Who is 24/7 Wall Street? FCADC Editorial
So, I picked up the Public Opinion this morning to see a headline “Local economy hit by pandemic.” The font size was reminiscent of a World War II headline that we had just won the war. My first reaction was to ask myself, what is the point of the headline as every local economy across the nation has been hit by the pandemic. Then I read the article to learn that the Chambersburg-Waynesboro metropolitan area could become one of the hardest-hit economies nationwide according to an index created by 24/7 Wall Street.
Really? I have been an economic developer for 43 years, the last 34 with the Franklin County Area Development Corporation (FCADC), and while I have been contacted by numerous consultants and media outlets over the years, I can honestly say that never once was I contacted by 24/7 Wall Street. I find it interesting that they would have the knowledge and resources to analyze all metropolitan areas across the nation and put out a post-pandemic ranking before the post-pandemic recovery has begun. Moreover, I found it interesting that the local reporter never contacted our office or the Southcentral Workforce Development board, which oversees workforce development for the eight-county region of south-central Pennsylvania to include Franklin County, for any type of response to the 24/7 Wall Street ranking.
The “24/7” analysis placed heavy emphasis on our local transportation and logistics economy and while it is important and growing, it represents 12% of our local economy trailing Manufacturing, Retail & Hospitality, and Education/Health Care and Government Administration. The point is that we have worked diligently over the last 34 years to diversify the local economy so that we are not dependent on any one employer or industry sector.
One of the impacts of the pandemic has been to accelerate our shopping from traditional retail to on-line outlets. Currently 12.4% of retail sales are conducted on-line but the projection is that within the next five years that figure will exceed 20%. The net impact will be the need for more than 2 billion additional square feet of logistic space to be created in the United States. Given that I-81 carries roughly 12.5 percent of the nations GDP, our region will continue to be a hot spot for logistics as was evidenced by Amazon’s recent announcement to establish a Washington County location.
Had the local reporter inquired of our office, we could have let her know that at the current time, our office is working with 11 prospects exploring Franklin County as a location and that there are at least six major projects that have resumed construction or will begin within the next 90 days. The projects span agriculture, manufacturing, financial services, transportation and logistics, and government. Our economy was booming prior to the pandemic; and while the pandemic has been impactful in many ways and the recovery will be challenging (as it will be everywhere), it has not changed our strategic location, or the work ethic and resiliency of our residents. My suggestion is that the next time the PO wants to tell us our world is coming to an end based on a model, perhaps they should investigate a little deeper.