Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell announced the commonwealth is helping seven Lackawanna County companies create and retain more than 1,500 jobs within three years. The governor said the state is releasing $5.87 million in the projects to support job creation efforts and leverage private sector investment.

"Pennsylvania is taking aggressive steps to revitalize its economy, creating an environment where businesses can grow and enhance their competitiveness," Governor Rendell said. "It's terrific news that seven companies - five of them manufacturing firms - are investing and expanding in Lackawanna County. That is strong evidence of our continuing efforts to help create new jobs that support families all across the commonwealth.

"We are using our resources to attract new private sector investment that is paying dividends for communities like Scranton," he added. "Hundreds of companies have made the choice to stay, expand or locate in Pennsylvania, which is positive news for our people and communities."

The following Governor's Action Team (GAT) projects were announced Saturday:

Bazzini Holdings Inc. will create at least 30 new jobs and retain 34 existing employees by expanding its manufacturing operations in Moosic. The company, which manufactures and distributes candy products, has purchased equipment and property from EddyLeon Chocolate Co. and Shwom Realty Co. Bazzini Holdings is expanding its manufacturing processes to produce increased quantities and an extended product line of premium quality candies. The Department of Community and Economic Development and GAT offered the company a $210,000 funding package that includes a $75,000 Opportunity Grant, $45,000 in Job Training Assistance (JTA) funds and $90,000 in Job Creation Tax Credits (JCTC). The total cost of the project will be $1.26 million.

Master Halco Inc. is expanding its current manufacturing and distribution operations in the city of Scranton by creating a new regional distribution center that will service the northeastern U.S. The largest manufacturer and distributor of perimeter security and fencing materials in North America will create at least 175 new jobs and retain 43 existing employees. As part of its expansion plans, Master Halco will also relocate its Baltimore, Maryland, facility to Scranton. DCED and GAT provided the company with a $1.25 million assistance package that included a $500,000 loan through the Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund, a $200,000 Opportunity Grant, $200,000 in JTA funds and $350,000 in JCTC. The project will cost $1.45 million.

Millennium Multimedia Inc. will create at least 300 jobs by purchasing the former S.J. Bailey Company and establishing operations in its Carbondale facility. The start-up company will provide contract manufacturing and packaging for the distribution of various consumer retail products. DCED and GAT offered Millennium Multimedia a $2.35 million funding package that includes a $650,000 grant through the Infrastructure Development Program, a $500,000 Opportunity Grant, $300,000 in JTA funds and $900,000 in JCTC. The total cost of the project will be $4.9 million.

Noble Biomaterials Inc. is expanding its current manufacturing operations and will create at least 53 new jobs in the city of Scranton. The company, which will retain 90 existing employees, is also expanding its technical and professional support as well as its sales and administrative functions. The $9.83 million project will enable Noble Biomaterials and its subsidiaries, which focus on technology branding and licensing of advanced biomaterials, to continue to grow in the consumer, medical, military and industrial markets. DCED and GAT offered the company more than $1.08 million in incentives that includes $748,000 in Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) funds, a $100,000 Opportunity Grant, $75,000 in JTA funds and $159,000 in JCTC. The company is also eligible to apply for a more than $1.32 million loan through the Citizens Bank Job Bank program.

Pennsylvania Paper & Supply Co. Inc. will expand and renovate its current 225,000-square-foot facility, create at least 46 new jobs and retain 63 existing jobs in the city of Scranton. The distribution, warehousing and diversified commercial service provider is also investing in new equipment and technology. DCED and GAT offered Pennsylvania Paper & Supply Co. $586,300 in assistance, including $398,000 through PIDA, a $75,000 Opportunity Grant, $21,300 in JTA funds and $92,000 in JCTC. The total cost of the project will be more than $1.6 million.

The Specialty Group will create at least 208 new jobs and retain 200 existing employees by expanding and relocating the existing manufacturing operations of its subsidiary, Specialty Defense Systems, to a facility in Jessup. Specialty Defense Systems manufactures military field equipment, body armor, helmets and other survival systems and safety products. DCED and GAT offered the company $300,000 in Customized Job Training funds for this project, which will cost more than $4.37 million.

UPS Supply Chain Solutions General Services Inc. will create at least 68 new jobs and retain 317 existing employees by expanding and renovating its current facility in Throop. The company is a subsidiary of United Parcel Service of America (UPS), which is the world's largest package delivery company. As part of its expansion project, UPS Supply Chain Solutions is also purchasing new equipment. DCED and GAT offered the company a $359,600 financial package that includes a $125,000 Opportunity Grant, $30,600 in JTA funds and $204,000 in JCTC. The total cost of the project will be more than $1.87 million.

The Governor's Action Team is comprised of economic-development professionals who report directly to Governor Rendell and serves as a single point of contact for businesses that are evaluating Pennsylvania as a site for a facility location or expansion. GAT works with domestic and international businesses, as well as professional site consultants, on projects involving significant investment and job creation opportunities.

During 2005, GAT successfully completed 205 projects that resulted in commitments for 19,793 new jobs and 39,972 existing jobs to be retained across Pennsylvania. The commonwealth provided more than $418 million in assistance for these projects, which leveraged more than $1.9 billion in additional funds. More than 72 percent of the projects completed by the Governor's Action Team in 2005 involved manufacturers.

"This is a great day for Lackawanna County," said Austin J. Burke, president, Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce. "These projects are a fine example of the hard work and dedication of our community partners not only to foster new business but to cultivate and grow our local economy."