CLEARFIELD – This has been an unusual year, and organizations have had to find creative ways to do business. Fortunately, technology has made some of that easier to manage.
For the Clearfield County Economic Development Corp., also known as Clearly Ahead Development, there have been highs and lows as with everyone, and at Thursday’s annual meeting, members learned some of the ways Clearly Ahead has moved forward.
Chief Executive Officer Rob Swales gave a 2020 Year in Review presentation and noted that Clearly Ahead operates with three employees.
In addition to Swales there is Paul McCloskey, vice president of energy and business development, and Cathie Ensminger, development assistant.
All three work together to serve the community and create growth and opportunity in the county with local business outreach; out-of-area business recruitment and attraction; brownfield cleanup and redevelopment; multi-tenant development and management; industrial park development and management and business/project finance and incentive packaging.
An overview of the county shows there are 2,134 employers with 1,947 of those in the private sector and 187 government.
Clearfield County’s population is just over 80,000 and almost 36,000 make up the county labor force.
Interestingly, 7,092 people commute into Clearfield County for work while 8,144 county residents commute out of the county for work.
One of the ways the area has been hit economically is shown in the job postings, Swales said. Last year there were 2,168 new job postings while this year there was a decrease of 18 percent, or only 1,777.
Swales said they were able to make 370 outreach contacts this year, which is up from last year’s 256.
He also talked about how local small businesses were helped during the COVID-19 pandemic with several programs enacted to help with the financial impact.
Those programs include: Small Business Assistance Program, COVID Working Capital Access, Payroll Protection Program, Hazardous Pay Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
Clearly Ahead helped the county administer the first round of CARES Act funding with 240 applications received and 95 approved with $1,442,900 given. The second round was administered by North Central PA Launch Box with 51 approved applications for $488,439.
Clearly Ahead was also able to hold 113 virtual community outreach events.
Locally, the impact could be seen with some of the numbers Swales showed for Clearly Ahead. Local business outreach was up, as was community outreach, but out-of-area outreach was down along with jobs created, jobs retained and money invested.
Looking forward, Swales said the Rivers Landing project is progressing well and he explained that the building being constructed along Market Street is about 75 percent complete.
The two-story building is 11,000 square feet in total and the first floor will include an anchor business, hopefully a family-style restaurant, while the second floor will be the new home of Clearly Ahead’s offices as well as office space for start-up businesses and also community meeting space.
He also said that they are looking to soon make the 26.5 acres at the former Howe’s Leather site into three parcels available for development.
Swales thanked the organizations that help Clearly Ahead do what they do, including Moshannon Valley Economic Development Partnership, North Central Regional Development, the Greater DuBois and Greater Clearfield Chambers of Commerce, Small Business Development Centers and Workforce Solutions of Central Pennsylvania.
Also, during the meeting, two new directors and one returning director were announced. All three terms expire in 2023. Returning is Fred Redden, and new to the board are Nick Sidorick and Brad Russell.