Sometimes you just have to leave Adams County. No, I’m not advocating for people to permanently leave our fantastic county where quality of life is second-to-none. But let me explain…

Leaving the county for training, conferences and other forms of enrichment helps me gain perspective, network with peers and learn so much. The most important step is to bring all that knowledge, gleaned information and skills back to Adams County for its betterment!

Our staff recently traveled to Harrisburg, as we do every spring, for a state-wide gathering of economic development professionals, the Pennsylvania Economic Development Association’s (PEDA) Legislative Conference.

The most compelling part of the conference, for me, was a legislative panel discussion.

The recent rollout of Governor Shapiro’s strategic 10-year economic development plan for the Commonwealth was top of mind for everyone in the room. Interestingly, the five industry sectors targeted for growth, according to the strategic plan, are agriculture, energy, life sciences, manufacturing, and robotics/technology.

As a state, we have to do a better job at retaining our young people. According to the plan, only 42% of our graduates remain in-state as they launch their careers. (I was reminded of this fact a week later, as I attended the Adams County Community Foundation’s scholarship luncheon on May 1st, as 80 area students were awarded more than $160,000 in scholarships. The ACCF has long-supported the idea of creating an Adams County community where people can earn a living wage—and live comfortably without straining to do so. And this is essential to establishing a community to which our young adults want to return.)

The legislative panel also shared their insights on how Governor Shapiro’s budget could impact economic development around the state, including our collective approach to industrial sites and the state’s primary revitalization program, the Keystone Communities Program.

My Alliance colleague Kaycee Kemper’s work intersects with how economic development organizations are addressing childcare, which is affecting community workforces across the state. Kaycee wrote the following summary of her conference takeaways:

The Commonwealth recognizes the need for expanded and new childcare centers to help address the workforce shortage. The Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) loan program, offered by the Commonwealth and administered by the Alliance, can assist for-profit daycare centers in expanding and constructing new centers in Adams County. The Alliance has had the pleasure of working with two top centers in the county: Caterpillar Clubhouse in Fairfield and Little Life Enrichment Center in New Oxford. Both centers have taken advantage of the low-interest, fixed rate financing offered through the PIDA program to provide critical childcare services.

Another barrier to childcare is affordability. We’ve seen a trend since the COVID 19 pandemic with working families choosing to become one-earner households. Parents have had to grapple with low wages and not being able to afford childcare, forcing some to become stay-at-home parents. And the icing on the cake? Childcare workers are some of the lowest-paid wage earners in our region. One may ask: If childcare workers are paid low wages, why is childcare so expensive? The regulations that govern childcare facilities are necessary but are not cheap.

More and more companies are offering onsite childcare services for their employees. In order to maintain their workforce, companies are thinking outside the box to offer solutions.

Switching gears, our Alliance colleague Brady Rodgers contributes his conference takeaways:

Many of our neighboring counties have become warehousing and distribution hotspots along the I-81 and I-83 corridors. These major corridors circle Adams County and we do not see quite as much warehousing in Adams County as a result. One presenter at the PEDA conference was a nonprofit organization named GORail! They serve as an advocate for freight rail, and the economic and environmental benefits the railroad provides.

While Adams County misses out on access to the I-81 and I-83 corridors, we do have an abundance of rail. We have a short line that stretches from Gettysburg College up into Cumberland County owned by Patriot Rail. Our other rail line is a CSX line stretching the width of Adams County from east to west. A few statistics shared by GORail! that surprised me:  

  • Freight railroads take 10.6 million truckloads off Pennsylvania roads annually.  
  • Moving freight by rail instead of trucks reduces greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 75%.

The Alliance team has been working on many new and exciting projects along our rail lines in Adams County. Be on the lookout for some really cool projects coming in the near future.

In summary, it’s easier to attain perspective, whether statewide, nationwide or even a world-view, through conversations with people outside of our normal realm. The Alliance looks forward to sharing and implementing all that we’ve learned, in the weeks, months and even years to come.

The other thing about leaving Adams County? Not that I don’t enjoy traveling, but it helps me appreciate Adams County even more.

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 ( and LinkedIn (Adams Economic Alliance).

This article originally published in the Gettysburg Times, May 9, 2024