The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

September 9, 2013

Wheels of progress turn on axle plant | Industrial park set for Bethlehem complex

JOHNSTOWN — David Layman saw an opportunity and seized it.

The Richland businessman’s decision to purchase the former Bethlehem Steel axle plant in Johns-town and turn it into the Cambria Industrial Development Park is a risky one. He wouldn’t say what he paid for the 10.423-acre complex except that it was in excess of six figures. He didn’t get any public handouts for the project; it’s being privately funded with help from AmeriServ Financial.

Layman hopes to attract other businesses to the site, which is zoned for heavy industrial use, and he said he’s already talked to several manufacturing firms about the possibility of locating to the industrial complex.

“He’s not taking the easy road, which would be to basically scrap the complex,” Cambria County  Commissioner Douglas Lengenfelder told our Dave Sutor. “But, instead, he wanted to invest in his town, his community, his county. That’s great news for us.”

It certainly is. We need more people like Dave Layman – people who take initiative in rebuilding our city and our region; people who are not completely reliant on government funding to spur growth. They are the ones on which capitalism thrives.

There are great risks in such a bold move, but also great rewards.

“I really applaud the risk-takers, like Dave, out there, who are willing to put themselves on the line and look for opportunities right here in Johnstown,” said U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley.

Layman does not plan to demolish any of the structures at the park, which already has natural gas, industrial and potable water, and a Lehigh Valley Rail Management short-line railroad.

There are great possibilities in the project, and Layman said it could support up to 500 jobs.

What wonderful news that would be for Johnstown.

As state Sen. John Wozniak, D-Westmont, said, “I can’t wait to see what this looks like a few years from now.”

Neither can we.

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