McALISTERVILLE - Members of Juniata Business and Industry Inc. discussed the activities of 2012 and the upcoming projects for 2013 during the organization's annual meeting held Tuesday evening at The Bread of Life Restaurant in McAlisterville.
With the economy as it is, the organization has focused more on marketing projects than site and business development over the past year, said Fred Naylor, board member and secretary for JBI. The group's major activities of 2012 include the annual local job expo, the improvement of highway signage and continuing search for sites to develop, he said.
"We applied for a grant with a local power company that provides matching funds for economic development projects," Naylor said. "After going through all the applications, the company chose us and we were able to use the money to improve JBI's industrial park sign along Route 322."
The improvement in roadside advertising has the potential to benefit businesses currently at the industrial park as well as raise interest in the park itself, Naylor said.
The annual job expo hosted by JBI was a success as well, Naylor said. More than 200 visitors attended the event to speak with more than 30 business representatives in attendance, he added.
JBI Board President Mark Partner commented on the continued search for local sites that meet criteria for further development. Sites must have highway or rail access, potential for infrastructure improvements and room for businesses to expand, he said.
"Though our inquiry into neighboring areas has been constant, there are no specific sites that we are interested in working on," Partner said. "However, the need for economic developmental assistance is ongoing and we will continue to look at areas for JBI to develop."
Generally, Partner said, JBI purchases the land, builds the necessary infrastructure and then allows businesses or entrepreneurs to purchase the lot. During the process, the organization provides financial assistance and guidance, he added.
JBI's annual meeting also included the re-election of board members Mark Partner, Jerry Leach and Fred Naylor. Then, during a private session of the meeting, the board re-elected Partner as board president, Leach as vice president, Naylor as board secretary and Gayle Arbogasp as treasurer.
The biggest project of 2013, Partner announced, will be the creation of a promotional booklet featuring stories and ads for local businesses and organizations in Juniata County. JBI will be partnering with Centre Publications Inc. on the project, he said.
"The project will provide us with a full-color, glossy booklet that will profile the business park as a site for business development and highlight the quality of life which residents of Juniata County enjoy," Partner said. "The booklet will be an indispensable tool for us to use in attracting new businesses and jobs to Juniata County."
Centre Publications will be responsible for all ad sales as well as the layout, design and photographs, Partner said. Work on the booklet will begin in February and the final product will be available for purchase by early June, he added.
A portion of the publication cost will be funded through the ad sales, Partner added.
"(The project) is designed to promote Juniata Business and Industry and Juniata County as whole," Partner said.