Friday, July 30, 2021

Joe Flacco & Nexii Building Solutions Green Construction in Hazelton, PA

 By Ben Atwood CoStar Analytics

NFL quarterback Joe Flacco is partnering with Nexii Building Solutions just as the Canadian manufacturer of synthetic concrete wraps up construction on its first American production plant in Hazleton, Pennsylvania.

Within the Hazleton plant, Nexii will create Nexiite, a carbon-free form of concrete. Concrete production is one of the world’s leading causes of carbon dioxide emissions, and the eco-conscious firm hopes that Nexiite can take its place in commercial real estate construction.

What’s in it for Flacco, Super Bowl XLVII's most valuable player and current backup quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles? The chance to make a few bucks, sure. But to do it while contributing to the fight against global warming for a construction firm with an environmental mission he believed in played a major role in him partnering with the team.

But Flacco told CoStar in an interview via Zoom that he was also excited about bringing jobs to challenged areas, such as Hazelton.

"Getting involved with a company that has a mission like this was certainly a big part of the draw," said Flacco. "But it’s also incredibly rewarding to help bring jobs to struggling areas like Hazleton."

Greater Hazleton absolutely could use the jobs. Located deep in the Pocono Mountains and about 30 miles south of Scranton, this small city and its surrounding townships are deep in the heart of coal country.

This region was built around coal and manufacturing, and the decline in those industries brought about decades of hard times. The lack of blue-collar jobs is fueling outmigration from Northeast Pennsylvania, and census data shows that this part of the Commonwealth has lost quite a few residents over the past decade.

While Nexii’s arrival won’t turn the tide on that trend, it likely can’t hurt, and the plant will be the latest in a string of good news for Northeast Pennsylvania real estate.

Scranton's industrial market is positively booming right now, as hardly a week goes by without a mega-lease being signed in one of Hazleton’s warehouses. Even the normally slow Schuylkill County is getting some action, as this week over a million square feet signed in a distribution center built on top of a demolished mall. And this week, President Biden visited Lehigh Valley to talk about his administration’s initiatives to bring back manufacturing jobs to Pennsylvania.

Nexii’s Executive Vice President Gregor Robertson previously indicated that bringing jobs to regions like Hazleton is also part of its core mission, and his firm is doubling down on the Keystone State. The Nexiite manufactured in Hazleton will be used to build the company's next plant in Pittsburgh, a city that Joe Flacco knows quite well from.

The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers’ longstanding rivalry was quite heated during Flacco's tenure with the team. It will be a little ironic if the quarterback so despised by the overwhelming majority of its residents ends up creating hundreds of jobs within it.

This is Flacco's foray into the world of commercial real estate and it might not be his last. Though he declined to comment on when he might be stepping away from the NFL, he hinted that the industry could be something he becomes more involved with after he hangs up his cleats.

Several other former athletes, including Super Bowl quarterbacks, have taken a similar path. Dallas Cowboys hall-of-famer Roger Staubach has been heavily involved in it for decades.

"The construction side of it was really cool," said Flacco. "You're creating something that you can see, something that has tangible benefits for the community around it that will be here after you are gone."

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