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| Regional Economic Trends | Organizational Resources |
The Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) Program | Technology Incubator |
| Economic Development Goals | Economic Development Recommendations |

Pottsville’s economy depends on the downtown business district, employers throughout the City and the health of commerce and industry located elsewhere in Schuylkill County. A later section of this Comprehensive Plan focuses on the downtown. This section examines competitive strengths and weaknesses of the City’s overall business environment and the City’s central role in the Schuylkill County regional economy. The goals and recommendations for enhancing economic development aim to capitalize on the City’s competitive asserts and overcome local constraints.

Regional Economic Trends

In today’s growing economy, Schuylkill County is adding more jobs than in earlier years. However, unemployment in the County remains higher than the Pennsylvania state-wide rate. The transition away from the area’s historic dependence on coal mining and textile manufacturing is still the central thrust of economic development efforts in Schuylkill County. Site development, education, training, recruitment, promotion and related activities are all geared towards diversifying the County’s economic base so the region can compete more successfully in the modern economy.

Table 7 shows Schuylkill County has made steady progress in diversifying its economy during the last three decades. In 1970, manufacturing and mining together provided 56% of all non-farm jobs in the County, compared to 31% in 1999. Conversely, service sector jobs jumped from 10% to 22% of all jobs during this same period and wholesale & retail trade increased from 13% to 24%.


The list of top 20 employers in Schuylkill County shown on Table 8 reinforces the growing importance of the services in the regional economy. While the two largest employers in Schuylkill County are still manufacturers, the third through fifth largest job providers are service related. Each is also located in Pottsville: Good Samaritan Hospital, the Schuylkill County Government and Pottsville Hospital.

TABLE 8 - TOP 20 EMPLOYERS Top of Page

Organizational Resources

Schuylkill County has several organizations that cooperate in trying to develop the regional economy. Because of its emphasis on downtown Pottsville, the Pottsville Area Development Corporation (PADCO) is a very important entity that is described in the next section of this Comprehensive Plan. On a County-wide basis, probably the most prominent economic development groups are the Schuylkill County Chamber of Commerce, the Schuylkill County Economic Development Corporation (SEDCO) and the Schuylkill County Economic Development Department. These groups often work together to attract and encourage business investment in Schuylkill County. They also cooperate with the Schuylkill County Industrial Development Authority (SCIDA) and others to package financial assistance, job training benefits, site development aid and other incentives for prospective investors in the County.

The Schuylkill County Chamber of Commerce

The Schuylkill County Chamber of Commerce, a private, non-profit organization with over 1,140 members, is devoted to promoting the growth of commerce and industry in Schuylkill County. Through partnerships with local schools and the business community, the Chamber is deeply involved with workforce development activities designed to align training and education with the needs of local employers. Leadership training, career counseling and a jobs creation grant program are among the Chamber’s related efforts. As a central service center, the Chamber is the first step for many people who need various forms of financial and other assistance to start or expand a small business in Schuylkill County.

The Chamber, which was founded in 1918, cooperates with Pennsylvania state officials, federal agencies such as the Small Business Administration, and municipalities throughout Schuylkill County to recruit new business to the County and retain existing employers. The Schuylkill County Chamber of Commerce founded the Schuylkill County Tourist Promotion Agency, which works with the Pottsville Commission on Tourism, the Schuylkill County Visitors Bureau and similar groups, to promote the County as a visitor destination. The Chamber is also a major voice on transportation initiatives and other infrastructure improvements that may further economic development in Schuylkill County.

Schuylkill County Economic Development Corporation (SEDCO)

The Schuylkill County Economic Development Corporation is a private, non-profit organization that develops and markets industrial parks and other business sites throughout the County. SEDCO originated in 1952 as the Greater Pottsville Industrial Development Corporation. In 1985, the organization adopted its present name to reflect a broader focus than industrial development and recognize the increasing role of other Schuylkill County areas in the region’s economic growth.

In Pottsville, SEDCO has been instrumental in developing hotel and office projects, among other job-producing enterprises. Throughout Schuylkill County, SEDCO’s activities include constructing speculative industrial shell buildings, renovating blighted buildings for resale and developing business parks, such as the Highridge Industrial Park.

Highridge, one of twelve industrial parks in Schuylkill County, encompasses 2,000 acres north of Pottsville at I-81. It includes the 1.2 million square foot Lowe’s distribution center, which employs 650 people. A 422,000 square foot shell building is being built at the park site for a trucking and warehouse business. Highridge Industrial Park will also be the site of a new interchange along I-81 that will permit direct access between the industrial park and the interstate highway. Another innovative aspect of the Highridge Industrial Park is the use of tax increment financing to help pay for development and maintenance. Under tax increment financing, funds are raised by issuing a bond. The bond is then retired over an extended period with real estate tax revenues specifically pledged in advance for that purpose. At Highridge, the bond will be paid off with real estate taxes generated by businesses that locate in the park.

SEDCO receives its revenues from land sales, mortgage payments, administrative fees and periodic capital campaigns. To attract new investment to Schuylkill County, the agency makes full use of funding assistance offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Commerce and Economic Development and tax free industrial bond financing arranged through the Schuylkill County Industrial Development Authority.

Schuylkill County Economic Development Department

The Schuylkill County Economic Development, which was formed in 1999, is a department of County government that advises the Schuylkill County Commissioners on economic development policy. The Department works in close cooperation with SEDCO, the Schuylkill County Chamber of Commerce and other economic development groups in Schuylkill County. A significant part of the Department’s activities relate to business retention—activities designed to help ensure existing businesses remain located and grow within the County. The Schuylkill County Economic Development Department is also responsible for administering the Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) Program in Schuylkill County. Top of Page

The Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) Program

In February 1999, The Schuylkill/Carbon Keystone Opportunity Zone was designated under Pennsylvania’s Keystone Opportunities Program. The KOZ Program offers tax abatements to attract investment to economically distressed areas with vacant and underutilized business properties. Within KOZs, the State, municipalities and school districts waive virtually all taxes for 12 years. The Schuylkill/Carbon KOZ consists of nine sub-zones in Schuylkill County and three in Carbon County.

One of Schuylkill County’s nine KOZ sub-zones is the City of Pottsville, which includes the following six KOZ sites:

  • The Pottsville Business Park - 11.0 acres of underdeveloped industrial land along Peacock Street.
  • Majestic Theater - a former theater at 209 North Center Street being rehabilitated by the non-profit Majestic Theater Association.
  • Garfield School - a vacant parcel that was formerly the site of a school building on West Norwegian Street near Garfield Square.
  • Moose Building - a vacant, 2 to 3-story structure at 394 South Centre Street.
  • Former Yuengling Creamery Building - an underutilized, 2-story, former commercial warehouse at Mahantongo Street and Fifth Street.
  • Mehlman Building - a 4-story structure at 214 North Centre Street adjacent to the Capitol Parking Deck that was formerly an office supply company and is now being rehabilitated for expansion of an existing business.

Five of the six Pottsville KOZ sites are commercial structures located in or near the downtown. The Pottsville Business Park is the only vacant industrial land among the six properties. As such, it could be the City’s best opportunity to attract major new business construction in a planned development setting. To date, a trucking and warehouse firm has located in the park and is constructing a 20,000 square foot warehouse there. Top of Page

Technology Incubator

The planned development of a business incubator facility in Pottsville is an exciting prospect for economic development in the City. The incubator will be located on the second floor of the former Pottsville Post Office building at Second and West Norwegian streets. The incubator will provide low cost space, technical assistance and some business services to start-up enterprises in the vulnerable early stages of their business development. The goal is that, with this type of assistance, the young businesses occupying the incubator will begin to prosper and eventually move to other locations—hopefully within the Pottsville vicinity. Funding for the incubator has been identified. PADCO will relocate its offices to the site and administer all incubator activities.


Economic Development Goals

  • Work to change outdated perceptions about the economic base and quality of life in Pottsville and Schuylkill County.
  • Continue the partnership approach to economic development that features government and non-profits working in concert with local schools and businesses.
  • Focus on expanding local resources for economic development, particularly viable development/redevelopment sites and funding assistance. Top of Page

Economic Development Recommendations

  • Continue supporting customized job training, job readiness instruction, leadership programs and related efforts that help prepare local residents for jobs in high growth economic sectors.
  • Enhance local quality of life through recreation improvements (such as a County park system), cultural initiatives and improved schools so that Schuylkill County can attract more high tech companies and other higher grade employers.
  • Intensify efforts to nurture home grown businesses and keep current employers through more initiatives like the Technology Incubator and the Schuylkill County Chamber of Commerce business retention program.
  • Take full advantage of the City’s Community Development Block Grant entitlement and State economic development programs to prepare more sites for business development through clearance, infrastructure funding and assistance with environmental assessments.
  • Work with the County and the local non-profit development entities to establish more venture capital and revolving loan fund programs for industrial and other business development in Schuylkill County.
  • Examine alternatives for improving access to the Pottsville Business Park in conjunction with more promotion of this Keystone Opportunities Zone site and other underutilized business property throughout the City.

Note: The Community Facilities section of this Comprehensive Plan addresses heritage tourism and other recreation initiatives that can: a) improve the attractiveness of Schuylkill County and b) further local economic development. Top of Page

| Introduction | Population | Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization |
| Citywide Land Use Plan | Economic Development | Central Business District Revitalization |
| Transportation | Community Facilities and Services | Action Program | Tables |