Let’s talk about 2016 in Greater Reading. So what happened? How did we do? Are there really good things happening in Berks County? Yes! The Greater Reading community saw growth numbers on several fronts and announced successful company expansions. Our GDP is growing, private and public investment is high and Greater Reading has never been in a better position for internal growth.
Every year we take a look at the economic development trends at the global, national and state level to better understand how they will affect our local strategies in the coming year. Developing predictions in response to recent trends allows us to proactively develop strategic actions, and better position Berks County for business attraction and retention.
The good news for 2017 is that through all of the political uncertainty, there is a lot to be optimistic about in our community. So, here are my thoughts for 2017.
Greater Reading has deep manufacturing roots. Today the region maintains its reputation as a global manufacturing center — home to both domestic and international companies representing specialty metals, plastics, food products and more.
In addition, manufacturing in Greater Reading is among the top metropolitan areas with the highest share of solid paying new jobs. This translates into offering entry-level workers the greatest opportunity for growth in earnings and advancement.
2016, as we knew it would be, has been a year focused on rebuilding our industrial property inventory in Berks County. We have a number of land developments in the queue and need to get them to the point where we are ready for the shovel in the ground. Because as we know in the world of development – dirt is not a site.
With that said, we are projecting the potential for over 650 acres and almost 9.2 million square feet of new industrial building development in Berks County within the next 1 – 3 years.
Have you seen the news? Recently THREE main street programs in Greater Reading were recognized as Nationally Accredited programs. We’re excited about the news and want to tell you why this is important for economic development.
Talent Attraction & Retention
Probably the most obvious reason main street programs are important relates to talent attraction and retention. According to the PEW Research Center, millennials (anyone born between the early 1980s and early 2000s) will be the largest living generation.
Has anyone else heard the word “Millennials” recently? This word lumps a large group of people born between the early 1980’s and the early 2000’s into a group people are paying A LOT of attention to as of late. Why should we care about this group of late teens to early 30 somethings?
The Economic Partnership recently attended the Foreign Direct Investment conference and one thing was clear – the way we do business is changing. If communities and companies don’t adapt they are going to be left behind. Some of the changes are forced, some are a choice. So, what is predicted to be coming down the pipeline?
Not everyone wants money. Really you might say? What do I mean by that? Not every company who is interested in a new business location or in expanding their business wants a business loan from the state – no matter what the interest rate. Whether it is an issue of timing, having adequate capital in hand, not being able to meet the job creation or other threshold requirements, not everyone wants or can utilize state financing.
The rebound in U.S. manufacturing is being experienced firsthand in our region, a long-time and resilient home for manufacturing and industry.
As the primary marketer for Greater Reading, Pennsylvania, we’ve seen inquiries from companies and site selection groups growing steadily over the past four years. They reached new highs in 2015 and reflect economic trends: 75 percent were from manufacturing and distribution-related businesses.
Every year the Economic Partnership takes stock of the economic development trends at the global, state, and local level to begin to strategize for the coming year. Developing predictions in response to recent trends not only allows the organization to proactively develop strategic actions, but also to continually position Berks County for business attraction and retention.
As we move into the New Year, the good news is, there is a lot to be optimistic about in the region.
In today’s globally accessible market, developing a startup takes much more than a great idea. To be truly successful, it’s important to take advantage of the wealth of resources available to you. Various organizations, publications, and influential people are certainly out there to point you in the right direction. This month, we’ve broken down the necessities to get your small business started down a profitable path.
In order to ensure the current and future success of businesses in a particular area, many state and regional governments enlist the help of economic development organizations (or “agencies”). In most cases, these organizations work with businesses and/or local government to act in the interest of local businesses, seek new economic opportunities, and develop new partnerships to drive economic growth. The duties and services of these economic development organizations vary by region, and this month we’re covering some of the most important items for driving future growth.
Here is more proof that Greater Reading, PA is heading in the right direction. The Labor Market 150 Index, a new quarterly ranking from EMSI and CareerBuilder, assesses the labor market performance of the nation’s 150 largest metro areas. Greater Reading, PA ranks 4th out of 150 in Job Quality for 2014. The index combines 11 historical, current, and leading indicators and groups them in four categories: overall employment change, quality employment change, unique job postings, and unemployment rate.
In 2012 the Greater Reading Economic Partnership (GREP) launched a marketing campaign, Careers in 2 Years (CI2Y). This campaign is designed to target middle and high school aged students and their parents to consider career and technology school as a viable option for their future. This year, GREP launched Careers in 2 Years 2.0, targeting returning veterans and underemployed/unemployed individuals to promote retraining or additional training for a technical career.
Greater Reading, PA has continued to experience growth from within. Over the last three years, over 20 existing companies have expanded their operations. This is an important sign not only in our immediate local economy, but also in the regional, national and global economy.
While there are a variety of factors at play, we attribute the growth in Berks to lower costs, lower interest rates, and the willingness of companies to make investments in growing their companies.