As the Blue Ribbon Commission on Agriculture in Lancaster County moved from a planning stage to a series of implementation strategies in early 2007, the timing seemed right to pull together a number of themes that relate to economic development and agriculture and move them ahead by using organizational structures that already exist in the community.
- Since 2004, the overall structure of Lancaster Prospers included a Center of Excellence in Production Agriculture that, until now, existed in name only with no programming;
- In 2006, the Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board created an incumbent worker training program in agriculture that has largely focused on the dairy and the poultry industry. The Board also continues to sponsor programming related to career education for primary and secondary school students;
- For some time, the Agriculture Committee of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry has supported activities that promote the health of the agriculture sector;
- The Lancaster County Cooperative Extension Services continues its traditional programs of consultation and education for the agriculture community;
- Throughout 2006, the Economic Development Company of Lancaster County has emerged as a significant agriculture lender;
- While the Library System of Lancaster County evolved in its role as a provider of information for agriculture and non-agriculture related businesses in the County.
These partners formed the Lancaster County Center of Excellence in early 2007 using the agenda of the Blue Ribbon Commission, the organizational framework of Lancaster Prospers, funding from the Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board, and staff from the Lancaster Chamber with support from Extension, EDC, and the Library system.
Follow the Lancaster Prospers Framework, the Five Activities of the Center Include…
- Local research and development;
- A sustained program of technology transfer;
- The encouragement of entrepreneurial activity;
- A comprehensive program of incumbent worker training;
- The development of a pipeline of new employees from school to work
Staying Competitive in the Marketplace
At the same time, our work is anchored in the heritage of Lancaster County agriculture and the findings from the Lancaster County Blue Ribbon Commission on Agriculture.
Staying competitive in the global marketplace requires an innovation system which assures that the skills of existing workers are state-of-the-art, individual producers who are dedicated to making their operations more efficient, an industry that is willing to look at new ideas and apply them to agricultural practice, and a pipeline to assure that new talent enters the workforce with appropriate knowledge and skills. The mission of the Center is focused on these themes.
Ultimately, the Lancaster County Center of Excellence in Production Agriculture understands that developing new markets in the United States and abroad, encouraging new entrepreneurial activity, and further developing the connection between producers and processors are a part of maintaining our competitive position.