Generally, the action plan builds on findings from the SWOT analysis and incorporates elements from other regional plans. More specifically, the action plan identifies the overall vision, priorities, goals, strategies, partners, regional projects, and funding opportunities to guide implementation of the CEDS and Resiliency Plan in the region over the next five years. Essentially, the action plan serves as a roadmap for public and private entities involved in economic and community development efforts throughout the six-county region, to help coordinate their resources to achieve the greatest impact.
North Central Pennsylvania will become a year-round destination for work and recreation, for commerce, and for living. Residents will be trained for good jobs created by a growing, diversified, and resilient economy supported by sustained, coordinated investment in critical infrastructure.
Based on key themes discovered during the stakeholder input phase and SWOT analysis, the CEDS Resilience Subcommittee determined the following four priorities serve as the foundation for the action plan:
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For each strategic priority, the action plan includes goals, strategies, partners, and regional projects. The guiding principles that shaped the projects and initiatives in the action plan include the following:
- Expand and strengthen employment and education opportunities that provide stable family wage jobs.
- Invest in entrepreneurship and home-grown business development to build a sustainable, diverse economy.
- Preserve and invest in the region’s natural and cultural assets to strengthen economic potential.
- Create and/or improve reliable, consistent access to critical infrastructure in North Central Pennsylvania.
- Provide sufficient availability of right-sized, right-priced housing throughout each county within the North Central Pennsylvania region.
Each Regional Projects section (in the following pages) identifies and prioritizes vital projects, programs, and activities that are most likely to address the region’s greatest needs and/or will increase the region’s overall economic competitiveness upon completion. Inclusion of a project in the CEDS indicates it is aligned with regional goals for growth, but at varying degrees. While including a project in the CEDS in no way guarantees funding or timely implementation, it is crucial for North Central to identify the projects and initiatives that will maximize regional impact and have the greatest chance for success.
During March and April 2022, regional projects were solicited through an open call process via an online project intake form on North Central’s website. Submitted projects were reviewed, evaluated, and scored by members of North Central’s staff in accordance with the approved rubric. The scoring rubric included merit-based criteria such as anticipated timeline, matching funds, current project status, existing support, and alignment with CEDS guiding principles.
All projects submitted prior to the posted deadline are acknowledged in the CEDS, as per EDA requirements, but top scoring projects will be prioritized as vital projects over the next five years. The purpose of this project prioritization is to publicly acknowledge and strategically focus on the projects and initiatives that are likely to result in the most significant progress towards the region’s economic development goals as described in the CEDS.
- Assess existing planning efforts related to public infrastructure development, and identify gaps throughout the region.
- Collaborate and coordinate with municipalities and counties on infrastructure planning, including Capital Improvement Plans (CIP), comprehensive / master plans, hazard mitigation plans, etc.
- On an annual basis, assess all public infrastructure assets to determine existing conditions and specific deficiencies.
- Partner with counties and municipalities to consolidate all infrastructure maps and data into a central GIS platform and database, accessible to all local governments in the region.
- Prioritize and budget for short-term and long-term public infrastructure projects.
- Identify funding sources for all infrastructure projects, including local match (cash and in-kind) capacity.
- Identify regionally-impactful infrastructure project(s) to submit to the Pennsylvania congressional delegation in the form of a Congressionally-Directed Spending request.
- Coordinate all transportation-related projects and investments through North Central’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) to ensure alignment with regional goals and appropriate coordination of resources.
- Support and promote the modernization of infrastructure technologies such as broadband Internet, and green energy throughout the region.
- Maintain and expand the region’s infrastructure to address the needs of existing businesses and residences, as well accommodate the needs of new and expanding businesses and populations.
- Encourage the development of interconnected, multi-modal transportation systems with alternative travel networks and connections such as bike lanes, walkable communities, rideshare options, and charging stations.
- Assess existing planning efforts related to housing, and identify gaps throughout the region.
- Collaborate and coordinate with municipalities and counties on housing planning, including Housing Needs Assessments, Housing Action Plans, Affordable Housing Strategies, etc.
- Informed by plans and studies, determine housing supply and demand figures as well as types of housing (i.e. new development, rehabilitation of existing structures, for sale, for rent, etc.).
- Inventory local developers and general contractors then engage them regularly to determine barriers and challenges for new housing development and/or rehabilitation of units throughout the region.
- Identify federal, state, and private funding sources that can be leveraged for housing – including planning, architectural and engineering, construction, and home affordability.
- Support the development of a variety of housing types – apartments, condominiums, townhomes, and single family homes – to meet the needs and budgets of a wider range of households.
- Prioritize programs, resources, and solutions that address the rehabilitation and/or demolition of blighted, problem properties.
- Address employment and housing imbalances by developing localized solutions to create or enhance neighborhoods located closer to city centers (i.e. downtown / main street) and commercial nodes as a means to minimize transportation challenges experienced by workers and job seekers.
- Assess, rehabilitate, and maintain public facilities to provide efficient delivery of public services to all residents.
- Incorporate public facilities, including parks, community centers, and public transit, into comprehensive plans and/or CIPS to plan and budget annually for public service offerings, regular maintenance, rehabilitation of facilities.
- Evaluate and improve public service offerings to engage a broader range of residents.
- Prioritize the allocation of resources to support continued investment in community services, facilities, and infrastructure, critical to serving basic community functions.
- Establish connections between public transit, housing, and employment centers – walkable design with pedestrians as the highest priority
Bradford Water Authority - Treatment Plan and Main Line Project
Workforce & Entrepreneurship
- Regularly engage with Workforce Solutions for North Central Pennsylvania to coordinate with and participate in workforce development activities throughout the region.
- Engage regional employers – large and small – to evaluate job openings, skills gaps, training opportunities, and challenges to develop sustainable talent pipelines.
- Inventory training providers, including higher education and nonprofit organizations, to determine types of credentials (i.e. degrees, certificates, etc.) offered to participants.
- Assess the regional labor market to diagnose challenges and barriers for job seekers, incumbent workers, dislocated workers, and new entrants to the workforce.
- Prioritize programs that increase access to formal, informal, and nonformal education across the workforce pipeline.
- Leverage a variety of training and education methods, including dual enrollment programs, apprenticeships, traditional classroom courses, internships, mentorship programs, and more.
- Create a robust outreach and recruitment effort to make people aware of local employers, job availability, training and education opportunities connected to these jobs, potential earnings and career advancement, etc.
- Ensure individuals are connected to the training and resources they need to be successful (ex. housing, tuition assistance, transportation, mental health counseling, etc.).
- Create and execute a marketing strategy revolving around success stories about individuals who were trained and employed in North Central Pennsylvania.
- Inventory Entrepreneurial Support Organizations (ESO) in the region and determine their service areas (i.e. local vs. multi-county) to identify gaps.
- Engage ESOs, chambers of commerce, higher education institutions, and economic development organizations to determine if/how they are providing services to strengthen small business development in the region.
- Determine if programming and resource gaps for small businesses and entrepreneurs exist then collaborate with strategic partners to address these gaps, within capacity and financial constraints.
- Encourage the development and/or expansion of training programs and business support services which will support the regional business ecosystem (ex. Hospitality Training and Business Development Institute).
- Promote the PA Business One-Stop Shop as a central hub of information that offers easy access to programs, resources, and information related to doing business in the North Central region.
- Encourage cross-promotion of the PA Business One-Stop Shop on multiple websites to drive small businesses and entrepreneurs to the website.
- Reinforce and strengthen regional industry clusters and industries of local importance, identifying opportunities to network or “cluster” businesses for supply chain resilience.
- Expose middle school and high school students to local industry to demonstrate the types of the jobs that exist throughout the region, and connect them with the career pathways to become gainfully employed in North Central.
- Continue to support collaborative efforts, such as Discover PA Six, to connect residents, non-residents, workers, and job seekers alike with critical information such as job opportunities, housing availability, and cultural/recreational amenities in the region.
- Explore incentive programs to keep young people anchored in the region.
- Engage regional employers to determine if/what incentives they are offering their workers and/or prospective employees, and promote these offerings on the Discover PA Six website.
- Promote the North Central region as a high quality destination to live, work, and play – with an emphasis on areas with solid broadband connectivity to attract and retain remote workers.
- Promotion of remote work options as a regional talent recruitment tool
- Collaborate with area high schools and higher education to tap into their alumni networks and encourage potential “boomerangs” to move back to the region.
Natural Resources & Tourism
- Encourage and foster the development of sustainable strategies that will support the preservation of natural resources.
- Support existing and new programs designed to cultivate a healthy relationship between people and the environment.
- Pursue opportunities to assess and cleanup brownfield properties throughout the region.
- Encourage and support efforts to understand the impact of tourism on the region in order to develop solid and adequate policies for regional and tourism development.
- Support the growth of tourism and value-added natural resource industries (e.g ecotourism, sustainable farming, and local food and beverage production) to enhance economic opportunities across the region.
- Leverage the economic impact of tourism by contributing to maintenance and improvement of the conservation status by returning a portion of revenues from the protected area.
- Minimize negative impacts of tourism on the local community and its members to achieve social sustainability. Support forms of tourism which do not disturb and interrupt the daily life of the population from tourist destinations.
- Leverage the local economic benefits as a result of tourism development to achieve regional economic sustainability.
- Support the coordination of activities by local and/or regional partners to grow nature and heritage tourism in the region in a way that creates jobs, diversifies local economies, inspires stewardship and improves quality of life.
Quality of Life
- Encourage the development of programs that preserve affordable resident access to attractions, resources, and services that might be otherwise priced for tourism markets.
- Encourage the ongoing development of Recreation Infrastructure (trails, indoor/outdoor facilities, parks, etc.) that serves the needs of both resident and visiting populations.
- Ensure that all local residents, including young people, have connections and opportunities related to nearby outdoor assets to foster community pride, good stewardship, and local economic benefits.
- Inventory arts and cultural organizations throughout the region, assess programmatic offerings, and build a coalition of artists and makers to foster collaborative efforts.
- Support and promote the development of and funding for Arts and Culture as a cohesive industry cluster.
- Support and encourage the introduction of capacity-building efforts for nonprofit arts and cultural organizations.
- Support business development in the arts by utilizing existing state networks, tapping state university systems, developing virtual networks, and supporting entrepreneurial collaborations.
- Provide a platform for artisans to sell their work through the region and online in the global marketplace.
- Support the region’s local Main Street or downtown improvement programs in an effort to create healthier, more vibrant community cores. Increase financial and volunteer contributions for community events / Main Street development initiatives.
- Support capacity building initiatives designed to help local leaders and elected officials understand their role in driving community livability and redevelopment projects.
- Prioritize transit-oriented development
- Improve access to quality and affordable healthcare throughout the region.
- Promote primary prevention strategies and healthy built environments as ways to reduce healthcare needs.
- Leverage telehealth to address physical and mental health challenges for residents throughout the region.
- Enhance linkages between clinical care and community health prevention activities, including education programs, screening activities, etc. to improve health outcomes in targeted underserved communities and/or populations.
- Support and promote the expansion of equitable access to comprehensive, community-based, innovative, and culturally-competent healthcare services.
- Assess the institutional health of the region’s hospitals and medical clinics to determine long-term viability.
- Work with school boards and institutions to ensure high-quality education is provided to all students regardless of their income, background, or ability. • Support the development and implementation of apprenticeship programs that lead to certifications and associate degrees in the region’s most critically needed career pathways.