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Truck-Lite’s message to county

Ultimately, Warren County isn’t out much more than time after learning Truck-Lite wouldn’t be moving its headquarters from Falconer, N.Y., to the Warren area.

The Northwest Regional Planning Commission had applied for — and was awarded — $1.5 million in state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program funds on behalf of the Warren County Chamber of Business & Industry in part to attract Truck-Lite. The site proposed had been just 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.

Truck-Lite not selecting Warren County “simply means the property returns to the market.”

The decision by Truck-Lite officials to choose Erie over Warren should be of concern to local officials, because Warren has lost out again in part because of the lack of access to the types of employees big employers need. The manufacturer chose Erie and Penn State-Behrend’s steady stream of electrical engineers, data scientists and business leaders over cheap land in New York and Warren County Truck-Lite will build two research labs in the Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Center: a 1,745-square-foot product-modeling lab and a 4,075-square-foot photometric testing facility, which will be used to study the light emitted by LEDs, lamps and other devices. Truck-Lite has sponsored student research projects in the Penn-State Behrend School of Engineering since 2006 and later opened an innovation center at Knowledge Park.

It would make sense that the Pine Grove site will be marketed again in the future, as will other big sites as county economic development officials try to build the area’s tax and employment base. They can put together attractive packages, but those packages will all be for naught if the county can’t provide qualified workers.

That’s just another challenge our region faces without a true four-year college in the heart of Warren County.

The Northern Pennsylvania Regional College helps provide essential training and associate degrees, but companies like Truck-Lite are looking for more — and county officials must forge partnerships with bigger areas if we are to entice companies like Truck-Lite to Warren County.

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