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Chester County Economic Development Council Announces New AgConnect Leadership as Organization Launches Management of Chester County’s Agricultural Development Strategy

A key priority is the implementation of Chester County’s recently announced Agricultural Economic Strategic Plan

The Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC) announces new leadership for AgConnect, which specializes in connecting farmers and agribusinesses with the resources, training and financing needed to grow their business in southeastern Pennsylvania. Jordan Peek has been named AgConnect Project Manager.

With more than a decade of experience in food management and workforce development at Aramark and Compass Group, two of the nation’s leading food service companies, Peek brings a unique combination of skills to AgConnect and the businesses it serves at a critical time.

“We’re at a tipping point across the nation – and here in Chester County – when it comes to the agriculture industry being able to maintain and increase profitability in the face of increasing labor shortages,” said CCEDC President and COO Mike Grigalonis. “Jordan’s extensive background in food purchasing and end-user execution will be valuable in helping to overcome the challenges of bringing locally produced goods into wholesale purchasing. She has also experienced the challenges of hiring and retaining a workforce firsthand and brings an impressive employee retention expertise to the table.”

Peek will collaborate with former AgConnect Project Director Jodi Gauker, who is overseeing CCEDC’s implementation of Chester County’s recently announced Agricultural Economic Strategic Plan.

One of Peek’s major goals for AgConnect is to inspire workforce professionals to include agriculture in their hiring efforts by increasing awareness among hiring entities and workforce professionals of the array of career paths that fall under the “ag” umbrella. She’ll lead AgConnect’s partnership with PA CareerLink offices across several counties while supporting agricultural workers and youth career development experiences across industries including manufacturing. Peek is also managing Next Generation Farmer Loans, which connect first-time farmers to low-interest loan opportunities.

In Chester County alone, farmland generates more than $600 million in revenue annually. 1,730 farms operate in Chester County, most of which are family-owned businesses. The county’s agriculture industry contributes over $3 billion to the local economy through sales, employment, taxes and services. Chester County produces more than half of all mushrooms consumed in the U.S.

“Being raised on a dairy farm and still operating a small herd of Polled Herefords, I can assure you of the vital role that agriculture plays in southeastern Pennsylvania’s economy,” said Gary Smith, CEO of CCEDC. “It’s incredibly rewarding to work each day to help farm and food businesses in southeastern Pennsylvania grow, adapt and encourage the next generation to pursue a career in agriculture.”

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