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Member Guest Blog: Choosing Northeast Pennsylvania

by Steve Chen
Chief Operating Officer, Crystal Window and Door Systems
www.crystalwindows.com

Crystal Window & Door Systems is a national manufacturer of vinyl and aluminum windows and doors with five production facilities and distribution in more than 40 states around the country.  While our main factory and corporate headquarters are located in New York City, we have expanded production operations over the past 30 years to Chicago, Illinois; Riverside, California; St. Louis, Missouri; and now Benton Township in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania.  Northeast Pennsylvania and the Greater Scranton region are rapidly becoming a very important part of the company’s future.

Numerous obvious advantages steered Crystal to the Scranton area including:

  • Affordable industrial property – New York City industrial property can be up to 20 times more expensive per square foot;
  • Lower construction costs, by as much as 30 percent below costs in New York City;
  • Proximity to vast markets and other Crystal production locations;
  • Outstanding labor pool with strong work ethic, experience and skills;
  • Great highway access; and
  • Supportive business economic development climate focused on manufacturing.

However, we soon realized a hidden gem in northeast Pennsylvania was The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce and its knowledgeable, experienced and business savvy staff.

For the past four years as Crystal has embarked on its Pennsylvania expansion plans, The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce and its SLIBCO and Scranton Plan affiliates have proven to be extremely valuable resources.  In 2013, Crystal reached out to Chamber staff to learn about opportunities in the region.  The Chamber team kicked into action, providing information on Keystone Opportunity Zones (KOZ) and other areas targeted for economic development.  The Chamber identified potential properties over the next year, and Crystal was able to zero in on one that looked very promising.

The Chamber team did not stop there, but continued to serve as a facilitator for Crystal to learn about other economic and workforce incentive programs in the state and county, and provide valuable introductions to local officials and community leaders.  The Chamber also assisted Crystal with several local engineer and contractor referrals, as renovations would be required on the selected property.

In October 2015, Crystal Windows officially acquired the 226-acre industrial property in Benton Township just off Interstate 81, known locally as the Corning plant.  The Chamber graciously hosted a major press conference where Crystal announced the purchase and presented its plans to grow in Lackawanna County.  The Chamber has also provided ongoing employee recruiting assistance with efforts such as career fairs and identifying incentives.

Since the purchase, Crystal has renovated a significant part of the building, begun production operations, and hired 50 workers from the local community.  Five-year plans call for further building renovations, expansion of production and a workforce of perhaps 350 to 400 employees.  Tens of millions of dollars will be invested in the facility and generated in new economic activity for the area.

Crystal Windows is glad to be a member of the Scranton Chamber, is delighted to have chosen Northeast Pennsylvania, and is enthusiastic that other manufacturers make the same great choice.

For more about Crystal Window and Door Systems, check out this video: