The welcome mat stretches south from an area just outside York to a vacant field near Shrewsbury in an industrial park nestled between rural farmlands and Interstate 83.
It's laid out to encourage Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls to relocate its outdated research and development test labs from Spring Garden Township to greener pastures in Hopewell Township, where 60 acres are ready and available for purchase.
If the company moves, a 20-year incentive agreement would allow its property tax payments to be reinvested into infrastructure improvements surrounding a new $148 million facility.
In return, Hopewell Township won't absorb any out-of-pocket expenses to build the roads, electrical substation and sewer plant necessary to make the park an attractive site for additional industrial tenants down the road.
But even if the paperwork is signed -- approved by county commissioners and by the township -- nothing is guaranteed.
The company hasn't even officially said it is moving from Spring Garden Township.
There are no promises that Johnson Controls won't leave Pennsylvania anyway, bound for a different deal in the Hunt Valley region of Baltimore County.
Still, York County officials think the deal is worth the effort.
"I don't know what Maryland is offering," said York County Commissioner Doug Hoke. "We were pretty well led to believe that if we pass an incentive program for this company, they would seriously consider staying in York County ... They didn't say, 'If you pass this, we're definitely staying.'"
It all started with two words: "Project Global."
That's the code name given to the company's relocation efforts, which remained largely under wraps to the public until this week.
"We were told a Fortune 500 company was looking for a facility in the Pennsylvania-Maryland market," said Gary Stewart, president of York-based Stewart Properties. "We didn't know who they were."
About 10 months ago, Stewart responded to the request for proposal.
He had just the thing: a 60-acre plot inside the Stonebridge Business Park in Hopewell Township.
Stewart's company purchased the 200-acre park, bisected by Wolfe Road, in the early 1990s from a company in Baltimore. It was zoned for industrial use.
The mid-1990s brought an initial tenant -- Oakworks, a manufacturer of therapeutic massage tables. Other businesses, including Home Depot and Cracker Barrel, followed.
Industrial and manufacturing tenants in the park qualify for the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Program. The designation allows property taxes to be phased in over 10 years.
The property's existing LERTA designation provides for the taxing of the land in the first year at 10 percent of its assessed value, climbing 10 percent each year for the next decade.
Soon after he submitted his proposal, Stewart learned about Johnson Controls' plans.
The Grantley plant where the company performs tests on commercial air conditioning equipment is "at the end of its useful life," according to a report released this week by a committee of South Eastern School District, Hopewell Township and York County officials charged with enticing Johnson Controls to stay in the county.
The company's long term strategy involves building two test centers. One is already in Wuxi, China.
Aside from research and development, the Grantley plant's 750 workers wear many hats, from manufacturing the core components of building heating, ventilation and air conditioning to producing chillers for the U.S. Navy, said Monica Zimmer, spokeswoman for Johnson Controls.
The committee report cites a relocation of 440 workers, with salaries averaging $88,000.
The company declined to comment on the fate of its facility at 1499 E. Philadelphia St. or the remainder of workers at the Grantley campus.
For this relocation, Stewart would later learn that LERTA wasn't going to cut it.
Johnson Controls had narrowed its search to two sites -- Stonebridge and a spot in Hunt Valley.
It would cost Johnson Controls an extra $1 million in taxes and other expenses each year to operate in Hopewell Township than it would to relocate to Baltimore County, according to the report. Fronda Cohen, spokeswoman for Baltimore County, declined to comment on the county's talks with Johnson Controls.
The committee -- charged with the task of negotiating -- would have to find a way to offset that, Stewart said, if York County was to stay in the game.
York County and Hopewell Township went all in.
Their representatives -- Darrell Auterson and Shannon Wolf, respectively -- opted to give up 100 percent of property taxes on Johnson Control's $148 million campus for up to 20 years.
"The county would like to keep the jobs and economic impact of Johnson Controls in York County," Hoke said. "We're willing to forego the tax increase to keep them a viable employer."
Meanwhile, both government bodies would continue to collect annual property taxes on the land itself -- annual checks of $148 for the township and $2,920 for the county.
"I hope this becomes more of a complex for business," Wolf said. "They have the Walmart complex on the other side of 83. Here in Hopewell Township, we don't have a whole lot."
Rona Kaufmann held her ground. The superintendent of South Eastern School District couldn't let a $148 million improvement to her district go unaccounted for.
When distributing money to school districts, the state evaluates the total value of property in that district, she said.
According to the committee report, the increase in assessment if Johnson Controls were to build could result in a $300,000 to $350,000 decrease in annual state funding beginning in 2018.
"As a representative of the school district, it was important to protect the district and the local taxpayers to make sure what we would lose in state aid ratio, we could pick up from Johnson Controls," she said.
Johnson Controls, according to the report, agreed to make voluntary payments, in addition to taxes, of $200,000 to the South Eastern School District for the years 2013, 2014, and 2015 to cover a potential budget shortfall.
Kaufmann volunteered 70 percent of school taxes on the Johnson Controls facility to be reinvested in the property's infrastructure.
That would give the school district more than $9 million in new net tax revenues over the next 25 years.
Without the project, school district revenues on the vacant property would continue at $15,000 per year, according to the report.
According to the report, a $148 million facility in Stonebridge would have an assessed value of $60.8 million for tax purposes.
The amount is double the assessed value -- which means double the tax revenue -- that a piecemeal development of smaller businesses would bring to the same parcel, Stewart said.
Last week, South Eastern School Board approved the deal. Township supervisors will hold a public hearing on the matter Jan. 3 before they eventually vote.
The county commissioners are likely to vote on the deal the first or second week of December, Hoke said.
"There are a lot of variables between here and the final road," Wolf said. "Everybody's planning on it coming to fruition, but we have to make the ordinance and hope Johnson Controls follows through."
Effect on Spring Garden
The plan was news to Gregory Maust.
The Spring Garden Township manager said he was blindsided this week when he learned that the publicly traded company that purchased York International in 2005 was planning to uproot some of its employees.
Johnson Controls operates two sites in Spring Garden Township, employing a total of 1,000 people, Zimmer said.
If the company moves employees, property taxes for the township will be largely unaffected, Maust said.
Johnson Controls leases its Grantley campus from Patriot Equities, which purchased the property in 2007.
At that time, Johnson Controls signed a 10-year lease.
Representatives at Patriot Equities did not return calls for comment.
Maust said the township collects a $52 local services tax -- formerly an emergency and municipal services tax -- from each employee working in the township.
The money goes toward police, fire and emergency services, road construction, maintenance and reduction of property taxes, he said.
Multiply that tax by 440 people, and the township loses $22,880 annually if Johnson Controls uproots workers, Maust said. That's about 5 percent of the annual $440,000 Spring Garden Township collects through the tax.
"That would be the biggest tax effect on us," he said. "We have to look at the positive aspect. Even though there may be a change for Spring Garden Township, a decision to relocate within York County is a good decision."