Pa. receives $500M investment from Australia company

Gov. Josh Shapiro and Pratt Industries announced a commitment Monday to invest $500 million and create hundreds of jobs in Pennsylvania over the next 10 years. 

Pratt Industries Executive Global Chairman Anthony Pratt joined with Shapiro and Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Rick Siger to announce the investment at the corrugated packaging company’s plant in Carlisle. 

“I want to plant a flag and make it clear to companies across the country and around the world that Pennsylvania is open for business,” Shapiro said in a statement. “Having Pratt Industries invest a total of $1 billion in Pennsylvania and create hundreds of new jobs is a clear sign that the commonwealth is a place where global businesses can grow and succeed.

“Whether they’re based in Australia or Allegheny County, we are showing the private sector that an investment in our Commonwealth is a worthwhile one – and companies that commit to moving and growing here know that the Commonwealth will be an active partner, and that we’ll work as hard for them as they work for their customers and employees.”

As part of its new commitment, Pratt Industries will invest in recycling, remanufacturing, and clean energy infrastructure. The company has invested $500 million in Pennsylvania and employs more than 800 total workers at its facilities in Carlisle (Cumberland County), Reading (Berks County), East Greenville (Montgomery County) and Macungie and Emmaus (both in Lehigh County).

“Pratt Industries is proud to employ more than 800 Pennsylvanians across the state in high-paying, green collar, advanced manufacturing jobs, and our total culminative investment in Pennsylvania now exceeds $500 million,” said Anthony Pratt.

“As part of that commitment, and as a result of Governor Shapiro’s leadership, I’m honored today to pledge a further investment of $500 million in recycling, remanufacturing and clean energy infrastructure over the next ten years, to create hundreds of new jobs in the great state of Pennsylvania. Our investments will allow the company to grow for years to come, supporting our customers, employees, and the community.”

Through the DCED, Pennsylvania in 2011 provided Pratt Industries with a more than $1.3 million funding offer to locate a box manufacturing plant in Macungie that helped create 125 jobs. 

“We compete every day with other states and countries for global business investments like this one,” Siger said. “Under Governor Shapiro’s leadership, Pennsylvania is working aggressively to keep companies here and attract businesses from around the world looking to grow and succeed in our commonwealth. We’re moving at the speed of business to ensure more companies like Pratt Industries choose to grow here in Pennsylvania.”

Originating in Australia, Pratt Industries is America’s fifth largest corrugated packaging company and the world’s largest, privately held producer of 100% recycled containerboard. The company operates manufacturing facilities in more than 25 states.

Pratt Industries has received assistance from DCED’s Office of International Business Development, which offers customized services to help international companies seeking to expand in Pennsylvania.

Greater Reading Chamber Alliance looks to tap talent

The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance is looking to recruit talent to the Berks County region with a new program its launching. 

The Meet Greater Reading talent attraction program is a new service that is designed to connect prospective residents and job seekers with companies in the county. 

In a press release, the GRCA referred to talent attraction as the top “pain point” for local companies. 

Meet Greater Reading will have a trial run starting this month through the end of the year with an official launch coming in January. 

The GRCA is working with a national talent attraction consulting agency, RoleCall, in developing the program. 

“A vibrant and skilled workforce is vital to the success of local businesses and our economy. This initiative aims to bolster and cultivate our community’s workforce, which has contracted in recent years, primarily attributed to our aging population,” said Keith Stamm, director of workforce for the GRCA. “For this reason, we have been working with RoleCall, local businesses and partners over the past year to identify specific ways to support our employers’ talent attraction efforts while also developing strategic solutions to attract new talent to the area.” 

 The program will tout the region’s low cost of living, outdoor amenities and schools. It will also point to the convenient location of Berks County, which is only a short distance from Philadelphia and Lancaster and has easy access to major airports. 

These main selling points and others will be highlighted through a paid, digital marketing campaign targeting candidates interested in moving to the Greater Reading region, which it hopes will ultimately result in a Talent Roster that GRCA’s talent team will distribute to local employers. Prospective candidates will receive curated information relevant to their industry and interests on a regular basis.  

A special emphasis will be placed on nine key industries, including education, healthcare, engineering, manufacturing and skilled trades.  

The program work was funded largely by the County of Berks as well as GRCA’s economic development investors.  

Shapiro appoints diverse leaders to Pa. Workforce Board

Revamping the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board, Gov. Josh Shapiro has appointed a diverse group of more than 40 members to help guide his Administration’s goal of creating opportunities for workers and businesses. 

Housed under the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I), the Workforce Development Board serves as the Governor’s private-sector policy advisory board. Shapiro said in a statement that Pennsylvania needs to invest in and expand its workforce to meet the demands of today and tomorrow.  

“This diverse group of experienced leaders representing labor and business across every Pennsylvania industry will help us make smart investments to produce the results that we all want – a thriving economy where workers have access to stable careers with family-sustaining wages and employers have the talent they need to continue growing their businesses while supporting communities across the commonwealth,” said Shapiro. 

L&I Secretary Nancy Walker said workforce development is about solving the challenges of today while seeking to figure out the solutions that might work tomorrow.

“I look forward to working with the governor’s appointees to the Workforce Development Board on all the smart, innovative ways we can invest in the workers of Pennsylvania to overcome our challenges and achieve a people-driven, dynamic economy,” said Walker.

Individuals appointed to the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board include the following:

Among those representing labor are Robert Bair, PA Building & Construction Trades, president (Dauphin County); Angela Ferritto, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, president (Dauphin County) and Matthew Yarnell, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, president (Dauphin County).

Individuals representing business include Brian Funkhouser, Buchart Horn, CEO (York County); Shea Zwerver, Flagger Force, workforce relations manager (Dauphin County); Marguerite A. Kline, County of Berks, human resources manager (Berks County); Kait Gillis, Nour Coffee Shop, owner (Cumberland County); and Michael Shirk, The High Companies, CEO (Lancaster County).

Among those representing local government and community organizations are Don Cunningham, Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, president and CEO (Northampton County) and John J. Sygielski Ed.D, H.A.C.C., president (Dauphin County).

Representing the Shapiro Administration are Walker; Jason Kavulich, secretary of aging; Russell Redding, secretary of agriculture; Laurel Harry, secretary of corrections; Frederick Siger, secretary of community and economic development; Khalid Mumin Ed.D, secretary of education; Akbar Hossain, secretary of policy and planning; Valerie Arkoosh, MD, MPH, secretary of human services; and Ryan Hyde, director, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

ByHeart infant formula to be sold at Target stores nationally

Byheart, a baby nutrition company which has formula manufacturing facilities in Reading, has announced its first expansion into retail, launching its clinically proven, easy-to-digest and certified-clean ingredients infant formula at Target stores nationwide.  

Following its launch in 2022, ByHeart’s  infant formula will be available in brick-and-mortar stores for the first time and on Target.com.  

The company said it will also relaunch its product direct-to-consumer at ByHeart.com later this year. 

“This is a major step in our continued commitment to bring more families the high-quality nutrition they deserve,” said Mia Funt, president and co-founder of ByHeart 

ByHeart created an infant formula with a patented protein blend that gets closest to breast milk by adding the two most abundant breast milk proteins – lactoferrin and alpha-lactalbumin — and broken-down proteins.  

“We believe infant formula is the most important food for the most important people and we treat it that way from start to finish, “said Funt. “We set out to change formula by changing how we do everything about formula – from science and sourcing to quality standards, manufacturing and packaging – it’s not easy to make formula this way. It took time and resources to conduct our own clinical trial and build our own factories. We are proud to now offer our infant formula in Target stores nationwide. This is a major step in our continued commitment to bring more families the high-quality nutrition they deserve and build a future where all parents can feel amazing about how they feed.” 


Wells Fargo to close one of its Allentown branches

Wells Fargo is closing its branch in Allentown’s Airport Road Shopping Center and also consolidating some of its corporate employees in Berks County.

Both changes were reported in the weekly bulletin of the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Wells Fargo said in a statement that it made a “difficult decision” to shutter the branch at 1840 Airport Road, which will close Nov. 1.

“Until then, you can use this branch and bank with us as you always have. After that, you can visit us at our Boulevard branch at 1602 Union Blvd., approximately less than 1 mile away. Other nearby branches are the Westgate Mall and Schadt Avenue. We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause.”

Like other financial institutions, Wells Fargo offers multiple ways to bank, including its network of banking locations, by phone, mail, online or on the Wells Fargo Mobile app.

This is not a move Wells Fargo takes lightly, the company said. “Branches continue to play an important role in the way we serve our customers, and we continuously evaluate our branch network in light of changing customer needs, the increase in the use of digital banking and market factors.”

Wells Fargo also relocated its employees from the corporate office at 600 Penn St., Reading, to 1 Meridian Blvd., Wyomissing.

“As part of our multiyear effort to build a stronger, more efficient Wells Fargo, we continually assess our real estate portfolio to ensure we are best meeting the needs of employees and customers, responding to consumer and economic trends, and managing our costs responsibly,” Wells Fargo said.

“We are committed to our Berks County-based employees. We will continue to have an employee presence in the area, but we had more real estate than we needed to support these employees.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer