News and information about CAN DO for the community, investors, volunteers and board members.
IRIS USA, a leading manufacturer of high-quality clear plastic storage products, pet products and ready-to-assemble furniture, broke ground Friday on a 500,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility along Commerce Drive in Humboldt Industrial Park East. The Japanese-based company is investing $84 million into the project and expects to hire nearly 100 employees.
State, county and local officials joined IRIS executives, who traveled from Japan and throughout the United States, for the groundbreaking ceremony. Dignitaries who gave their remarks during the groundbreaking included Sen. John Yudichak, Rep. Tarah Toohil, Jared Grissinger of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Action Team, Hazle Township Supervisors Chairman Jim Montone, Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Chair Dr. Gary Lawler, and IRIS USA President Hiroyuki (Doc) Takahashi and IRIS Chairman and CEO Akihiro Ohyama.
IRIS USA, an international manufacturer and distributor of injection-molded plastic organizational products for the home, office, craft & hobby and pets will soon begin construction on a 500,000 square-foot building in CAN DO’s Humboldt Industrial Park East which, when completed, will create nearly 100 new jobs.
CAN DO, Inc., Greater Hazleton’s economic development corporation, has purchased a 90,000 square-foot industrial building in Humboldt Industrial Park and plans on marketing the building to potential tenants.
The building at 500 Oak Ridge Road is being added to CAN DO’s portfolio of more than one half million square feet that it currently leases to companies throughout its three industrial parks and the CAN DO Corporate Center in Drums.
Prior to purchasing the property from First Quality Nonwovens, CAN DO’s rental properties were 100 percent occupied.
“By acquiring existing buildings, we position ourselves to have available rental space for companies that are looking for a location where they can locate quickly,” said Kevin O’Donnell, CAN DO’s president and CEO.
The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development on Friday awarded an $625,617 grant from its Local Share Account (LSA) program to Hazle Township to help fund Phase 2 of a project to improve traffic congestion and safety concerns at two intersections in Humboldt Industrial Park.
The funding is part of a $1.8 million project to increase the turning radius for commercial truck traffic and add turning lanes at the intersection of Forest Road and Maplewood Drive, and at the intersection of Maplewood Drive and White Birch Road.
The project involves the installation of a new Kit Kat manufacturing line and will expand the company’s local workforce by 27 percent. The new line, which will increase the facility’s Kit Kat production capacity by 36 percent, is expected to be in operation by the end of 2018. Hershey’s Humboldt facility produces all of the Kit Kat bars that are sold in the United States.
Speaking during an announcement at the Hazle Township plant, Todd Tillemans, president of Hershey’s U.S. business, said, “Our plant here in Hazle Township has long been a high value and high-performing facility. It was clear our investment should be made here. It’s because of the dedication of the people here in the Hazleton area that we have fuel to make this investment and propel Hershey into the future.”
Hershey’s Humboldt Industrial Park facility, which also makes Cadbury products and Hershey’s bars, first opened in March of 1973. CAN DO President Kevin O’Donnell said he’s thrilled to see such a longtime park tenant making such a big investment in Greater Hazleton.
“We’re proud that the Hershey Company shares CAN DO’s commitment of bringing quality, family sustaining, manufacturing jobs to Greater Hazleton. An investment of this magnitude speaks volumes about the dedicated workforce we have here in the Hazleton area that is helping to make this possible. The direct access the Humboldt facility has to Interstate 81 has also been a vital component of Hershey’s success in our area.”
An important safety initiative to acquire emergency notification system services from Send Word Now was discussed at a Humboldt Park Association meeting last month.
Send Word Now provides a service that allows users to receive critical information rapidly via phone calls, text messages and email alerts. The system will be used in the event of an emergency to alert employees in the Humboldt and Valmont industrial parks about situations and the necessary plan of action to deal with it. As an example, the service can be used to alert contacts of impeding dangers such as a road closure due to a traffic accident or worse and provide companies instructions to shelter in place or to evacuate as well as alternate travel routes to take so employees entering or exiting the park can avoid the affected area.
Each company in the Humboldt and Valmont industrial parks will designate company contacts who will receive the messages and they then in turn can alert their colleagues of the situation.
Penn State Hazleton was awarded a $150,000 Invent Penn State seed grant on Monday to help fund a joint program with CAN DO and the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress (DHAP) that will assist entrepreneurs with starting a business.
The grant was announced during Penn State University’s Invent Penn State Day at the Capitol in Harrisburg. Penn State Hazleton Chancellor Dr. Gary Lawler and Jocelyn Sterenchock, CAN DO coordinator of entrepreneurial services, were joined by Senator John Yudichak and Representative Tarah Toohil at the event.
The grant will be distributed in $50,000 increments over a three-year period for the operation of The Hazleton Innovation Collaborative (THInC) program, which will function as a coordinated network of sites and services in southern Luzerne County. Within this program, Penn State Hazleton will play the important role of education provider and operator of the future downtown Hazleton incubator (THInC Downtown), which will be regarded as a new center for entrepreneurship/innovation education within the community.
Humboldt Park Association officials provided members with updates on plans to establish the Humboldt Park Emergency Preparedness Plan at its recent meeting.
Humboldt Park Association President Brian Poveromo gave a presentation about the benefits of purchasing Send Word Now, an emergency notification system that would send text messages, email alerts and phone calls to as many as 500 contacts that are registered in the system. Each company in the park can designate multiple people to be registered contacts, who will then alert their fellow colleagues about any emergencies in the park and what steps to take.
The free event was designed around a theme of “Come Celebrate the Arts” and featured musical performances by students from schools throughout Greater Hazleton, refreshments, a Letters to Santa table where children wrote their Christmas wishes and a visit from Santa Claus himself.
This year’s performers included the MMI Preparatory School Chamber Ensemble under the direction of Tina Lizbinski, the McAdoo-Kelayres Elementary/Middle School Mustang Chorus under the direction of Sandra Hoppey, the Hazleton Area High School Chamber Singers under the direction of Kim Sharonoff, the Hazleton Area High School Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Joseph Stefanko and the Heights Terrace Elementary School Third Grade Chorus under the direction of Rachel Brimmer.
Kelley Major and C.J. Graaf embody the strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit that has come to define Greater Hazleton residents and put the area on the map as one of the best places to do business. In just four years, Major and Graaf have combined their passion for making all-natural, hand-poured soy candles with hard work and dedication to grow into an international business shipping upwards of 200 candles a day. With the company continuing to expand, Candelles became the newest tenant of the CAN BE Business Innovation Center in the Valmont Industrial Park in early November. CAN BE is a subsidiary of CAN DO, Greater Hazleton’s economic development organization.