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2018-04-27 / Community (County Spotlight)

Bedford: County on the Rise

Spotlight on Bedford County
Pennsylvania Business Correspondent

BEDFORD – Being President and CEO of the Bedford County Development Association is not an easy job. However, it gets a bit easier when it’s your passion.

That’s the case for Bette Slayton. As the President and CEO of BCDA, she leads development activities in the county, including supporting and encouraging new businesses to move into the county and existing firms to expand. Prior to coming to BCDA, she was director of development finance for the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission and was assistant vice president of the Mark Twain Bank in Kansas City. Bette served from 2001-02 as the president of the Pennsylvania Economic Development Association and currently serves on a number of statewide economic and workforce development boards and committees.

Pennsylvania Business Central recently caught up with Slayton to talk business.

Slayton Slayton Expand a little bit on the Bedford County Development Association. What is the BCDA’s role?

BCDA is the organization that leads the county’s economic development efforts. Our goal is to retain and create jobs. Our mission statement reads: To improve the quality of life in Bedford County through economic development while preserving our heritage and natural resources.

BCDA is active in a wide variety of areas, including recruitment, development of business parks, business centers, financing of local businesses, workforce development initiatives and marketing. We work closely with the business community, as well as our partner agencies and elected officials.

There are some new faces on the Board of Directors. How did those changes come about?

Not all of the board members are new. We have term limits so each year some members “term out” and we bring on new members. Each term is three years, and a director can’t serve more than six years. When I started in the early 1990s, the board members were actually named in the bylaws which made it difficult to add new members. Term limits were adopted and have been a key in bringing vibrancy and energy to the board. New ideas, insights and perspectives have created an energetic and creative atmosphere. Board members have real ownership.

Who’s on the Board of Directors and what are their roles?

We have an 18-member board that represents a broad cross-section of the county – geographically and by industry. Our members are from all across the county. We have representatives from education, agriculture, manufacturing, finance, real estate, retail, tourism, law, utilities, insurance, distribution and local government. The three county commissioners are supportive and engaged ex-officio members.

This is an active board that spends time on strategic planning and developing goals. It sets an annual budget and comprehensive financial statements are reviewed at every board meeting. The members are active in their businesses and community, so board discussion includes updates on current issues and taking action on opportunities which will benefit our area.

What are the BCDA’s goals for 2018 and beyond?

A high priority is to market and successfully recruit a major employer to our 80-acre site in our Business Park II. Health care is a growth industry and we’ve identified several initiatives to maximize opportunities in that arena. We will be undertaking an evaluation of market conditions and real estate needs for future development. We are also building a framework to promote entrepreneurial development. Retention is always a high priority, and we will continue our business outreach efforts.

It seems as if Bedford is a growing and developing area. Is that the case?

Yes, Bedford County is a growing and developing area. We continue to diversify our economy with strong manufacturing, distribution, agricultural and tourism sectors. We are growing in the ag-biotech field and creating a support system for budding entrepreneurs. Certainly, the redevelopment of the Omni Bedford Springs Resort has had a tremendous impact on our economy. It brings in thousands of people to the area every year and provides a world-class resort in our backyard.

We are blessed with a beautiful county, vibrant downtowns, an active arts community, many outdoor recreational opportunities and an excellent educational system, including our pro-active technical center and community college.

What makes Bedford County such a great place to do business?

The people. Folks in Bedford County care about their work, each other and the communities they live in. Our workforce is one of the best in the world. Companies believe in our workforce as demonstrated by their major investments in expansions and the successful recruitment of world- class employers. We are also fortunate to be in an excellent location with a great transportation network.

What is one last thing people should know about the BCDA and its members?

I believe that the Nominating Committee is the most important committee on any board. It selects the people who create the vision, develop the plans and make sure that things get done. They are the face of the organization and the ambassadors to the community. If you’ve got a good board, all the rest falls into place. .

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