Western Pa. lands Westinghouse engineering unit
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Western Pennsylvania will get a Westinghouse Electric Corp. expansion that will bring 1,000 to 2,000 new high-paying jobs to the region, the only question being whether the new facility will be built in Monroeville or Cranberry.
Sources familiar with the situation said the nuclear energy company's board met Monday night and selected its home region over Charlotte, N.C., which also had been vying for a new engineering campus Westinghouse says it needs to accommodate expected growth in the nuclear plant business.
Monroeville-based Westinghouse, which already employs about 3,000 in the region and 9,000 worldwide, has been in an expansion mode in recent years amid a revival of nuclear power's prospects and resignations of older staffers. It hired 800 people last year, will hire 900 more this year and expects to hire a minimum of 500 new workers in succeeding years.
The former conglomerate, whose technology is used in half of the world's operating nuclear power plants, is a finalist to build four nuclear power plants in China and potentially dozens more there in coming years. Its latest nuclear plant design also has been selected by several U.S. power companies planning new nuclear reactors. If regulatory clearances are received, they would be the first domestic nuclear plant orders since 1978.
The decision to build in the region comes weeks after Gov. Ed Rendell signed a bill providing a 15-year abatement on sales taxes, corporate net income taxes and corporate stock and franchise taxes to large companies that stay in Pennsylvania.
State and area lawmakers, as well as Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, pushed hard for the bill's passage, saying it was key to keeping Westinghouse in its home region.
Westinghouse spokesman Vaughn Gilbert would not comment on whether a decision has been made on where to build the new campus, which would be home to technical, administrative and engineering personnel earning up to $100,000 or so a year.
But he said people involved with the site selection process have asked for more information and that a decision is expected soon. "We've had significant support from the governor of Pennsylvania, local elected officials and the Allegheny Conference,'' Mr. Gilbert said.
Insiders say Cranberry Woods, which is along Route 228, is one of the two finalists. Its advantages include plenty of space for buildings and parking, and because of the new law, Westinghouse would not have to pay local taxes if local officials agree.
The other site is Westinghouse's existing twin-office campus in Monroeville. It fully occupies one building there and the second building is almost full, meaning Westinghouse would have to build another structure there.
Westinghouse would continue to pay its current level of taxes that support the Gateway School District, though it would not have to pay additional taxes on the new space in Monroeville.
A third site, the Tech 21 industrial park in Marshall, no longer is under consideration.
First Published December 6, 2006 12:00 am