ACEDC at a crossroads: The Agency is about to complete its strategic plan | The Sentinel: News

The Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp. is about to finalize the drafting of a strategic plan aimed at identifying the objectives of the agency for the next one to two years.

Once completed, the plan will serve as a blueprint to guide the search for a new chief executive, acting executive administrator Gary Scicchitano said in a recent interview.

“I was asked to stay until the process was completed,” he said. “At the heart of the strategic planning effort were the four pillars: economic development, workforce development, innovation/small business, and tourism.

A committee of experts has been formed around each pillar to convene meetings to compile information on economic trends and gather feedback from local businesses and staff from development corporations, Scicchitano said.

Each pillar had a different accent. Economic development focused on ways to attract, retain and expand business. Workforce development addressed methods for identifying employer needs and strategies for developing a skilled workforce.

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Innovation/Small Business explored ways to support entrepreneurs and small businesses by improving access to capital while reducing barriers to growth. Tourism has focused on attracting visitors, developing products, and promoting the livability of Cumberland County.

Now that the meetings are over, Monica Gould of Strategic Consulting Partners will distill the feedback received at the meetings into a strategic plan that could be submitted to CAEDC employees for follow-up review, Scicchitano said. The plan could then be modified and presented to the board of directors by the end of September, he said.

“We want the one- to two-year goals to be solid,” he said. “We look at how COVID has affected businesses, the economy [and] Workforce. At some point in the future, we will enter stretch goals.

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Once the plan is approved, the focus will be on hiring a new Executive Director for ACEDC. In the meantime, the search for a Workforce Development Manager has already begun.

The CAEDC developed a job description and advertised the job opening, Scicchitano said. “We are preparing to start the interviews. We are looking to hire someone by the end of the year.

Once hired, the Director of Workforce Development will meet regularly with employers, educational institutions, economic development agencies and the Workforce Development Board, said Janet Anderson, Director of the economic development of the ACEDC. “It’s about awareness and getting out there. It’s about understanding the needs of employers here in Cumberland County, finding solutions to meet those needs, and partnering to provide solutions.

“Even before COVID, we weren’t able to fill many positions,” she said. “The exacerbation of COVID has been significant. You have the big resignation where individuals, 50+, are looking at early retirement. You have a younger demographic that has different expectations for the work they are doing. Many of them are interested in gig work.We work to make sure our employers have the workforce they need right here in Cumberland County, so we thought it was important to hire someone to focus on those needs.

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County Commissioner Vince DiFilippo sits on the CAEDC Board of Directors which meets monthly. “There are a lot of talented people involved in CAEDC,” he said. “Once the strategic plan is finalized and accepted, I think they will really take off. We’ve had a few leadership changes at the top that have impacted the organization, but it’s going in the right direction now. The interim CEO is doing a great job for us.

Joseph Cress is a reporter for The Sentinel covering education and history. You can reach him at [email protected] or by calling 717-218-0022.

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