News Article

Optical Filters expands in Meadville

Why is tiny Meadville (Crawford County, pop 14,000) a perfect location for an advanced manufacturing firm with explosive international growth? To Optical Filters LLC, the answer’s clear. 

Nicola Dent’s firm is a British transplant that has become one of Meadville’s fastest-growing businesses. The firm manufacturers glass screens and windows that protect against electro-magnetic interference (EMI) for commercial customers like ATM makers, defense contractors, and  medical facilities with MRI scanners.

“It’s a unique specialist product used in extreme conditions,” says Dent, CEO of the company her father Michael founded in Oxfordshire, UK in 1988. "We’re pretty well spread across several fields: avionics, defense, Industrial machinery and health care." 

Strong demand in those fields has prompted Dent to double its current 34,000 square feet and staff (now 55) in the next 12-18 months. Nicola Dent says positions will be created in manufacturing jobs, engineering and design, R&D--"primarily physicists,” she notes--and business staff. 

Choosing to locate in one of the state’s Keystone Innovation Zones (and a Keystone Opportunity Zone) came with a $100,000 tax credit come-on and a chance to win a $10,000 research grant (which the firm snagged this year). But Dent says the bonus for the global firm  is a “tremendous pool of talent in Meadville. 

"We’ve not needed to go far afield. Meadville has a strong manufacturing base and a stable workforce, and it's GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) less five (hours)," she says. "In terms of running a global business, it makes it more doable."  

Source: Nicola Dent, Optical Filters
Writer: Chris O'Toole