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HARRISBURG, PA-Gov. Ed Rendell has handed out $6.5 million in low-cost loans to help companies in five counties with expansion plans, including the creation of 168 new jobs and the retention of nearly 400 others. The loans through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority will also leverage more than $25 million in private commitments, according to a news release.

The largest loans have been provided to projects in Bucks and Clinton counties, while the largest facility will be a 105,000-sf headquarters on 7.8 acres in Philadelphia. On that project, Pearl Pressman Liberty Communications Group Inc., a printing and graphic arts company, will receive a $108,000 PIDA loan to acquire and renovate an existing building.

The $5.7-million Pearl Pressman Liberty project will create 18 jobs and 147 existing employees will be transferred to the new site, according to a release. The Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. is the sponsoring agency for this project.

Jim Lerner, EVP of Pearl Pressman Liberty, tells GlobeSt.com he cannot provide details on the project unless authorized to do so by PIDA or the commonwealth agency that’s issuing a separate loan to the company. However, a PIDC source says Pearl Pressman Liberty will relocate from its current facility at 912 N. Fifth St. to 7625 Suffolk Ave.

With the company outgrowing its present location, latching on to an appropriate space within Philadelphia was proving difficult, “so this was a good find,” the PIDC source says. “Over the past year or so, the company was very much in jeopardy of leaving the city.”

In Bucks County, Vertical Screen Inc., an employee screening firm in Southampton, will receive a nearly $2.3-million PIDA loan to build a 51,000-sf building that will serve as its headquarters. The $14-million project, sponsored by the Bucks County Economic Development Corp., will create 104 jobs and retain 166 others.

Nutek Disposables Inc., a manufacturer of washcloths and baby wipes, will receive $2 million to build a new 53,000-sf facility in Clinton County’s Wayne Township. Fifteen new jobs will be created and 63 existing ones will be retained via the $6.8-million project, sponsored by the Clinton County Economic Partnership.

According to the release, the Regional Industrial Development Corp. of Southwestern Pennsylvania will receive a more than $1.6-million PIDA loan to continue developing the City Center of Duquesne, a 250-acre business park in Allegheny County. The $4.1-million project involves the construction of a new 20,000-sf building on the site of the former US Steel Duquesne Works, and is expected to create 25 jobs when completed.

A $600,000 PIDA loan will help Healthcare Lighting Inc. acquire and renovate a 24,000-sf building in Erie County’s Fairview Township. Healthcare Lighting, which manufactures lighting for hospitals and other medical facilities, intends to create six new jobs and transfer 18 existing employees to the new location as part of the $1.5-million project, according to the release. The Greater Erie Industrial Development Corp. is the local sponsoring agency.

In the release, Rendell notes that as part of his “Protecting Our Progress” strategy, he recently lowered the interest rate on key economic development loan programs to 2% below prime. The move, Rendell says in the release, was intended “as an incentive for companies to act immediately on their goals for the future.” PIDA has funded more than 400 projects with more than $390 million in loans since 2003, according to the release.

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