About Us

Overview



Organized in May 2017, following the Sustainable Economy Summit, the County Commissioners appointed this Task Force in partnership with Evergreen Conservancy, the Center for Community Growth, and League of Women Voters of Indiana County.

In addition to these organizations, the Task Force works with The Borough of Indiana, Indiana University of PA, The Indiana County Conservation District, and the Indiana County Center for Economic Operations, which includes the Chamber of Commerce, Tourist Bureau, IUP, The Indiana County Commissioners, The Office of Planning & Development, and the Indiana County Development Corporation.

The purpose of this Task Force is to identify strategies and initiatives for local economic development that are grounded in sustainable economic development practice, and tailored to Indiana County.  To do this, the Task Force is conducting a one-year participatory process of engaging local stakeholders, including local businesses, grass root organizations, and educators, in a research and planning process.  The goal of this participatory process will be to identify specific strategies for local economic development that involve innovation, forward-thinking education, practical training, meaningful employment, and citizen engagement.  The results of this process will be collated into a report that will provide direct input into the development of the long range County Economic Development/Work Force Development Plan.

The Task Force will focus its research on identifying practices that promote a sustainable local economy. Its working definition of “sustainable economy” is that of an emerging economic sector with environmentally friendly intentions including but not limited to energy efficiency and retrofitting buildings, increasing installation and use of renewable energy, sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices, green chemistry and green manufacturing, remediation/reclamation and environmental conservation for future generations.  Underlying this focus, the Task Force prioritizes cost savings through greater efficiency, as well as reduced future environmental and human health related costs.

The Task Force is conducting a local participatory process of citizen engagement to create this report.  This process involves creating four focus groups of local stakeholders, one in each of the following substantive topics:

Our Goals

Indiana County, like other rural areas in Pennsylvania, has experienced a decline in the industries that once were strong employers over the past thirty-forty years.  Today, the local economy struggles to provide family sustaining jobs, and dislocated workers have few local options to re-employment. One of the overall aims of this project is to coordinate with other economic development efforts to build a resilient and diversified local economy.  The Task Force expects that this project will contribute to long-term economic growth and job development in the sustainable economic sector.  Further, we anticipate that this economic growth and job development will be tailored specifically to Indiana County, and the specific assets and opportunities that exist here.  We also anticipate innovative ideas and strong buy-in from multiple constituents in the county, with fewer unanticipated negative consequences due to the high level of citizen engagement that will be sought in this process.
The Task Force generated a list of individuals, organizations and businesses whose work and/or interests pertained to these areas and, on September 27, 2017, hosted an event to introduce them to the project, and engage them in working in one of the focus groups.  Each group is charged with identifying new opportunities in each of the following strategic areas: economic development, education, and job training/workforce development. Each group will have approximately 6 months to meet, identify priorities, do their own research and prepare a set of recommended strategies in these three strategic areas, specific to their substantive topic. A member of the Task Force is working with each focus group to support their progress and serve as liaison. 

At the conclusion of this process, the Task Force will host a second Sustainable Economy Summit in spring of 2018.  At this event, the four focus groups will report out their recommendations to the Task Force, the other groups, and the general public, permitting additional feedback and input.  Following this second Summit, the Task Force will take the four reports from the focus groups, review the input and feedback from the summit, and generate a synthesized report.  The work of the Task Force at this stage will be made publicly available through a website, to permit ongoing citizen input and engagement.  At the conclusion of this synthesis, the final report will be presented to the Indiana County Center for Economic Operations as input into the Indiana County Economic Development/Work Force Development Plan.