Article featured in the Reading Eagle.
Despite the gray sky and muddy grounds, there were plenty of smiles Thursday morning when UGI Utilities Inc. broke ground for its new headquarters in East Cocalico Township, Lancaster County.
“This is a visible symbol as our growth as a company,” said UGI CEO and President Robert F. Beard before a group of local dignitaries and UGI workers. UGI Utilities, which is currently headquartered at 2525 N. 12th St., Muhlenberg Township, is planning to move into a more spacious 93,000 square-foot building by the end of 2018.Despite moving the headquarters outside of Berks County, UGI said it plans to keep a significant workforce around Reading and will keep its building along Morgantown Road.
This move is not related to the relocation of company subsidiary UGI Energy Services from Spring Township to The Knitting Mills, formerly the VF Outlet Center, in Wyomissing.
The $35 million Lancaster County project will sit on 32 acres of land near the intersection of Route 222 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike and will eventually house about 350 employees. Warfel Construction Co., East Petersburg, Lancaster County, is the general contractor, while Bernardon, Philadelphia, designed the building.
Beard said recent growth the 135-year-old company has experienced was a key factor in moving the headquarters.
“Construction of our new headquarters building marks a significant milestone in the history of UGI Utilities,” Beard said. “We are pleased to locate our new headquarters building in Lancaster County, which is one of the fastest growing areas in our service territory. Our employees are dedicated to providing excellent service to our customers and the contemporary design of the new building will provide our employees with a positive working environment.”
John Coleman, a commissioner with the Public Utilities Commission, said his organization will make sure the building will not be “gold-plated,” meaning it won’t cost too much for UGI’s customers. However, he added that he was excited for residents of East Cocalico and their economic opportunity.
“Economic development is more than just a groundbreaking,” Coleman said. “Money paid to employees are then spent at other businesses in the community such as restaurants and gas stations.”
Lancaster County Board of Commissioners Chairman Dennis Stuckey said UGI has been a fixture in the county for many years and has been helpful to local businesses such as Shady Maple in East Earl Township. UGI helped the smorgasbord and gift shop convert to natural gas, which has saved the business $100,000 annually.”UGI is no stranger to Lancaster County,” Stuckey said. “It has helped families here take advantage of affordable natural gas, as well as businesses.”
East Cocalico Supervisors Chairman Douglas Mackley said after months of negotiations with UGI, the township is very happy to finally get to this point.
“At the end of the day we agreed on the best place UGI could build,” Mackley said. “It’s a win-win for Pennsylvania, because UGI is staying in the state, but also for Lancaster County and East Cocalico.”
Lisa Riggs, president, Economic Development Co. of Lancaster County, said a project of this size in the county is a triumph.
“From an economic development standpoint, this project is a home run,” said Riggs. “Days like this are rare, which is why we celebrate. It’s a huge investment and it’s very significant. We never looked at this place as a potential site for a corporate headquarters, but UGI did.”