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New Approaches to Economic Development: Looking Beyond the Norm: Provost

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This presentation was delivered at NADO's Annual Training Conference, held in Anchorage, Alaska on September 9-12, 2017.

Every day, across the country in both rural and urban regions and communities, new businesses and industries are emerging on the economic development landscape. Entrepreneurs and small business owners are looking beyond traditional sectors and
launching enterprises that are creating jobs and financial security for employees while also providing services and products that are, in some cases, a bit outside the box. This session will share examples of ways RDOs are working with renewable energy,
cannabis, and recreation/tourism businesses in their regions.

Emily Gojkovich, Economic Development Planner, Southwest NM COG, Silver City, NM
Al Lerma, Director, Business Development and Innovation, Sonoma County EDB, Santa Rosa, CA
Teri Provost, Program Analyst, SEDA-Council of Governments, Lewisburg, PA
Jay Trusty, Executive Director, Southwest Regional Development Commission, Slayton, MN, Moderator

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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New Approaches to Economic Development: Looking Beyond the Norm: Provost

  1. 1. ARC POWER Project on AOAA Page 1 of 2 Thisprojectfocusesona 5-county coal impacted regionincludingColumbia,Montour,Northumberland, Snyder,andUnioncounties todevelopaneconomicdiversificationstrategy. Thisprojectwill focus effortstomarketoutdoorrecreationandtourismas an economicengine toreplace aportionof the economylostbythe coal impacts,as well aspromote the adaptive reuse of anoutdooradventure facility whichisdeeplytiedtothe declineinthe coal industry. These five countiesare servedbySEDA- COG, the Bucknell UniversitySmall BusinessDevelopmentCenterand twolocal tourismpromotion agencies:the SusquehannaRiverValleyVisitorsBureauandthe ColumbiaMontourVisitors Bureau. The decline incoal production,coupledwiththe closing/downsizingof twocoal firedpowerplantsinthe area,have impactedthis5-countyregion. One plant,ownedbySunburyGeneration,locatedonthe borderof SnyderandNorthumberlandCounty closeditsdoorsinMay2014 and laidoff 66 full time employees. The secondcoal firedplant,ownedbyTalenEnergyislocatedinWashingtonville,Montour Countyisswitchingfromcoal to a combinationof coal and natural gas and currentlyemploys approximately200. In July2016 Talenannouncedtheywere planningtocut 29 jobsat the Washingtonvillesite. Itis unclearat thistime if there will be additional layoffsatthissite astheyswitch the plantoverto natural gas. Local powerplantswhich move fromcoal to natural gas require onlya fractionof the employees,comparedtoa coal firedplant,tooperate andmaintaina natural gas fired plant. Thisprojectwill spotlightbusinessandentrepreneurial opportunities inandaroundthe Anthracite OutdoorRecreationArea(AOAA),promote CentralPennsylvaniaasan AssetBasedEconomyandrealize OutdoorRecreationandTourismas an EconomicEngine to revive the economy thatwasdamaged due to reductionof jobsinthe coal industry andthe coal miningsupplychain. The Anthracite OutdoorAdventure Area(AOAA)isanauthoritycreatedin2013 byNorthumberland CountyCommissionerstoaddressthe issue of illegal ridersonthe county-ownedcoal landsbyproviding a safe,regulatedridingareaanda betterexperience forvisitors. The AOAA hasa long-termleasetorun the outdoorfacilityandprovidesleadershipandmaintenance tothousandsof acresof abandonedcoal mine land. A successful project - inwhichoriginallyARCparticipated - isutilizingthe 7,000 acres of abandonedcoal mine landto create an off-roadparadise,the AnthraciteOutdoorAdventureArea(AOAA). Milesand milesof trailswere createdspecificallyforenthusiastswhichoffermildtowildexperiences.Groupsand individualstravel acrossthe country,traileringtheirvehicles,toparticipate ingroupeventsaswell asin individualadventures. Since openingin2014, no active marketingbythe AOAA hasbeendone except by wordof mouthandits recentlaunchof a website. The visionforthisnew projectbeginswith expandingthatfacilityandpromotingitnationally.Increasedvisitorsneedplaces tostay, eatand repair theirvehicleswhiletheyare here. The visitorswill alsoneedactivitiesforoff hoursandforthose in theirfamilywhowouldprefernottoget muddy. Suchactivitiesinclude farmers’markets,wellnessspas, musicfestivals,summercamps,nature education,birdwatching, boating,biking,hiking andgolf courses.Those needsprovidecountless opportunitiesforlocal businesses,entrepreneurs,and employees. Visitorsfrequently tryotherattractionsorparticipate inotheroutdooractivitieswhile here. Throughoutthe 5-countyregionthere are a numberof outdoorrecreation/tourismactivitiesthatcan serve asan economicenginewithinthe community.
  2. 2. ARC POWER Project on AOAA Write-up for NADO Awards (Continued) Page 2 of 2 Specifically,thisprojectinvolves:  The constructionof a EMS/cell towertoprovide 911 and cellularcommunications/broadbandto the Anthracite OutdoorAdventureArea.  Designingandconstructing15 milesof new trailswithinthe AOAA facility.  Developingin-facilitycampgroundinfrastructurethatwill create 6new jobsincludingan OperationsManager,Maintenance,Reservationsand3-parttime customerservice representatives;  Thisprojectwouldprovide ‘access’ (marketing/advertising) tothe larger‘market’of outdoor enthusiastsfornotonlythe AOAA butalsoall of the ancillaryservice companies(motels, restaurants,gasstations,car washes,etc.) andto otherarea attractionswhichmightbe of interesttothe visitors.  Providingentrepreneurial activitiestoenable the populationtocapitalize onthe increase in tourismprovidedbythe AOAA includingrestaurants,lodging,customfabricationshops,etc.  Coordinatedmarketingbylocal touristagenciesfocusingonthe AOAA’soutdooractivities.  Work withBloomsburgUniversitytoprovide researchonthe economicimpactsof the AOAA and track the impactsof the AOAA withinthe 5-countyprojectregion. Watch a videofrom www.aoaatrails.com toshowcase whatthe AOAA trailslookliketoday.

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