Op-ed: Protecting an Economic Driver for Local Community

By U.S. Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA5)

Soon the Federal Bureau of Prisons will be making a decision as to the future of the Moshannon Valley Correctional Facility, located in Decatur Township, Clearfield County. Since 2006, it has been the Bureau of Prison’s preferred facility in the northeast region for low-security, criminal alien populations who have less than 90 months remaining on their sentences.

While there were rightfully initial concerns from some in the local community about locating a facility of this type in our area, for nearly a decade the Moshannon Valley Correctional Facility has provided the region with an economic driver, contributing to an estimated $20 million in annual payroll activity that supports roughly 260 family-sustaining jobs.

Furthermore, the facility brings close to $600,000 each year in local property taxes, $445,000 of which directly benefits local schools. Our community’s support for the facility has been outstanding, and similarly Moshannon Valley Correctional Facility’s local involvement has been commendable, partnering with several charitable and civic organizations to enhance the lives of area residents.

While the current contract for Moshannon Valley Correctional Facility continues until 2016, federal regulations require two facilities of this type nationally; one specifically to be located in the northeast region and one located anywhere else in the United States. This creates the distinct possibility that Moshannon Valley Correctional, Pennsylvania’s only facility of this kind, may be in direct competition with a similar facility in Ohio.

Given the regional implications and excellent track record of the facility and our local workforce, I have led efforts to ensure the facility remains in operation for years to come. This endeavor has included securing the support of 13 members of the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation and the Commonwealth’s two senators.

In February, we united to encourage the Federal Bureau of Prisons to take into consideration the many unique benefits the Moshannon Valley Correctional Facility brings to the local community and Commonwealth, when determining future contracts.  We have been informed, that should the contract continue, the GEO Group Inc., which operates the facility, will lead a $10 million expansion, creating upwards of 50 construction jobs and 24 new, full-time positions. This is an exciting prospect and welcomed news.

The Moshannon Valley Correctional Facility has also received wide-spread local support from the Phillipsburg-Osceola School Board, Decatur Township, the International Union of Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America, the Moshannon Valley Economic Development Partners, the Clearfield County Department of Emergency Services, the Keystone Insurers Group, Penn Highlands Healthcare, the Clearfield County Economic Development Corp. and numerous private citizens.

The tremendous support from the local community is a true testament of the economic footprint the Moshannon Valley Correctional Facility has in the region. The effort to share these benefits with the Bureau of Prisons has been a true partnership of local, state and federal efforts aimed at making our region more economically stable. As we eagerly await the Bureau of Prison’s decision, those who have participated in our efforts should be applauded for their commitment to the community and region.

 

 

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