By Lisa Mickles, THURSDAY, JANUARY 9, 2014
MILFORD — After a six-month hiatus from Pike County, Mike Sullivan is back as the Executive Director of the Pike County Economic Development Authority (PCEDA). In June, Sullivan left his joint position as Director of both the Pike County Chamber and PCEDA to take a position in New York at the Orange County Partnership as their business attraction director.
In an interview, Sullivan said he is excited to be back in Pike County and plans on rolling out a new economic development program that will encourage, promote and facilitate “thoughtful” economic development activity and economic diversification in the county. In a nutshell that means attracting investors to the area with businesses that are not dependent on centralized water and sewer. Currently he is soliciting two local investors for industrial “park” property with the goal of encouraging them to develop the land as business and industrial parks. He exampled a perfect candidate to be a small electrical appliance manufacturing company since that type of business does not require the use of water for manufacturing purposes.
Sullivan said it is his intention to attract better paying jobs to the area since most of the jobs in Pike County are tourism, retail or home building related. So far, Sullivan was instrumental in bringing a buyer to the table to purchase the Pike County Business Park, expanding Shohola’s propane cylinder refurbishing business, all through the 5-year tax abatement program, as well as finding tenants for the Altec Lansing building. Once the businesses are fully operational it would bring 450 to 500 new jobs to the area.
Working in conjunction with the county commissioners, Sullivan has laid out a comprehensive plan called the Strategic Steps to Reinvigorate the Pike County Economy for 2014. The plan highlights the area, which is categorized as ideally situated within the tri-state area as a great place to live, work and raise children made up of small picturesque villages largely made up of owner-occupied houses and small town centers.
The plan noted how the county’s economy suffered because of the U.S. recession, which still continues today. It stated that in 2004 there were 1,211 building permits issued, with only 68 permits issued countywide for the first 11 months of 2013.
The first step of the process to aid in the county’s economic development program is marketing the area, which will include working with Realtors throughout the tri-state area as well as utilizing PP&L and Orange and Rockland Utilities since they use their affiliations with different economic development organizations. In addition, there will be a push to reach out to municipalities and other governmental agencies to define companies by location, size and growth factors and potential properties that might be feasible for business or industrial parks. Since much of the land in Pike County has been classified as gameland, state or federally owned, it limits the amount of property that can be developed.
“We want to encourage private ownership and investment in business and industrial parks,” said Sullivan. He went on to say that “the first beneficiaries that we should encourage are those who privately invest in developable lands. The goal here is to use little or no public money in developing this business and industrial parks… for complete story, get this week’s issue.