PERKASIE — It's still a big empty building at this point, but the outside of the first building in the Pennridge Airport Business Park is completed.
"When you say economic development, it includes many different things to many different people, but for us as a state to be successful in business attraction and retention, you have to have a strong inventory of shovel ready sites," Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Southeast Regional Director Aliyah Stanger said at an Oct. 3 ribbon cutting ceremony for the building.
"Thank you for making our job a little bit easier," Stanger said.
She also delivered a message from Gov. Tom Wolf in which he said the new business park will have a positive impact for years to come.
The 32-foot tall 101,920 square-foot building with 27 loading spaces and 15 trailer parking spaces is the first of a proposed six industrial buildings and two commercial buildings planned for the site.
The first phase, which will include the completed building, another industrial building and two commercial buildings, is in Perkasie. The second part, with four planned industrial buildings, will be in East Rockhill. The Perkasie portion has received plan approval; the East Rockhill section is still in the earlier planning stages. The $60 million business park covers about 60 acres of the 280-acre airport property on Ridge Road.
"It is going to be a catalyst in this area and there are great things happening in this area already," state Sen. Steve Santarsiero, D-10, said.
"There are some great opportunities," he said, "and there is economic growth that brings jobs, good paying jobs that will help sustain families."
Both Santarsiero and state Rep. Craig Staats, R-145, noted that the park had received a $2 million state grant.
"As we can see, that money is being spent very well," Staats said.
"This facility in proximity to Interstate 95, Interstate 78 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike promises to stimulate economic development and create thousands of new jobs right here in Upper Bucks County," Staats said.
Perkasie Borough Manager Andrea Coaxum outlined the economic revitalization taking place in recent years in the municipality.
"This new industrial park will bring jobs with a livable wage and families that will buy houses, further build the community, shop and eat at local businesses and further the American Dream," she said.
The idea of having a business park with the airport goes back to 1965, but work on the business park actually started about three years ago, Pennridge Development Enterprises President Rob Brink said.
It's not yet known who will be the first business to move into the business park, but there are a few manufacturing companies interested in either the first or second building, he said.
"We're in the request for proposal response phase," he said.
It's also not yet known how many jobs there will be at the park, he said.
"Some manufacturers have a lot of jobs and some of them don't, depending on their level of automation and what kind of product they're making," Brink said.
For instance, one prospective tenant would use 30,000 square feet of space and have 70 employees, he said.
"We've seen others that would use 100,000 square feet and have 10 employees," he said.
The industrial buildings will be used for manufacturing of some sort, he said.
"These buildings are suited for that, first of all, but we're not really in a distribution location," Brink said. "The big distribution companies don't want to be in a building that isn't right next to a highway."
The site is less than three miles away from Route 309, which provides access to the Pennsylvania Turnpike and other routes, including Interstate 78, according to business park information.
The airport, with its 4,215 foot runway, is one of the region's largest corporate airports, business park information says.
Businesses moving to the airport will be able to fly executives, employees, contractors and customers directly to the site, but won't be making freight shipments by air, Brink said.