Good morning. The finger-pointing is likely to last as long as the wait for a flight. Southwest Airlines first blamed an avalanche of canceled flights on the weather and on staffing issues with air traffic control.  News reports suggested it was pilots who did not want to get vaccinated. The pilots' union blamed the airline for ignoring years-old problems. Now, the airline's chief is blaming President Joe Biden for imposing a vaccine mandate in the first place. It's producing almost enough spin to achieve lift-off.
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Lancaster home health agency sold

One of the state's largest players in home health has snapped up a smaller agency based in Lancaster County amid an industry boom in dealmaking.
  • Founded in 2012 and based in Manheim Township, Meridius Health has been sold to Help at Home, a Chicago-based company with 6,500 employees in Pennsylvania.
  • Terms of the transaction, which closed late last month, were not disclosed.
  • Help at Home plans to retain the Lancaster office as a branch, joining 10 other Help at Home branches around the state, including one in the Harrisburg area, according to Help at Home spokesperson Kristen Trenaman. 
  • "I couldn't think of a better partner," Meridius Health founder Rustam Suvanidze said in a statement.

Why is this happening: Home health is a historically fragmented market made up of lots of smaller firms.
What's next: Meridius will be converted to the Help at Home brand, Trenaman said.
  • In addition to buying Meridius, Help at Home also bought part of a Georgia-based agency called Altamaha HomeCare.
  • Meridius and Altamaha bring about 300 caregivers to Help at Home, with most coming from Meridius, Trenaman said.
  • The acquisitions are designed to give Help at Home greater concentration in its existing markets, said the company, which operates in 13 states and employs nearly 30,000 caregivers.

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Quick takes

WHO'S CUTTING RIBBONS: Gov. Tom Wolf, York County officials and leaders of pharmaceutical firm BioTechnique. They gathered yesterday to mark the opening of a pharma plant in Conewago Township, York County (shown below). The move was first announced in May and brings new life -- and about 100 jobs -- to a facility last used by Unilife, a pharma company that folded after filing for bankruptcy in 2017.
  • BioTechnique, a subsidiary of California-based PSC Biotech, bought the 160,000 square-foot plant for $5.35 million.
  • The company is using the space for a contract manufacturing operation to make sterile injectable drugs. The company had been doing the work at a smaller facility in Wisconsin.
  • Overall, BioTechnique is investing $22 million in the project, including the cost of new equipment and employee training, according to a press release from the governor's office. The state contributed $2.7 million in grants and low-interest loans.


WHO'S BUYING: Highview Commercial. The New Jersey-based developer of 7-Eleven stores paid $1.775 million for land at the intersection of Route 114 and Gettysburg Pike, just off Route 15 in Upper Allen Township, Cumberland County, according to county deed records. The seller was Linlo Properties, a regional developer based in East Pennsboro Township, Cumberland County.
  • Agents from real estate firm Marcus & Millichap represented both the buyer and seller of the 12,475 square-foot lot at 147-151 Gettysburg Pike.
  • Highview hopes to break ground on a 7-Eleven at the site within the next 45 days, a project that will cost about $5.5 million, according to Dave Gunia, vice president of development for Highview. 
  • The store is expected to open in fall 2022, Gunia added.
  • Highview builds the stores and leases them to 7-Eleven, which is based in Dallas.

Are there others: Yes. Highview is planning 7-Eleven stores in East Hempfield and Manheim townships in Lancaster County, Gunia said.
  • Site work is underway in East Hempfield at 2001 State Road, near Route 283.
  • Highview hopes to wrap up the approval process and begin construction of a store at 1450 Manheim Pike in Manheim by early 2022, Gunia said.

WHAT'S BEING BLAMED: A ransomware attack. Lancaster-based Steinman Communications was hit by an apparent ransomware attack that has crimped the company's ability to print newspapers, according to an article in the company's flagship publication, LNP. The unidentified hackers have demanded an undisclosed amount of money to free up the computer files that play a role in the printing process, according to the article, which noted that Steinman officials did not say whether they will pay the ransom.
  • The company first reported it was having printing problems more than a week ago.
  • In addition to LNP, Steinman publishes Lancaster Farming, The Ephrata Review, Lititz Record-Express, Elizabethtown Advocate and The Caucus, which covers state government. 

The background: Ransomware demands are a flash point in cyber security, with a debate over whether they are worth paying.

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Compiled and written by Joel Berg

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