Cumberland County Economic Development


As the U.S. economy has shifted over time, economic developers have had to adjust as well. What was once a field focused on business park development and industrial recruitment, is now a sector marked by an incredible array of responsibilities -- from building an emerging workforce to financing existing business growth, and from entrepreneurial assistance to the development of innovative technology corridors. In Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, a proactive team of business-minded public and business officials sought to transform their economic development organization so that the agency would meet the needs of a diverse range of businesses, enhance its communication effectiveness, and pioneer a new and flexible business model for how government can support the growth and success of the private sector.

Like their private-sector counterparts, government agencies benefit from effective branding supported by a clear leadership strategy. Under the direction of Douglas Wendt, the Cumberland County economic development agency was restructured from a government office into a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation with shared governance emanating from public officials and private business leaders, supported by a performance-based management plan. The strategic planning process included competitive benchmarking, industry analysis and extensive business outreach, which in turn led to a new series of initiatives including a specialized lending program, an innovation zone focused on driving downtown revitalization through technology investment, and a unique outreach partnership to connect education, economic development and support for the emerging workforce.

As a result of the new strategy, Cumberland County Economic Development successfully repositioned itself as a highly flexible, cutting-edge business consultancy. The agency became a recognized leader in business retention and launched a dynamic and sophisticated website that incorporated eight database tools including customized mapping and zone analysis capabilities. The culmination of the agency’s new brand vision was the successful launch of Cumberland Business magazine, a comprehensive executive publication with original articles and comprehensive business news. As a result of these accomplishments, the agency received eight awards for communication excellence and dramatically increased its visibility as a regional partner for business innovation.


Business-to-Business, Commercial Real Estate, Economic Development, Nonprofit, Workforce Development


Strategic Consulting, Branding & Messaging, Organizational Development, Integrated Communications

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Douglas Wendt is a proven and accomplished economic development leader who harnesses the power of strategic communications to build unique partnerships and launch innovative programs. His leadership speaks volumes about his expertise in creating new strategies that work— for both the public and private sectors.
Matt Tunnell, Senior Vice President, Powers & Associates and Former Deputy Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development

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