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Development project eyed in county

Photo by Eric Tichy The Warren County Chamber of Business & Industry — via the Northwest Commission — has been awarded $1.5 million in state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program dollars. The grant application states that the hope is to entice Truck-Lite to move its headquarters from Falconer to a partially-developed site in Pine Grove Township.

Local economic development officials are waiting to hear whether a regional company will select Warren County as its next headquarters.

It’s tied to what’s been called the Pine Grove Business Park.

The Northwest Regional Planning Commission applied for — and was awarded — $1.5 million in state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program funds that were part of the 2020 funding round for the project.

Officials with the Northwest Commission said the commission applied on behalf of the Warren County Chamber of Business & Industry.

According to state RACP documents, the project will include acquisition of 29 acres of “development ready property” and a revised zoning designation “for the property based upon professional office, light manufacturing activities.”

The proposal would also “sub-divide one lot sized appropriately for the needs of Truck-Lite or another professional office tenant yet to be identified.”

The site? The parcels south of the Pine Grove surgical center that were partially developed — roads, sidewalks, sewers — by a Warren General Hospital senior living project that was thwarted in large measure by the 2008 recession.

The property hasn’t yet been acquired.

State grant documents indicate that the plan is to “construct a roughly 20,000 (square foot) professional office building which will include roughly 5,000 (square feet) of product development and test lab space.”

A final decision from Truck-Lite, according to WCCBI President/CEO Jim Decker, has not yet been made.

But regardless of their decision, the funding will be able to stay in Warren County.

“We have flexibility with the approval of the state,” Decker said. “Should the Truck-Lite program not come to fruition, we do have the flexibility to reallocate those funds to another project. (I’m) not sure what that project will be. The legislation does not tie it to Truck-Lite.”

Mark Geise, chief executive officer of the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, confirmed Monday that Truck-Lite has been looking at potentially relocating from its East Elmwood Avenue facility in Falconer. It is believed the manufacturer of truck and trailer safety lighting is viewing three potential options: remain in Chautauqua County at a new, more economically feasible location; move to a new site to be constructed over the state line in Warren County; or move operations to Erie, Pa.

Truck-Lite ceased manufacturing at its Falconer plant last year. The company retained its corporate office in the village, located next to the plant, that handles accounting, customer service, purchasing and engineering.

The facility is currently up for sale, with a $5.5 million asking price online.

Geise said the Falconer site is “too much building” for the 100 employees now that manufacturing has officially ceased. “We’ve been working with them for a year trying to keep them here,” he said.

Truck-Lite, a LED safety lighting manufacturer, was founded in 1955 in rented quarters in Jamestown. Ground was broken in 1966 in Falconer at an estimated cost of $800,000.

In total, the company has 10 facilities across North America and Europe.

Eric Tichy in Jamestown contributed to this story.

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