Earlier this week, I spent some time in Lawrence County. On Monday evening I wrapped up my day by joining local farmers and constituents at the Lawrence County Fair. As I walked through the fair, I was able to meet many of the dedicated farmers and youth involved in this annual summer tradition. I saw firsthand the variety of exhibits that showcase the ingenuity and ongoing growth of the agriculture industry in Pennsylvania. I was particularly impressed with the Mobile Ag Education Science Lab. This lab travels to schools across the state, educating students on the agriculture industry. By providing a hands on experience, children are making the important connection between agriculture and the food on their table.
On Tuesday, I visited Ellwood City to see the work they are doing with Appalachian Lighting Systems Inc. Appalachian Lighting is a local manufacturer of high-efficiency LED fixtures. Through the use of funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Ellwood City was able to increase their orders through Appalachian Lighting resulting in significant energy efficiency improvements for the Borough. This partnership is an impressive example of how these funds can be utilized to stimulate business, encourage cost saving improvements, and foster economic growth. My father visited Ellwood City often, and I know he too would be proud of Ellwood City and the great work they are doing.
I'd like to commend and congratulate Crayola on the opening of a brand-new 15 acre solar farm at their world headquarters. Joining with two other Pennsylvania companies, UGI Energy Services Inc. of Reading and PPL Corporation of Allentown, Crayola is helping Pennsylvania manufacturing go green with the help of money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The 1.9-megawatt solar farm will generate enough power to make over 1 billion crayons per year! Now Crayola can proudly boast that their crayons are "made with sunshine."
Children came from across the country to help plug the solar farm into the Crayola factory. These children won a nationwide contest to envision a greener world. I am glad to know that Crayola crayons, markers, and colored pencils, helped these children harness their own creative talents.
This project is an example of the change we can make when we all work together. The Recovery Act provided a $1.5 million grant to fund a large portion of the solar project, and the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit, which I voted for, provided tax credits for 30% of the capital investment. Because of these incentives, Crayola plans to expand the solar farm over the next few years and create many more jobs in Pennsylvania.
Yesterday, I attended the grand opening of the new Norristown Regional Health Center (NRHC) in Montgomery County. Due to a consistent increase in patients, long waiting times and lack of space for expansion, the NRHC purchased a larger facility to meet growing demand.
The new facility was renovated with partial funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and will allow the NRHC to see more patients, offer more services, decrease waiting times and hire more staff. The newly renovated facility includes 16 examination rooms, 5 triage and 5 dental exam rooms, an onsite physician medication dispensary and expanded laboratory and administrative space.
This facility is important as it will serve a particularly disadvantaged community and create jobs. I appreciated the tour provided by Patti Deitch, President and CEO of Delaware Valley Community Health, and am thankful for the hard work and essential services that the NRHC provides to people in the region.
On my way from Scranton to Washington this morning, I stopped in Elkins Park, Montgomery County to tour the Women's Center of Montgomery County to see Recovery dollars at work. The Women's Center received federal funding through the STOP Violence Against Women grant program. This money allowed the Center to create two new jobs, retain six more and expand the hours of another part-time employee.
The work of the employees and volunteers is truly inspirational. They assist women in some of the darkest days of their lives to find them the resources and services they need to stay safe and succeed. The Center serves as just one example of how the Recovery Act creates jobs, but also how it has a profound and positive impact in the community.
I'm off to Washington barring more snow.
Located in Dauphin County, Steelton was once a booming steel community, but times have changed. The steel mills are long gone, and now green energy is taking root with the Steelton Solar Project, which has received $655,000 in federal economic recovery funds to build a 500 kilowatt-hour solar facility. The project will not only create clean energy, but also new jobs. I have and will continue to support clean energy job creation to ensure further economic growth and recovery in Pennsylvania.