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HARRISBURG, PA-Gov. Ed Rendell has signed a bill that allows for the creation of four Strategic Development Areas of between 10 acres and 1,500 acres each. Two will be in Southwestern Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh; another will be in the Lehigh Valley, and the fourth is yet to be identified. The total cannot exceed 5,000 acres.

With the approval of local municipal officials, and under certain conditions, companies that locate in SDAs will receive 15-year state and local tax abatements. To be eligible, they must commit to creating or maintaining at least 500 jobs and make investments of $45 million or more within three years.

Monroeville-based Westinghouse Electric Co. is a primary target for the two Southwestern SDAs. In joint venture with its new owner, Toshiba, it plans to create a facility for the production of nuclear power plants. According to published reports, it has narrowed its search to three sites in Pennsylvania and one near Charlotte, NC.

In announcing the SDA legislation, Rendell said the JV would invest approximately $400 million in the project, retain 2,000 jobs and create 1,000 new ones. The “competitive tax climate,” he said, joins other factors to create “an environment where they can succeed.” Thousand Oaks, CA-based AmGen, a pharmaceutical company, is the target for locating in the Lehigh Valley SDA.

Under the legislation, the governor is empowered to identify SDAs. SDAs are modeled after the state’s Keystone Opportunity Zone program. Unlike KOZ areas, which are primarily brownfields, SDAs are undeveloped “greenfields” sites.

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