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Commissioners mull countywide economic development study

The Centre County commissioners are considering implementing a countywide economic development plan.
The Centre County commissioners are considering implementing a countywide economic development plan. Centre Daily Times, file

The Centre County Commissioners are considering implementation of an economic development study, which will offer a comprehensive look into the county’s economic growth.

The study was introduced to the board on Thursday by county Commissioner Mark Higgins and it will be conducted by the Penn State Extension Economic and Community Development Team.

The goal of the study is to identify areas of the county that are experiencing or maintaining growth and better understand the reasons why some areas are struggling.

In 2013 the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County conducted a similar study in support of the 3B33 initiative, which proposed a plan for the Centre Region to reach $3 billion of private-sector growth by 2033.

“The 3B33 initiative was well-done, but it focused on just the Centre Region not the entire county,” Higgins said. “This study is an opportunity to look at government, private sector and nonprofits all across the county.”

Penn State recently conducted a study for Cumberland County, which is the fastest-growing county in the state, according to Higgins. The university has conducted studies for several counties throughout the country, but Pennsylvania counties will receive a discount because of proximity to the university. With the discount applied, the study is expected to cost $3,500.

Higgins said the study could be most useful for analyzing economic growth in stronger areas and continuing to build on the momentum, but at the same time understanding why there has been success.

“The project objective would be to develop an economic assessment and discussion guide to help us develop a more comprehensive economic development strategy moving forward,” Higgins said.

A vote on the future of the study is expected by the end of the year.

Leon Valsechi: 814-231-4631, @leon_valsechi

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