Allentown Morning Call: East Penn Manufacturing Adding 400 Jobs

Allentown Morning Call

With help from the state, East Penn Manufacturing is expanding its operations in Berks County and adding 400 jobs, Gov. Tom Corbett’s office announced Thursday.

The battery-maker, in Lyon Station, will construct a $50 million plant adjacent to its current facility to accommodate growth, according to a news release issued by Corbett’s office.

“My administration is committed to enacting policies that encourage employers like East Penn Manufacturing to continue growing and creating jobs in Pennsylvania,” Corbett said.

East Penn, which employs 6,000 workers in Pennsylvania, including about 5,500 at the Berks County site, will create the additional jobs within three years, the release said.

The company is a key regional employer, the kind worth retaining, said Edward J. Swoyer, president and CEO of the Greater Berks Development Fund, in an interview Thursday.

“The management team is exceptional,” Swoyer said. “They value their employees as a big part of the company’s assets and its success. They have traditionally been one of the best environmentally sensitive companies. Berks County and the commonwealth are fortunate to have them headquartered here.”

The expansion, which approaches half-a-million square feet in size, will straddle three municipalities: Lyons borough and Richmond and Maxatawny townships, he said. East Penn employees are drawn from Berks County and all its bordering counties, including Bucks and Lehigh.

“It is a place where people want to work,” Swoyer said.

The state has offered to kick in about $6.5 million in state grants, tax credits and loans for the project. The state Department of Community and Economic Development has offered the company a $500,000 Pennsylvania First Program grant, $800,000 in job creation tax credits, $180,000 in guaranteed free training, and a $5 million 10-year low-interest loan at 1.5 percent from the Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund.

In addition, the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority will provide a $6 million, 15-year low-interest loan at 1.5 percent to the Greater Berks Development Fund on behalf of East Penn. The Greater Berks Development Fund helps companies expand in the Reading area.

East Penn is a leading manufacturer of lead-acid batteries and accessories for the automotive, telecommunication and other markets. Most of the jobs created under the expansion will be in manufacturing, according Steven Kratz, spokesman for the Department of Community and Economic Development. The company also will add drivers, maintenance workers, engineers, supervisors, clerks and human resources employees, he said.

Read more:,0,3206715.story