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Berks races to find CEO of new, unified economic group

A national search is underway for a chief executive officer to helm the new Berks County economic development organization that is being formed by three of its leading development organizations to integrate services.

A national search is underway for a chief executive officer to helm the new Berks County economic development organization that is being formed by three of its leading development organizations to integrate services.

The Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Greater Reading Economic Partnership and Greater Berks Development Fund have retained a search firm to assist with the selection. The organizations approved a merger in late April.

Until the new CEO is hired for the new organization, which has not been named, the top managers will be Karen Marsdale, interim president and CEO of the chamber (pending the departure of Ellen Horan); Edward J. Swoyer, president and CEO of the development fund; and Pamela Shupp, who will become president and CEO of the economic partnership on July 1.

While the three existing organizations will not fold – each will maintain its area of expertise, budget and staff – they will report to the new CEO, who will not have any new staff. Funding for the CEO’s salary will come from the three existing groups, officials said.

The new CEO will have an office in the same building where the three are located at 201 S. Penn St. in Reading – the Gateway Building.

“The goal is to get it established as soon as possible,” the chairmen of the three organizations said in a statement to Lehigh Valley Business.

Officials are working on legal requirements to form the new organization and whether it will be for-profit or nonprofit. Although previously published reports said it would be for-profit, the three groups’ board chairmen could not confirm this.

The new entity is being formed to streamline and integrate the services and expertise of the three longtime business and economic development organizations, officials said.

Investors, developers and their own members who wanted information or to do business in Berks County have traditionally had to navigate through a confusing array of similarly named organizations and an alphabet soup of acronyms – GREP, GRCCI and GBDF – and what appeared to be duplicative services. Even for longtime members of those groups, it could be a confusing and daunting maze.

“The goal is to provide easier access to all services currently provided by the three organizations,” the chairmen said in their statement.

Wendy Solomon

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