Pike County ripe with potential, says new economic development leader

KEYSTONE EDGE, Inovation & Job News
Thursday, March 22, 2012 Writer: Rebecca VanderMeulen
The new face of economic development in Pike County sees plenty of similarities between his new job in the Poconos and his previous work in upstate New York. Michael Sullivan started last month as executive director of Pike County’s chamber of commerce and economic development authority. He’s spent most of his career in Orange County, New York, located north of New York City. When he was working in economic development there in the 1970s, Sullivan says Orange County faced an unemployment rate of about 10 percent. But within a few years it became the fastest-growing county in the state, thanks to new businesses and proximity to New York City. Sullivan thinks Pike County, on the New York and New Jersey state lines, is similar. “It’s not a depressed area, but it has a lot of potential,” he says. Pike County’s advantages include how close it is to New York City and the fact that Interstate 84 runs through it. He also notes the Tax Foundation’s most recent rankings of the states’ business tax climates. That analysis ranked New Jersey as the least business-friendly state in the country and New York was ranked No. 49. In contrast, Pennsylvania was listed as No. 19. One of Sullivan’s major projects is marketing a business park. County economic leaders are strategically targeting specific industries for the park near I-84, but he won’t identify them. He also hopes to bring more stores to the county, including a supermarket.