Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf traveled to Berks County on Friday, armed with some good news for the region's economy.
Wolf announced that an industrial park -- dubbed Berks Park 183 -- will be built on 155 acres of land on Route 183, adjacent to the Reading Regional Airport, in Bern Township.
"It is our job to set the table for businesses to be able to make the investments necessary to provide jobs to people in communities just like this one," Wolf said. "This investment will help to rebuild distressed brownfield and former military facility and turn it into a hub for jobs in a number of different industries."
As many as 600 permanent jobs will be created by the $13.3 million project, which will consist of seven buildings situated on the brownfield site, according to the governor.
"In today's highly competitive economy, businesses are looking for shovel-ready sites when deciding where to locate," said state Sen. Judy Schwank, a Berks County Democrat. "This project provides Berks County with a much-needed ready-to-go location, which will be very attractive to businesses and will result in more jobs coming to our area."
Developers of the site said they hope to attract small manufacturers specializing in assembly, warehousing and research and development.
The project was given the green light, thanks to more than $2.5 million in grant money from Pennsylvania's Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.
"The governor, Senator Schwank, and Representative [Barry] Jozwiak have today put this project into overdrive," said Tom McKeon, executive director of the Berks County Industrial Development Authority. "They've given us the missing piece we’ve needed to turn an unproductive brownfield site into a place that will create significant jobs and tax base for our community and the commonwealth."
The money, officials said, will be used by the BCIDA to support the $7 million cost of infrastructure improvements, including the reconstruction of Aviation Road, environmental cleanup, and installation of a natural gas line.
"The RACP funding for this infrastructure improvement project at the Reading Airport will not only positively impact Bern Township, but Berks County as a whole with over 500 full time permanent jobs, real estate tax revenues and helping to boost our local economy," said Jozwiak, a Berks County Republican.
The BCIDA bought the land from the Reading Regional Airport Authority in 2011.
In addition to the full-time jobs, the project will create more than 200 indirect jobs and 750 construction jobs, creating an overall economic impact of more than $35 million, officials said.
Route 183 will also be affected by the development. Officials said they will add traffic lights and left-turn lanes around in the area.
Officials plan to break ground on the project in fall of 2017.