EDA Cites Improving Pike County Economic Climate
TAFTON — The Pike County economic picture, once far too bleak, has improved and, if the Economic Development Authority has its way, will continue to do so. That was a theme at the third annual Economic Development Summit Dinner Wednesday, Sept. 30, at Ehrhardt’s Waterfront Resort.
“We’re trying to do a variety of things to make (the unemployment rate) go down,” said EDA Executive Director Michael Sullivan. Sullivan noted that the unemployment rate in Pike County from January 2012 to June 2013 ranged from 9.6 percent to 10.6 percent. Today, it stands at 6.4 percent. The state rate is 5.4 percent, while the U.S. rate is 5.1 percent, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor.
An additional 325 new jobs are expected to arrive in Pike County, Sullivan said, through new businesses, which will bring the unemployment rate down to 5.05 percent. Unfortunately, he added, “These are jobs being held up by regulations.”
Some 123 county residents heard Sullivan and guest speaker Michael W. Brubaker, a former Pennsylvania state senator who now serves as chief executive officer of Blackford Ventures, Inc., a venture capital firm, discuss the county’s economic status and keys to business growth and stability at the dinner. In addition, five businesses received 2015 EDA Economic Development Awards from the Authority, as well as recognition from Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, for making significant investment and creating new local jobs.
Brubaker spelled out the principles that he said helped make his company successful. These he summarized as the “three Fs:” Focus and eliminate noise and distractions; Follow up, because often promises aren’t kept in a timely manner; and Finalize, because “time kills deals” and delays cause confusion. He said a positive attitude, finding ways to make a deal work, is critical even when individuals have concerns about it.
“If you have a complex deal and you don’t like it, suggest ways to improve it,” he said. “Help us get to yes.”
“I’m optimistic,” Brubaker said. “I don’t like the alternative. You pessimists, I don’t know how you do it.”
In Pike County, he said, hospitality is the No. 1 industry, while retail and health care are second and third. The three industries, he said, make up 50 percent of all jobs... for complete story, get this week's issue.