(Posted August 19, 2003)

The Huntingdon County Commissioners announced today that the services associated with the new Enterprise Zone program will be provided through a contract with the Juniata College Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (JCEL).

Enterprise Zone designation of land in our county gives businesses in the zone entitlement to important services. Businesses can apply for low interest loans originating at the state level, with payments then being deposited into a revolving loan fund made available to other businesses. This money stays in the county and is used to assist local business owners wishing to create or retain jobs.

John Hille, Executive Vice President of JCEL, met with the Huntingdon County Commissioner to review plans for the Enterprise Zone. ?We are encouraged by the strong leadership that the Commissioners have shown in pursuing jobs for Huntingdon County.? He pointed to the Huntingdon County Economic Development Task Force that was created by the Commissioners. The Task Force brought together a wide range of business, education and economic development interests from all areas of the County. JCEL is expected to report directly to the Commissioners on Enterprise Zone achievements and will be a regular member of the County Economic Development Task Force.

County Commissioner Kent East cited one advantage of the relationship with JCEL. According to East, this Enterprise Zone program differs from many programs that focus on inducing businesses to relocate. ?We need to be successful in attracting new industry but must do more for existing Huntingdon County businesses. Through JCEL existing businesses will be invited to participate in a newly created Business Visitation Program, which will allow those experiencing business setbacks to get the assistance they need.? The program?s features include assessment visitations that will evaluate the health of local businesses. After the assessment, services will be offered to help those enterprises build on their strengths and overcome weaknesses.

?The partnership of Huntingdon County and JCEL is positive for the communities in our county,? says Harry Stroup, partner in Hearn and Stroup Certified Public Accountants in Huntingdon. ?The Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership will work with other economic development organizations in our community to make sure local businesses will be vital and strong in years to come.?

Enterprise Zone designation and The Juniata College Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership?s involvement in managing the program are two important ingredients in responsible economic growth for Huntingdon County. For information about the Enterprise Zone designation or JCEL, please visit JCEL?s website at www.jcel.biz.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.