By Beth Brelje, Pocono Record Writer, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 8, 2014
Michael Sullivan, back in the saddle again Tuesday as leader of Pike County’s Economic Development Authority, outlined his strategy for job creation in Pike.
Sullivan left Pike in May to take a job leading the Orange County Partnership in New York. But at the start of 2014, Sullivan was rehired at the Pike County Economic Development Authority.
The changes were for personal reasons, he said, and each time he left a position, it was on positive terms.
Pike’s economic problems
Sullivan jumped right back into action by authoring a report, “Strategic steps to reinvigorate the Pike County economy.”
In it, he describes Pike County’s chief industries as homebuilding and tourism, both hit hard by the recession.
To illustrate the loss of construction jobs, Sullivan’s report said that in 2004, Pike County issued 1,211 building permits, but in the first 11 months of 2013, it issued just 68.
Earnings are lower in Pike, where the average weekly wage is $599, compared with Monroe County at $778, according to March 2013 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Pike’s economic promise
In the past year, three companies have made moves promising more than 600 jobs in Pike County. The expansion of LP Cylinders in Shohola brings an additional 35 jobs.In the past year, three companies have made moves promising more than 600 jobs in Pike County. The expansion of LP Cylinders in Shohola brings an additional 35 jobs.
The sale of a business park in Blooming Grove Township to gun-maker Kahr Arms is complete and, in time, that will bring an additional 200 jobs.
Econo-Pak, one of the nation’s largest food repackaging firms, has moved into Milford Township and soon will bringing 400 more jobs to the region.
Instead of relying so heavily on construction and tourism jobs, Pike needs to diversify job opportunities. Sullivan said.
A plan to prosper
One roadblock to bringing new industry to the county is a lack of land with existing infrastructure: water, sewage and gas.
Sullivan plans to aggressively market Pike County to industries that are not big users of water and sewage. Industries that could be a good fit in Pike may be pharmaceutical, fabricated metal manufacturing, machine shops and electronics manufacturing.
At the same time, the authority will seek to develop infrastructure, including a sewage system along Routes 6/209, and in other areas of the county.