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Glassworks: From Brownfield to Field of Dreams
CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – On a Brownfield that was once drenched with the sweat, dreams, and hopes for a better life for a community, Glassworks Business Park on Friday held a groundbreaking by three brothers to help turn the Brownfield into a field of dreams.
(Pictured above: Theron Miles offers project overview.)
The $39 million project will convert a 28.5-acre Brownfield site formerly housing the Owens-Illinois Glass Plant into a compound with seven building pads ready for development.
Miles Brothers, LLC is owned and operated by three brothers: Ryan Miles, Curtis Miles, and Theron Miles.
“Where everyone sits today, you sit exactly where 112 years ago the glass plant originally opened,” said Theron L. Miles, project director at Miles Brothers LLC. “Think of the men and women that woke up every day and came to work. This exact spot provided a living for a majority of our community.”
At its peak, more than 1,500 Clarion-area residents worked in the Owens-Illinois Glass Plant, which manufactured a variety of glass containers like jars and bottles. It closed in 2010 after 105 years in the community, and the facility was partially demolished in 2012, leaving behind a Brownfield site that requires extensive remediation.
“It doesn’t take just one team of people; it takes an entire community,” said Miles about the development of the project. “Through each and every meeting, this town showed us support in every aspect. As the support grew, we need full or partial support from every taxing body. We got 100 percent support from each and every one of our taxing bodies. It might just be that is the only time in the state it has ever happened.”
“A local financial advisor and close friend, Brian Long, said he might just have a team from Pittsburgh that could make this happen, a group of people who worked with the skyline of Pittsburgh. Two of their people made the two-hour drive from beautiful Pittsburgh where they saw true economic depression. Rather than focusing on a skyscraper or a mall or something glamorous, they fell in love with this project in Clarion. They wanted to do this project, and they dreamed it could happen. At that time, the opportunity was born.”
Miles announced Glassworks received its first tentative contract for a business that will require 5,000 acres. More details here.
Five years of planning
“After five years of planning, we’re finally to a point where we can bring opportunity back to Clarion,” said Miles.
“When the glass plant closed, our community suffered a devastating loss. This impacted not only the employees that worked on this property but our entire economy. Today marks a new beginning for our town to achieve growth and prosperity. The Glassworks Business Park would still be only a vision without the help and support we’ve received from our political leaders and the Department of Community and Economic Development.”
Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin joined developers and local leaders to speak at the groundbreaking ceremonies.
“This is a great example of a community turning a significant challenge – the closing of the glass plant in 2010 – into an opportunity for an economic driver for the entire region,” Secretary Davin said. “Governor Wolf is committed to ensuring Clarion and Pennsylvania as a whole is a great place for all residents to live and work, and this project supports critical job growth that will enable members of the Clarion community to work locally and continue to live in the place they have called home.”
Miles also praised the support of State Representative Donna Oberlander, State Senator Scott Hutchinson, Clarion County Commissioners, and Clarion Borough.
“The result of the closing of the glass plant in 2010 was devastating to not only Clarion Borough, but all of Clarion County,” said Carol Lapinto, president of Clarion Borough Council. “On that day, 400 individuals lost their jobs. Today, almost eight years later, we’re breaking ground for the Glassworks Business Park. I want to thank the Miles Brothers LLC for having the vision for this development as well as the Commonwealth for its support of this project, which is expected to generate well-paying jobs.”
Miles Brothers LLC and the Clarion County Industrial Development Authority have partnered to develop the land into seven pads suitable for office, warehouse, or light industrial use by installing utilities, lighting, and water and sewer infrastructure and excavating, grading, and paving the sites.
DCED has committed a $1,033,214.00 Business in Our Sites grant and a $4,256,952.00 Business in Our Sites low-interest loan to the project that Miles Brothers credits for enabling the project to happen, according to DCED.
Beyond the park, Miles said there is a need to improve local roads and recreational paths, pledging to work with the Clarion County YMCA.
“We intend to create a bicycle safe and pedestrian safe walk all the way from East Main Street all the way through the business park and over to the new YMCA,” said Miles.
“Our work is just beginning, and we’re going to tie the entire town together and bring it all back.”
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