Defense contractor conducts groundbreaking for $25M facility

By - Last modified: October 29, 2013 at 10:25 AM

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Officials break ground on a new $25 million facility for Curtiss-Wright Corp., which is moving its engineered pump division from Phillipsburg, N.J., to Bethlehem.
Officials break ground on a new $25 million facility for Curtiss-Wright Corp., which is moving its engineered pump division from Phillipsburg, N.J., to Bethlehem. - (Photo By Brian Pedersen)

South Bethlehem will have two Navy subcontractors who manufacture parts for the defense industry when Curtiss-Wright Corp. moves its engineered pump division from Phillipsburg, N.J., to Bethlehem.

Lehigh Heavy Forge, a manufacturer that produces forgings for the U.S. Department of Defense and other markets, is on nearby Emery Street near Sands Casino Bethlehem. The company will have another neighbor next fall when Curtiss-Wright opens its new facility on a brownfield site in Bethlehem Commerce Center in Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VII off Route 412 near Interstate 78.

Officials marked a groundbreaking Monday afternoon with about 100 Curtiss-Wright workers in attendance.

"We do invest heavily in the Lehigh Valley," said Todd Schurra, general manager for Curtiss-Wright. He cited the benefits of the location.

The 180,000-square-foot facility will include spaces for manufacturing, testing and a warehouse, in addition to a two-story office space, Schurra said. The company will bring 95 jobs to the site, with plans to add for future growth.

Aside from the defense sector, the company manufactures valves, pumps and controls for markets that include the oil and gas industry, commercial aerospace and general industrial.

J.G. Petrucci Co. Inc., which has offices in New Jersey and Bethlehem, will build the site at LVIP.

Martin Till, regional president for J.G. Petrucci, said construction would begin Nov. 6 and should be finished by December 2014.

While the city has a proud history with Bethlehem Steel, Mayor John Callahan noted that over the last decade, Bethlehem has seen more than $2 billion in new investments, with most of them in Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VII.

"Companies from all over the world are looking to Pennsylvania as a place to locate and grow," said Janet Smith, Lehigh Valley regional director of the Governor's Action Team, a group of state economic development professionals.

The team helped coordinate the project in collaboration with the Northampton County Industrial Development Authority and the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp.

The NCIDA offered a grant of $95,000 to the company, which committed 95 new jobs.

Alicia Karner, executive director of the authority, said the Curtiss-Wright project has been everything the agency wants to see in a company, noting the reuse of a brownfield site, longevity of the business and regional cooperation as some critical factors.

Curtiss-Wright received a funding offer from the Department of Community and Economic Development, including a $200,000 Pennsylvania First Program grant and a $42,750 guaranteed training grant. The company also received a $2.375 million loan from the machinery and equipment loan fund.

National Penn Bank is financing the project; Ceminara Architect of Hillsborough, N.J., is the architect.

Curtiss-Wright will take a 12-acre parcel of 147 acres in the latest stage of the park's development, said Kerry Wrobel, president of Lehigh Valley Industrial Park Inc. He said LVIP VII has 250 acres remaining of available land.

"This is the first manufacturer at the moment," Wrobel said. "Our hope is to attract other manufacturers of the caliber of Curtiss-Wright."

Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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