in detail, as well as a cost estimate.
Schreckengost said it would likely cost $25 million to $30 million, and take a long-term lease with at least one major cargo handler -- "someone bringing in high-value products, like televisions, windmill equipment, biofuels, something like that" -- to make the dock a reality.
"If you get the right major tenant," Schreckengost said, "that's all you need."
From 10 to 175 employees in less than 18 months. Nice.:)
Shipbuilding returns to Erie.
Barge takes shape along with Erie's shipbuilding future
By JIM MARTIN, Erie Times-News
Sparks are flying once again on Erie's bayfront.
In fact, they're flying 20 hours a day as dozens of welders seam together the pieces of a massive steel barge taking form in the fabrication area of DonJon Shipbuilding and Repair. Outside, a completed tugboat, the Ken Boothe Sr., sits in the water, awaiting a March sail date with its companion barge being built inside. It wouldn't have seemed possible just two years ago. Prospects at what was then Erie Shipbuilding seemed to be dim and growing darker.
The company's failure to obtain project financing had forced owners to lay off about 100 workers. That left fewer than 10 people to work on the massive 840-foot integrated tug and barge project. Today, under new ownership and operating as DonJon Shipbuilding and Repair, shipbuilding appears to have made a comeback in Erie. Some of the most tangible signs of that comeback can be found in the completed Ken Boothe Sr. and in the company's growing payroll. J. Arnold Witte, the owner of DonJon Marine Co., the shipbuilding division's parent company, predicted in January 2010 that employment might eventually grow to 150 people. Today, that prediction has been surpassed with total employment of about 175 people, who work in two 10-hour shifts.
The DonJon workforce includes both newcomers such as Ann Marie Lucas, 27, and Dallas Cook, 54, who has worked for four shipbuilders that have occupied the same facility. They're good jobs with full benefits, said Stephen Konzel, vice president of operations and engineering. "You could raise a family on any of our skilled jobs," he said. And the company expects it will be hiring more people as this project continues and work begins this coming winter on offseason ship-repair projects. Jake Rouch, vice president of economic development for the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership, said he's encouraged by the company's progress. "I am extremely optimistic about everything that we have seen," he said. "We have had a number of operators in there who have come in and talked about what they are going to do and not delivered. DonJon has delivered at every level."
Witte returned the compliment recently at the annual awards dinner sponsored by the Regional Chamber. "We have had a wonderful time here in Erie," he said, thanking both the community and local officials for their support. "The employees who have come from the community have been a credit to the success we have had to date," Witte said.
Witte, who has been in the shipping business since 1967, said he doesn't think there's anything too complicated about the formula for success in business. "A company is made up of good people," he said. "It's made up of competent and dedicated people. A company is also made up of capital, and, in today's world, technology. "Those components are the keys to success in our highly competitive shipbuilding and repair business."
Witte, 72, has invested the company's capital in both people and technology, spending heavily on both machines and people to operate them. The company, for instance, is currently awaiting delivery of a new $1 million piece of equipment that will speed production. DonJon's willingness and ability to invest has made the difference, Konzel said. "We have a committed company," he said. "Arnold Witte is very committed from a management and financial standpoint to keep the yard properly capitalized." The shipyard, leased from the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority, is more than an emerging success story. It's a good fit for the planned Erie Inland Port project, said John Elliott, chief executive of the Economic Development Corp., which proposed that logistics hub. "One of the themes we are hitting on is attracting and growing industries that are uniquely suited to the Erie region because of our access, and water and rail transportation. The shipyard is one of the most obvious examples," Elliott said. Witte isn't much of a speechmaker. And by his own admission, he isn't one for grand promises.
But he did offer a simple prediction, saying, "We believe that we have the tools to continue successfully for some period of time." Rouch takes him at his word. "This is a strong business person," he said. "He is a person who believes your word is your bond. If he says something, you can be very comfortable with what he plans to do."
Once an old shoreline filled with industry and rotted fish is still being transformed.
New hotel on the way
Gone old boathouses
and another turn around
Eriez Manufacturing plans local expansion
BY JIM MARTIN, Erie Times-News
A flat-screen television at Eriez Manufacturing provides a visual reminder of the company's worldwide presence as it flips silently from the image of one Eriez location to the next.
It's a slide show that includes Erie, Mexico and China.
The company could soon be adding a photo of a new location. This one's a 114,000-square-foot facility on Wager Road in Millcreek Township, about 15 miles from company headquarters on Asbury Road.
For more coverage, turn to GoErie.com and Tuesday's Erie Times-News.
It's been coming, but still pretty crappy for Erie... the last vestiges of an international industry leader (American Sterilizer Company) founded in Erie in 1894 and HQ'd there for 100 years departs.
Steris operations in Erie soon will be history
BY JIM MARTIN, Erie Times-News
Thirty to 40 white-collar workers settle into their seats each morning before the tour bus pulls out at 6:30 a.m., bound for Mentor, Ohio.
These commuters -- along with another 50 employees who report to Steris at 2424 W. 23rd St. -- are Erie's last tangible link to what was once American Sterilizer Co.
Soon, most likely by the end of July, the last of the local office workers will be gone, said Stephen Norton, a spokesman for the medical-equipment company.
That departure will close a chapter of local history that began in 1894 when brothers J. Everett Hall and George Hall came to Erie with their patent for a door closure for a pressurized vessel.
Henry Fish, who would serve as president of AMSCO from 1974 to 1988, said that his grandfather, J. Everett Hall, and his great-uncle recognized sterilizers as an emerging technology.
"They started to make sterilizers in their basement of their home," Fish said. "And in 1902 they formed a corporation called the American Sterilizer Company."
Erie-based AMSCO would grow into a worldwide company with hundreds of sales representatives and service agents around the world.
The company, under the direction of President Dave Nelson, was based in Erie until the early 1990s when headquarters were moved to Pittsburgh. The move, said Fish, was made, "for whatever illogical reason."
By 1995, AMSCO had more than 2,000 employees and sales that topped $400 million a year.
It seemed like an unlikely move when Mentor, Ohio-based Steris Corp. announced plans in December of that year to acquire AMSCO -- a company five times its size -- in a stock swap worth $660 million.
Fish said he worried from the outset that Steris might eventually move jobs out of Erie.
A full decade would pass, however, before the company made a move in that direction, announcing in January 2006 that Steris would close its Erie manufacturing plant.
The plan, which eliminated 450 jobs, moved those jobs to a new plant in Monterrey, Mexico.
The good news was that about 250 Steris office jobs -- positions in research and development, engineering, customer assistance and other areas -- would remain at the Steris facility in Millcreek Township.
But now for the good news! ;)
Famous Dave’s BBQ opens next week on upper Peach Street
A grand opening celebration will be held next Tuesday morning for Famous Dave’s Barbeque, which is opening at 7165 Peach St., in the former Damon’s Restaurant. The celebration begins at 10 a.m.
GE to add 360 jobs, invest $136M in Erie plant
From the Erie Times-News
GE Transportation will hire about 360 new employees in Erie by the end of the year and invest $136 million in manufacturing improvements and site upgrades at the company's Lawrence Park Township headquarters.
The company announced Tuesday that it plans to hire 160 production workers here to meet rising demand for mining equipment both in the United States and worldwide.
Erie County's largest employer also will hire about 200 employees to backfill positions after the upcoming early retirement of production workers in Erie. GE is offering early-retirement options and voluntary-retirement incentive programs to eligible employees as part of the union contract ratified this past June.
GE currently has about 5,300 employees in Lawrence Park and about 850 at its engine plant in Grove City.
The company anticipates hiring about 130 employees at the facility, which will be used to manufacture and assemble motorized wheels for off-highway vehicles.
"These latest investments in our U.S. facilities put GE Transportation in a position to shape the future of the transportation industry worldwide," GE Transportation Chief Executive Lorenzo Simonelli said Tuesday in a statement.
GE in 2011 has already added more than 1,100 employees in Erie in the past year. The company reported $2.1 billion in revenues for the first half of this year, up 45 percent compared with the same period in 2010.
GE officials said the expansions particularly meet the accelerating demand for products and exports in the growing global mining industry. The spike in demand for transportation products includes motorized drive systems for mining trucks and drill motors.
GE announced Tuesday that in Erie it will invest $58 million in research and testing technology, facilities and equipment to reduce engine emissions and improve fuel efficiency of locomotives as well as engines used in the marine and stationary power industries.
This includes investments in test laboratories, or test cells, for large-scale diesel engines at the Erie plant.
The enhanced test cells, officials added, will enable engineers to refine an industry-leading locomotive that is fuel-efficient, reliable, durable and meets tough emissions standards scheduled to take effect in 2015.
GE will invest an additional $38 million in Erie this year to increase capacity and modernize machining, equipment and tooling used for producing locomotives, drive systems for mining trucks and other transportation products.
The company also will spend $40 million on facility and site upgrades at the 104-year-old Lawrence Park plant, including new offices for hundreds of employees and what GE is calling a "customer showcase center."
"The investment reflects a strong commitment to this community and this location as a key manufacturing site for GE Transportation," GE spokesman Stephan Koller said Tuesday. "That is a significant investment in the future of this site in Erie."
Roger Zaczyk, president of Local 506 of the United Electrical, radio and Machine Workers of America, the largest of the unions at GE Transportation, said Tuesday's announcement was "good to hear since it's generating jobs in Erie."
Barbara Chaffee, president of the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership, believes GE's expansion efforts in Erie are "smart investments."
"The business community and labor force in this region is thrilled about the continued commitment of GE Transportation to our area," Chaffee said Tuesday. "Our hope, of course, is that GE remains strong here for a long time."
GERRY WEISS can be reached at 870-1884 or by e-mail.
After looking south, Lord Corp decides to stay in metro Erie.
Lord found a suitable 1,000,000 sq ft partial empty wharehouse to move its expanding operations to. Lors now employs 729 in Erie and may add to that in the near future.
Also of note Lord sold its HDQ bldg to LECOM. LECOM is the largest medical school in the US and is situated next to the LORD HDQ. The bldg will house
offices and a dental clinic. LECOM is also expected to start construction in late 2012 on its new dental school to be opened in 2015.
Erie port's ship-work boom biggest in decades
By DANA MASSING, Erie Times-News
Four freighters and a barge already arrived in Erie and a fifth freighter is due in February, each bringing millions of dollars of winter work to the port.
"This is busy," said Jeff Thoreson, author of the Erie Shipping News blog. "Erie usually gets two or three."
Thoreson and Ray Schreckengost, executive director of the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority, said each vessel brings upward of $500,000, possibly close to $1 million, to the local economy.
Schreckengost said it's been 30 to 35 years since there's been such a ship-work boom in Erie at this time of year. He and Thoreson said the increase has a lot to do with DonJon Shipbuilding & Repair and its capability to dry-dock vessels. "We've got a very busy winter work schedule," DonJon General Manager Paul Deterding said.
The freighter Robert S. Pierson and the barge Cleveland Rocks are already in dry dock at DonJon, Deterding said. The Pierson, out of Canada, arrived last week, while Cleveland Rocks has been here since early December, Thoreson said.
The Manitowoc, which also arrived last week, is in the shipyard, and the Calumet is scheduled to get here and go into dry dock in two to three weeks. Both are out of Cleveland.
Two other freighters, the Edgar B. Speer, out of Duluth, Minn., and the Presque Isle, which was built in Erie but comes out of Duluth, are docked at Carmeuse Lime & Stone, Erie Sand & Gravel. They also have been in Erie since last week, Thoreson said.
How long each vessel will stay depends on the work being done, with some here for a few weeks and others for several months.
Deterding said DonJon will do topside and winter-work repairs on some of the cargo ships. Others, like the Pierson and Calumet, will be in dry dock for hull painting and an inspection that's required every five years.
Deterding said that when the freighters aren't in Erie for repairs and inspections, they're hauling cargo like iron ore, rocks and coal on the Great Lakes.
DonJon, which employs about 200 people, also will continue work on the barge Lakes Contender that the company is building, he said.
DANA MASSING can be reached at 870-1729 or by e-mail.
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