A multi-million-dollar effort is one step closer to turn the former Cambria-Rowe site in Johnstown into a call center to support people recovering from opioid addiction.
State lawmakers and the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority Chairwoman Melissa Komar said a Pittsburgh-based healthcare technology company, Telehealth Suite, received $1.4 million in state funding to renovate the longtime education space into an opioid monitoring telehealth space that would handle calls from people seeking support.
It was one of several projects that got a boost Thursday, including ongoing efforts for the Center for Metal Arts to expand its hands-on training spaces and add resident artist shops.
TeleHealth Suite’s grant will allow crews to abate hazardous materials inside the Central Avenue space, replace outdated electrical wiring systems and add new heating, ventilation and air conditioning and plumbing systems, according to state Sen. Wayne Langerholc Jr., R-Richland Township.
Given the growing demand for virtual “telehealth” visits during the ongoing pandemic, “the timing was right” for a project like this, he said.
“These are all important grants that support the health and safety of our communities and encourage job growth and economic development,” said Langerholc, who also announced funds for St. Francis and a Clearfield County business park expansion.
“The ongoing battle against opioids, coupled with COVID-19, have clearly shown the need for training and resources for our healthcare workers and the community. These grants support and promote those efforts.” State Rep. Jim Rigby, R-Ferndale, agreed.
The state funding will support a major piece of the infrastructure needs “for this much-needed facility and continue our effort in the war on opioid abuse,” he said.
The project was first announced in April.
At the time, TeleHealth Suite President and Richland graduate Apryle Horbal said she hoped to employ up to 120 people at the site.
The $1.4 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant will be matched with an Economic Development Administration grant secured early in the year to acquire the property and make it office-ready.
“Along with the $1.9 million EDA grant that we received earlier this year, Telehealth Suites will bring jobs and a significant economic impact to the city in 2021,” Komar said.
Among other funding announcements made Thursday, St. Francis’ $500,000 grant will enable the school to complete another phase of its Sullivan Hall renovation project, Langerholc said.
The Center for Metal Arts, which operates its school and production space inside a former Cambria Iron space on Iron Street, received $1.5 million, which Rigby said will support additional metal-smithing and forging operations, metal arts training classrooms and a metals research shop. Plans also call for a resident artist shops, a gallery and offices on the site, a former blacksmith shop that houses historic industrial forging hammers.
“In addition to being one of our country’s only two National Heritage sites dedicated solely to the steel industry, CMA is a tremendous educational venue for teaching young men and women the craft and art of metalsmithing and forging, two critical skills for the advancement of our economy,” Rigby said.