Measuring progress often means statistics. And don’t get me wrong—I love statistics as much as any economic development professional. But progress also means touching and impacting real lives—the very souls of our Adams County residents. And dare I say—economic development’s got soul, as well.

As I recount our organization’s progress in 2023, into 2024, I’ll be relaying a number of statistics that demonstrate the value we’ve added to Adams County’s quality of life. But I also challenge you to see beyond the numbers and process how these numbers and facts are also impacting Adams County’s residents—the very soul of our community.

Alliance Vice President Kaycee Kemper reports that the Alliance facilitated a total of $2.4 million in low-interest state and federal financing for six Adams County businesses in 2023. (Click here, for our 2023 recap.) Another $2 million in low-interest state funding for two additional businesses will close in the coming months. Because of these eight loans, a total of 168 jobs are being retained and 14 new jobs are being created. These loans represent Adams County’s wide variety in industries: agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and services in the form of a daycare.

The Alliance also facilitated a $2.7 million RACP grant for the construction of the Adams County Historical Society and its Gettysburg Beyond the Battle Museum.

Brady Rodgers, the Alliance’s Director Business and Community Outreach, continues to work closely with the Adams County Broadband Taskforce to complete a broadband study. Working hand-in-hand with county staff, a needs assessment has been completed. Moving forward, efforts are focusing on obtaining funding to deploy fiber in the county’s most critical areas.

The Alliance is beginning a new chapter in its 30+ year history by launching a new loan program designed for homebuyers. The Adams County Homebuyer Assistance Program is currently welcoming its first applicants. This revolving loan program came about thanks to our partnership with the @Home in Adams County initiative, spurred by Adams County’s lack of workforce housing.

Additionally, the Alliance launched the Spark Loan Program, a new revolving fund for Adams County’s small businesses. Eligible uses of funds include working capital, soft costs, inventory and equipment purchase and real estate improvements.

Success and progress are also measured through a number of partnerships and properties.

We continue to work closely with Oxford Township, as they welcome a developer and new businesses to the Berlin Junction Manufacturing Center, formerly known as the home of Alwine Brothers and then Glen-Gery Bricks. Production at the 92-acre tract ceased in 1993, and all sales and activity ceased in 1999. To quote Commissioner Randy Phiel, “The site languished for twenty plus years.” Today, the once-blighted site is coming back to life, thanks to a number of partnerships, an Alliance-facilitated grant and LERTA tax relief program.

Similarly, the Alliance acquired a 50-acre property formerly known as CM Metals, DBA the Gettysburg Foundry. Our organization continues to forge partnerships to redevelop this blighted property and bring it back into productive re-use. The County has designated a large area, including the former Foundry site, in evaluating locations for construction of a new wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) to increase capacity and to support planned economic development projects. Located in close proximity to Gettysburg National Military Park, the Foundry site is strategically located between the Eisenhower Inn, All-Star Sports Complex and Marsh Creek—an area identified for targeted economic growth. A brownfield reuse plan for this site would support the County’s evaluation for a new WWTP and would identify the need for any further environmental assessment of the site.  

The Alliance also continues to partner with the Adams County Technical Institute (ACTI), in their search for a suitable site to build a larger facility. This would expand career and technical education in Adams County, impacting—and planning for—Adams County’s future workforce.

Ok, now let’s be honest: How many of these projects encompass your definition of “economic development?” It’s ok—there’s no judgement here!

As a field, economic development continues to grow and encompass much more than traditional development and redevelopment. As outlined here, much of our work and success focuses on partnerships, relationships, businesses along with homes, business leaders aside homebuyers, properties as well as programs, infrastructure that speaks to industry and our interconnectedness. It all touches our quality of life.

For many years, the economic development field focused almost exclusively on building and business. And while much of our work still certainly encompasses business and economic growth, we (as a profession) no longer have blinders on, blocking our vision of the peripheral yet vital ways business intersects with the workforce, housing and homes, workers as well as residents.

Much of our continued work in 2024 will focus on businesses and properties, funding and infrastructure, but the Alliance will also be supporting the Adams County workforce and helping families achieve home ownership. And as we touch projects that in turn touch residents’ lives, homes and quality of life, that is where success resonates deeper than ever before, down to the very soul and souls of Adams County.

This article originally published as part of the Gettysburg Times’ “Progress Report,” on March 1, 2024