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Letter from the CEO: Much to do with new opportunities

As we look at the year ahead of us, there are many areas of focus for Cumberland County and the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC). The Strategic Economic Development Plan for Cumberland County has outlined our goals, strategies and action items, allowing us to better streamline our efforts and define what we can realistically accomplish in 2016 and beyond to positively impact the economy and quality of life for the county.

Below are a few high-level focus areas for CAEDC for the remainder of 2016:

Food Processing Attraction & Pad-Ready Sites – According to the Strategic Economic Development Plan, the number one focus area for business attraction is food processing and manufacturing. The first step in attracting these types of businesses is placing an emphasis on building up our available site inventory and pad-ready sites.

Post-recession, communities have increased their competitiveness in attracting new and existing businesses. Having sites that are “pad-ready” have become extremely important in the process. Sites that have proper zoning and infrastructure to support future development have become attractive to many site selectors, developers, and corporations. Pad-ready sites reduce the approval time of the land development process, provide cost savings to the project, and build consensus among the community and developers on the type and quality of the project. CAEDC will continue to work with the development community and local municipalities on proactively developing and promoting these sites for future development.

Through our attraction and site selection efforts, and working closely with the PA Office of International Business Development, CAEDC will also place an emphasis on the attraction of supply chain opportunities and foreign food manufacturers looking for a U.S. presence.

Workforce Development – A primary strategy for business retention efforts is workforce development. CAEDC will be working toward housing availability for our growing workforce as there is a need for more affordable housing options in close proximity to employment centers and public bus routes. In tandem, CAEDC will be taking a comprehensive look at current public transit systems and how we can better partner to enhance and update routes that accommodate commuters.

Another area of concentration regarding workforce development is the WorkKeys and Training for Advanced Manufacturing, Logistics and Transportation. WorkKeys will assess potential employees’ or students’ skills as they relate to the workforce. CAEDC will work with employers so that they may use the WorkKeys assessment as a tool for hiring skilled workers.

Transportation – Transportation, separate from workforce development, is a larger area of focus for CAEDC moving forward. Transportation infrastructure is an important component of the U.S. economy to be competitive in a global market and compete with countries such as China, Japan, India and the European countries. Cumberland Valley is known by many as the transportation and logistics hub of the U.S. with close proximity to 2/3 of the US population within a day’s drive, as well as international airports and large ports. As a result, infrastructure funding is not only important to our local economy, but also to our global economy as well. CAEDC will continue to champion priority transportation projects throughout the county and region, such as Interstate 81 expansion; interchange improvements along Interstate 81; current Turnpike expansion; and local transportation projects within our communities like the Carlisle Borough Transportation Improvement project, Summerdale Transportation Improvement project and South Middleton Connector Road Transportation project. The sale and redevelopment of the Carlisle Airport is another important project for our region. Local businesses and visitors rely on quality regional airports to effectively travel. The sale of the airport will be a priority project for CAEDC in 2016.

Base Realignment & Closure (BRAC) – Cumberland County is home to three military installations that represent thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic impact. President Obama, as expected, has proposed a 2019 BRAC in his recent fiscal year budget. The political will to move forward with a BRAC will need to be determined by Congress. If a future BRAC is eminent, our strategy is to enhance our three military installations against a future BRAC. This means looking for good quality construction projects or new missions/workloads at each installation, as well as the U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center that we can support for their future viability, growth and expansion.

You can the read the monthly Letter From The C.E.O. in the Cumberland Valley Business Journal.

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