GREENCASTLE—More than 300 people turned out for the Franklin County Area Development Corporations’s annual State of the Economy Breakfast, held recent at Green Grove Gardens.
FCADC President Mike Ross reviewed the economic landscape of the county, highlighting several strong features—the county is situated on one of the most heavily-traveled interstates in the country, putting us within a day’s drive of half the North American population.
Ross said an immense logistical infrastructure has cropped up along the I-81 corridor, putting anything produced in the area within reach of an extraordinary market.
These factors, along with favorable demographics and a willingness to develop sites, put Franklin County among the 10 fastest-growing populations in Pennsylvania.
Labor and housing needed
During the event, Ross identified several key needs. First is to prioritize I-81 development including roads, bridges and interchanges to make it more accessible.
Second was the need for broadband, indicating there are even areas in well-developed Chambersburg, with poor service that slows learning and communications.
He added that supply chain development is critical, citing 13 million square feet planned in the next three years.
Underpinning all of this is labor supply.
WellSpan Health and Letterkenny are the county’s largest employers. Ross said a wide range of businesses achieved 5.4% salary growth in 2021 while supporting a rapid reduction in unemployment, from 13.1% during the pandemic to 4.4% in November 2021.
Although staffing is a national problem for a variety of reasons and advancing technology will help with some of the growing need, we need solutions to immigration and housing and schools for skilled workers.
In spite of these problems, Ross was optimistic for the county’s future, citing over a dozen additional development projects heading into 2022.