Economic Impact of Adams County’s Fruit Belt


By Robin Fitzpatrick

We often refer to Adams County’s three main industries as our pillars of industry—agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing. Within the county’s ag industry, we have long known that fruit is number one in production and is also the reason why value added processing and manufacturing businesses are located here.  But we have not known the full extent and depth of our fruit belt’s economic impact—until now.

A comprehensive, two-year study just concluded, led by the Adams County Office of Planning and Development, in partnership with the Adams County Fruit Growers’ Association, the Penn State Extension Service, and conducted by The Chesapeake Group with TischlerBise.

“The Adams County fruit belt’s economic impact on the county’s economy is $580 million annually—and that’s a conservative estimate,” according to Bicky Redman, senior planner in the Adams County Office of Planning and Development. “Beyond that, the Adams County fruit belt’s economic impact on the state of Pennsylvania is two to four times that.” That translates into $1.16—$2.32 billion in economic activity.

Additional major findings:

  • $16.4 million in local taxes is generated by fruit belt properties
  • Adams County’s fruit belt accounts for 70% of Pennsylvania’s total apple crop
  • Adams County ranks #1 in apple and peach production in Pennsylvania
  • 54% of Adams County’s fruit farms produce fresh apples for direct or retail consumption—with a value of $70 million annually
  • 46% of Adams County’s fruit farms produce apples for processing—with a value of $61 million annually
  • The economic impact of fresh and retail production is expected to grow by 24% over the next 10 years
  • Statewide there are more than 31,000 acres producing fruit; more than 20,000 of those acres are located in Adams County

“Adams County’s fruit belt is very unique,” Redman says. “We might not have a fruit belt industry but for South Mountain. The taste of Adams County’s apples is relative to South Mountain and its well-draining soils, as well as the climate that it sets up.”

“Going a step further, Knouse Foods Cooperative might not have formed but for the fruit belt. We learned that 75% of the restaurants and institutions in the entire U.S. serve products from Knouse Foods.”

“We also learned how valuable the Penn State Fruit Research Lab is to Adams County and the industry as a whole. They are helping growers with innovations that will result in labor cost reductions. Labor is one of their major costs, and coupled with today’s immigration issues, it leaves our growers in a place of vulnerability and uncertainty,” Redman says, noting the industry is not without its share of issues.

Future economic impact studies could focus on the impact of Hanover Shoe Farms on the harness racing industry, Adams County’s poultry industry, dairy industry, and crop farming, says Redman.

At our Adams County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC) Annual Membership Meeting in January, I declared 2017 “the year of the municipality.” As it pertains to agriculture, ACEDC is here to help our municipalities learn more about changes within the industry. Zoning, for example, may need to be reviewed to accommodate or restrict activities related to the production of a commodity.  Think about how nice it might be to enjoy a glass of wine or cider while taking in a view that only Adams County can offer.  This may be encouraged in one township and discouraged in another.  There is no right or wrong; it’s just about planning what you want for your community.  ACEDC is here to provide resources to municipalities so they can be prepared for these issues and questions as they arise or even before, as we all search for the right balance and blend of industry, preservation, services, housing, etc. that comprise Adams County as a whole.

Robin Fitzpatrick serves as President of ACEDC. For additional information, see, call 717-334-0042, and follow the organization on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

April 19: Economic Breakfast Chock Full of Indicators

By Kaycee Kemper

One of the region’s most respected economic experts will address Adams County business leaders on April 19. Warren M. Hurt, Vice President and Chief Investment Officer for F&M Trust Company, is the featured speaker for the Gettysburg Adams Chamber of Commerce Economic Breakfast, being held in partnership with the Adams County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC).

Warren Hurt, Chief Investment Officer, F&M Trust Company

“It’s an excellent opportunity to provide business and organization leaders with an outlook on the economic climate since the administration change,” says Carrie Stuart, President, Gettysburg Adams Chamber of Commerce. “We look forward to hearing how experts believe policy changes will impact business, moving forward.”

“Global and national trends have a direct impact on the local economy.  Putting our fingers on the pulse of 2017’s economic forecast is vital,” says Robin Fitzpatrick, President of ACEDC. “We look forward to Mr. Hurt’s analysis and insights, providing an overview of the economic health of our county, region, and nation.”

The event, being held at SpiriTrust Lutheran at the Village of Gettysburg, is set for 7 am on Wednesday, April 19. Be watching our organizations’ websites and/or Facebook pages for ticketing information ( and

Hurt serves as head of F&M Trust’s investment committee; his responsibilities include the formulation and implementation of investment policy and strategy. He has over 17 years of investment management experience and is also responsible for portfolio construction and maintenance for individuals, trusts, corporations and non-profit organizations.

Hurt earned his bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo and received his Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Georgia State University with concentrations in marketing and finance. He is the featured daily contributor to News Talk Radio’s 103.7’s “Morning Money & Market Update” report.

He currently lives in Chambersburg with his wife and daughter, and is an active volunteer in the community.  He has served as treasurer and board member of The Children’s Aid Society of Franklin County and the Chambersburg Arts Council.

Don’t miss out on this learning opportunity or any of the others offered by ACEDC this year.  It’s not too late to become an investor in the organization.  Visit our website and go to Become an Investor tab.  There you will learn about the benefits available to your organization.  It’s an investment in your community.

Kaycee Kemper serves as Vice President of ACEDC. For additional information, see, and follow the organization on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for the latest Adams County business news. She encourages all prospective and current business owners to contact ACEDC for free and confidential business services—information on business plans, relocation, expansion, financing, and much more. She can be contacted at 717-334-0042 or


Because We’re a Commonwealth

acedc-projects-in-upper-adams-sdBy Robin Fitzpatrick

I’m going to put you on the spot today and start with three questions. Let’s see how you do!

Q: Why is planning for land use important?

A: Similar to other plans, it outlines where we want to go! The goal of land-use planning is to further the health, safety and welfare of people and their communities by meeting their needs while safeguarding natural resources. It’s the process by which lands are evaluated and assessed to become a basis for decisions involving land use and configuration. Here’s a hint.  Remember the terms evaluated and assessed!

Q: Who has the most influence over land use in your community?

A: The answer is… the officials who govern Adams County’s 13 boroughs and 21 townships.

Q: Is there a relationship between land use and taxes?

A: You bet! The value of land is different based upon its location, how it is used, what is built on top of it, etc.  Ideally, communities try to establish areas for all types of use and arrange them in a manner where they are complimentary and do not conflict with one another.

The higher the value of land, the more revenue the taxing body receives.  There is a tipping point at which developed land will no longer be what is the highest and best use for a community.  Remember, land use plans include all uses and they remain in balance or complimentary to our natural resources.

We all know that real estate taxes are used as a source of revenue for governing bodies.  For those of you who were not born, bred and raised in PA, think back on the first time you received a tax bill.  And then another one came.  And another.  Welcome to the Commonwealth!  Our tax dollars fund operations for the county, the municipality and the school district.  Remember, they are charged with the health, safety and welfare of the citizenry.  And thanks to Thomas Jefferson, the ‘free’ education for our youth!

Local governments/taxing bodies are sensitive to the size of the tax base and they prefer to expand it so they don’t have to raise taxes every year.  But how do we expand the tax base without over development?  Well, we plan!  Much of this happens at the municipal level. Each municipality goes through a great deal of study and planning in order to create and maintain the community that their citizens want.  Some have more development than preservation; some the opposite.  Major factors affecting development include road accessibility, sewer and water availability.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking at a meeting of the Upper Adams School District’s Board of Directors and explaining how ACEDC has made an impact in their school district. Since 2005, ACEDC has assisted at least 20 businesses located within the Upper Adams School District, via low interest loans provided by the Commonwealth to expand existing businesses, or by providing business tools and contacts for new/existing businesses. All of these activities created and/or preserved jobs… impacting, you guessed it, the tax base, which benefitted the school district. Some of the businesses located in Upper Adams’ footprint include Zeigler Brothers, Rice Fruit Company, the Bendersville Fire Company, Showers Tree Farm, Smithfield Farms, and many more (see map above).

And now for the most important part: residents. Yes, the people who live in Adams County’s boroughs and townships, and comprise the loyal, dedicated workforces to run the businesses of which we speak, who LIVE in the very neighborhoods, boroughs, and townships of which we speak. Is there affordable housing for our workforce and their families? Are they safe, warm, and do they have enough money for food and other necessities of life?

Everything comes full circle. Again, who has the most influence over land use in your neighborhood, school district, community—which impacts your quality of life, your job, your home? I dare say the fate of your needs, desires, and dreams rest in the hands of your borough or municipal officials who guide and shape the land that surrounds the place where you have chosen to live. Get to know your borough and municipal leaders—they impact your life more than you probably realize. Going one step further, get involved in your local municipality to make an impact in your community!

Robin Fitzpatrick, President of ACEDC, looks forward to speaking with additional Adams County school district boards during 2017. For additional information on ACEDC, see, and follow the organization on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, or call 717-334-0042.

ACEDC Announces SAY Plastics is Recipient of Ben Franklin Technology Partners Funding

McSherrystown Company Applauded for “Innovation and Vision”

SAY Plastics, McSherrystown, Adams County
SAY Plastics, McSherrystown, Adams County

GETTYSBURG, PA (January 17, 2017) – Adams County’s SAY Plastics is one of eleven Pennsylvania companies receiving funding and services from Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP), a state initiative that supports emerging tech-based companies and existing manufacturers seeking diversification in innovating ways.

SAY Plastics will receive $125,000 to pursue a new market—the transportation industry—and carve out a new niche by re-engineering replacement parts for railcars, trucks, and buses. Traditionally, transportation parts have been composed of metal and fiberglass materials; SAY Plastics is utilizing a new approach—their customized SAYtooling system—to design thermoformed, cost-effective, plastic components.

Ben Franklin’s funding came about as a result of a referral by Adams County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC), Gettysburg. Previously, ACEDC financed two Small Business First loans to SAY Plastics.

“We salute SAY Plastics for their innovation and vision,” said ACEDC President Robin Fitzpatrick. “SAY Plastics is at the forefront of Adams County’s growing tech and plastics industry, taking advantage of our strategic location along the Mason Dixon Line with easy access to major U.S. markets, as well as our dedicated workforce, and excellent quality of life.”

Founded in 1986, SAY Plastics currently employs 14 people; Ben Franklin’s funding will allow the small manufacturer to add several new positions in order to pursue new clients in the transportation and other industries.

“In order for us to acquire new business, we need to find innovative ways to get involved in the marketplace,” said SAY Plastics Vice President and General Manager Ron Staub. “As a result, we have perfected the process of making parts with alternative tooling—converting existing materials to plastics, and Ben Franklin thought it was a viable project.”

“Their investment in the form of a loan without collateral provides a way for SAY Plastics to move into the market faster by increasing marketing efforts and hiring a design engineer to expand our engineering capacity,” Staub said.

BFTP generally funds 30-36 projects annually, investing an average of $100,000 per project, within the 32-county territory of Central and Northern Pennsylvania. BFTP Director of the South Central Region Richard Heddleson says several factors made SAY Plastics’ application stand out.

“We’re looking to invest in companies that are innovating with technology and will create jobs in Pennsylvania—that’s the common thread. One of the important things about SAY Plastics is the strength of the management team. We felt confident that they would execute on their plan and that a significant number of jobs would be created in Pennsylvania as a result,” said Heddleson.

SAY Plastics, McSherrystown, Adams County, was recently awarded one of 11 investments by Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Central and Northern PA Region, in order to penetrate a new market: providing affordable thermoformed plastic parts utilizing new technology for the transportation industry.
SAY Plastics, McSherrystown, Adams County, was recently awarded one of 11 investments by Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Central and Northern PA Region, in order to penetrate a new market: providing affordable thermoformed plastic parts utilizing new technology for the transportation industry.
The components pictured here, and above, are window masks being produced for Chicago’s Metra commuter rail system.
The component pictured here, and above, is a window mask being produced for Chicago’s Metra commuter rail system.
SAY Plastics, McSherrystown, Adams County
SAY Plastics, McSherrystown, Adams County

Adams County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC), Gettysburg, PA, is a private, 501 (c)(6) not-for-profit organization incorporated in 1989 as a result of a task force initiated by Adams County business leaders. The corporation is governed by a board of director comprised of many local and regional community leaders from all sectors of industry. ACEDC’s mission is to improve the economy of Adams County while preserving and enhancing the quality of life by formulating, implementing, and promoting economic development strategies for sustained investment and employment opportunities in Adams County. For more information, see, follow us on Twitter (@AdamsCoEDC), Facebook (, and LinkedIn.

SAY Plastics, located in McSherrystown, PA, is an ISO-certified producer of thermoformed plastic components and assemblies. The company’s SAYtooling System effectively re-engineers metal and FRP parts, providing thermoformed, cost effective, plastic designs for a variety of industries. For more information, see

The largest early-stage investor in our region, Ben Franklin Technology Partners/CNP, (an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority) provides funding, operational assistance, and business support services to emerging tech-based companies and small, existing manufacturers for the purpose of creating and retaining jobs in Pennsylvania.  Contact Ben Franklin’s office in University Park at (814) 863-4558 or see our website at




Integral to Economic Development: Focus, Balance


This article was originally published in the Gettysburg Times, January 12, 2017

By Robin Fitzpatrick

The words “focus” and “balance” could very well relate to New Year’s resolutions, wellness, and health. These two key words also relate to economic development and many similar “resolutions” that will be presented tonight, at the 27th Annual Membership Meeting of the Adams County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC). Continue reading Integral to Economic Development: Focus, Balance

ACEDC Invites Public to Annual Membership Meeting, January 12


The Adams County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC) will hold its 27th Annual Membership Meeting at Liberty Mountain Resort, Carroll Valley, on January 12.
Liberty Mountain Resort, Carroll Valley

Greatest successes of 2016: “Identifying shared focus with community partners”

Adams County’s largest economic development event of the year, the 27th Annual Membership Meeting of the Adams County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC), is set for January 12 beginning at 5 pm at Liberty Mountain Resort. Business and community leaders are encouraged to attend; the RSVP deadline is Friday, January 6 by calling 717-334-0042 or emailing

“Some of the greatest economic development successes we’ve accomplished over the past year include identifying a shared focus with community partners and implementing ground-breaking new partnerships and programs which are carrying us into 2017,” says Robin Fitzpatrick, ACEDC President. Continue reading ACEDC Invites Public to Annual Membership Meeting, January 12

Partnerships: Essential for 2017 Success

Credit: Aidan Jones, via Wikimedia Commons
Credit: Aidan Jones, via Wikimedia Commons

By Kaycee Kemper

Partnerships have always been of paramount importance to all Adams County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC) staff, investors, board members, committee members, and volunteers. But as we prepare for 2017 by planning and scheduling events, you’ll be hearing more and more about partnerships than ever before. Continue reading Partnerships: Essential for 2017 Success

ACEDC and HACC Introduce Innovative Workforce Development Program

ACEDC logo

Program, Partnership Serve as State Model Seeking ‘Adams County Champion’

GETTYSBURG, PA (November 16, 2016) – Hailed as “one of the most significant and valuable programs we have ever provided to businesses,” Adams County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC) President Robin Fitzpatrick encourages area business leaders to learn more about ACT WorkKeys, being implemented in partnership with HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College. Continue reading ACEDC and HACC Introduce Innovative Workforce Development Program

Adams County Workforce: Time for a Checkup

dreamstimemedium_35314401This article was originally published in The Gettysburg Times, November 10, 2016

By Robin Fitzpatrick

How do you maintain health and wellness? Although there are many excellent habits we employ into our daily routines, there is one regular habit that serves as a true litmus test of our health—going to the doctor for a checkup.

Similarly, there are a myriad of strategies we employ throughout the year to support businesses, growth, and economic vitality in Adams County. We often talk about the three main pillars of industry in Adams County: manufacturing/industrial, agriculture, and tourism. Earlier this year, we identified a number of growth industries within the county: agribusiness, biotech, plastics, and technology.

For a checkup on Adams County’s economic health and wellbeing, we have compiled the latest data—a series of snapshots of the county’s employment and industry statistics. Continue reading Adams County Workforce: Time for a Checkup

Keys to a Healthy Workforce

Photo Credit: Albert Belchers, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons

This article was originally published in The Gettysburg Times, October 13, 2016

By Robin Fitzpatrick

Careers can be thought of as a series of doors, opening—or closing—at various times through our lives. But to hear “opportunity knocking,” we all need to be holding the right keys in order to unlock the doors to our futures.

It is with great excitement that Adams County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC), in partnership with Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC), is laying the groundwork for area students to attain platinum, gold, silver, and bronze keys which will open doors leading to future success. This has the potential to be one of the most ground-breaking programs we have ever provided to Adams County’s employers! Continue reading Keys to a Healthy Workforce