With a new year beginning, the Ellwood City area’s economic picture looks bright, according to borough officials.

With plans progressing on the building of a race track in Lawrence County and with Ellwood City and Wayne Township’s inclusion in the Lawrence County Enterprise Zone the future “looks promising,” said Dom A. Viccari, Ellwood City borough manager.

The Lawrence County Economic Development Corporation received word from the state Department of Community and Economic Development last month that its request to extend its Enterprise Zone boundaries to include Ellwood City and the Burnstown section of Wayne Township was approved.

With the designation will be the availability of low interest loans and tax credits for businesses and industries, said Linda Niche the LCEDC’s executive director. The funds will allow for the retention of jobs and “hopefully the expansion of jobs,” Niche said.

Ellwood City originally received its own Enterprise Zone designation from the state in the mid-1980s, but the program expired after 10 years. It included an industrial park off Second Street as well an area along Fountain Avenue in the vicinity of Heraeus/Electro-Nite.

In 2007, the borough began the reinstatement process, Viccari said. The addition of the Burnstown section of Wayne Township is also a plus with the starting up of Appalachian Lighting System’s plant there as well as INMETCO, which is in Ellwood City and Wayne Township. “It was important to get Wayne Township on board, particularly with the starting up of Appalachian Lighting,” Viccari said.

“Various state programs will now be available to funnel funds into businesses,” said Mourice Waltz of Waltz Consulting and Planning of Sharpsville, the borough’s consultant. The grant funds will be obtained through and administered by the LCEDC, he added.

Grants and loans will be available to businesses, industries and to municipalities to aid their economic stimulus plans. Grants and loans can also be used by businesses and industries for property acquisition and improvements, Waltz said.

The first order of business for the borough will be to update an inventory of industries in the area. The last time an inventory was completed was also in the mid-1980s, Waltz said. “We’ll survey industries’ needs and perform a needs analysis,” Waltz said. The borough will help existing businesses and industries look at Enterprise Zone grants and loans that can help them now, Viccari said, while Waltz said the funds will help “expand what we have.”

In addition to Ellwood City and Wayne Township, the expansion of the county’s Enterprise Zone includes New Wilmington and Volant. The county’s EZ also includes New Castle and Union, Shenango, Neshannock and Taylor townships, Niche said. The expansion is part of the state’s regionalized approach to economic development, Niche said.

New Wilmington and Volant, located in an Amish area of the county, while be able to utilize their EZ designation for expansion of tourism as well as commercial and retail facilities.