By Joe Giedemann
I am president of the Bustleton Bengals, a nonprofit youth club organization that has taught the values of athletics, sportsmanship and community since 1956. I am also a plumber and a union member and recognize the biggest need in our community is to grow quality, good-paying local jobs. The proposed UPS facility on Red Lion Road would meet our community’s most pressing need now and for the future.
The primary reason this development is a good one is that it will help rebuild the jobs base in Northeast Philadelphia. For decades, the Great Northeast didn’t just have workers, it had work. From the Nabisco plant to the Sears distributor to Crown Cork and Seal, there were thousands of good-paying, career jobs that supported families. But over the last few decades, many of those large employers either reduced their size, totally shut down or moved out of the city. The loss of those jobs has gone too far to change the Northeast into more of a suburban commuter area as workers shifted to jobs in the suburbs and downtown.
The new UPS development will create hundreds of construction jobs and at least 1,200 permanent new jobs once it’s up and running. These new jobs — union jobs that offer a pension, healthcare and tuition reimbursement for employees — are exactly the kind of strong, stable income that our community wants and needs. The new distribution facility will help spur $500 million in new economic output by 2032, including spending by workers at local small businesses. When’s the last time our neighborhoods saw a company that would generate half-a-billion dollars of new economic activity?
Of course, it’s as important to be a good neighbor as it is to bring jobs. UPS will also do more than just create jobs for workers, it is committed to being part of the community. The company has been awarded a spot in “The Civic 50 Greater Philadelphia” by the Philadelphia Foundation for its commitment to the community and how it uses its time, skills and resources to drive social impact in their company and communities. From its partnership with the United Way to its offer to enter into a Community Benefits Agreement, UPS wants to be part of ours.
That commitment to the community extends to how they have designed and are building this new development and how it will operate. The old Budd plant is zoned for commercial development, and in previous years, that meant dangerous and dirty manufacturing. But the UPS project will take up a smaller footprint than the site allows – about 10% of the approved size – and includes multiple ways for cars and trucks to get into the property and lots of open space and parking. The building will be set back from the road almost two-and-a-half times the required distance, with noise-reducing landscaped berms. UPS has a well-earned reputation of using clean-energy trucks.
I understand concerns about traffic — after all, I live in the area and am on the roads like everyone else. That’s why development is going to include more than $4 million in road and signal improvements.
I truly believe that the proposed UPS facility is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create good jobs in our community, put an abandoned property back into productive use, and create real economic activity for surrounding businesses.
The UPS development will bring hundreds of good new jobs to our community for those of my generation. But maybe even more importantly, it will bring opportunity for years to come and will allow kids like those I work with everyday through the Bustleton Bengals the opportunity to have meaningful, well-paying jobs right here in the Northeast. ••