You can’t have one without the other. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. Communities that boast a great quality of life have both preservation and economic development.
Preservation is key to protecting delicate resources and our amazing quality of life that we all enjoy in Adams County. The protection of key areas throughout our communities for future generations to enjoy is something we can all agree is a good thing.
I think we can all agree employment opportunities are necessary components of a healthy, thriving community. Economic development is key to increasing the tax base in addition to creating and retaining jobs. How else will our local governments provide the necessary services they are required to?
I serve on the Board of Directors for the Land Conservancy of Adams County (LCAC) because I believe in the delicate balance that is necessary to enjoy an awesome quality of life, but also be able to adequately provide for your family. LCAC was created in 1995. Throughout the last 27 years, LCAC has preserved 12,200 acres across Adams County.
Since the inception of an economic development office in Adams County, where I work as Adams Economic Alliance’s vice president, some 50 farming families have been assisted with low-interest financing totaling over $12 million.
Some of the same farms that were financed with economic development programs were also preserved by LCAC. This is evidence of that delicate balance that exists in Adams County.
One of the most unique loans we facilitated at the Alliance involved the purchase of 65 acres on Tree Lane in Aspers, the site of Field of Adventures and the farm of Chris and Deb Smith. This project encompassed both agriculture and tourism, quickly becoming an agritourism business. The Smiths decided to preserve their farm a few years after they purchased it. We worked with the LCAC to subordinate to the new conservation easement. Hundreds of families enjoy this fun attraction every year and we’re proud to have helped them along in their success.
Sometimes people make the assumption that economic development is focused on, well, developing—i.e. building and constructing. But “developing” our economy sometimes means preserving land in order to support those industries which rely upon it. There is definitely recognition, within our office and across the county, that Adams County’s quality of life is high—thanks in great part to the hallowed ground within Gettysburg National Military Park, as well as the beautiful land connected to orchards and other agricultural industries, plus our parks and other community resources.
In closing, I think the bottom line is that we are all focused on the healthy, prosperous, well-being of our community—whether we work in agriculture, preservation/history, or economic development. I feel very fortunate to be uniquely positioned, through my career as well as my volunteer capacities, to have a foot in both.