Through this process, residents of Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Jefferson, McKean and Potter counties highlighted opportunities for individual growth and stability within a broader regional strategy. Representatives from each county were invited to seat a formally established CEDS Committee and a more focus-rich Resilience Subcommittee. Additionally, with an emphasis on the value and importance of lived experiences and the broader public voice, opportunities for community input and engagement process were presented in several different formats, including public input sessions, an online public survey, focus groups and targeted one-on-one interviews.
CEDS Committee & Resilience Sub-Committee
The North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission, as the regional planning agency for a six-county footprint, established the North Central Pennsylvania Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Committee or “CEDS Committee’’. This voluntarily staffed committee fulfills a requirement of the Economic Development Authority and makes it possible for North Central to apply for financial assistance under the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDAs) Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Programs. More importantly, the diverse regional representation serving this committee allows for fair and equitable advocacy in community and economic development planning, and in related economic development activities of broad geographic significance.
Within the CEDS Committee, a focused Resilience Subcommittee was established to provide guidance and feedback throughout the development of the revised CEDS document, ensuring that the new CEDS and Resiliency Plan will address the region’s development and growth, identify economic vulnerabilities and opportunities, and strategize short-term recovery as well as long-term resiliency.
Public Visioning Meetings
Public input sessions were conducted using a hybrid approach, available for in-person participation and virtual participation. This method allowed for increased accessibility and interaction throughout a period still marked by adherence to certain Covid-19 protocols.
Six sessions were conducted from June 22-24, 2021 garnering direct participation from 235 residents. For those interested in joining the live sessions but unable to attend, a regional survey was also conducted.
Residents of Elk, Cameron, Clearfield, McKean, Potter, and Jefferson Counties were invited to share personal perspectives about the current conditions affecting life in the region.
A survey designed to elicit feedback and input informing the development of the interactive CEDS was made available in print and online for increased stakeholder engagement and was completed by 139 participants.
Intent on developing a better understanding of critical focus areas for exploration with the CEDS process, targeted groups were invited to participate in facilitated conversations around: Small Business & Entrepreneurship, Tourism, Large Employers & Utilities, Workforce Development, K-12 Education, and Transportation & Infrastructure.
These focus groups provided the opportunity for individuals to express their views in detail, to hear the opinions of others and to collectively develop resolutions to problems. During the week of October 13, 2021 over 40 individuals were engaged across six focus areas, sharing and debating both technical and anecdotal information, which informed the development of goals and strategies within the revised CEDS.
One-on-one interviews were conducted with individuals identified as potential focus group participants who could not attend their respective meetings and/or were set aside as those who would be better suited for one-on-one interviews given the significance of their perspective on the CEDS and economic trends of the region.
Specifically, interviews were conducted with representatives of the Pennsylvania Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship team, Potter County Conservation, and the Clearfield County Farm Bureau.