Honoring those who make things
HONESDALE, PA — Economic development and issues related to southern Wayne County were on the commissioners’ docket as they met on September 29.
The central focus was the panel’s proclamation of Manufacturing Day in the Northern Poconos, which was slated for October 7 with a bus tour of several of Wayne’s manufacturer’s locations.
The observance and tour were jointly sponsored by the Wayne Economic Development Corporation (WEDCO), the Chamber of the Northern Poconos, the Wayne-Pike Workforce Alliance, and the commissioners’ “Wayne Tomorrow” initiative.
The tour, designed largely for business developers, regional officials and the media, visited Wayne and Pike county sites including FTC Industries, which makes small hardware; Leeward Construction; Rickard’s Cider Mill of Cherry Ridge; St. Clair Graphics of Honesdale, and New Wave Woodworking in White Mills.
An important part of the initiative was educating small Wayne manufacturers about larger markets, including the federal government. Cheryl Duquette of the Wayne-Pike Workforce Alliance noted that FTC Industries already contracts the U.S. Defense Department, providing a pin-and-bolt unit used in arresting naval carrier aircraft during landings at sea.
Duquette spoke of the difficulty in getting small manufacturers to set aside work and attend trade shows, so the bus tour instead brings information to them. There are some 253 small manufacturers in Wayne; 60 percent of them have five employees or fewer and 80 percent employ 10 persons or fewer, Duquette said.
Beyond that Mary Beth Wood, executive director of WEDCO, highlighted the tour as including trades instructors from Pike and Wayne county school districts to attend and learn about which skilled labor trades are in demand locally and regionally.
Commissioners’ Chair Brian Smith noted that Wayne Tomorrow, in response to the loss of several large industrial employers in recent years, called for alternatives. “We’ve lost businesses and watched newer businesses grow. It’s putting the dots together in the evolution of business,” he said.
In related business, the commissioners approved a grant application for state “Local Share” gaming funding through Monroe County. The grant would provide $498,300 “for build-out of an Internet fiber connection from Waymart Borough to Sterling Township and the Sterling Business & Technological Park.” WEDCO developed and manages the park and is hoping to draw more technology-based business by expanding broadband access in the area.
A separate Local Share grant application for $152,648 was approved to fund construction of a new facility for the Newfoundland Area Food Pantry, which serves some 300 area residents and is currently housed in the Moravian Church.