$15 million grant will help protect companies near river
BLOOMSBURG - Federal officials were in town Wednesday to announce a $15 million Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant that will keep two local manufacturing plants high and dry when the Susquehanna River rises.
Rep. Lou Barletta, who worked with the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation to support the grant, attended the event at Autoneum, a car carpet manufacturing plant damaged by Tropical Storm Lee in 2011, said in a press release natural disasters take a toll on "human lives and personal devastation" and noted economic impact as well.
"This flood wall is an enormous protection for Bloomsburg, not only protecting nearly 1,000 jobs, but also safeguarding the community. I saw the devastation in person, and I know that local leaders have been waiting for assistance for many years. For this to finally be happening is a great thing for our community," he said.
Autoneum and nearby Windsor Foods will pay $3 million to build walls around their sites, and the state will kick in $12 million, according to The Press Enterprise, Bloomsburg. The $30 million project will allow the companies to continue operation during floods, according to the newspaper.
The grant announcement was also applauded by U.S. Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey.
"Since being sworn into office, I've been meeting and talking with local officials in Columbia County to address the town's flood concerns," Toomey said. "This grant will go a long way toward keeping jobs in Pennsylvania and protecting the citizens of Columbia County."
Casey said the grant "should ensure that good paying jobs remain in Columbia County."
"Bloomsburg has a critical need for flood protection and I'm pleased that this investment will help safeguard key businesses in Bloomsburg from the risks of flooding," he said.
Work at the first site includes construction of a 5,300-foot flood wall, relocation of about 2,100 feet of Snyder Run, installation of a new pump station and a construction of a stormwater and groundwater conveyance and collection system.
Work at the second site includes construction of a 3,000-foot flood wall and a sewage pump station and relocation of utilities. The project will support the retention of 900 jobs, according to grantee estimates.
This project is part of a $200 million appropriation made by Congress to EDA to help communities that received a major disaster designation in fiscal year 2011 with long-term economic recovery and infrastructure support. Within the context of the administration's National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF), EDA serves as the Coordinating Agency on behalf of the Department of Commerce for the Economic Recovery Support Function (RSF) to coordinate the activities of a diverse group of partner agencies supporting recovery in disaster-impacted communities. The activities consist primarily of leveraging existing resources and authorities to make a positive impact for communities affected by disasters.
Tropical Storm Lee caused a record crest of 32.7 feet on the Susquehanna River, leaving approximately one-third of Bloomsburg underwater in 2011.