By Howard J. Grossman, AICP
To focus attention on economic development, there is a need to network the economy of the Pocono-Northeast. By this is meant the ability to bring together the various elements that dictate the extent to which the economy can grow and change for the better.
This can be accomplished through networking of actions and entities that have something to do with economic development.
The people, entities or organizations, political bodies, communities, natural resources and a host of other components help secure a framework for economic development beyond traditional sources.
A full range of economic development to be undertaken across the region in transportation systems, the arts and cultural facilities, media components, social services, environmental assets, physical features and people willing to volunteer their time and in some cases, money enable this networking.
The new approach makes it imperative that there be a global setting to how the economy is handled, especially in the years ahead. The region cannot ignore foreign entanglements and many steps are made by the state to have offices and representatives in different locations worldwide.
The industrial development authority (PIDA) program, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and “the greatest regional economic comeback in the history of the United States” are elements that have marked a major stage in the region’s economic history.
The networked economy that will drive the engine of the future will be comprised of political leadership from those who chose to actively participate at the electoral level and (perhaps) the role of young leaders who graduate from the many leadership programs that now exist inside the region.
What may be needed is a regional leadership program, since it is a next step in the process of building a networked support for political leadership across the region. Another step would be a social service analysis similar to what former Lt. Governor William Scranton III did many years ago statewide. Such an activity within the region would become an important part of the regional networked economy.
Still, another factor would be increasing an environmental capacity to meet the needs of greenways, parks, open space and other techniques that are critical to a better quality of life for residents and workers in the region of all age groups.
The closeness of the economy to the environment was met in the 1970s when the then Economic Development Council of Northeastern Pennsylvania( EDCNP) completed the first regional plan in the history of the region with an environmental base to it. That plan was used for many years and set a tone for at least a decade after Tropical Storm Agnes wrecked a good part of the region in 1972. An updated plan with similar processes would be an important part of a networked economy or the region.
Still another avenue to pursue would be a new look at all of the communities in the region to determine their current and future role. Are they sufficiently organized and structured to meet the needs of a networked economy? They might well be, however, a new look at their capability would be helpful in identifying their capacity for the future as part of a networked economy.
The natural resources of the region have always been a critical part of the networked economy, but have they been examined in a recent context for determining how they fit into the theme of a future networked economy? Some analysis should be made of the various features that are critical to how the economy will work in the next decades , A demographic profile should be evaluated though the fine work of the NEPA Alliance. This should include an analysis of worker performance and trained ability to meet the needs of the regional economy ahead.
The various assets such as transportation, cultural and sports facilities and venues, travel development and tourist agencies, all economic development organizations and may others form part of the networked economy of the Pocono-Northeast. A listing of all components and a brief statement as to their role would be an important contribution to a basic framework of support that will enhance the ability of the present economy to support the decades of regional life in the years ahead.
Howard J. Grossman is the former executive director of EDCNP, now NEPA Alliance. Email him at GrossmanHJ@aol.com