Current Work Plan, 2017-2018

Goal I – Advocate for the greater possibilities of regional opportunities by broadening our outreach associated with new and existing economic development opportunities.

After decades of erosion of our industrial economic foundation, our region has been negatively impacted by out-migration of living wage jobs and, consequently, loss of population. Despite the development of quality health care services and the strong presences of multiple institutions of higher education, population growth continues to be stunted, negatively impacting key measures of a viable community - population growth and new business development. While elements of aging infrastructure such as limited transportation systems and broadband capacity serve as deterrents to increased private sector development, we are poised to acknowledge and collaborate on the greater possibility of regional economic opportunities will seek to broaden our business sector profile, capitalize on natural, historic and agricultural assets, and enhance funding resources through strategic growth initiatives.

Objectives

  1. Convene regional resources and talent to advance the Broadband infrastructure through collaborative funding initiatives and public forums.
  2. Continue to advance the North/South Appalachian Highway and explore the legitimacy of additional transportation projects.
    • Maintain funding for Tier 2 Study for US 220 S (Maryland and West Virginia)
    • Facilitate continued dialogue with MD and PA Departments of Transportation to prioritize Route 219 from Meyersdale to I-68 for completion
    • Establish partnerships to investigate the ability to develop and expand inland port connections and opportunities
    • Identify regional needs and facilitate conversation to expand services for local airports.
    • Engage providers of rural transit to explore opportunities to broaden the local, inter-county connection with the TGCC service area.
  3. Champion initiatives that will serve to develop and support long term economic benefits across the region by engaging elected officials and economic development professionals to share their perspectives for future development efforts.
    • Establish a regional asset map database that will include general infrastructure benefits, workforce numbers and labor force commutes, to support a stronger link among county partners and to enhance the services they currently provide.
    • Promote entrepreneurship through local venues and established partnerships within community agencies and higher education and bridging the gaps in the regional support system that will improve economic conditions, support small business growth and create jobs.
    • Advocate for a regional approach to addressing the Opioid epidemic in our region by establishing an Addiction Forum that will be held annually and by engaging leaders in the law enforcement, faith, business, healthcare, pharmaceutical and abuse treatment communities, as well as local, state, and federal elected officials.
    • Establish a semi-annual or annual summit with leaders in the public and private sector to share goals and challenges that would benefit from a regional application of working for the common good.
  4. Support and advocate for county and state legislative policies that will encourage prospective tax reform opportunities, create tax incentive programs, inspire job growth, identify joint legislative policies and strengthen the support through regional collaborations.
  5. Educate state government officials on the unique energy opportunities available and seek their support to create expanded services in the areas of thermal energy, biomass, coal, timber, natural gas, wind and solar.
    • Explore opportunities created through regional momentum and best practices in the harvesting of Marcellus shale
    • Collaborate with industry leaders and elected officials to establish an Energy Production Enterprise Zone (e.g. Energy Corridor).
    • Advocate for the creation of tax credits and new business incentives to encourage and welcome all forms of energy development.
    • Continue Regional Energy Forums to showcase the value of the numerous energy sources throughout the region.

Goal II - Align educational resources to meet the workforce and economic development needs of the region.

Preparing students for the world of work is vital and the business community universally recognizes the importance of education as it relates to a positive economic environment. To meet this demand, an active collaboration between the region’s public school systems, community colleges, universities and the business community must collaborate at levels that must continue to be fostered and sustained. Such collaboration will include learning about, understanding and responding to existing and anticipated workforce needs within our region, and developing educational programs and services to get more students the training, credentials, certifications and degrees needed for our region’s economic growth and development, and identify regional opportunities that will serve to retain our best and brightest by engaging and supporting an intern program.

Objectives

  1. Reinforce a dialogue between workforce development and higher education to provide for the expansion of facility offerings, to encourage local investment from the state university systems, and to demonstrate the need with employers represented.
    • Regional Partnerships Map
      • Map out Higher Education partnerships that show current articulation agreements for programs and pathways;
      • Identify future wishes for expansion
    • Workforce
      • Map out Industry Partnerships for both K-12 and Higher Education
      • Generate wish list for future partnerships
  2. Support a regional education and workforce ecosystem that promotes diverse pathways and partnerships to bridge the gap between
    K-12 and higher education.

    • Evaluate marketing materials used for K-12 and Higher Education partnerships for effectiveness
    • Identify needs for improving promotion that show promotion benefits
  3. Market and share opportunities to engage the business community and higher education to support a regional intern program.
  4. Support and promote the regional collaborative prospects associated with the annual events of the Power of Possibilities Summit,
    the Business Plan Competition and the Maker Faire.

  5. Research barriers and obstacles for regional teacher preparation, recruiting and retention
    • Ultimate long-term goal would be to evolve the teacher preparation program/partnerships