Johnson Controls’ relocation: Could other York manufacturers follow suit?

Johnson Controls is considering relocating from Spring Garden Township to the Stonebridge Business Park in Hopewell Township, York County. DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS — LAUREN BOYER

In case you missed it, I spent last week writing about Johnson Controls and its plans to either relocate within York County to Hopewell Township or leave Pennsylvania for a new plant in Hunt Valley, Md.

While researching, I spoke with John Boyd,  an economic expert who specializes in placing companies.

His firm, the New Jersey-based Boyd Co., has advised companies in relocation for more than 30 years.

I asked him if Johnson Controls’ plant in Spring Garden Township is just the tip of the iceberg? Will York County see more of these older plants — specifically ones in or near York city — looking to upgrade elsewhere in the near future?

The answer, simply, is “yes,” Boyd said. “It’s something some of the more traditional locales of the east are facing,” he added.

His own state has seen a once-flourishing pottery industry exit the Trenton area in recent years, he said.

I told him what’s going on up here: In consideration of relocation to Hopewell Township property, Johnson Controls is asking for a tax incentive program that would allow the company to reinvest their property tax payments into infrastructure surrounding its $148 million facility.

In some cases, Boyd said, these packages aren’t attractive enough.

“Government can do less than you think,” he said. “Fundamental drivers are based on market forces … labor costs, the cost of land, construction costs. Government can tinker with the tax system, but most of the factors associated with site selection are market based.”

The trend, he said, is to move south to the Carolinas, Georgia, or Alabama — “states that have right-to-work legislation, lower labor costs, generous incentive packages.”

He wasn’t surprised to hear about the Milwaukee-based company — one synonymous with green energy — looking to ditch an antiquated research and development site in use since 1951.

A lot has changed in the way of sustainability since then.

“If there was ever a company that was going to factor in green energy and LEED designation for a building for example, it would be Johnson Controls,” he said. “That has to be a major consideration for them. That transcends just costs. It’s part of their branding, their image.”

About Lauren Boyer

I'm a Business Reporter for the York Daily Record/Sunday News. I cover banking, investing and all sorts of manufacturing, from companies like Harley-Davidson to mom-and-pop operations. I don't go anywhere without my iPad or a large cup of coffee. Contact me with story ideas at 717-771-2062 or lboyer@ydr.com.
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3 Responses to Johnson Controls’ relocation: Could other York manufacturers follow suit?

  1. Barry Ness says:

    Good follow-up to Johnson Control article. Johnson wishes to help lower “energy costs” to local government buildings/etc. or school properties and small to medium sized companies. However, they fail to improve their own local property (York) with all their “fancy presentaions” and cost saving advise that they want these entities to pay for??? What a great business model! Do as we say and not as WE do?? Using one’s own properties as a model for others to use for future savings is ALWAYS as smart business plan. Maybe they should go back to business school for some more learn’n. OH, but now we are in a new generation of corporate “personhood”. Sorry, I forgot.

  2. Pingback: A week of Johnson Controls: Reporting on the York employer’s possible relocation | BY LAUREN BOYER

  3. Wayne says:

    While my school property taxes continue to rise Johnson Controls is going to get a pass for how many years? Corporate welfare at a time when all tax payers are getting hosed everyday! WHO is looking out for the tax payers of York county? WHY won’t the State legislature controlled by Republicans pass House Bill 1776 to change the funding for schools so the burden is fairly distributed to all instead of just homeowners? SHAMEFUL!! SPECIAL INTEREST controls the state house!

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