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Once Considering Relocating, Allentown Hospital Linen Service Company Now Expanding

By Colin McEvoy on December 19, 2014

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[/youtube]With its Allentown facility 44 years old, Hospital Central Services Inc. (HCSC) knew they needed to make a change. The industrial laundry processing and linen service company had not been able to invest in upgrades at the 2171 28th Street facility over the years, and costs were growing so high that the company started to consider leaving the Lehigh Valley altogether.

But thanks in part to the guidance and financing assistance they received from the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), HCHS is about to undertake a $10.5 million plant expansion, which will not only allow them to retain the roughly 180 jobs already there, but will mean the creation of another 38 jobs once the expansion is complete next summer.

“As we (considered relocating), the benefit of staying here in Allentown and the Lehigh Valley became more and more apparent,” said Dan Marcante, HCSC vice president and COO. “It’s got a great workforce, it’s got the benefit of large population, it’s got a great infrastructure and distribution, easy access to the road system, plus the utility and energy delivery is very good.”

HCSC serves about 130 acute care hospitals and more than 400 total health care facilities. That includes all the region’s local hospital systems, including the Lehigh Valley Health Network, St. Luke’s University Health Network, Sacred Heart Hospital in Allentown and Easton Hospital.

The expansion project, expected to begin next month, involves a 21,000 square-foot addition to the Allentown facility, according to Peter Castagna Jr., company president and CEO. LVEDC helped HCSC procure a $2.25 million Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) loan for the expansion project.

“LVEDC has both the expertise, as well as contacts within the region, that went well beyond their assistance in helping us secure financing for the facility,” Castagna said. “Their organization was also helpful in helping us understand the benefits that would accrue by keeping our employee base within the Lehigh Valley, as well as expanding our operations further.”

PIDA, one of several financing programs LVEDC administers, offers low-interest loans through industrial development corporations to businesses for land and building acquisition, construction and renovations that results in the creation or preservation of jobs.

“We are happy to have provided assistance for the expansion of an excellent company here in the Lehigh Valley that will create jobs and provide a service to our local hospitals and care centers,” said Don Cunningham, LVEDC president and CEO. “This is a company that at one time thought their best move was to leave the Lehigh Valley, and we’re glad we could help them realize that was not the case.”

The expansion will increase production capacity, reduce energy consumption and modernize plant operations, allowing the company to serve more hospitals with lower operating costs, Catsagna said. Laundry production capacity will increase from about 25 million pounds per year to between 40 million and 45 million pounds per year.

New equipment will include a new overhead rail system, automated material handling systems and new tunnel washers and dryers. The project will also include the construction of a new washroom and soil department. The Allentown facility will remain open as the construction progresses.

In addition to LVEDC, the company received financing assistance from the city of Allentown and the Governor’s Action Team, a state team of economic development professionals who assist companies looking to establish new business operations in Pennsylvania.

Serfass Construction Co. Inc. of North Whitehall Township is handling construction management for the project, and the Upper Macungie Township-based and Barry Isett & Associates Inc. is the project engineer.

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