The new year brought a new honor to Mike Grigalonis of the Chester County Economic Development Council, as he was named president of the statewide association for economic development in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Economic Development Association (PEDA) is an association of local, state, corporate, and nonprofit economic development professionals. Its mission is to promote sound economic development policies, provide leading-edge economic development education, and nurture an effective statewide economic development network to foster the economic growth of the Commonwealth.
“My full-time role will continue to be Chief Operating Officer of the Chester County Economic Development Council,” said Grigalonis, “but this new position, which is a two-year term, comes with some nice opportunities.”
On behalf of PEDA, for example, Grigalonis will meet regularly with the leadership of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and members of the state legislature who serve on economic development committees. He will also serve on the board of the Team Pennsylvania Foundation, a non-partisan nonprofit that helps connect private and public sector leaders to achieve and sustain progress for Pennsylvania.
“At PEDA, I will be working closely with the Executive Committee and the Executive Director to guide the direction of the organization,” he said. “We will dig into some organizational issues and try to make the appropriate strategic decisions on policies we’re going to implement or change.”
Additional duties for Grigalonis in this new leadership role will be to lead quarterly board meetings and executive committee meetings and plan the two major conferences PEDA holds each year in the spring and fall.
Although Grigalonis could not yet discuss any particular new policies under consideration, he looks forward to helping the organization continue to emphasize networking and educational opportunities among its more than 300 members. Under his leadership, he also expects PEDA to become more involved in advocacy issues, whether it’s funding programs or getting behind new initiatives that those in the field of economic development consider important.
Among the challenges PEDA members face is the increasing competition for talent.
“Economic growth today is very much about talent attraction and talent retention,” he said. “The better we can do in terms of attracting and retaining talent – locally, regionally, and state-wide – the better off we are going to be from an economic development standpoint.”
Of course, while Grigalonis will be making more frequent trips to Harrisburg for his new position, he and the CCEDC will continue to focus on business growth here at home.
“We have experienced strong economic growth here over many years but we have also been able to balance that growth with wonderful landscapes and open space, and that really is the fabric of Chester County’s community, as well as its economy,” he said. “Our job is to continue to drive that business growth while being respectful of the quality of place that we enjoy here, and we will continue to operate with that mindset. It is a special place, and we work hard to make it stay that way.”