Coun­cil dis­cusses 2018 mile­stones

The Phoenix - - FRONT PAGE - By Donna Rovins [email protected]­tu­ry­media. com @Mer­cBiz on Twit­ter

EAST WHITE­LAND >> The Ch­ester County Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil up­dated stake­hold­ers and in­vestors Nov. 14 on key eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment mile­stones from fis­cal year 2017-18.

The work of the Ch­ester County Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil (CCEDC) is sup­ported by more than 230 in­vestors from or­ga­ni­za­tions that range from star­tups to For­tune 500 com­pa­nies. More than 150 busi­ness lead­ers at­tended the coun­cil’s An­nual Stake­holder’s Meet­ing at the Des­mond Ho­tel.

The an­nual meet­ing is meant to in­form the agency’s stake­hold­ers about its achieve­ments in de­vel­op­ing the county’s econ­omy and work­force de­vel­op­ment.

It’s also a time to say thank you.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate your trea­sure of in­vest­ment in this or­ga­ni­za­tion. We thank you for your wis­dom, your guid­ance, your time,” Gary Smith, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Ch­ester County Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil said in his open­ing re­marks. “You come in with all kinds of pro­fes­sional back­grounds and ex­pe­ri­ences and you give that back to us to make this or­ga­ni­za­tion bet­ter.”

Smith out­lined the main ar­eas of fo­cus for the or­ga­ni­za­tion: fi­nanc­ing so­lu­tions, lo­ca­tion ser­vices, in­no­va­tion and work­force de­vel­op­ment.

“A ba­sic part of what we do is re­ally tak­ing care of oth­ers,” Smith said, adding that eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment isn’t just about bring­ing in big head­line sto­ries — a ref­er­ence to Ama­zon’s an­nounce­ment this week of its sec­ond head­quar­ters lo­ca­tion. “It is grow­ing and tak­ing care of and nur­tur­ing the peo­ple we have in our com­mu­nity.”

Some high­lights of the Ch­ester County Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil’s mile­stones for fis­cal year 2017-2018 in­clude:

• Fi­nanc­ing of more than $16 mil­lion for 19 projects to grow lo­cal busi­ness and cre­ate jobs for lo­cal work­force

• $9.6 mil­lion in tax ex­empt fi­nanc­ing

• $9.7 mil­lion in to­tal grant pro­ject fund­ing

• $1.2 mil­lion in Key­stone In­no­va­tion Zone (KIZ) tax cred­its for emerg­ing growth com­pa­nies

• $23 mil­lion spent by Ch­ester County Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil’s net­work of i2n com­pa­nies on re­search, de­vel­op­ment and test­ing

• More than $500,000 in grant sup­port for in­cum­bent worker train­ing and a new STEM In­no­va­tion ap­proach to serv­ing lo­cal youth

• Col­lab­o­ra­tion on 18 eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment projects through­out Ch­ester County.

“Fi­nanc­ing re­mains the foun­da­tion of CCEDC ser­vices,” Smith said. “We use a va­ri­ety of grant and loan pro­grams to meet the needs of our clients and to get projects across the fin­ish line.”

At­ten­dees heard from two busi­ness lead­ers who worked with the coun­cil on fi­nanc­ing so­lu­tions.

Dave Fore­man is CEO of Ice Line, an ice skat­ing arena in West Goshen that wanted to ex­pand its fa­cil­ity by adding a 10,000 square foot restau­rant and bar, but needed some help to get it done.

“We were able to get back­ing through Seed­copa, which gave us the fund­ing,” Fore­man said. “It al­lowed the com­mer­cial banker to get on board and get com­fort­able and ful­fill the lend­ing re­quire­ments.”

Fore­man added that Ice Line is now po­si­tioned, “where we want to be.”

An­gela O’Brien, owner of iSwich Gourmet Inc. started her com­pany in a 430 square foot space. Once she got a con­tract with Long­wood Gar­dens to sell her gourmet ice cream sand­wiches, she quickly needed more space.

She said Seed­copa and Phoenixville Fed­eral part­nered to en­able her to move into a 3,000 square foot fa­cil­ity.

“Now I have the stor­age I need so I can make some things in ad­vance, so the sea­son­al­ity is not as big a crunch in June and July,” she said. “I can also start to look at re­gional and na­tional ac­counts.”

Derek Strine, of Penn Hurst Hold­ings worked with the Ch­ester County Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil on lo­ca­tion ser­vices, re­ceiv­ing a $10 mil­lion grant/loan from the Com­mon­wealth of Penn­syl­va­nia for re­me­di­a­tion and trans­for­ma­tion of the 120-acre for­mer Pennhurst State Hos­pi­tal into a mixe­duse com­mer­cial and in­dus­trial site.

Strine said he met with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Ch­ester County Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil, and within about an hour, “they had iden­ti­fied 30-40 re­sources we could pur­sue.”

“We ex­pect in Q1 or Q2, to have re­me­di­a­tion and de­mo­li­tion on the first build­ing,” he said.

High­light­ing in­no­va­tion, Pat­tie Dig­gin, di­rec­tor of the Cot­trell En­tre­pre­neur­ial Lead­er­ship Cen­ter at West Ch­ester Univer­sity talked about the first TechS­tars Week­end, which was held at the univer­sity in June.

Sixty-five par­tic­i­pants spent a full week­end de­vel­op­ing their busi­ness ideas with the help of coaches and men­tors. On the fi­nal day, they pitched their ideas to a panel of judges.

Dig­gin said there will be a sec­ond TechS­tars week­end in 2019, hosted by Penn State Great Val­ley in part­ner­ship with West Ch­ester Univer­sity and the Cot­trell Cen­ter.

Work­force de­vel­op­ment has been a ma­jor fo­cus of the Ch­ester County Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil, with more than 6,900 at­ten­dees at coun­cil work­force events from 975 or­ga­ni­za­tions. In ad­di­tion, more than 4,300 youth par­tic­i­pated in Ch­ester County Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil ca­reer ex­plo­ration ac­tiv­i­ties.

Three of those stu­dents: Tyler Mans­mann, Dy­lan Smoot and Rachel Dwyer talked about how their ex­pe­ri­ences with the Youth Ca­reer Academies so­lid­i­fied their plans for col­lege.

“We know that the growth and suc­cess of com­pa­nies in Ch­ester County de­pends on the tal­ent and avail­abil­ity of a qual­i­fied work­force. The coun­cil strongly be­lieves that work­force de­vel­op­ment is eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment,” said Michael L. Gri­ga­lo­nis, Ch­ester County Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil’s chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer and ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent.

Launched in 2014, VISTA 2025 is a 10-year eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment strat­egy — a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Ch­ester County and the Ch­ester County Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil. Ch­ester County Com­mis­sioner Michelle Kich­line, who is co-chair­man of the ini­tia­tive, gave a brief progress re­port at the break­fast.

“Ch­ester County’s suc­cess can be mea­sured in so many ways be­cause we plan for our fu­ture, we in­vest in our fu­ture and we work hard to make that fu­ture hap­pen,” said Kich­line. “VISTA 2025 is a great ex­am­ple of how hav­ing an over­all strat­egy, with spe­cific goals that are fol­lowed by both the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor, can help us to keep Ch­ester County the vi­brant, beau­ti­ful and pro­gres­sive place that it is.”

Ad­di­tional de­tails about VISTA 2025 are sched­uled to be re­leased Nov. 16.

A com­plete copy of the Ch­ester County Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil’s 2017-2018 An­nual Re­port is avail­able on­line at http://


The Ch­ester County Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil re­leased its eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment mile­stones for fis­cal year 20172018 at the Des­mond Ho­tel in East White­land. More than 150 lo­cal busi­ness lead­ers at­tended the event.

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