A new alliance for business in Pike
By AMY GRUZESK
Pike County has always been well known for its natural beauty and as a favorite destination of city dwellers looking for summer homes or weekend getaways.
However, in more recent years, this small northeast county has been garnering a lot of attention both locally and nationally for its explosive population growth.
Our proximity to New York City and other metropolitan areas, as well as our more affordable cost of living and enviable natural environment, make it an ideal location for those looking to permanently escape the confines of the city for greener pastures. It is both far enough away from the citys rising prices and hustle and bustle, and close enough to reach for business or recreation.
The proof is in the numbers. In 2000, Pike Countys population was just over 46,300 people, but that number in itself was a huge 65.6 percent increase over the 1990 census. Since then, the county has grown to just over 56,000, according to an official July, 2005 estimate. By the year 2010, experts believe Pike Countys population will exceed 65,000.
Those figures are both exciting and challenging, as we look to the future and a much more populated county.
One of those challenges is to deal constructively and proactively with this growth as it is occurring. Part of that challenge is attracting more industry and jobs to Pike County so that those individuals who come here can also make a living here.
That has become a primary goal for Pike Countys three economic development organizations: the Pike County Industrial Development Authority, the Pike County Industrial Development Corporation (PIDCO) and the Pike County Chamber of Commerce. These groups have banded together to form a three-tiered partnership, sharing building space, staff and resources to better accomplish this goal.
Our collective efforts have focused on marketing the Pike County Business Park in Blooming Grove Township; partnering with regional economic development agencies to obtain and follow up on leads for businesses that might be interested in relocating to our area; working with small business owners and new business start-ups in their efforts to increase their chances of success; and providing services and benefits to existing businesses to help them in growing and maintaining their businesses.
The ultimate goal is to further enhance the countys already rich quality of life by working to ensure that residents can find gainful quality employment and business opportunities within our borders instead of having to commute to outlying areas, and across state borders each day, as many of them currently do.
More businesses within our borders would also mean more revenue to our county and its municipalities in the form of tax revenue, that would help alleviate the financial stresses on our infrastructure and schools.
As these three agencies head into 2007, they do so with new plans and strategies developed by each agency to deal specifically with these issues, as well as a strong commitment to work collectively together so that our combined resources can be used most effectively for the greater benefit.
Our collective goal is to create a business climate that allows our existing businesses to grow and prosper, while also attracting new businesses and industry.
Amy Gruzesky is the executive director of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce and the Pike County Industrial Development Authority, and president of PIDCO (the Pike County Industrial Development Corporation).