Clarion County waits to hear on USDA relocations

Clarion County still hasn’t heard from the United States Department of Agriculture about whether the county might become the home of two branches of that department.

The offices are the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Economic Research Services (ERS). In August, the USDA announced its intention to relocate NIFA and ERS headquarters from Washington, D.C., to a more rural location closer to its customers.

The move by the USDA could bring up to 600 jobs to the area, and the county had anticipated news by the end of 2018.

“The only thing we are hearing now is that it will be the first quarter of the year,” Clarion County Commissioner Ted Tharan said. “It is possible that the government shutdown has something to do with it.

The Clarion proposal is for the Trinity Development Company site. Two Clarion County proposals were among four proposals from Pennsylvania and 136 proposals from 35 states.

The commissioners are collaborating with the Clarion County Economic Development Corp., and the project has received letters of support from 13 other counties from northwest Pennsylvania, numerous school districts, municipalities, economic development professionals, local public servants and business leaders.

Letters of support have also been received from the offices of Congressman Glenn Thompson and U.S. Sen. Robert Casey.

Bids would be considered according to transportation logistics, workforce, community/quality of life and capital operating costs.