On Thursday, the Berks County Commissioners voted to allocate funds for economic development to the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA). These funds will primarily be used to first expand support for Agriculture and Agribusiness through partnerships with Berks Agriculture Resource Network (BARN) and other ag-related organizations, and, secondly, expand support for talent and workforce attraction through partnership with Pennsylvania’s Americana Region with the Meet Greater RDG campaign.

“We are committed to increasing the economic prosperity of Berks County, expanding opportunities for our residents and supporting the growth of our business community,” said Berks County Commissioner Chair Christian Leinbach.

Agribusiness has long been a target industry for Berks County. Through its business attraction and support tactics, GRCA will be bring a specific focus to this important industry. With cooperative relationships with the Berks County Department of Agriculture and BARN, GRCA will focus external marketing and internal outreach to this growth sector.

The talent attraction strategy will bring together two of Berks County’s premier business and marketing organizations: Pennsylvania’s Americana Region and the GRCA. These two organizations represent impactful economic results for Berks County, and this collaboration will enhance those results.

With the creation of a local job search platform, the initiative will encourage individuals to apply for job opportunities in the Berks County area. Like many communities across our commonwealth, local employers are finding it difficult to fill positions from hourly to salaried and entry-level to senior management.

Pennsylvania’s Americana Region, the Visitors Bureau representing Reading and Berks County, understands the value of its tourism assets and the strong role they play in attracting and retaining employees.

“With 12,000 qualified visitors coming to visitpaamericana.com each month, analytics indicated that a percentage of these visitors also recently looked for employment and real estate,” said Crystal Seitz, President of PA Americana. “We knew we were harnessing impressive data.”

Armed with that data, Seitz and Lisa Haggerty, Marketing Director for Pennsylvania’s Americana Region, met with GRCA.

It became apparent the two organizations could work together to drive more talent to the area by creating a career site on the Visitors Bureau’s website and enhancing their digital advertising to include those looking for employment. The intent is to draw talent to the area by expanding the Visitor Bureau’s digital market reach in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Baltimore, New York and Berks County.

“GRCA is committed to strategic community partnerships and collaboration. Our relationship with PA Americana will exponentially enhance the Meet Greater RDG message,” said Pamela Shupp, GRCA’s EVP and COO. “When we work together and leverage our relationships, we will achieve positive and impactful results.”

The site is under development and will be available to employers to post jobs to the site in mid-to-late February. Initially, job postings will be free. The site will be like other job recruitment websites, but specific to the Berks County employment opportunities and in support of Berks County businesses.