By Rachel Bryson
The Record Herald
Posted Mar 31, 2012 @ 08:30 AM
This year is shaping up to be a good one for the Franklin County Area Development Corp. as new opportunities and expansions are coming closer to reality.
Initiatives and the outlook for 2012 were discussed Friday morning during FCADC’s general membership meeting.
The initiatives include continued support for Letterkenny Army Depot, investments in transportation and growth in hospitality.
FCADC also reported that unemployment numbers are decreasing in the county, down to 6.4 percent from a high of 9.1 percent in February 2010.
Good things coming
Development is coming to Franklin County this year and FCADC is doing all it can to support the businesses setting up shop in the area.
Mike Ross, FCADC president, told the group of more than 60 business and government representatives that things are moving in Franklin County.
Ross said that employers throughout the county report openings, totaling more than 3,300 positions.
Ross talked about the Volvo expansion, with the company moving all its North Carolina operations to Shippensburg.
“The job growth is not just going to be blue collar,” Ross said.
Ross recently participated in the company’s North American Supplier Day, meeting with VolvoConstruction Equipment and its suppliers to learn of the companies’ needs and the potential for
attracting more businesses to the area.
Ross also announced FCADC could see upwards of $50 million in capital investments in the county, which would create several hundred jobs.
FCADC is keeping quiet on the companies and the details of the projects for now, but Ross expects to be make several announcements within the next few weeks.
2012 and beyond
The FCADC has several initiatives for 2012, including improving operational efficiencies and expanding economic development services.
Ross made a point of expressing FCADC’s commitment to supporting the retention of jobs and expansion at Letterkenny Army Depot.
“The depot is the anchor,” Ross said. “They are the largest employer in the county. We are working as aggressively as we can to protect the interests of the depot. They are very important to us.”
Ross added there is potential for finding a user for the former Scotland School for Veterans Children.
“We hope to get the governor’s office to see the same value that we see,” Ross said.
A challenge facing the FCADC, which Ross has said many times, is not necessarily business growth, but rather management of that growth.
“We’re not developing just for the sake of developing,” Ross said. “One thing that makes Franklin County so attractive is our quality of life.”
The county has a great agriculture heritage and the challenge is keeping that heritage strong through the Farmland Preservation program, providing opportunities for recreation and providing employment opportunities, Ross said.
The FCADC, started in 1960, is charged with creating, implementing and promoting a comprehensive countywide economic development strategy.
It has facilitated nearly 700 projects throughout Franklin County since 1986, resulting in more than $1.5 billion in capital investments, creating or retaining more than 40,000 jobs.