Ross: Job openings outpace available workers in Franklin County

MERCERSBURG, Pa. — Franklin County, Pa., had 3,260 job openings in early December and only 2,800 people classified as unemployed, Franklin County Area Development Corp. President L. Michael Ross said Thursday.

The county is in need of tractor-trailer drivers, registered nurses, retail salespeople and managers, food-preparation workers, social- and human-services professionals, production workers, maintenance and repair personnel, stock clerks and warehouse workers, Ross said, citing data from the Southcentral Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board and Pennsylvania Department of Labor.

Ross served as the keynote speaker at a Tuscarora Area Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

“Our challenge isn’t if we can create economic development,” he said. “It’s how we manage it.”

The chamber breakfast at Whitetail Resort also featured remarks from Franklin County Commissioner David Keller, who provided updates on county initiatives, as well as Pennsylvania state Rep. Jesse Topper, R-Bedford/Franklin/Fulton; newly elected state Rep. John Hershey, R-Franklin/Juniata/Mifflin; and state Sen. Judy Ward, R-Blair/Cumberland/Franklin/Fulton/Huntingdon, who previously served in the state House.

Ross recommitted to his annual pledge of ensuring each Franklin County school district benefits from an economic-development project.

“We want to make sure everybody can avail themselves of resources and support that is available,” he said.

The development corporation has become more selective in its business-attraction efforts than in decades past, Ross said.

That is because existing and available industrial buildings are few, public infrastructure has needs, social services are strained, affordable housing is not as plentiful as it should be, and a skilled workforce needs to be grown, he said.

Ross highlighted projects that include Jamison Door’s new facility in Washington Township; Fil-Tec Inc.’s expansion in that same business park; Penn Cherry’s reuse of the former Foremost Industries building in Montgomery Township; Whitetail Resort’s successful get-out-the-vote effort for liquor licenses in a referendum; Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch’s warehouse and soon-to-be-developed egg-production plant; and growth around exits 3 and 24 of Interstate 81.

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