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Wayne County’s Stourbridge Project Wins PEDA’s “Economic Development Project of the Year”


Wayne County's Stourbridge Project was named PEDA’s

“2018 Economic Development Project of the Year” 


The Pennsylvania Economic Development Association (PEDA) chose Wayne County’s "Stourbridge Project" as ONE of only THREE INITIATIVES across the state of Pennsylvania to be recognized in its 2018 Economic Development Awards program.


Project of the Year Award, The Stourbridge Project

Located in Honesdale, this project was designed to drive investment in the infrastructure, talent development and programming essential to grow the professional and technical services businesses and job opportunities in the rural Wayne County community. Despite limited resources and a lack of traditional economic engines, such as higher education institutions and large corporations, a collaborative approach allowed for the adaptive reuse of a former 1928 elementary school into a technology-focused business incubator with free co-working space, which is open to the public during business hours and has 24/7 access for members.


Outside of annual operating funds, grant and local match investments for this project exceeded $1.95M, which was secured from a variety of sources. Interest within the community and by entrepreneurs to locate in the building are high and, as marketing is ramped up, programming will continue at the site and expanded to remote parts of the county through collaboration with the library system, businesses and other communitybased organizations.

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PEDA awards committee Chair, Pamela Shupp of the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance, introduced the awards with a nod to the organizations responsible for stimulating the community.


“Economic development organizations are inventing new programs and strategies to respond to the rapidly changing business and community environments,” she said. “The unique and innovative ways they are transforming communities is something we are pleased to celebrate and recognize.”


Improvement efforts, programs and grant initiatives involving the Stourbridge Center project have regularly appeared on the commissioners’ weekly agenda in recent years, often shepherded and detailed by commissioners’ chief clerk Vicky Botjer. 


Nearly $2 million has gone into the transformation of the 1928 elementary school at the county’s Park Street Complex into a technology-focused business incubator with a free co-working space. The complex is open to the public during business hours and has 24/7 access for members.


Half of the investment into that transformation came from Wayne County in the form of the building, maintenance and in-kind contributions. The collaborative effort also helped attract investment from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the USDA Rural Development Fund, the Commonwealth Financing Authority and others.

The Stourbridge Project is one of only two rural business incubators in the Ben Franklin Technology Partners network. It also has been designated as a Keystone Innovation Zone through East Stroudsburg University.

Wayne Commissioner Wendell Kay, who attended the awards luncheon, said, “It’s a team-building attitude that we are trying to foster here. Teamwork is the key to any venture. The more collaboration you have, the better your chance of success.”


Back in Honesdale on October 4, Wayne Economic Development Corporation (WEDCO) Executive Director Mary Beth Wood, along with Stourbridge Project Director Susan Shaffer and Wayne Pike Workforce Alliance officials Helene Mancuso and Jess Wolk, formally presented the award to the county commissioners.

Wood said the project was “born out of the Wayne Tomorrow initiative as the best way to grow businesses. The challenge was to do it with limited resources and without the traditional economic engines like higher education institutions and large corporations.”

Shaffer spoke to that success, noting that during the recent Fiddle Festival, representatives of three major corporations, Siemens, Raytheon and Twitter, were all using the space. “This is the first of many awards,” she predicted.


Commissioners Chair Brian Smith said the collaboration of those involved in the Wayne Tomorrow Initiative has been instrumental in the launch and success of the Stourbridge Project. Smith, Kay and then-commissioner Jonathan Fritz launched Wayne Tomorrow after another of the county’s large manufacturers closed its doors. “It became clear that 300-job companies were not going drop in our laps,” Smith said. “We had to rebuild a platform of opportunity.”


Jess Wolk, who oversees the programming at the facility, said it could not have been done without the community.

Nearly 700 people have participated in more than

75 classes since the facility opened in 2015.

“Public-private partnerships may be buzzwords, but we are really doing it here,” said Commissioner Joseph Adams.


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