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CAEDC unveils draft economic plan for Cumberland County

It has been more than 10 years since an economic plan was incorporated into Cumberland County’s comprehensive plan, and the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation has unveiled its approach to economic growth.

“People say ‘Why should government be involved in economic development or why should CAEDC exist to do economic development?’” Jonathan Bowser, CEO of CAEDC, said. “We really tried to answer those … questions right up front.”

Bowser said the fundamental economic development goals for Cumberland County would be to increase the commercial and industrial tax base, increase median income and opportunities, and maintain diversified industry base.

Shireen Farr, COO for CAEDC, noted that her organization did not come into existence until a year after the last economic plan was developed in 2003.

CAEDC has been working to develop the economic plan for a little more than a year, and has utilized data from Penn State University which was used as a foundation for the plan.

The economic plan calls for a focus on five industry cluster – tourism, agribusiness, transportation and warehousing, health care and social assistance, manufacturing and professional services – with a larger focus on agribusiness.

Agribusiness grew by 23 percent between 2003 and 2012 in Cumberland County, according to data provided by CAEDC.

Bowser and Farr noted that part of the focus on agribusiness will be its relationship to other industries, such as manufacturing, transportation and warehousing.

“Our main focus is agribusiness,” Bowser said. “We know we have a pretty significant agriculture industry here. We want to able to capture that whole supply chain. So, from farm to table or from farm to shelf, we want to be able to capture that business.”

Bowser said this does not mean the economic plan disregards any other industry, noting that a diversified industry base helped Cumberland County weather the recent recession with less impact that other areas.

CAEDC will hold multiple public meetings to get input and educate residents about the plan before the plan could come up for a vote by the Cumberland County Commissioners in November.

“The more and more and more we can educate people on not only the process but also the execution of this document, the better,” Bowser said. “The better I think it will be for everyone, even the folks who don’t want to see development. The more they are educated, the better for everyone.”

The meetings, which are open to the public, will be held from 8 to 10 a.m. Oct. 21 at Upper Allen Township Building, 100 Gettysburg Pike, Mechanicsburg, 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 22 at North Middleton Township Building, 2051 Spring Road, Carlisle and from 4 to 6 p.m. Nov. 2 at Vigilant Hose Company, 20 Walnut Bottom Road, Shippensburg.

This article was posted on Cumberlink.com on October 6, 2015.

 

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