BEDFORD, PA — Bette Slayton, president and CEO of the Bedford County Development Association (BCDA) has been designated Economic Developer of the Year for 2021 by the Pennsylvania Economic Development Association (PEDA).
PEDA announced the honor at its annual conference, held this year on Oct. 7 at the Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, PA.
“Supporters say one would be hard pressed to name someone who has had more of an impact on economic development projects in her community in recent years than Bette Brown Slayton,” said James Becker, executive director of the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County and chair of the PEDA Awards Committee.
The projects directly touched by the BCDA have resulted in more than 4,000 new jobs and approximately $3 million in annual property taxes, he noted.
“Slayton’s impact is unquestioned,” Becker said, “From her successful efforts to convene stakeholders from her region to involvement with a nationally recognized restoration of a major historic landmark to her efforts to recruit one of the first regional distribution centers built on the East Coast by one of the world’s largest retailers, Slayton is being recognized for the significant role she plays in economic development across all sectors throughout Bedford County.”
Slayton began working for the Bedford County Office of Economic Development in 1990, which comprised five all-volunteer community organizations dispersed across the county. Under her leadership, these separate organizations merged to form a countywide Development Association.
Today, BCDA owns two business centers, three business parks, and has plans to start construction of a new multi-tenant building in 2022. Its Strategic Plan includes Business Retention and Recruitment, Real Estate Development, Financing, Marketing, and Workforce and Entrepreneurial Development.
In the writeup that accompanied Slayton’s nomination, former Lt. Governor/Senator Robert C. Jubelirer addressed the challenges that BCDA has surmounted.
“Hers is a very tough arena, a county where economic slowdowns seem to hit hardest, where recovery is slow to take root, where people want opportunity but are mistrustful of outsiders and where pockets of chauvinism persist,” Jubelirer said. “A lot of her work is out of the spotlight in helping individuals establish themselves locally and build their markets. We need more like her in regional economic development.”
In their letter of support, Bedford County’s Commissioners acknowledged that the BCDA’s efforts have enabled the county’s economy to grow significantly and diversify, resulting in more opportunities for its youth than ever before.
“We value our role on the BCDA board,” said Chairman Barry Dallara. “Economic development is especially challenging in rural areas such as ours where resources are limited. We have been especially fortunate to have Bette Slayton at the helm of our economic development efforts.”
Slayton said she was honored to have been chosen from a list of impressive economic development professionals who represent regions with significantly larger portfolios. “It’s truly an honor to be recognized by my peers from across the state,” Slayton noted.