CAN DO is helping entrepreneurs get their start and has invested in improving downtown Hazleton and itself in the last three years, following its long-range, strategic plan, so says its president and CEO.
Since adopting the original strategic plan in 2013, CAN DO has also marketed for a targeted industrial group with which the area has had success supporting — food-processing industries — while developing avenues to generate sustainable, recurring revenue to make CAN DO economically self-sufficient.
In the near future, the area’s economic development organization wants to continue to work on workforce development — with an emphasis on skill trade training — plus further developing the utilities in its industrial parks, further develop the area’s transportation system to furnish workers to industries and making Hazleton a more livable community.
Workforce development is important to area industries looking for workers, especially skilled workers to operate and repair today’s highly technical machinery that requires advanced training, not only to fix, but to operate.
It is also important to three large distribution center projects proposed for the area — five million square feet of warehousing proposed for the old Hazleton City Landfill site on the west side of Route 309; other large warehouses proposed across Route 309 and north of the Arthur Gardner Parkway; and 3.75 million square feet of warehousing proposed near the McAdoo exit of Interstate 81 in Kline Twp.
Kevin O’Donnell told CAN DO’s board of directors recently that a task force did a three-year update of the strategic plan that was updated last year, but its presentation to the board was delayed by COVID-19.
Transportation improvements are key to improving the workforce, he said.
“We want to improve the transportation options to the park as a means of providing more labor for the employers,” O’Donnell said. “We find that the employers in the parks are in need of workers, and we find that workers are here in the community, and don’t have transportation to the place of employment. We want to try somehow to link the two together. We want to advocate for better highway access and improve traffic flow within the parks, and provide advice to municipalities.”
“We want to automate our water system for more consistent water quality and efficiency,” O’Donnell said. “We want to conduct a cost benefit analysis on the new technology that is under consideration. We want to take action to improve water quality. The regulations from DEP and EPA are changing all the time, and they are getting pretty tough to stay within, so we are going to have to make improvements to our water quality in our system.”
O’Donnell also said CAN DO wants to utilize GIS mapping to document all CAN DO utility structures.
“It’s been 47, 48 years since we sunk the first well in the ground in the Humboldt Industrial Park, and since then, we’ve built miles of water and sewer lines and, quite honestly, it’s hard to keep track of it at this point, where the curb boxes, manholes and valves are, especially when there is snow outside,” he said. “Using a GIS system, you could use a cellphone to locate a curb box and a value.”