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Plant closings take bite out of pizza parlor’s business

The oven is hot, but business has cooled down for Luigi Carannante. As companies in the nearby Crestwood Industrial Park struggle in tough economic times, fewer workers come in or order lunch and sales at Luigi’s Pizza in Mountain Top have dropped 30 percent.


WRIGHT TWP. – The lunch specials Luigi Carannante advertises are a sign of the times for the Mountain Top restaurant impacted by the closings in the nearby Crestwood Industrial Park.

To draw customers into Luigi’s Pizza on state Route 309, Carannante offers a $7.95 large pie on Sundays and Wednesdays and an 8-inch sandwich for $2.95.

“I had to put a sign in there,” Carannante said Friday pointing to his dining area during the lunch hour.

“I never did that.”

But he never had to deal with a 30 percent drop in his business mainly as a result of the changing face of the industrial park a few miles away.

Fairchild Semiconductor announced Thursday it will close its wafer fabrication plant in June 2010 and eliminate more than 200 jobs. Plastics maker HPG International shut down on Tuesday and put nearly 170 people out of work.

The decisions big companies make about their facilities resonates throughout the host communities and beyond to the small businesses dependent on the daily traffic of factory and office workers. Fewer of the people from the industrial park are coming in to Luigi’s for lunch because there are fewer of them at work.

“The bottom line is the economy is hurting and I’m hurting,” Carannante said.

Fairchild decided to transfer the work done at its Wright Township plant to others throughout the company and consolidate its worldwide manufacturing operations. It also will reduce the production of wafers – the basic component of computer chips – at its plant in Bucheon, South Korea.

The company’s moves sounded familiar to a former Fairchild employee who was loading groceries into her SUV in the parking of Mr. Z’s Food Mart.

She was laid off in 2005 when the company closed the department that made 6-inch wafers, said the woman who asked not to be identified. “My job went overseas.”

In a nutshell, the reason is supply and demand, she said.

The wafers are used for computer chips found in a variety of products such as cell phones, refrigerators and automobiles. “But if nobody’s buying, they have no need for it,” she said.

Her husband works at the Quaker Oats plant in the industrial park and they have a steady income. “So far they’re doing pretty good,” she said of her husband’s employer.

As tractor trailers coming to and going from the industrial park sped by The Shalimar Bar, owner Andy Yurkanin and another man were renovating rooms for the adjoining Crestwood Suites.

“I’m apprehensive about it,” Yurkanin said of the plant closings.

Still he held on to a bit of hope that the economy might recover before the closing date Fairchild set for its local plant. “They may change their mind,” Yurkanin said.

While the large employers’ leaving dominated the news for a couple days this week, the arrival of a new tenant and relocation of another one within the park went largely unnoticed.

“It’s a good counter punch” to what’s been happening there, said Mike Detter, senior associate with Hinerfeld Commercial Real Estate in Scranton.

Emcee Communications will move from its building on Oak Hill Road into a nearby building, Detter said. The company which provides wireless services for the broadcast and telecommunications markets will lease 11,000 square feet of space.

VintageTub.com, an online retailer of antique reproduction bathroom fixtures, signed a lease for 28,000 square feet. “They’re going to relocate from Hazleton,” Detter said.

The property was affordable, provided good access to trucking and was the nicest in the area, said Allan Dick, chief marketing officer of VintageTub.com.

The company has outgrown its Hazleton space, following the trend of online retailers that “are massively outperforming their bricks and mortar cousins,” Dick said.

Last year the company reported sales of $15 million. The total for 1997, the company’s first year in business, was $19,000.. The move will be completed in early May.

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