Stresses the Importance of infrastructure, economic investments to weather slowing national economy

Governor Edward G. Rendell stressed the importance of investing in infrastructure and the state’s job-creators to avoid the full brunt of the nation’s weakening economy as he championed a national rail proposal and announced that a global manufacturing company will build its North American headquarters there, creating 94 new jobs.

During the second of two stops in Franklin County, the Governor said Vacon, Inc., a subsidiary of Finnish electrical motor component manufacturer Vacon Plc, will build its North American headquarters at Chambers-5 Business Park. The facility, scheduled for completion late next year, will also house the company’s project development operations and test laboratory.

Vacon produces alternating-current drives that improve energy efficiency in electric motors. In addition to helping businesses cut their own energy use and save money, the firm’s AC drives are used to generate efficient wind energy and other renewable power-generation solutions.

“The quality and dedication of our workforce helped Vacon to decide to build this facility in Chambersburg,” said Governor Rendell. “Now, the region will benefit from almost 100 new, family-sustaining jobs.

“Even in this challenging economic climate, we are continuing to use our economic development tools to help companies expand or relocate in the commonwealth, creating new jobs and helping position Pennsylvania for future economic growth.”

The project was coordinated by the Governor’s Action Team, a group of economic development professionals who serve as a single point-of-contact and coordination for businesses considering locating or expanding in Pennsylvania. Vacon received a $657,000 funding offer from the commonwealth that includes a $250,000 opportunity grant, $125,000 in job training assistance, and $282,000 in job creation tax credits.

Earlier, Governor Rendell joined CSX Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Ward and local elected officials at the CSX Chambersburg Intermodal Facility to discuss the importance of rail freight transportation and the company’s National Gateway double-stack rail project.

Under the proposed $724 million, public-private initiative, CSX would partner with six states and the federal government to create a double-stack rail corridor from North Carolina to Ohio. The corridor passes through southwest Pennsylvania.

“Since I took office, we have nearly tripled freight-rail funding,” Governor Rendell said. “This terminal is a prime example of the kind of economic growth that comes from investing in our infrastructure. Over the next 10 years, this terminal is projected to create at least 2,500 jobs within the region - above and beyond the workers who are directly employed here.

“Pennsylvania will be the Keystone for the National Gateway, which, when complete, will provide Pennsylvania manufacturers and shippers with a competitive east/west, double-stack, cleared route providing a link to important markets such as Chicago, as well as critical port facilities along the Mid-Atlantic.”

CSX estimates that for every $1 of public money invested, there will be return benefit of $8 in economic activity and jobs.

“The benefits from this kind of infrastructure investment are stunning,” Governor Rendell said. “The National Gateway will convert the equivalent of more than two billion highway miles to rail, save more than $2 billion in shipping costs, and reduce fuel consumption by nearly 500 million gallons.

“I will do my part as Governor, but states cannot address these needs alone. I look forward to a national partnership so we can design and implement strategies for smarter, environmentally friendly, more cost effective infrastructure investment such as through groundbreaking public-private partnerships.”