New Britain - Key Employer Retained
New Britain Borough, Bucks County, Pa.
- New Britain's second largest employer, Mangar Industries, was planning to leave the community and had an agreement of sale for a property outside of New Britain. We learned of this impending loss through personal contacts. Mangar, a maker of medical device packaging, is one of the Borough's largest industrial landowners, with five industrial buildings and nearly 300 employees.
- The Borough did not have positive relationships with its business community. The Borough had not realized the value of their businesses and how they contributed to the tax base and health of the community.
New Britain Borough initially hired us to work on a vacant factory site, the Knoell Property, located directly across from Delaware Valley University. We began working with their Community and Business Committee that had been working to create an economic development plan. It had created surveys and developed specific development goals.
While hired to work specifically on the Knoell Factory site, we immediately relayed the plans of the Borough's largest employer to move out of the community.
We met with Mangar's owners and determined that their reasons for leaving were related to their owning five neighboring commercial properties that were not connected, subjecting them to major inefficiencies in production and difficult parking problems due to their high number of employees.
Mangar was being actively courted by outside developers to relocate into other communities. We established an ongoing relationship with the Mangar and helped them look at their company overall, including succession planning. Together, we explored the challenges of remaining in New Britain and what solutions we could create to keep them there.
Employee parking was Mangar's largest problem. With a workforce of nearly 300 that operated in three shifts, parking was at a premium. Mangar had four neighboring, unconnected buildings all with separate, small parking lots. Employees parked all over the streets and on SEPTA right-of-ways. The Borough had yet to solve this problem.
With the volunteered aid of one of the Borough's other largest employers, a municipal engineering firm, we created several conceptual parking overlays for their properties. In cultivating relationships with all of New Britain's largest employers we were able to create collaborative relationships amongst all companies and the Borough itself.
We then recommended the Borough create a special parking overlay for Mangar that would allow the company to create additional parking between its buildings that now had set-back restrictions due to individual property lines. The parking overlay removed the parking set-backs and allowed for expanded parking on the streets and between buildings. It also opened up safe movement on the road to truck traffic.
The Borough had also, just prior to our arrival, barricaded one of the other access roads to the Borough's Industrial Park due to pressure from residents. This barricade also created a difficult adjustment for truck access, customers, and employees of Mangar. With only one access road to their industrial buildings, things were complicated further by a non-working traffic signal that allowed only 2-3 cars to exit the site at the end of the work day. A time of day when hundreds of employees were leaving, not just from Mangar but from the other companies in the industrial park as well. This caused aggravation and anger on behalf of the businesses.
We met with Mangar to show them the solution we had created.
Mangar had an agreement of sale on a large parcel of land in a neighboring community with a total project cost of $20 million. It was a site that would consolidate all their manufacturing under one roof.
Through strategic discussions with Mangar about their long-term future we were able to convince them to reevaluate the move and finally have them agree to stay. This was conditioned on two things, that we solve their parking problem and fix the traffic light.
New Britain Borough created and approved the parking overlay. Mangar immediately began work on expanding parking in two phases.
The Borough also fixed the missed-timed traffic light to the cheers of all the industrial park companies and employees.
The economic benefits of retaining a large employer is vital for any community. Large companies create and support jobs. They support secondary local businesses such as restaurants and retail. Employees own homes and shop in the community. Business retention is one of the key tools for revitalizing municipalities.