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Economy & Business
Keystone Crossroads: Rust or Revival? explores the urgent challenges pressing upon Pennsylvania's cities. Four public media newsrooms are collaborating to report in depth on the root causes of our state's urban crisis -- and on possible solutions. Keystone Crossroads offers reports on radio, web, social media, television and newspapers, and through public events.Our partner stations are WHYY in Philadelphia, WPSU in State College and witf in Harrisburg. Read all of the partner stories here.Pittsburgh’s WQED joins the collaboration as an associate partner. Support for this project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Lacking Ready-To-Go Commercial Real Estate, Public Money Goes To Develop Land

Irina Zhorov
90.5 WESA
Mark Haley, President of Hormann Flexon, on the factory floor where workers produce high-speed doors. The company just moved to a new building, and Haley said finding a site that was already prepared and ready for vertical construction was essential.

Hormann Flexon makes high-speed roll-up doors for commercial buildings. The company, located west of Pittsburgh, has doubled in size over the past three years and recently moved into a new building. Company President, Mark Haley, attributed the growth to shrinking lead times; Hormann Flexon delivers a custom door in two to three weeks, significantly faster than their competitors, he said.

The whole factory is being continually tuned to increase efficiency.

“Everything we do we’re trying to save 30 seconds on every operation. If we can save 30 seconds times that by the number of times we need to do it in a day times that by a year, it means we get much more efficient,” Haley said.

So when the company started looking for new real estate, Haley knew timing would be crucial. They wanted a pad-ready site — one where contamination is cleaned up, utilities and roads in place, and soil compacted and leveled — so there would be no surprises when they started building, and no unexpected downtime. “It takes a lot of the risk out of the whole process, and risk being time and money,” he said.

Turns out, that’s hard to find in the Pittsburgh region, and throughout the state.

Cities like Pittsburgh see that as an impediment to growth, so economic development groups and local and state governments are offering up money to prep commercial real estate.

Read more of this report at the website of our partner Keystone Crossroads.