Power of 32 announces first loan for site development

May 28, 2015

Follansbee, W.Va., can feel the power.

The Power of 32 Site Development Fund was unveiled Thursday morning in downtown Pittsburgh. It is a mortgage loan fund to assist commercial real estate developers and property owners in preparing sites for construction, with an emphasis on resurrecting brownfields.

Revitalization and entrepreneurship of the Greater Pittsburgh region are the focuses.

Sites in region’s 32 counties will be considered, including Washington and Greene. Nearly half – 15 – of those counties are in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The rest are in the northern panhandle and north-central area of West Virginia, eastern Ohio and western Maryland.

About 4.1 million people reside in 17,380 square miles in this region.

There is about $49 million in the fund, with the first investment going to Follansbee. It is a $2.6 million loan for work at the Trimodal Terminal, an 80-acre brownfield along the Ohio River with river, rail and highway access. The money is earmarked for rail line expansion and renovation, gas and water infrastructure and creating shovel-ready pads.

A number of hurdles, of course, have to be cleared before actual work can begin there.

“This project is an important asset to the region. Having it is important to all areas,” said Phil Cynar, spokesman for the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, where the announcement was made.

The Allegheny Conference spearheaded the drive to create this fund.

It “is a response to the demand we’re seeing from the market for more shovel-ready sites,” said Dennis Yablonsky, chairman of the fund’s board of managers and Allegheny Conference CEO. “We have more companies that want to locate here than we have places for them to locate. When those companies are ready to commit and start building, they don’t want to wait for infrastructure.”

To apply for funding or get more information, visit P32SiteFund.com.

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012. Previously, he was a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won numerous awards, including a Golden Quill, an O-R staff Golden Quill award, and four other writing awards during his 40 plus years working for daily newspapers. A lifelong Pittsburgher, he is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh.

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