Clarion commissioners pushing for USDA headquarters

Clarion County commissioners have issued a letter of support for a project that could bring 620 jobs into the area.

At a recent commissioners meeting, the letter was issued for the relocation of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Educational Research Services (ERS) headquarters to Clarion County.

The commissioners’ letter supported the site proposed by the Clarion Trinity Development Company. Commissioner Wayne Brosius said Trinity Point had requested the letter of support but another company proposing a site, Miles Brothers LLC, had not requested a letter.

The commissioners are collaborating with the Clarion County Economic Development Corp. to bring the USDA headquarters to the county.

In August, the Department of Agriculture announced its intention to relocate NIFA and ERS headquarters from Washington, D.C., to a more rural location closer to its customers. In line with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s goals of efficiency and customer service, the USDA sought “expressions of interest.”

Commissioner Ted Tharan agreed that this is an enormous opportunity for Clarion County and the whole state.

“Getting even one of these USDA operations to locate to Clarion County would be a game changer,” Tharan said.

The two Clarion County proposals were among 136 from 35 states.

“Two of the four proposals that came out came out of Pennsylvania came from Clarion County and we are doing everything we can to bring this opportunity to Clarion,” Tharan said.

Bids would be considered according to the following criteria: Transportation logistics, workforce, community/quality of life and capital operating costs.

“I believe Clarion is uniquely poised for consideration. Agriculture is at the heart of our heritage. We offer small town living with all of its perks and, with six exits off Interstate 80, it’s a quick and easy drive to major urban centers,” said Shannon Barrios, executive director of the Clarion Economic Development Corp. “Excellent schools, lower taxes and a modest cost of living, coupled with abundant natural resources and indoor and outdoor recreational activities, make Clarion an appealing location for this project,” Barrios added.

A preliminary decision is expected by the end of this year.

Barrios said a full-scale campaign is being launched to garner support for the initiative.

“We are encouraging business people, educators, political leaders and local citizens to inundate decision makers with letters of support for bringing the USDA NFA and ERS operations to Clarion County,” she said.

For more information, contact the Economic Development Corp. at