February 26, 2014 —
HAWLEY, PA — “If you don’t ask, you don’t get. It’s that simple,” was his opening line as Pike County’s economic development guru, Mike Sullivan, introduced a new marketing plan for the county.
Despite uncertain weather, about 80 business, finance, government and media representatives turned out on February 18 at Ehrhardt’s Restaurant to hear the executive director of the Economic Development Authority (EDA) outline his “Strategic Steps to Reinvigorate the Pike County Economy for 2014.”
Sullivan’s plan was billed as “a targeted marketing strategy, which will not use public funds for land acquisition and will target facilities that are consistent with our infrastructure.”
Sullivan provided statistics and told his audience that the tri-state counties (Pike, Orange, and Sussex) have formed a busy “corner” for business growth. “Pike has been in the backwash, but that ends tonight,” he said.
He said reversing it would mean reversing recent population losses, reducing an 8.8% unemployment rate, cutting a historically high rate of distressed properties.
It will mean creating new well-paying Pike jobs to keep and re-circulate money in the county.
That, he said, was the bad news.
Amid the good news he included Kahr Arms $2 million purchase and development of the former county industrial park. Kahr is building a 43,000-square-foot building to start operations there with 100 new jobs.
Sullivan is credited for luring Kahr from Orange County to Pike.
Additionally, Econo-Pak, a food repackaging firm is bringing 400 jobs to the Altec-Lansing complex in mid-March; LP Cylinders is continuing its growth and the Middletown Community Health Center is bringing 22 jobs at the Biondo Building in Milford.
Beyond these, new tax incentives, Local Economic Revitalization Tax Abatement (LERTA) programs, are being offered in several townships and being considered by others.
Until Pike can develop more sites with municipal sewage and water systems, some businesses cannot be recruited, he said. However the state’s attractive corporate tax rate will allow Pike to recruit other firms and sole proprietor businesses that don’t require extensive infrastructure and “use little or no public money to develop commercial sites.”
This kind of businesses will be the subject of saturation marketing, receiving four or more media contacts from the EDA.
To make all this work, Sullivan said, property owners should begin to reconsider their asking prices for property. Pike properties have “some very odd asking prices,” he said.
Property owners need to realize that buyers are also looking for sites in the surrounding states, he said.
Sullivan said he is seeking “thoughtful development. We don’t want to blacktop the county…. At the end of the day, we hope to change Pike County.”