LEWISBURG — The Union County Commissioners agreed to sell 43 acres at Great Stream Commons business park to a Northumberland County manufacturing firm with plans to build a new plant and create an estimated 400 to 450 jobs.
Commissioners Preston Boop, Jeff Reber and Stacy Richards voted unanimously Tuesday to accept a $1,800,000 offer from River Run Foods of Northumberland. Boop noted that River Run agreed to purchase at the county’s asking price.
Roger Hoffman, chief executive officer with River Run, said the company expects to break ground in the first week of September. He estimated the plant’s size at 300,000 square feet.
“We’re talking between 400 and 450 jobs,” Hoffman told the Board of Commissioners.
“Roger is local. Hats off to him,” Boop said.
River Run Foods produces food products for its clients, such as sauces or juices, and packs it in glass jars or carton packaging. It helps clients research, develop and commercialize products. Last year, the company announced an expansion in packaging with TetraPak’s Tetra Recart cartons.
River Run Foods has contracts through 2027, Hoffman said, including with a national spaghetti sauce brand.
The company opened in 2011. It currently operates along Route 147 at 50 Spruce Hill Road, Northumberland, and employs 100 people, Hoffman said. River Run Foods plans to expand its existing plant and add another 80 jobs, he said.
Incorporated in Delaware, River Run Foods filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in May 2020 to raise $3,000,000 in new capital.
“We are committed to Central Pennsylvania. We’re committed to the people here,” Hoffman said, adding that he wants River Run to grow and hire locally including for the construction and expansion projects. “We’ve been in this area for a decade and we like where we are.”
Great Stream Commons had long been a source of consternation for Union County’s elected officials. Momentum is now building for economic development.
“There’s a lot of interest in our area. We still have a strong work culture reputation. It’s really exciting right now. Once you start selling a couple lots, people get excited. Our new broker has done a tremendous job,” Reber said.
The business park was founded after an effort to build a hazardous-waste incinerator there was abandoned. The county took out a $12 million loan in 1998 to purchase 670 acres in Gregg Township, near Allenwood. Bonds for the property have since been refinanced.
Target bought land and planned to build a distribution facility as the park’s lead tenant. That plan was halted and eventually abandoned, too, following the market crash of 2009.
Investors eyed the park but didn’t bite for years. Commissioners hired Lee & Associates to market the real estate, replacing Cushman & Wakefield.
In 2019, JM Industrial Realty LLC paid $3.75 million to Target, not Union County, for the company’s 166 acres. JM Industrial Realty is affiliated with Moran Logistics of Watsontown, which hasn’t announced its intentions for the property.
Last summer, the county sold 7 of its own 351 acres for the construction of a Snappy’s gas station, currently underway at the traffic signal on Route 15 just south of Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland.
Another 57 acres of county-owned land was sold to a corporation named 17890 Russell Road. No further details have been announced for that project.
Union County now holds about 240 acres at Great Stream Commons. The commissioners credited both Lee & Associates as well as Shawn McLaughlin, planning and economic development director, with the recent sales.
“I really respect that we are going to have an expansion of jobs in the area, and they’re manufacturing jobs. That’s a great win for us and our growing companies,” Richards said.