A look Back at Chester County Economic Development: Balancing Progress and Preservation

As an organization with more than 50 years of history in Chester County, CCEDC has witnessed the projects, partnerships, and processes that have shaped our business climate and aided our growing economy.

In addition, Gary W. Smith, President and CEO of the Chester County Economic Development Council has not only witnessed this progress first-hand but also has been a key player in making much of it happen during his 40+ years with the organization.

With such a deep and rich history, CCEDC is launching our series on “Balancing Progress and Preservation” within  Chester County.  Today we will start at the beginning with a brief history of how CCEDC came to be while future installments will focus on the following:

  • Formation of the first corporate park in Chester County
  • Designation of Citation Sites
  • Assisting the first start-up in Chester County
  • Creation of the Industrial Development Authority and its first loan
  • Development of the Southeastern Economic Development Company (Seedcopa)
  • Hosting the First Workforce Summit

Back in 1959, a group of “forward-thinking, like-minded business leaders” of Chester County met at the Paoli Pancake House on Route 30 to form an entity that would “promoted the economic growth of Chester County, Pennsylvania, by the attraction of desirable industry and commerce to the county and by assisting in the orderly growth and expression of existing industry and commerce in the county.”

All of their efforts led to the creation of what was originally called the Chester County Development Council on December 23, 1960.

At that time, most development was occurring at the eastern end of the county.  The growth opportunities could be found west of Paoli, along the rail and road networks.  There was inconsistent industrial zoning throughout the county which affected the ability to generate tax revenues for the county and municipalities.

The newly-formed “Council” initially focused on site selection, a process that included working with various municipalities to establish and inventory of land along the transportation networks.

In our next installment, we will delve deeper into the importance of the transportation networks and how they led to the development of Chester County’s first corporate park – Pickering Creek.

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