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From the Desk of County Commissioner
Jim Martin

(6/2016) Recently I came across an article from a "Rural Pennsylvania" magazine with a unique subject. It featured the net worth of each Pennsylvania County, that is, the net value of all assets within a particular county’s boundaries. When the net worth of each county was shown on a map of PA counties, various geographic trends were noticeable. Relative to Adams County, as one moves across southern PA from east to west, net worth per county declines. The decline stops when reaching Franklin County, which has approximately $9 billion more in net worth than Adams County. Additionally, what can be seen is that all PA counties boarding Adams County have a significantly higher net worth than Adams County.

What does the above situation reveal and what is the impact? It is my opinion and the opinion of others, that Adams County does not have a strong economy nor a strong presence of commercial infrastructure. Thankfully our economy is steady and we can boast that Adams County presently has the lowest unemployment of any county in PA. This is largely due to the nature of our two largest economic drivers; agriculture and tourism. These two industries in appropriate areas are blending together into a new industry, agritourism, which is evolving and growing. This is good news for Adams County because it offers the opportunity to increase the county’s net worth.

Why is net worth important and what would its increase do for Adams County? Net worth represent a major source of investment dollars that can provide the potential to help incubate economic activity in Adams County. When expansion comes in the form of commercial infrastructure, it can exponentially increase our property tax base and help to keep property tax increase in check. This would be in addition to greater revenues and employment that come from economic expansion.

Another reason that a county’s net worth is important, is that it serves as a financial resource for philanthropic opportunities. The greater the resources, the greater is the potential for increased giving toward community projects and preservation that can improve the county’s quality of life.

My optimism for economic improvement in Adams County has been increasing over the past months. The following examples give cause for my optimism: the new lodge at Liberty Mountain, newly completed Rutter’s Service Center, the new Tractor Supply and Appalachian Brewing Company which are both near completion, a new Advanced Auto and a new Day Care Center under construction, large expansion of CA fruit storage, renovations to Sheetz and ACNB, two new Dollar Stores nearing construction, and the ongoing construction of a rental apartment complex.

Other positive projects include the back filling of significant vacant structures. Four, in particular, come to mind; the former Schindler building back filled by a logistics firm, the former Gettysburg Pretzel Factory backfilled by expanding the Fastenal Supply Company, the Bendersville Dal Tile Plant renovated for use by Justice Excavation, and county’s renovation of the Herff Jones building.

The acquisition and renovation of the Herff Jones building brings something new to the county; that will be the addition of Mental Health-IDD Services that are lacking in Adams County. This service will bring approximately nine new positions to Adams County. Additionally, the space for this service will be rented at the market rate, providing revenue to the county. This creates a Triple Crown winner; needed services for our residents, new positions in the county, and revenues to the county through rent. I anticipate that there will be more positive outcomes to report from the county’s acquisition of the Herff Jones building.

Just as an update, we have completed the final architectural floor plans for the renovation of the Herff Jones building, presently being named the Adams County Human Services Building. These plans are now being sent to our engineers for the preparation of specifications; materials, electrical, plumbing, fixtures, and equipment. When these engineering drawings are completed they will be made available for contractor bidding with the goal of starting renovation by mid-summer 2016. What many people do not know is that many items and fixtures remained with the building following the purchase. The items and fixtures that the county is unable to use will likely be auctioned on site. Such an auction is still in the planning stage and details will be announced in the coming weeks. Any businesses or institutions looking for shelving, office furniture, and or well-constructed cubicles, you will not want to miss this auction.

What else is new to report? Since my last article I had three unique visits around the county. The one visit was my first opportunity to visit Shinning Stars Therapeutic Horse Riding program. It is a well-run program supported by a dedicated group of volunteers. I was amazed to see how physically and emotionally challenged children, youth, and adults are helped in meeting their developmental needs. The program operates in an excellent facility and a well-organized program.

My other two visits were to open houses that showcased the McSherrystown and Littlestown senior centers. Both are well run centers and are supported by proud seniors severing one another. Senior centers such as these throughout the county and the Therapeutic Riding Program are excellent examples of the county’s community spirit that makes Adams County a special place. To all the many volunteers throughout Adams County, we the Adams County Commissioners truly appreciate the special touch that you give to Adams County.

Best regards,

Adams County Commissioner JIM Martin

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