The Times Herald (Norristown, PA)
Chester County officials outline economic milestones of the year
Economic Development Council updated stakeholders during annual breakfast
EXTON >> The Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC) showcased its milestones from fiscal year 2021-2022 for stakeholders during its annual breakfast Nov. 18 — a year of “incredible growth despite economic uncertainty, inflation and the remnants of a global pandemic.”
The annual event is an opportunity for the agency to update its stakeholders about its achievements in developing the county’s economy and workforce development its four key areas of focus — workforce development, business financing, location services and innovation.
More than 150 business and community leaders attended the always popular event held at the Desmond Hotel in East Whiteland — including partners, investors and volunteers spanning every major county industry.
“Some hear the term ‘economic development’ and picture construction sites and loan closings. It’s really about serving people by preserving and enhancing the quality of life in our communities,” Gary W. Smith, Chester County Economic Development Council president and CEO, said in a statement. “We train people with the skills they need to support their families, advise small businesses so they can add to the fabric of Chester County, revitalize abandoned lots for better use by neighborhoods, and enable young people to explore quality career options.”
Some of the economic development council’s 2021-2022 milestones in the areas of workforce development, business financing, location services and innovation include:
Opportunities for all
The council approved its Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Strategic Plan, which paved the way for a new Business Resource Center in Coatesville with free access to business coaching. The agency also launched a first-of-its-kind grant program to support minorityand women-owned businesses that served 51 businesses — including 26 minority-owned; 23 women-owned; seven without a college degree; and seven returning from prolonged un-employment.
During the year, the Chester County Economic Development Council relaunched AgConnect, an in-demand agriculture industry partnership, which partnered with Chester County to launch its first agriculture economic development strategic plan, and also began training to support worker and youth career development experiences in agriculture and manufacturing.
In 2021-2022, Chester County Economic Development Council’s workforce development initiatives impacted 1,632 youth, 1,556 participating organizations and 986 volunteers.
Financing Chesco’s future
The Chester County Industrial Development Authority (CCIDA) and the economic development council are thrilled financing Longwood Gardens’ most ambitious expansion of its Conservatory and surrounding landscape in a century. Seventeen acres of Longwood’s Conservatory and grounds will be transformed by 2024 using a tax-exempt loan through CCIDA. Longwood is one of thousands of projects the two agencies have financed over their nearly 50 year partnership.
Loan growth during Fiscal Year 2021-2022 was record breaking, the agency said, with loan volume more than five times higher than just four years ago and more than 33% higher compared to the previous fiscal year. Loans included SBA 504 and 7(a), Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA), and the Chester County Economic Development Council’s internal revolving loan fund.
Location, location, location
In the heart of Downingtown Borough, construction is underway on the Hankin Group’s new Brandywine Station LP (River Station). This mixed-use project includes 400 luxury apartments, 10,000 square feet of retail space, a new pedestrian bridge to Johnsontown Park, and will include the future site of the new Downingtown AMTRAK/SEPTA train station. With assistance from the economic development council, the project received an ISRP award of $1,280,505 through the Central and Western Industrial Development Authority to help with the environmental site remediation and Act 2 clean-up of the site.
With help from council’s site selection team, Habitat for Humanity of Chester County found a new location for its corporate headquarters in Phoenixville, as well as a new location for Restore, a home improvement store and donation center.
Innovation and entrepreneurship
The Chester County Economic Development Council’s startup support program Ideas x Innovation Network celebrated its 10th anniversary. In that decade, i2n has provided $17 million in direct tax credits and grants to local startups. More than 2,000 jobs were created by i2n companies with $307 million invested back into the local economy. A total of 203 patents have been filed, with hundreds of clients served.
A complete copy of the Chester County Economic Development Council’s 2020-2021 Annual Report is available at http://annual. ccedcpa.com/.
The Chester County Economic Development Council is a private, non-profit economic development organization promoting smart growth in Chester County and the surrounding region for more than 60 years.