Tamaqua Industrial Development Enterprises (TIDE) received a nice Christmas present last month when ELK Lighting completed the purchase of the former Hanesbrands warehouse facility in the Tidewood East Industrial Park, Hometown.

ELK Lighting, headquartered in Nesquehoning, is a commercial and residential lighting designer that has a number of facilities throughout the area and closed on the 132,000 square foot facility with a purchase price of $1.75 million.

The transaction was a two-party cash deal between ELK Lighting and Hanesbrands, Inc., of Winston-Salem, North Carolinia, which has moved its apparel operations out of the Hometown area.

Brad Smith, ELK Lightning chief executive officer, told THE TIMES NEWS last month that the faciliy is expected to initially employ 20-25 workers.

"Right now, the company is occupying the building and retrofitting it for their use," Gerald Heffner, vice president of Schuylkill Economic Development Corporation (SEDCO), a consultant to TIDE, told the TIDE Board of Directors on Thursday morning.

TIDE Board Member Anthony Maff asked if ELK Lighting planned to keep its other facilities open.

"It's an expansion, not a consolidation," answered Heffner. "They are not replacing workers, they are adding more product line."

Heffner added there were plans for ELK Lighting to move administration into the Tidewood East facility. "This will be their flagship building," he noted.

"They will be bringing their customer service up, too," said Dr. Joe Urenovitch, TIDE president. "There's plenty of room for them to expand on the west side if they need it."

Heffner said ELK Lighting will likely schedule an open house once it is settled into the facility, possibly in February.

In other business, Heffner noted there has been some engineering work being done on lots 16-20 and 22-24 in Tidewood East with the cooperation of the Schuylkill Conservation District, in order to obtain the property erosion and sedimentation permits from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

"We got approval for both lots (from the conservation district)," said Heffner. "Ninety percent of the review work is done on the local level."

There is $200,000 in grant funding from the Pa. Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) earmarked for clearing, grubbing and grading those lots. Heffner stated that work would be put out to bid soon, as the grant funding will expire in June.

The work will clear the land, a step away from making it building-pad ready.

"When it's done, we will be ready for almost any company that comes along," said Urenovitch.

In another matter, Serge Chrush, TIDE treasurer, reported the Tamaqua Area Community Partnership is in the process of setting up a low interest, revolving loan program for small business development in the region.

The Partnership has received funding from Rural LISC (Local Initiative Service Corporation), a national organization that funds community growth activities. Rural LISC became involved with Tamaqua through the Blueprints Communities Program, of which Tamaqua is one of two participating communities in Pa. with the designation of Sustainable Community; Uniontown is the other.

Board Member Maureen Donovan announced that Lehigh Carbon Community College is sponsoring a class titled "Communicating Like a Leader", which it is offering free of charge to members of various boards of non-profit organization in the area. The program is sponsored through a logistics and transportation grant, she said. Anyone interested should contract Donovan at LCCC.

Urenovitch announced TIDE is sponsoring a cocktail party in appreciation of the community and industrial development accomplishments of State Senator David Argall (R-29) and State Representative Jerry Knowles (R-124), both former TIDE Board members. The event will be held at DiMaggio's La Dolce Casa, Tamaqua, on Feb. 4 from 5:30-7 p.m., he said.