Gary Smith Celebrates 40th Anniversary at CCEDC

1976, America’s Bicentennial Year, was an exciting time for our nation. Along with the fireworks and flags that dominated 1976, little did anyone know that another legacy was just starting on the morning of January 12th.

On that date, Gary W. Smith began his career at the Chester County Economic Development Council, an organization he has served for more than 40 years.

According to Smith, his life-long career began when he “saw an ad for an assistant director at the EDC in the paper. I kept calling Bob Hollingwood, the then Executive Director, asking for an interview. Finally, I got an interview and did well enough to ask for references.”

“They called “Junior” Gagliardi who gave me a great reference. That’s how I got the job here. The position paid $8,500 a year.”

This past January, the CCEDC staff along with board chair Bill Bogle, President and CEO of Genesis Packaging Technologies and board member Ed Breiner, retired president and CEO of Schramm, Inc., honored Smith with a surprise celebration.

The following day, Smith amazed the office by wearing to work the same suit he wore on his very first day in 1976! A 40-year career with one company is a rare occurrence and CCEDC staff and board got to work planning an even bigger party!

Bogle noted this week that, “Ed Breiner and I had the privilege of being at CCEDC headquarters when Gary arrived on the morning of his 40th anniversary. We all know and marvel at the impact he has had on how this county has developed over the past 40 years but what I got to see that morning was Gary’s love of leadership and his impact on that tremendously talented staff.”

“On Monday, June 6 eight of my predecessors as chairman presented him with a gift. Seven of the eight are still actively involved in CCEDC which is a testimony to Gary and what his has done. I am very thankful that this special anniversary fell on my watch.”

Mike Grigalonis, CCEDC’s Chief Operating Officer, noted, “Gary has been my boss for 17 years. He is as passionate about his job and about Chester County today as he was the first day I met him in 1998. There is an endless list of things that I’ve learned from Gary over the years but what stands out most is the satisfaction you can gain from helping companies grow and helping people succeed.”

The impact of Smith’s efforts were touted by the language found on a citation issued by Chester County Commissioners Terence Farrell, Kathi Cozzone and Michelle Kichline:

“As President and CEO of the Chester County Economic Development Council, Gary Smith has pioneered many award winning programs, secured over $275 million in external funding for more than 420 projects, and helped to create over 175,000 new jobs and retain more than 190,000 existing jobs.”

During his 40-year tenure, the Council has brokered over $13.5 billion in commercial financing loans, and 8,000-plus new businesses have been established.”

In addition to his leadership of the Economic Development Council, Gary has served as an ambassador for Chester County on many national economic development boards and agricultural agencies, and his efforts have been recognized by many organizations including the Chester County Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the Council of Development Finance Agencies, and regional chambers of commerce.”

The Board of Commissioners, County of Chester, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, recognizes Gary Smith for four decades of passion and commitment to economic development, helping to shape Chester County into a thriving community that is recognized regionally and nationally as one of the best places live and work.”

In addition to the citation, Terence Farrell, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners had told this story about the first time he met Gary:

“I just wanted to add a personal note about the first time I met Gary and what a help he was then and has been throughout the years. It was 20-plus years ago when I was a new Realtor down in Oxford and I had a difficult listing, a mushroom canning plant.

“Someone suggested I call the EDC, and Gary responded personally, coming down to Oxford a number of times over several months, going through the building, meeting the owner, and offering me advice on how we might sell that building . . . and this was before I was Recorder of Deeds, before I was Commissioner, before I was anybody!

“But it didn’t matter to Gary. He took an interest in me and wanted me to succeed, and I think that’s indicative of his behavior with everybody . . . he just wants to help. That was the start of us knowing each other, and over the years, he’s always tried to be helpful to me, whether it was in my professional or political career! He’s been a great friend!”

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