Failures, mergers and other challenges facing Wall Street firms will also present challenges to local recruitment efforts under the Wall Street West project – a post-Sept. 11 effort to set up backup financial operations outside of New York City.


Failures, mergers and other challenges facing Wall Street firms will also present challenges to local recruitment efforts under the Wall Street West project – a post-Sept. 11 effort to set up backup financial operations outside of New York City.


“Probably, you are not going to see a lot of expansion right now,” said Mary Beth Wood, executive director of the Wayne Economic Development Corporation (WEDCO). “Although one advantage we do have here is we provide a tremendous value for our labor force. You look at your operational costs here, and they are significantly lower than you would find in some of your metropolitan areas.”


Some local business leaders say that efforts to develop the local workforce remain as important as ever despite potential delays in getting business to set up backup operations here.
“One of things business look at is the qualifications and skill of the work force,” said Mark Graziadio, vice president of Honesdale National Bank. “What is happening on Wall Street is a temporary situation. The tech side of economy and redundancy of operations will still be needed in the future. Training our workforce is still a valid path we have to follow.


“It will only serve us well, not just for backup operations, but for companies that want to relocate here. Small entrepreneurs that have global business can operate out of little old Wayne County, Pennsylvania.”


One entrepreneur, Honesdale-native Christopher Shufeldt, returned last year to set up a branch office in Honesdale after 12 years on Wall Street. Shufeldt is senior VP of investments for Kimball Cross Investment Management.


“With technology now, they can do business anywhere,” he said.
Shufeldt agreed with Wood that it will be more challenging to land the backup operations of a financial company.


“In general, it probably is more difficult to bring in a marquee firm’s large operation into our area,” Shufeldt said. “Lots of firms have battened down the hatches. And there are fewer big firms than there were two days ago. Right now, large firms are worried about keeping a site open in New York.”


The Wall Street West effort was started after the Sept. 11 attacks. Realizing that clustered financial centers were vulnerable to attack – as were the backup locations across the river in New Jersey – a plan was crafted to establish backup locations between 60 and 125 miles away. This led to a 10-county region of Northeast Pennsylvania being identified as prime locations.
Shufeldt was working on Wall Street in 2001. He noted that with the backup operations across the river in New Jersey and also downed by the attack, the country  was financially frozen for five days.


“They still will have to have a backup system in play sooner rather than later,” he said. “They still need a skilled labor force. My guess, even without another attack, they will still transfer some of the volume to a site here (in the Wall Street West area).”


Wood said it was important for Wayne County to keep focused on improving the local workforce despite of the current challenges.


“The initiative … was really to ramp up the work force, because we know that’s a gap in getting anybody here,” she said. “It’s also to build your infrastructure. And that can only help us for getting any business or industry here.


“So, it may not be what the original intent was – to lure a Wall Street West firm here – but it’s going to help us gain industry in general here.”