In 2013, the Greater Reading Economic Partnership took a renewed focus on the local businesses who are already in Berks County. Deb Heffner took on the role of director of business outreach and under her guidance the program has blossomed. In the past few years, the program has completed over 230 visits to local businesses.
From the 230+ visits, there were 109 business to business referrals. Other referrals include 72 workforce training referrals to Berks Career and Technology Center, PA CareerLink, Greater Reading Chamber and Economic Development Corporation, Reading Muhlenberg Career and Technology Center, and the Schmidt Training and Technology Center. Nearly 30 financing referrals were made to the Greater Berks Development Fund, the Community First Fund, and local banks. 20 other referrals were made to local partners like First Energy, the Small Business Association and UGI. 11 companies who were seeking exporting assistance were also referred to the World Trade Center of Harrisburg. Theses referrals are important as they help businesses grow and expand by pointing them in the right direction.
Looking towards the future, in the next 12-18 months, there are 18 companies who want to expand. However, 11 of those companies do not have the space. These business visits help identify needs of the local business community. Keeping the pulse of the local community is essential. These companies need over 1.7 million square feet of space to expand.
With existing companies looking to expand and our plan to expand our outreach initiative to help even more Berks County companies, the possibilities are endless in 2018 and beyond! Look for highlights on local businesses each month and see what is happening in our community.