How often do you use the word “prep?” I’m prepping for a meeting. I need my prep time. We’re prepping for a great school year.
To get prepped is a good thing. It means we’re preparing. But we’re so busy, we can’t take the time to use the full word, so we shorten it to “prep.”
In our economic development world, we honestly have far too many acronyms—but PREP is a wonderful one, because it stands for Partnerships for Regional Economic Performance. It’s basically a South Central Pennsylvania partnership for economic development organizations. Collectively, we are prepping our region for success! Sharing our knowledge and expertise across county lines makes our region stronger.
Ranked as the Commonwealth’s third-largest region, South Central Pennsylvania (SCPA) has recorded a notable 6.8% population growth from 2010 to 2020, with ongoing projections indicating consistent expansion. Contributing significantly to the state’s business revenue (17%) and Commonwealth’s exports (22.4%), SCPA maintains its appeal to site selectors and fosters untapped opportunities.
Encompassing Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, and York counties, SCPA boasts robust economies across its Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), including Gettysburg, Harrisburg-Carlisle, Lancaster, York, Chambersburg-Hagerstown, and Lebanon. These MSAs consistently display lower unemployment rates compared to the state and national averages, frequently ranking high in Forbes’ “Best Places to Live” and “Best Places to Raise a Family.”
Our regional goals include collaboration (or maybe, in going with our “prep” theme, I should say “collabs”) on business consulting including recovery from the pandemic, business training and education, lending programs, community development, workforce development (because how many of our residents cross our county lines regularly to serve within our collective SCPA workforce?), international trade with help from our partners at The World Trade Center Harrisburg, and manufacturing assistance from two partners in York County—MANTEC and The Manufacturers’ Association. Many PREP partners share office locations throughout the region or even sit on each other’s boards of directors.
South Central PREP partners, including the Alliance, meet quarterly throughout the year to discuss strategies and share information to improve local programs. These meetings give us regular opportunity to discuss business needs, opportunities, trends, operations and state funding.
Some projects are larger than what one partner can complete or, due to the unique geography of our area, sometimes projects extend beyond a single county and may need additional resources or partnerships to be completed. Regionally, we utilize the PREP network to identify and work on big-picture issues, such as broadband access.
There are even ways for you to get involved and think regionally! SCPA has six major industry sectors: Manufacturing, Technology, Construction, Logistics & Transportation, Healthcare, and Hospitality. There has been interest from the business community in forming sector partnerships in many of these areas.
Currently there are three active sector partnerships in our region with a number of additional sector groups scheduled to get organized in the near future. Please reach out and let us know if you’d like to connect with your regional peers. Are you prepped for collaboration? We would be happy to prep you on the details!
Robin Fitzpatrick is President of Adams Economic Alliance, which comprises three organizations: The Adams County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC), the Adams County Industrial Development Authority (ACIDA) and the Adams County General Authority (ACGA). Follow us on Twitter (@AdamsAlliance), Facebook (Facebook.com/AdamsAlliance) and LinkedIn (Adams Economic Alliance).
This article originally published in the Gettysburg Times, September 14, 2023