US EDA Seeks Grant Repayment From Ford City, PA For Heritage Industrial and Technology Park Project

The Borough of Ford City, PA will have to repay back the entire sum of $581,000 it was awarded 15 years ago as a federal grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

PPG in Ford City, PA

PPG in Ford City, PA (photo – Dougtone/flickr)

The grant was awarded to the borough for the redevelopment of a former PPG Foundry site into the Ford City Heritage Industrial and Technology Park.

It was an important part of Ford City economic development plans to diversify the economy and attract new businesses and jobs to replace PPG’s exit in 1993. Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company was one of the most important employers in the region, and also the founder of Ford City. The borough’s origins go back to its formation in 1887 as a PPG company town and the site for the world’s largest glass factory that once employed 5,000 people.

The eight-acre site in question in the Ford City Heritage Industrial and Technology Park once housed buildings for a PPG foundry. It had been abandoned after PPG shut down its operations, and has since been successfully cleaned up and put to productive use.

It now houses multiple private facilities that have created jobs in Ford City, including Belleflex Technologies which acquired 90,000 square feet of space. Out of this, 30,000 square feet of space continues to be leased by OEM Shades.

However, the EDA considers the borough to be in default due to a technicality. As part of the terms and conditions of the grant award, Ford City was supposed to maintain ownership of the property until 2017. This clause was violated when the Greater Ford City CDC went into bankruptcy in 2008 and the PPG Foundry site was sold off in a sheriff’s sale in 2010.

The EDA notified Ford City that same year that it reserved the right to establish debt in the amount of the award, which was $581,000, and refer the debt to the Department of Justice for litigation. The borough submitted evidence to make the EDA reconsider its position, but the appeal was denied.

EDA did offer Ford City a partial write-off and agreed last year to accept a three-year payment plan of $116,000 to clear the debt. However, local officials did not take any action on the issue and EDA finally gave Ford City 60 days earlier this year in April to pay the debt or come up with a payment plan of its own. Ford City once again appealed EDA’s decision, and it has once again been denied.

Now EDA has sent the matter forward, and federal authorities will seek to collect repayment of the debt for the full amount plus interest, penalties and administrative charges.

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