Town that PPG built gets help from company

A western Pennsylvania town that once relied on a glass manufacturer for employment now believes the company is the key to luring new business there.

Ford City is a company town that lost its company in 1993 when PPG Industries closed it glass manufacturing plant. For about three years, the borough, about 35 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, tried to buy 50 acres from the company so it could build a light industrial park.

On Tuesday, borough council approved a PPG proposal to transfer the land from the company to the borough for $1, putting in motion a plan to persuade businesses to build new facilities there.

"It's been a long process, but PPG has been very cooperative," said Kim Petrie, the executive director of the Greater Ford City Community Development Corp.

With the help of a $1 million federal grant, the development corporation and the borough will spend $1.5 million to lay the foundation for the light industrial park on the former PPG property in Armstrong County.

By mid-2003, the borough will try to sell parcels of the land to businesses that will put up their own buildings, Petrie said.

The land development will complement a $6.05 million project to renovate PPG's former foundry, pattern shop and shop building and create a space for a business incubator and offices. Those projects will be funded through state and federal grants, she said.

Barry McGee, 's vice president of flat glass, said the company is happy it could donate the land.

"For decades, that glass plant _ built by PPG co-founder John B. Ford _ was the economic core of the town. Now, that land will be transformed into a centerpiece of economic revitalization for Ford City," he said.

PPG used to employ 4,400 people at the plant, and the borough had a population of 6,800. The company used to hand out applications at high school graduations, and nearly everyone who wanted a job got one.

Soon after PPG left town, Ford City's population dropped and its unemployment rates rose.

600450 Town that PPG built gets help from company glassonweb.com

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