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Economic development begins at home

Economic development isn’t just luring the newest industry to town. It is much, much more.

And the leadership within the newly formed Pike County Economic Development Authority seems to recognize that.

Last week, the board decided to form a new committee whose focus is solely on existing industry - expansions, retention, even appreciation. With an already strong and diverse industrial base - trucking; plastics recycling; manufacturing facilities; defense contractors; shipping and distribution facilities; and more - Pike County has much to build on in the realm of economic development. And helping these existing industries is important.

For proof, one need only think back to recent years, when leadership worked with Carter Brothers Manufacturing Co. in Brundidge after its building burned; or when leaders worked to help find grant money to extend and repair a railroad line, strengthening Anderson Peanuts’ presence in Goshen.

And for evidence of the benefits that can lie ahead, we need look only at the future: Wal-Mart’s new distribution center is scheduled to open later this year, and employ more than 600 people; K&W Plastics continues to be a worldwide leader in plastics recycling; Sikorsky Support Services Inc. on Friday debuted a proposal to turn former military helicopters into firefighting helicopters.

Growth is not just possible … it’s likely to come for our existing industries. And as this base changes to meet the ever-changing global marketplace, our economic development strategy needs to address businesses’ needs.

That’s why we think this new partnership is a step in the right direction.

Because even as we work to recruit new businesses and expand our industrial base, we need to ensure that we invest our energies and resources in keeping our existing base strong and vital.