Berks County has unveiled a new initiative to help boost the local economy.
At an operations meeting Tuesday, the commissioners celebrated the launch of IMAGINE Berks. The effort will result in a new economic development strategic action plan for the county.
Pamela Shupp Menet, the director of economic development for the county, said the eight-month process will include listening tours, community discussions and detailed information to craft a plan that will then guide the county’s economic development efforts for the next five years.
She said the plan will focus on fostering a strong and resilient county economy. It will do this by exploring challenges and opportunities like encouraging sustainable land development, suggesting possible local regulatory and tax policies and reviewing Berks’ market positioning to support existing businesses, new companies and entrepreneurship.
“This plan will help us evaluate and guide our actions and resources so that we collectively think about our economic health and building on our unique strengths and assets,” Shupp Menet said. “We want our entire community to get involved so that we can fully imagine Berks County’s future.”
The county has hired Fourth Economy, an economic and community development consulting firm, to manage the creation of the plan at a cost not to exceed $195,775. Shupp Menet said their expertise and vision, along with community feedback gathered throughout the county, will help devise a plan that is inclusive and innovative.
Rich Overmoyer, CEO of Fourth Economy, told the commissioners Tuesday that his team is fully committed to developing a plan that is feasible and can easily be put into action.
“We want to make sure the plan is based on the reality of what people are experiencing in the community,” he said. “We want to make sure we are identifying areas of investment that can make a difference for both businesses and residents as we move forward.”
In addition to the consulting firm, an advisory committee made up of community leaders representing a diverse group of businesses will also help steer the project.
“Effective economic development doesn’t happen by chance,” Commissioners Chairman Christian Leinbach said. “It takes a deliberative process that includes key private sector stakeholders that reflect our diverse community. This approach results in a grassroots economic development strategy that highlights the values and strengths of Berks County.”
Shupp Menet will serve as the project manager and oversee the IMAGINE Berks initiative with the following team: Ken Pick of the Berks County Redevelopment Authority; David Hunter and Ashley Showers of the Berks County Planning Commission; Jeremy Zaborowski of the Berks County Industrial Development Authority; and Derek Harris, the economic development coordinator for the county.
The community can learn more about IMAGINE Berks and provide input about what they would like to see in the plan at imagineberks.org.
Source: Berkshire mont