Today, officials announced $15 million in Federal funding to help provide flood protection to two Bloomsburg businesses which employ a combined 900 people. U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine and U.S. Representative Lou Barletta made the announcement this afternoon at Autoneum North America. The dollars will be combined with $12 million already committed by the Commonwealth and private funds to build flood protection systems around Autoneum and Windsor Foods.
Following the notification by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last June that the long anticipated flood protection system was not viable, local leaders began meeting with State and Federal officials to try to find solutions for two of the largest employers in Bloomsburg and Columbia County. Chamber President Fred Gaffney was part of the team that submitted a $12 million application to the Commonwealth for funding last fall. SEDA-COG coordinated the Federal application, and will be overseeing the two projects. With the Federal funding now secured, it is anticipated that construction can be completed in approximately four years.
Following the announcement, Chamber President Fred Gaffney participated in an economic roundtable discussion with the Assistant Secretary, Representative and local business and elected officials.
In addition to supporting these important projects, the Chamber continues to advocate for other flood protection efforts including relocation of United Water’s Bloomsburg treatment facility out of the floodplain. During the flooding in 2006 and 2011, the Bloomsburg service area lost water service for multiple days, hindering or shutting down hundreds of businesses throughout the area. In 2012, United Water conducted an engineering study on constructing a new treatment facility away from the bank of Fishing Creek. The company is currently evaluating the results of that study and expects to determine a course of action this year.