The Pocono Mountains Economic Development Corporation has a mission that goes beyond marketing Monroe County’s strengths to interest new companies (and new employers) in developing Pocono operations. PMEDCalso works to help existing companies grow and prosper. Existing businesses provide most of the investment for new community economic development initiatives and infrastructure, and are frequently part of the attraction that lures new businesses to locate within the county.
One way in which PMEDC fulfills that mission is through Pennsylvania’s Business Retention and Expansion Program (BREP), sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, which encourages firms to stay and grow in Pennsylvania.
DCED administers the program by dividing Pennsylvania into 10 regions. A regional coordinator oversees a team of business liaisons, who conduct personal interviews with local company executives. The interviews address a variety of key issues. If the interviewer identifies a specific opportunity to assist the business, the company is referred to an appropriate service provider to assist them in resolving issues or difficulties.
The interview results are entered into an online database managed by DCED, which is then used to compare and analyze business trends, opportunities, and challenges throughout the state. DCED conducts approximately 9,000 visits annually, with about 650 of those visits taking place in the seven-county Northeast Pennsylvania region.
One local company helped through the BREP program was Mt. Pocono-based Monadnock Non-Wovens, LLC,a manufacturer of non-woven synthetic media for vacuum bags, filtration, homeland security and other technical applications.
During a BREP visit, PMEDC Executive Director Chuck Leonard learned that Monadnock was challenged by the different product needs of new customers. Production of the new products required far more resin than past uses. In order to receive adequate volumes of raw material, Monadnock needed rail service at their site. Though a rail line was close by, design, engineering, and construction of a rail spur was needed.
Because of the information revealed by the BREP visit, Leonard was able to put Monadnock in touch with the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority, which assisted the company in applying for and receiving a PennDOT grant that contributed to the overall construction cost of the rail spur. The recently completed spur has transformed the materials receipt operations and helped the company to increase production by 50 percent.
“The BREP program helped put us in touch with the right people,” says Keith Hayward, managing director of Monadnock Non-Wovens. “We expressed interest in having rail service, Chuck (Leonard) made a referral to the Railroad Authority, and Mr. (Larry) Malski took it from there. Our company now receives one rail car every 10 days, which is equivalent to 10 bulk road trucks per month.
“We’ve already added six new employees and we’re looking to add six more. We expect an additional 25 percent increase in capacity and personnel in 2008.”
Local companies can learn more about BREP by calling PMEDC at (570) 839-1992.