To paraphrase Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland, “if you don’t know where you’re going any road will get you there”. Unfortunately, this directionally challenged approach is how economic development often occurs in far too many communities that fail to identify and make strategic choices about their economic future.
Chester County, Pennsylvania has enjoyed significant economic success over the past few decades, resulting in the County’s typically high ranking on numerous measures of community success. Significantly, the County recognized that past performance was no guarantee of future success and engaged in a dynamic public-private partnership process that resulted in VISTA 2025, the first formal County economic development strategy.
With an incredibly diverse economy, where agriculture and high technology are both key contributors, the challenge for Chester County was to identify those specific actions that would keep the County at the forefront when location decisions were made – by businesses and workers.
In a rapidly changing, and increasingly competitive environment, where the next generation of workers choose to live is emerging as a key factor in where businesses choose to locate. Recognizing the importance of this new dynamic, quality of place emerged as a key component of the County’s focus on economic health and not just economic growth.
The guiding philosophy for VISTA 2025 is to maintain a balance between progress and preservation. This means that both elements – economic progress and preservation of natural and historic resources – are complementary attributes that define Chester County and provide it with a sustainable competitive advantage in terms of attracting and retaining both businesses and a talented workforce.
While VISTA 2025 contains numerous more traditional economic development action items, the concept of balancing progress and preservation provides a unique perspective that sets it apart from typical strategies.
For more information on VISTA 2025 visit www.vista2025.com or contact the Chester County Economic Development Council.