Chester County emerged from the Great Recession with unparalleled growth opportunities. These opportunities included a dynamic agriculture sector that dominates the entire Philadelphia region, one of the world’s leading financial companies, and a potentially game-changing internet startup. Recognizing the need to build on these assets and support the area’s diverse economy, the creation of a countywide economic development strategy was a central recommendation of Landscapes 2, Chester County’s award-winning comprehensive plan.
To implement this recommendation, county officials established VISTA 2025 Executive Alliance, a public-private partnership comprised of key county business leaders, educators, and non-profit executives. As administrators of the VISTA 2025 planning process, the Chester County Economic Development Council engaged TIP to prepare a plan that would enable the county to pursue new business opportunities, while maintaining its focus on preservation and open space. A focus on economic health was reflected in the concepts that were identified as the plan’s guiding principles: sustainability, inclusiveness, and diversification. The resulting plan was organized around five goals: maintaining quality of place, attracting and retaining talent, targeted business recruitment, establishing an innovation culture, and developing infrastructure along “corridors of opportunity.” Accomplishments during the plan’s first five years of implementation include the creation of Venture Chesco, a cooperative effort with Ben Franklin Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, to make as much as $4 million available to startups and early-stage companies.