Since 2011, the Greater Reading Economic Partnership (GREP) has seen a significant uptick in overall prospect activity. Fortunately, many of these prospects have resulted in actual projects coming to successful fruition in various locations throughout the Greater Reading region, which consists of all of Berks County and at times, even beyond.
A recent Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry report indicated that approximately 4,400 more Berks County residents had jobs this July than they did in July, 2011. While GREP – the former Berks Economic Partnership – was not involved with every project that brought or kept jobs in the region, the organization played an important role with over a dozen different projects generating over 2,500 jobs in the last 18 months or more.
GREP has already been involved with eight successful projects this year. These projects have generated almost 1,750 jobs for the region, with a significant majority of those jobs being new to the area.
While GREP is significantly focused on working with existing businesses assisting them to grow and stay in the region, many of the larger projects over the last 12 months have involved companies that are new to the area due to Greater Reading’s pristine location and a well-perceived workforce and lower cost of doing business.
Furthermore, Greater Reading is on a short list for a myriad number of additional projects, and, the organization is working with approximately 140 different companies at various stages of a growth or expansion process in Greater Reading.
Several companies made the decision to initiate projects in 2012 after having deliberated for some time – in some cases for over one or two years – because of an uptick in the overall economy. Other companies are continuing to see extremely strong growth due to their product offerings that fit well with America’s overall economy today.
Certainly, the region continues to be known as a very strong and viable location for expanding all types of manufacturing operations – particularly those in the advanced and diversified manufacturing sectors. As everyone who is involved with economic development knows, there are times when the site selection process can extend for a very long period of time, or be culminated within a few months: it all depends upon a given company’s specific needs.
Since 2005, GREP has been involved with over 110 different projects which have resulted in approximately 9,350 jobs being retained, grown or attracted to the region.
GREP has played a significant role in helping to drive prosperity and economic development throughout Greater Reading. However, the organization does not work in a vacuum: in almost all instances, we have partnered with other local economic development organizations in order to provide a seamless ability for companies to get all of the information that they need in order to make a locational determination with one central point of contact.
While we are extremely pleased with the positive results that we have seen over the last year and a half especially, there is much work that still needs to be done. GREP will continue doing as much as we can to continue to highlight all of the extraordinarily positive competitive advantages that this region has to offer in terms of a site selection and expansion process.
Furthermore, this organization has been extremely fortunate to have an unbelievably dedicated and talented team of professionals within the organization as well as remarkably dedicated individuals serving on GREP’s Board of Directors.
--Jon C. Scott, President and CEO