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York City to receive $6 million for innovation district
Surrounded by robots, children and engineers, Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday, June 4, announced a $6 million state grant for York City to build a technology-based innovation hub.
Planned for the Northwest Triangle, the 240,000-square-foot facility will be home to American-made robotic device development, design workshops, space for offices and labs and more.
"This will make sure York is no longer just trying to keep up with the new economy but that it will be on the forefront of it," the governor said at a news conference in the triangle, an area of the city's business district that has long been targeted for development and revitalization.
"Everybody in Pennsylvania benefits from this, and it will help boost York into the new tech economy," he added.
The grant will fund the first two phases of the project, which Wolf called the "opening stages."
Wolf emphasized local youths' abilities to help revolutionize the future economy of the city as he stood with students from Lincoln Charter School and members of York Exponential, a local robotics company.
The project will prepare the city for the "fourth industrial revolution," create high-paying jobs and keep kids who are pursuing a career in technology in the county, he said.
The project is being dubbed as the "York Plan 2.0" by local officials. The name is inspired by the York Plan, the first ordnance contract for World War II that helped solidify the city as a manufacturing hub globally.
Now, instead of preparing for war, the city is preparing for an economy heavily reliant upon technology and innovation.
"We declare that this will be the center of our growth into the 21st-century economy," York City Mayor Michael Helfrich said. "This is the place where we bring together all of the components needed to become one of the smartest places on earth and climb back into the global leadership position that York was known for in the last century."
Helfrich called the plan the "boldest step yet" in efforts made to modernize the city.
'Innovation district': John McElligott, CEO of York Exponential, has an agreement with the York City Redevelopment Authority for an exclusive option on the tract where the proposed facility will sit.
Last year he announced plans for an "innovation district" in the triangle and released renderings and plans for the building he hopes will be the epicenter of a robotics revolution.
The modern business-and-industry center would be situated on a two-acre lot in the tract of land enclosed by North Beaver Street, West Gay Avenue and the Codorus Creek.
The building will be constructed in five phases in order to work around the site’s trapezoidal shape, according to the building plans.
Once all five phases of the construction project are completed, the building will have 240,000 square feet of space for “alternative manufacturing,” robotics research, laboratories and prototyping, as well as office space, temporary housing and underground parking, according to the plans.
"For those that say technology can't flourish in a place like York, I say, 'Watch us, because we will,'" McElligott said at Monday's news conference. "This will be a first-of-its-kind campus where citizens of all walks of life will create a brighter, more prosperous and truly inclusive future."
"I'm happy to say that manufacturing is returning to downtown York," he added.
— Editor's note: This article has been corrected to clarify that students present were from Lincoln Charter School, not Helen Thackston Charter School.