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CAEDC Looks to Target Food Processing & Agribusiness Industry in 2016

CUMBERLAND VALLEY, PA (December 7, 2015) – Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC) has just finalized the Strategic Economic Development Plan, approved by the Board of Commissioners on 12/7/15, for Cumberland County. In the plan, the targeted industry for the focus area of Business Attraction will be agribusiness with a specific emphasis on food processing and manufacturing.

The area’s strategic location, abundant and fertile farmland, skilled workforce, and comprehensive infrastructure allows products to get to market quickly and at a reasonable cost. These are very desirable assets for food manufacturers looking to expand or open facilities.

“Cumberland County is an ideal location for food processors and distributors. With our outstanding transportation system, we are within a 12-hour drive of half of the population of the United States,” said Dave Swartz, District 15 Director of Penn State Ag Extension Office. “The proximity of those 160,000,000 people is why Cumberland County and neighboring counties in South Central Pennsylvania are a hotbed of economic activity for all stages of the food system. Our area excels in food production, processing, distribution and marketing.”

A huge benefit to this industry is Cumberland County’s strategic location and distribution network. Cumberland’s highway connections via Interstate 81, I-83, I-76 and US 11/15 puts the county within 7 hours of Boston, New York, Washington D.C., Richmond, Baltimore and Columbus. This area also has air travel and rail systems along with access to five major ports in Philadelphia, Newark, Baltimore, New York and Newport.

The Warrell Corporation is a premier confectionery manufacturer in Cumberland County. Their 200,000 sq. ft. facility is located in Camp Hill and they produce confectionery products such as PA Dutch Candies. President Kevin Silva shares his views on what makes this location a good fit for businesses. “The friendly local business climate, proximate access to valuable interstate roadway and rail routes, and location that reaches a large percentage of the United States population, all make Cumberland County a great place to relocate your business.”

Kessler’s Inc. is another major facility located in Lemoyne with a focus on meat processing. “Kessler’s has been in the Cumberland Valley area since 1928. A big benefit to our business is the ease of distributing our products via the extensive highway systems in the region. Our commitment to this area also stems from the fact that 60% of our customers are located within a 100-mile radius of our facility in Lemoyne,” said Bob Kessler, President & CEO of Kessler’s

Cumberland County has many assets that make it a prime area for agriculture. Highlights include: soil rich in nutrients; an ideal flat topography; excellent water supply with ample access and quality; proximity of supplies including equipment dealers, seed, fertilizer, greenhouse and related suppliers; an ease of access to technical support; a commitment to sustainable practices including biological pest management, drip/trickle irrigation and soil and plant tissue testing; prominent produce auctions; and local buying programs with national grocers including Giant, Weis, Wegmans and Wal-Mart.

Swartz added that it’s hard to overstate the value of the close access to agricultural products and that Pennsylvania has an ample supply of high-quality dairy, meat, poultry, egg, vegetable, tree fruits and small fruits products. This area also has a temperate climate that rarely impedes business operations.

Food processing facilities and agribusinesses are already thriving in this area. Successful companies like Vantage Foods, Nestle Purina Pet Care Co., Schreiber Foods, Land O’ Lakes Inc., Bimbo Bakeries, Lindt and many others have already made a home in Cumberland County.

CAEDC has also been preparing for these industries by working with local technical schools, colleges and universities. Recently, CAEDC connected the Cumberland Perry Area Vocational Technical School with Steve Bogash, the Commercial Horticulture Educator with Penn State Ag Extension, to ramp up their horticulture program. Bogash will be recommending program revisions and licenses that focus specifically on commercial horticulture, along with connecting the school to national suppliers to see what they are looking for in new employees. Bogash stated, “The need for well-trained people to meet the horticulture industry’s needs pairs well with the push to give graduates sustainable careers. These new programs will give students the skills they need to become future Landscape Technicians and Assistant Growers, careers that are needed in the growing horticulture field.”

“We appreciate Steve’s expertise and insight into the industry as well as his recommendations on moving our Horticulture program forward, said Justin Bruhn, Administrative Director at Cumberland Perry AVTS. “Any changes that result in students being better prepared for employment or post-secondary studies after leaving Cumberland Perry are especially welcome.”

CAEDC is also working with our local colleges and universities to develop programs and certifications that apply directly to advanced manufacturing. Food processing, along with all types of manufacturing, is becoming increasingly technical. These new careers require advanced skills and training in specializations like engineering, project management, lean manufacturing and maintenance mechanics. Our quality and quantity of higher education allows CAEDC to adapt to changing landscapes and be the connection between our employers and educational institutions. Swartz shared, “We also have access to graduates of the Penn State University food science program which is ranked in the top six in the nation.”

CAEDC’s site selection and financing services are other benefits to manufacturers looking to expand or relocate to this area. CAEDC can assist with finding a site, financing an expansion or retrofit, and assist with local government advocacy. Interested site selectors can get started by viewing all our available sites on www.cumberlandcountysites.com. CAEDC also offers a variety of financing options for small and large manufacturers including small business financing, tax-exempt financing, USDA loans and others for qualifying applicants. If you are aware of an available site and would like it added to CAEDC’s site selection tool, please contact Mary Kuna at mary@cumberlandbusiness.com.

In 2015, CAEDC began testing marketing for this industry with ads focused around agribusiness and food processing and financing for this industry including the addition of two special landing pages on the new www.CumberlandBusiness.com. Looking ahead, CAEDC will be working with municipalities to create more desirable zoning for food processing and manufacturing companies looking to move in to our area. CAEDC will also be creating partnerships with food-related organizations to learn more about this industry’s needs.

About CAEDC
CAEDC is Cumberland County’s authorized agency charged with leveraging and promoting Cumberland Valley’s economic development and tourism assets to drive growth, create jobs and improve the quality of life. Offices are located at 53 W. South Street, Carlisle PA. For more information, visit www.cumberlandbusiness.com and www.visitcumberlandvalley.com.

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