2023 ABCD Annual Meeting

by | Jun 6, 2023 | News

As appeared in the May 29, 2023 edition of The Altoona Mirror by Walt Frank.

Despite many challenges, 2022 was successful for the Altoona Blair County Development Corp. “This has been a transformation year for ABCD and the community. Despite major global challenges, we, like other small communities, are weathering the storm. We’ve done a lot, but the best is yet to come,” said board Chairman Ron McConnell at the ABCD Corp. annual meeting on Friday May 26, 2023 at the Blair County Convention Center.

In 2022, ABCD Corp. approved 52 applications, and 31 projects were closed with a capital investment of $30.3 million, which led to the creation of 127 jobs and retention of 267 others, said President/CEO Stephen McKnight. ABCD was allocated $4 million through the state Small Business Credit Initiative to support small businesses. The Altoona Investment Fund was established through a partnership with the city and ABCD. A $4 million American Rescue Plan Act allocation seeded a revolving loan fund for projects within the city boundaries, McKnight said.

“There is no doubt the business of economic development has become more complex and challenging in modern times,” McKnight said.

Meanwhile, ABCD awarded the Rossman-Kazmaier Partnership Award to Altoona for its partnership efforts. “We are grateful for the recognition. It is the result of a lot of people working together with a shared vision to make Altoona the best place it can be. It is taking a team effort,” Mayor Matt Pacifico said. “We’ve all heard it is hard to get things done, that is pretty much gone. The city is definitely open for business; it is quite a transformation,” McConnell said.

McKnight said people are a key part of economic development. “I’ve never seen a business walk into a coffee shop, a brewery, ride on a trail or enjoy a concert in a park. People do those things. People start businesses. People invest in and enjoy their communities,” McKnight said.

ABCD and the Blair County Chamber of Commerce are exploring a new partnership; merger discussions are now underway. “We are doubling down on our place-based strategies and messaging. Our trails, parks and all active outdoor assets are of equal importance to our roads, water and broadband infrastructure,” McKnight said. “It’s all about attracting people. To do that well we need to continue with a people first approach, turning visitors into permanent residents, investors, a talented workforce, and advocates for our First Frontier Blair County community.”

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