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DCED Official Helps to Break Ground for Hospital Expansion Project in Southwest PA
Date:6/5/2008

Project Expected to Create Over 500 Jobs, Expand Health Care Options for Area Residents

BUTLER, Pa., June 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania's need for more site preparation funding and a better health insurance system was underscored today when a top Department of Community and Economic Development official helped to break ground for a hospital expansion project in Butler County.

"Before Governor Rendell took office, projects like the one we're celebrating might never have happened," DCED Deputy Secretary Dee Kaplan said as she stood on Butler Health System's campus with a shovel in her hand. "Under his direction, we've created funding sources that defray the costs of building roads, constructing sewer lines, performing environmental remediation, and other site preparation work, so life-enhancing projects like this one can move forward."

The Butler Health System is expected to create 516 jobs and retain about 1,700 others through funding from the Infrastructure Facilities Improvement Program, Kaplan said. The $670,000 annual grant for the next 20 years, which was first announced in December, will cover debt service associated with road improvements and other site infrastructure upgrades that are a part of the hospital's new utility and acute-care towers.

The nearly $150 million project will expand and renovate the hospital's outpatient options and enhance its recordkeeping system.

The Governor's has urged the legislature to increase funding for the infrastructure program to $28 million.

Other initiatives that provide much-needed capital for business and community development include:

-- Replenishing the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program with $750

million;

-- Extending the Business in Our Sites program by $100 million;

-- Increasing the job creation tax credit from $1,000 to $3,000 per

employee;

-- Extending the Keystone Opportunity Zones;

-- Investing approximately $260 million in Rebuilding Pennsylvania's

Infrastructure; and

-- Passing the Energy Independence Strategy and the Jonas Salk Legacy Fund.

"A lot of deserving, job-creating, life-enhancing projects will go elsewhere or never get started if we don't fund these programs," Kaplan said. "We need to replenish these resources to ensure Pennsylvania's short- and long-term economic stability."

Additionally, the Governor's health care proposal, which has passed the House as Pennsylvania Access to Basic Care, would make affordable basic health insurance available through the private insurance market to eligible small businesses that don't offer health insurance to their employees. PA ABC would provide $42 million in care grants to help small businesses that already provide health care for their employees to help pay up to 25 percent of the cost of health coverage.

"Even if you have health insurance, you're affected by those 1,400 Butler County residents waiting to get it," Kaplan said. "About 6.5 percent of insurance premiums cover the cost of health care for the uninsured, meaning every Pennsylvanian pays the price of having an inadequate health care system."

To learn more about site preparation funding available through DCED, visit http://www.newpa.com or call 1-866-466-3972. For additional information on Governor Rendell's proposed budget or PA ABC, visit http://www.pa.gov.

CONTACT: Janel Miller

(717) 783-1132


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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Community & EconomicDevelopment
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