VISITING LOCAL BUSINESSES: A CRITICAL COMPONENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
At the Lawrence County Economic Development Corporation (LCEDC), the Board of Directors and John DiMuccio have long recognized the importance of connecting with our local businesses to retain local jobs and support local expansion. We are not alone. Surveys of U.S. economic development organizations indicate that business retention is the primary activity used to grow local economies. According to Blane, Canada, Ltd, “Up to 80% of all new jobs in small towns come from existing business expansion.” Along with small communities throughout the country, we have learned that attracting new jobs is not the best solution to our economic problems nor the best use of our resources. The competition for such projects is fierce, costs per job attracted are high and chances of success are limited at best.
Resources are better invested in supporting the expansion of local companies such as the Ellwood Group, and the local businesses that support our large industrial businesses. These companies provide family sustaining jobs that enable residents to purchase homes, buy goods and services, and pay taxes. The multiplier effect of these actions is the key to sustaining and expanding our local economy.
The LCEDC is the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s lead local certified economic development organization and is entrusted with performing business interviews. LCEDC has employed a structured and quantified Business Call Program since 1998; our Business Outreach Specialists conduct interviews with 100+ local businesses each year. During the last decade and through the present, Mr. John DiMuccio, the former Business Administrator for the City of New Castle, has operated LCEDC’s Business Call Program.
John meets personally with businesses of all sizes throughout the county. Over the years he has built solid relationships with local business owners, plant managers and human resource managers. They trust his knowledge of the local community as well as his relationships with local, regional, state and federal government officials to assist them in preventing and alleviating business challenges that impede growth and profitability.
Examples of companies that we have met with included the Ellwood Group, EzeFlow and MedArt. MedArt’s President, Jeff Pierce notes, “The importance of meeting with John DiMuccio and Linda Nitch has allowed MedArt to plan on a significant expansion and the possibility of creating 50 new jobs in Lawrence County. John DiMuccio has been diligent in visiting our company over the years and has made it a point to offer us workforce training grants as well as explaining the opportunities of expanding in the County. My brother and I are appreciative of the LCEDC’s efforts to help MedArt expand in Lawrence County.” A discussion with the members of the Ellwood Group executive team provided insight into the $80 million project that is underway at the North American Forge Masters facility in downtown New Castle. We alerted the company team that the project was eligible for Enterprise Zone Tax Credits of $500,000 and assisted them with their application. In meeting with the new owners of EzeFLow (Flowline), we offered a single point of contact regarding public financing programs, workforce training grants, and building expansion permitting. These activities retained the 80+ jobs at the facility and have introduced new opportunities for the managers to consider.
John has four broad activities connected with his Business Outreach activities. They are:
- Collecting data on both the company as well as the industry
- Analyzing and tracking the data through a web based system for business retention, Executive Pulse Business Intelligence System, which is the most widely used database for business retention and expansion in North America.
- Assisting the company in solving a variety of problems e.g. workforce skills, financing projects, researching new technology, and/or land development that may cause them to close, move, or expand elsewhere.
- Looking for opportunities to grow the businesses locally by connecting them with such partners as West Central Job Partnership, Steel Valley Authority – Strategic Early Warning System, Northwest Regional Planning and Catalyst Connection
If you want to learn more about the LCEDC’s services, or want John to call on your non-retail business, please call us at 724-658-1848. We have information on sites and facilities, financial programs , workforce and much more. Business retention is relevant to every person in our community. LCEDC’s successful business retention program will result in a stronger community for all of us.