Members of the Susquehanna County Economic Development Advisory Board, along with the Progess Authority and county commissioners outlined a strategic plan in a day-long session last Thursday.
The session was led by former Three Rivers Development Corporation master planner Jack Benjamin who guided Corning, NY, through rebuilding after devastating flooding in the 1970s. He retired in 2015.
“Economic Development takes investment,” Benjamin said.
He opened the interactive discussion reviewing development assets and liabilities that exist in the county. “There’s not a lot of really good economic development sites,” he said, noting that as a reason to concentrate efforts on particular areas.
He also had the group focused on infrastructure: water, sewer, natural gas and highspeed internet. Benjamin also included housing as necessary infrastructure to attract a workforce.
The group also talked about developing tourism and other potential economic development initiatives.
The county plans to begin work on an update to the comprehensive plan in 2023; and will also be revisiting other outdated studies.
“There was a lot of good information that came out of the meeting,” said Commissioners Alan Hall. “To get things moving, we need to engage municipalities to see what (the county) can do to help them and get things moving for them. There’s potential out there for things.”
Hall noted that some communities want help, while others are not interested in change. He believes most people are looking to tourism as a big push for economic development. “There are more opportunities there,” he said, mentioning Elk Mountain skiing and the Rail-Trail development. He said one of the county’s key strengths is its scenic beauty,
“Infrastructure is the whole key,” Hall said and noted that those improvements take time.
“It’s not a fast-track process. I can take many, many years to see improvements,” Hall said. “It’s extremely difficult to find that balance of what everyone is happy with.”