Back to list November 24, 2015Groundbreaking ceremony held for $2 million AHEC expansionNOTE: Through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP), CAEDC assisted the Army Heritage Center Foundation with $2 million in capital investment that retained 50 jobs and created 12 more for expansion of the U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center.MIDDLESEX TOWNSHIP — The “jewel in the crown” of Carlisle is set to begin a more than $2 million expansion project.Dirt was tossed in a ceremonial groundbreaking Monday morning at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, 950 Soldiers Drive, but the real work is set to begin Dec. 7 for construction of the “Hall of the American Soldier.”“This is the jewel in the crown of Army culture and Army education in America,” said Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, who spoke briefly before serving as one of the 12 shovel turners. “We couldn’t be prouder of all the great things that have been done here and all the great things we are going to do.“This expansion really marks the fact that we’re not just talking the talk, were walking the walk.”The “Hall of the American Soldier” will encompass 7,500 square feet and include a 1,500-square-foot gallery, a 2,000-square-foot multi-purpose room and an enlarged café area.Mike Perry, executive director at AHEC said the new structure will serve as the “central core” of the center and hinted at another future expansion project down the line.“We have a project we want to do beyond that, another 30,000 square feet,” he said. “This place is getting used pretty extensively, so it’s (the expansion) a way for twice as many veteran groups to come here.”CostThe cost of construction for the structure comes to just over $2 million, but with expenditures for design updates, bridge loan interest and a storm water discharge permit, Perry said the overall cost could be “between $2.2-3 million.”Those costs will partially covered by a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program Grant agreement, which according to ycea-pa.org, is “administered by Pennsylvania’s Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic and historical improvements that generate substantial increases or maintain current levels of employment, tax revenues or other measures of economic activity.”Perry said the grant will cover “bricks and sticks only,” or in other words, hard construction costs.To raise the $11.6 million match for the grant he said funds were raised primarily through donors and “federal projects elsewhere here on the campus.” State Sen. Pat Vance, R-31, said “It’s a wonderful day.”“I think the more presence we have at the Army Heritage and Education Center, the better our chances are if a BRAC comes up that we don’t lose something so valuable to our community,” she added.BRACBRAC, or Base Realignment and Closure, is the process used to reorganize military base structures more efficiently or close them down by the United States Department of Defense.“It’s not clear whether they’re (BRAC) going to be meeting again in the next several years, but it’s always a possibility,” added State Rep. Stephen Bloom, R-North Middleton Township. “It’s always essential for us to make sure our facility here in Carlisle is vibrant.“It’s exciting to see this new investment in the Army Heritage and Education Center, which is not only a treasure for our community and for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but truly a treasure at the heart of the U.S. Army.”This article can be found on Cumberlink.com.