HELPS TO OPEN REVITALIZED WINDOW MANUFACTURING PLANT IN ARMSTRONG COUNTY; OUTLINES STEPS TO CREATE GREEN COLLAR JOBS
VANDERGRIFT, Pa., March 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Edward G. Rendell helped to re-open a 100,000 square foot window manufacturing plant in Armstrong County today that is creating new jobs for workers that were displaced when it closed six months ago, calling it an example of Pennsylvania's potential to build a green economy and recover from the challenging national recession.
Serious Materials Inc. acquired the former Kensington Windows plant in January and re-tooled the facility to produce energy-efficient windows in anticipation of increased demand because of incentives in the federal stimulus package and new state programs.
More than 150 people lost their jobs when the plant closed. Serious has re-hired about 25 displaced Kensington employees and hopes to hire 100 more in the coming months as demand for their products increases.
"About six months ago, the doors to this factory closed and more than 150 people lost their jobs, but today, we're taking the first step to put many of those workers back on the job," said Governor Rendell. "This is a great example of the opportunities we have to create a green economy where workers manufacture products that reduce our energy dependence, encourage conservation, save consumers money, and strengthen our national security.
"Similar opportunities exist across Pennsylvania. We have a skilled workforce, idle factory space and an infrastructure that can be used quickly to build, install and service products like these windows or energy efficient appliances, not to mention manufacture windmills, solar panels, geothermal systems and biofuels. And, now, with the support of President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as well as our own state programs, we have new resources to invest in these industries and our people to make these projects a reality and rebuild our economy so that we can emerge from this national recession stronger than before."
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will provide the commonwealth with an estimated $16 billion in funding through federal formulas, tax relief and other direct benefits to Pennsylvania's families and employers.
A large portion of the funds coming to Pennsylvania -- $472 million -- will help create jobs in the green economy. The resources will be used to create good-paying jobs in projects that generate more clean, renewable energy; help families purchase energy efficient appliances and weatherize their homes; make it easier for businesses and local government to cut their energy bills; and make buildings more energy efficient.
Under the federal stimulus, homeowners who make energy efficiency improvements to their homes -- such as installing energy efficient windows like those manufactured by Serious Materials -- are eligible for a 30 percent tax credit capped at $1,500. Homeowners who purchase these windows would also be eligible for a loan or rebate under Pennsylvania's new Keystone HELP Residential Energy Efficiency Loan and Rebate Program.
"The stimulus dollars Pennsylvania receives will help to achieve the goals I recently laid out in my budget proposal, including putting our people back to work," said the Governor. "Encouraging these types of projects will help stimulate our economy by creating green collar jobs that, I believe, will define the 21st century.
"Since last fall, at least 80,000 positions have been cut from Pennsylvania payrolls. Today, our unemployment rate is up to 7 percent and six of our counties have a double-digit unemployment rate. Here in Armstrong County, that rate jumped from 5.3 percent in January 2008 to 8.7 percent in January 2009 -- a 64 percent change as the number of unemployed people increased by 1,200."
The Governor noted that Pennsylvania was instituting re-employment strategies for out-of-work citizens, including steps to develop a green economy. Last week, Governor Rendell announced that he was releasing another $5 million in Career Opportunity Grants to retrain 1,000 unemployed workers for green-collar jobs or jobs in other new, critical sectors of the economy. In the next two months, the commonwealth will launch a green collar job training program that will prepare unemployed Pennsylvanians to work on weatherization projects.
"America is a nation that has shown the world over and over again that we can rise to meet any challenge. It is exactly that can-do spirit that must propel us to make the urgent investments in the human capital of this nation," said Governor Rendell.
"Serious Material's decision to re-open this plant is great news for the workforce of Armstrong County and it reaffirms the importance of making smart investments in economic growth and in improving our competitive edge, as President Obama did in the federal stimulus and as we have done here in Pennsylvania when it comes to our alternative energy economy."
The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit www.governor.state.pa.us.
SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor