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Berks to get share of $3M grant to attract foreign business

By , - Last modified: December 31, 2013 at 11:25 AM

Berks County will get a share of a $3 million federal grant to help attract international and domestic companies to move to the region.

The Greater Reading Economic Partnership will receive part of the Pennsylvania Made Again grant – which also is going to 52 other economic development organizations in Pennsylvania.

The Reading partnership is one of nine counties in the Foreign Trade Zone of Southern Pennsylvania. The FTZSPA partnered with the Susquehanna Economic Development Association-Council of Governments in Lewisburg to devise a comprehensive plan on how to best utilize its awarded Pennsylvania Made Again grant. The goal is to spur international economic development and marketing by encouraging foreign companies to expand into Pennsylvania, as well as luring domestic companies that have previously moved their production overseas.

"I think it is going to help formalize some of the strategies of international marketing that economic development corporations in Pennsylvania have already been working on independently," Pamela J. Shupp, vice president of the Greater Reading Economic Partnership and a member of the FTZSPA Board, said this morning.

The program is funded by 10 federal grants, including the Make It In America grant, as well as through federal agencies, including the Economic Development Administration, Employment and Training Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The nine counties in GREP's FTZSPA are Berks, Lancaster, Adams, Dauphin, Cumberland, Franklin, Lebanon, Perry and York. Fifty-two economic development corporations in all have been awarded the funding, which will be implemented over a three-year span. The division of the funds has yet to be determined, Shupp said.

The mission of GREP is to attract, retain and grow business by promoting and coordinating economic development in Greater Reading while the SEDA-COG, a multicounty Pennsylvania economic development agency, provides leadership, expertise and services to communities, businesses, institutions and residents.

A major role in the program also will be the state's Center for Direct Investment. As a division of the Pennsylvania Office of International Business Development, the center is familiar with foreign trade show participation and exhibitions. In addition, the center works with authorized investment representatives around the globe.

"Our efforts to attract international companies will be strengthened by this new partnership, and together we can introduce a new, energized Pennsylvania to businesses throughout the world," said C. Alan Walker, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

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Jennifer Glose

Jennifer Glose

Reporter Jennifer Glose covers health care, Berks County and other topics. She can be reached at jenniferg@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 111. Follow her on Twitter @jenniferg_LVB and read her blog, “Networking,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/networking-blog.

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