The stage is set Rock Lititz plan will create jobs, secure local industries for next quarter century

By on July 25, 2012

By: STEPHEN SEEBER Record Express Staff, Staff Writer

Graphic by Dan Morris

A manure farm is about to fertilize the local economy, and possibly create 500 new jobs over the next 15 years.

The Rock Lititz plan to create a first-of-its kind stage construction facility for the entertainment industry on a 96-acre farm in Warwick Township is expected to position the three local companies involved — Clair Global, Tait Towers and Atomic Design — for decades of success, but the benefits will be felt throughout the Lititz community.

"It’s going to bring in jobs for everybody," said Troy Clair, president and CEO of Clair Global. "Not just us. There are 500 jobs that we’ll eventually add for our complex, but we will be using the entire community to help fabricate the goods needed for the tours, and also to house and feed the people who come into town to work with us on it."

The proposed Rock Lititz campus at 36 W. Neport Road will create an environment in which everything needed for a concert can be designed, constructed, assembled and tested prior to major rock tours like U2 or Lady Gaga hitting the road. It will not be a location for local concerts, and Clair said he doesn’t expect the actual performing artists to be at the facility.

The expansion is expected to begin in 2013, but the entire project could take 15 years to complete. The 500 jobs that could be created between the three companies involved include technical positions, fabrication jobs and a lot of IT (information technology), Clair said.

Pelger Engineering and Derck & Edson, both local firms, are doing the design and architectural work.

Collaborations between Lititz’s three rock n’ roll industries (Clair, Tait, Atomic), now known as Rock Lititz, started about a year ago when suites at the General Sutter Inn were designed for visiting workers. The three also teamed up to sponsor this year’s big cycling race in downtown Lititz. Clair said it was around that time (last year) that the three began talking about their collective need to expand, and an agreement for the farm was signed in May.

"We’re three companies that work extremely well on handshakes," he said.

The farm where construction will take place had previously been used for manure management.

Warwick Township manager Dan Zimmerman said the Rock Lititz project is a model for what joint strategic planning is all about. For years, local municipalities have worked to keep their industries at home by finding a balance between growth and preservation. While this project will take one farm off the map, it will help preserve as many as 15 through the required purchase of Transferable Development Rights (TDRs).

"This is the whole idea of a joint strategic plan," Zimmerman said. It’s a balanced approach."

Warwick Township’s Agricultural Security Area (ASA) is comprised of 4,146.79 acres of farmland, according to the township website. Within the ASA, 2,681.387 acres of farmland have been preserved through TDRs.

Zimmerman also pointed out that positive development and job creation while preserving farmland is crucial in a recession era.

"We’re fortunate to have industries like these that are increasing their workforce," he said. "Some communities are thriving, and some are not."

In order to thrive, he pointed out, "you have to cultivate it."

A July 25 meeting was held in Warwick Township, during which the rezoning of the farmland from agriculture to campus industrial was expected to be approved. The township’s planning commission will discuss the master plan for the project on Aug. 15.

In the meantime, one thing Clair wants to make perfectly clear is that this new facility will not be hosting public rock concerts.

"Our concept is to bring in all the tour professionals, the people that the artist hires, and to get the tours set up and running," he explained.

When it’s all said and done, this concept will represent the future for Lititz and its role in the rock

n’ roll industry.

"All three companies are doing this so that we can set up for the next generation, which is not a short term goal," Clair said. "This is setting us up for the next 25 years." More ROCK LITITZ, page A15

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