Are there opportunities to make the Pocono-Northeast better?
The answer lies in the appropriate use of the skills of the people and the leadership. Sources that exist across the region include natural assets, geography, technology, social processes and conditions that be defined as assets. There are liabilities, but it is clear that much has been done to create more assets than weaknesses. Periodically, there should be a regional approach dealing with strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats .
The year 2020 marked a tremendously astonishing, despite vaccines which have been developed to conquer COVID-19. It was a year of medicine and health and a strength of reckoning that hopefully will not be repeated in coming years. Yet, it demonstrated perseverance and courage beyond belief by first-line responders and families who faced great tragedy and desperate situations.
It is now a time for regional economic focus such as the relatively new Boost Business NEPA started by two regional leaders, Helen Lavelle and Holly Pitcavage. They brought together over 30 leaders who assisted small businesses and nonprofits of 1-to-19 employees. Economic strength and development has always been a significant regional priority. It can make the region better and more competitive for jobs, community development and economic development and growth.
They chose the word Boost as a symbol of tenacity, belonging, and changing the direction that the virus brought. Should there be belief that the Pocono-Northeast can come back again from economic disaster after hopefully coping with the public health menace that COVID-19 brought? As the region coped with disasters of the past such as the Tropical Storm Agnes in 2972, the 2008-09 economic disaster nationally and many recessions and other disasters, the phrase Valley with a Heart rings true in much of this region.
Can the region cope with a growing world economy that enables many sectors to be now a competitive arrangement beyond domestic geography? The answer may lie with how regional leadership moves forward , facing an international dilemma rather than solely within the national framework. More attention is being placed on exporting, on training of students who may come from other countries, on actions that involve more sister cities programs and a host of other events that enable our region to be competitive. To reach a process that is meaningful, here are some ideas that can be applied inside the Pocono-Northeast.
• When the nation takes steps to again become part of the Paris accords, the environment can be utilized in a constructive fashion to benefit new economic techniques.
• Think of how our higher educational institutions can work collectively on major regional priorities.
• How can we sustain a setting that may be different and have a strong impact on this region? This can be defined through a regional plan that highlights the blending of physical, social, environmental, energy and other factors that are crucial to how we compete in coming years. Such a plan should look ahead at least 50 years.
• How can the region utilize its many small governments? Sometimes we forget the true governmental nature that manages and controls what we do. Wed need more councils of government, strengthening local governments in Pennsylvania and regionalizing services.
• Combining agencies that can better be enhanced through a regional approach where appropriate should be considered.
• New agencies such as a regional sports commission might be considered along with the clustering of companies that relate to a single type of employment structure such as in the past with printing and publishing, the coal industry, clothing manufacturing and other past industries. We need 21 century industry clusters that can relate to the generations ahead.
• The education of youngsters may change as a result of COVID-19 and special attention needs to be placed on this factor in regional school districts.
Yes, the region can be better, but it takes ingenuity, leadership, citizen responsiveness, new technology and other elements as a way forward .