BY STACI WILSON
Lacking a quorum at the Thursday, July 26, Susquehanna County Economic Development Advisory Board meeting, the Progress Authority’s Anthony Ventello and Chris Brown provided updates to the members present.
Ventello reported on the county’s dark fiber/broadband project, saying a July 12 response from the Pennsylvania Utility Commission basically gives the “greenlight” to go ahead with the project.
The county is looking at the feasibility of providing the necessary “middle mile” infrastructure in order to get highspeed internet access to more county businesses and residents.
The PUC indicated that it would not view that county infrastructure as a utility, Ventello told the board.
He also spoke about a meeting with Curt Coccadrelli with USDA Rural Development. That agency is looking for a broadband pilot project that could be duplicated around the state in rural areas.
Brown also said action is being taken to address the process for pole attachment agreements.
In the region, Penelec had received over 3,000 pole attachment requests and had hired a subcontractor, but the approval process has been delayed at a serious cost to providers. Actions to streamline the process are being looked at by the FCC, Brown said.
Ventello added that this was a statewide problem, and there are legislative efforts the change how those permits are reviewed.
The county has requested nearly $2.8 million in RCAP funding for the proposed Susquehanna County Public Safety and Extension of Government facility. The county has control of the proposed New Milford Twp. site and the request has local legislator support. There is a dollar for dollar match required for the RCAP grant funds.
County Planning Director Bob Templeton said the review and comment period for the comprehensive plan update is coming to a close on Aug. 1. A public meeting on the plan update will likely be held in September.
At the Ellsworth Drive Industrial Park in Bridgewater Twp. the waterline agreements are in place and the Baker Corporation building is nearing completion.
Ventello reported there are others interested in that site location, noting a GTL project and bio-refinery had expressed interest.
The Progress Authority continues to look at potential value-added natural gas projects as a key component to economic development in the region. With the upswing in natural gas pricing, businesses are once again looking at gas to liquid projects.
The annual Economic Development Breakfast Meeting on Friday, Aug. 24, 8:30 a.m. at the Summit Inn, Rt. 11, New Milford.
Guest speakers for the event are Curt Coccodrilli, USDA Pennsylvania State Director, Rural Development; and Michelle Christian, SBA Region 3 Administrator.
Speakers and award presentations will follow the breakfast.
Please RSVP by Aug. 16 to Kim Fairchild at the Progress Authority by phone, 570-265-0937 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.