It's no secret that the current economic downturn has slowed commercial, industrial and residential development to a snail's pace.

It's no secret that the current economic downturn has slowed commercial, industrial and residential development to a snail's pace.

Tight credit markets, reduced investment activity and uncertain financial markets have combined to move most major development projects to the back burner - if not off the stove entirely.

While Union County has been wildly successful in attracting new businesses over the past 10 years, the emphasis during the current economic climate has turned to retention.

Bob Whitman of the Union County Chamber of Commerce says his organization is focused on serving its members and helping them during these challenging times. "Over the last 10 years, in home construction, new construction and also in industrial construction, business construction, we have averaged about $115-million to $120-million a year," Whitman said. "Now, in 2008, that went down to $71-million. Of course, our county is reflecting some of the (economic) difficulties that have taken place."

Whitman said the chamber has adjusted its philosophy during the economic downturn from emphasizing business recruitment to retaining the businesses that have located in Union County.

"What we have been doing at the chamber is really focusing on retention," he said. "Economic development, a lot of people think, is just bringing in new businesses but economic development is also working with and helping those who are here to prosper so they will continue to do well and continue in their business."