CLEARFIELD – So far in the current-year, Clearly Ahead Development, Clearfield County’s economic development entity, has been actively involved in four “significant” projects.
All four are internal expansions consisting of equipment, machinery and technology upgrades, according to Rob Swales, Clearly Ahead chief executive officer.
Swales was unable to provide project details, however. He explained that: “A lot of the companies I deal with are sensitive to their information being out there publicly, so I have to speak broadly.”
However, he said the projects combine for a total local investment of $2.225 million, as well as to retain 147 jobs and to create 26 new jobs for Clearfield County.
While Clearly Ahead has been doing outreach locally, including on-site plant/facility tours, and outside the region, it’s also been developing its three-part strategic plan.
The first part consists of aggressive marketing via a mix of media and site visits outside the area through Site Selection Consultants and companies.
The target market remains food manufacturers and petrochemical and plastic industries. “Our rationale is to go after the growth industries,” Swales said.
He added that: “They could utilize our large capacities of energy, utilities, etc., with the existing infrastructure we have in this area.”
The second part of the strategic plan is asset management. It will involve identifying ways to improve efficiencies and promotion of Clearly Ahead’s existing facilities and land.
The third and final part is business outreach. While Clearly Ahead wants to do outreach with all of the county’s businesses, its plan takes a more targeted approach.
According to Swales, they have identified the county’s Top 100 employers. From that they have narrowed it down to 27 manufacturing, distribution and industrial companies.
“We want to be sure to focus our outreach with those companies within that industrial make up,” he said.
Additionally, Clearly Ahead has a portfolio of companies that have taken advantage of the county Industrial Development Authority’s (CCIDA) loan programs.
Swales said his staff wants to assist the CCIDA and follow up on the progress and outcome of projects completed by companies that have had loans on the books or still do.
While they want to complete this outreach effort within the calendar year, he said Clearly Ahead will still meet with other local businesses that seek its input and assistance.
“There are over 2,000 businesses in Clearfield County,” he said. “We have to be aggressive, but we must take a targeted approach.
“This is a four-person staff with really only two people doing the direct outreach and consultations. It’s a very tall challenge.”
In the course of outreach efforts locally, he said they’ve found that companies are looking to diversify their product lines in case there would be a “hemorrhage” in the economy.
Clearfield County’s economic outlook is “extremely positive” though, according to Swales. He said locally, the majority of companies Clearly Ahead works with are “gearing up for growth.”