By Beth Brelje, Pocono Record Writer, THURSDAY, JANUARY 9, 2014
PIKE COUNTY – Michael Sullivan, back in the saddle again 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 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 home building 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, just 68 building permits were issued in the county.
Earnings are lower in Pike where the average weekly wage is $599 compared to Monroe County at $778, according to March 2013 numbers from the Bureau of Labor and 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.
The sale of the business park in Blooming Grove Township to gunmaker 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.
• • • Pike’s plan to prosper
One roadblock to bringing new industry to the county is a lack of land with existing infrastructure: water and sewer and gas.
Sullivan plans to aggressively market Pike County to industries that are not big users of water and sewer. 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 sewer system along Routes 6/209, and in other areas of the county.
The authority will spend little or no public money for developing business parks, but instead encourage private investment in that type of real estate.
The authority also will treat the Sterling Business Park in Wayne County as its own, and promote it to potential businesses. It is just two miles from the Pike County border, right off Interstate 84, and an easy commute for many Pike residents.