Focus Central Pennsylvania Ambassadors are a select group of community leaders that are passionate and supportive of growing economic opportunities in Central Pennsylvania and have firsthand knowledge of successfully doing business in our communities and are ready to share that knowledge with companies looking to relocate or expand. Below they share why they know Central Pennsylvania is a choice location to grow a business!

Why I know Central PA is a choice location to grow a business?

“As the Executive Director of the Susquehanna River Valley Visitors Bureau, we promote Central Pennsylvania as a regional destination to visit and explore.  What attracts tourists and business travelers to the region are the same reasons businesses would want to call the Susquehanna River Valley home:  Central Pennsylvania rests in a stunningly beautiful setting with a high quality of life that offers a variety of amenities, is easily accessible by major routes and highways from all directions, and is located within fours hours from New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.   

Our region is comprised of welcoming communities, each offering their own distinct heritage and culture.  With many universities in the area we’re lucky to have an infusion of art, entertainment and culture as part  of our day-to-day activities, enriching the experiences for all who live here.  Safe communities with affordable living, access to healthcare and strong educational institutions make Central Pennsylvania a great place for families to live and for businesses to attract employees. 

For those employers – and employees – looking for a strong work/life balance, Central Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River Valley offers a wide variety of amenities for outdoor recreation, arts, culture and entertainment, history and heritage, State Parks and Forests and family attractions, plus distinct and unique merchants and towns that support start-ups, individual entrepreneurs and family-owned businesses. 

Central Pennsylvania offers the opportunity to enjoy a rich experience of what is best about rural Pennsylvania.  And if you want to enjoy the nearby cities, you can have breakfast in the Susquehanna River Valley and enjoy lunch in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh or Washington, D.C.  We’re truly the best of both worlds.”

Andrew J. Miller

Executive Director, Susquehanna River Valley Visitors Bureau

Why I know Central PA is a choice location to grow a business?

“Central PA is a great place to do business in an environment that is friendly, open and kind.  We provide resources for a variety of business related needs and opportunities with a well-connected network of professionals who care deeply about the region.  In addition, there are entertainment, cultural, environmental and academic resources and experiences for individuals and families to lead their best lives. With numerous higher educational institutions in the area it is common to find events and moments to explore new areas of research and innovation.”

Missy Gutkowski

Director of Experiential Programs, Bucknell University, Freeman College of Management

Why I know Central PA is a choice location to grow a business?

“Central Pennsylvania is an exemplary location for businesses interested in starting here, growing here or investing here for a multitude of reasons. As home to numerous top-notch career/technical institutions, and public and private colleges and universities, the region offers a ready-made skilled, educated workforce. The presence of the Pennsylvania State University offers corporate partners the possibility of world-class research capabilities and technology transfer services. Our dynamic and robust ecosystem for entrepreneurship and business start-ups stands out nationally.

From a logistics standpoint, Centre County and fellow Focus Central PA counties form a strategic transportation hub for the Mid-Atlantic region, with many major U.S. cities and ports just a day’s drive away.

When considering quality of life, central Pennsylvania communities offer a unique mix of small town charm; metropolitan experiences; diverse all-season recreational opportunities; and historic communities – there is something for everyone.

What I find particularly advantageous to businesses considering central Pennsylvania for investment is the spirit of partnership and teamwork that exists throughout the region. We are committed to collaboration in terms of supporting and advancing initiatives – transportation infrastructure, workforce readiness,  business operating environment, to name a few – that strengthen the collective region’s standing as a welcoming place for business investment and growth.”

Vern Squier

President and CEO, Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County/Centre County Economic Development Partnership

Why I know Central PA is a choice location to grow a business?

Central PA offers an intellectually stimulating environment against the majestic backdrop of the Susquehanna River and Appalachian Mountains. The influence of several highly-ranked institutions in our region offer an array of cultural, artistic, and academic opportunities that intersect with and provide opportunity for the local community.

At Susquehanna University, I’ve had the pleasure of working with local, talented college students who are eager to contribute to the local economy and with area employers across all industries who are deeply passionate about their work. The Susquehanna University Career Development Center is committed to helping employers and community partners meet their recruiting needs, share resources and expertise, and cultivate opportunities to make a positive impact locally and globally. We will serve as your connector to students, faculty, and other campus partners. We are excited to welcome you to our vibrant community!

Allie Grill

Associate Director – Employer Engagement, Career Development Center | Susquehanna University

Why I know Central PA is a choice location to grow a business?

“I myself am a product of the Central Pennsylvania region, and I can  personally attest to the value of growing a business here because I have lived it both here and abroad. My career has taken me to various parts of New England and the Mid-Atlantic region, and after living and breathing live and business in different markets, I can tell you that you will not find a better place to maximize private investment than Central Pennsylvania.

What makes Central Pennsylvania the best geography for business investment in the United States is: a diverse workforce with a high quality work ethic; some of the best K-12 schools in the United States; access to some of the most highly rated higher educational institutions in the country with a diversity in educational offerings; easy access to the I-95 corridor, New England, and Great Lakes Region from a central location; low cost and high quality standard of living for all stakeholders within the organization; most importantly, a community of people who are dedicated to each other and invested in growing and maintaining a thriving region. Many regions boast a few of these, but very few regions boast all of them like Central Pennsylvania does. All of these will maximize the return on the investment made here, and is the core reason why any investment made in Central Pennsylvania will outperform that of other investments made in other regions of the country.”

Adam Yoder

Account Executive, Johnson Controls

Why I know Central PA is a choice location to grow a business?

Bucknell University’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) knows that Central Pennsylvania is a great place for businesses to start, grow, and prosper. For over forty years Bucknell’s SBDC has been providing high quality one-on-one consulting, training, and information resources to empower businesses throughout the area. Firms often benefit from connections with faculty and students at Bucknell through class-based projects and other collaborations in the colleges of engineering and management, and the SBDC is a driving force for fostering a culture of innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit in the region.
Steven Stumbris

Director, Small Business Development Center/Bucknell University

Why I know Central PA is a choice location to grow a business?

Literally at the crossroads of the Focus Central Pennsylvania region is the Greater Susquehanna Valley.  In this valley you will find bustling communities that are filled with diverse and growing companies.  Access to world class infrastructure, nationally-respected universities, highly-ranked secondary schools, a top-notch workforce, along with ample downtown, brownfield and greenfield commercial properties distinguishes this area as a great place to do business.  Check us out and you’ll, no doubt, be impressed with our commitment to the prosperity of communities, commerce, culture and citizens that we build upon each and every day.

Robert A. Garrett, P.E.

President/CEO, Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce

Why I know Central PA is a choice location to grow a business?

SEKISUI Polymer Innovations, LLC has two locations in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania and a third location in Holland, Michigan.

In February 2015, SEKISUI SPI announced our purchase of a second facility in Bloomsburg, PA. The 375,000 square foot facility sits on 56 acres and is two miles from our current headquarters. As an $11 billion global company, SEKISUI has choices of locations and industries in which to invest. Strengthening their position here is a direct reflection of our confidence in the North American manufacturing renaissance, which is alive and well in Central PA. Leveraging the strong work ethic that exists locally was a major factor in SEKISUI’s decision to expand and purchase the new building.

Ronn Cort

COO & President, SEKISUI Polymer Innovations, LLC

Why I know Central PA is a choice location to grow a business?

I have lived in Central PA all of my life.  In all my business travels around the country, I have not seen an area that has people with a work ethic any stronger than that of the residents of Central PA.  With people who have core values that translate into workers who care about the products they produce, the quality of life to which they contribute and the economic security they bring to our area, we are smack dab in the middle of a business person’s dream. Our local governments provide stable tax policies and sound governing which is often lost in this day and age.

Joe Kantz

Business & Development Manager, North Shore Railroad

Why I know Central PA is a choice location to grow a business?

Central Pennsylvania offers safe and attractive communities in which to live, work, and operate a business while being centrally located to metropolitan areas throughout the Northeast.

The area is fortunate to have a healthy diversity of industry sectors including health care, manufacturing, and higher education. This diversity, combined with resources available to help businesses of all sizes grow, helps to stabilize the economy. The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce is part of a regional team eager to support job growth and healthy communities.

Fred Gaffney

President, Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce

Why I know Central Pennsylvania is a choice location to grow a business?

Central Pennsylvania is a prime location to establish and grow a business due to: Its location within easy reach of the major urban metropolitan markets of the northeastern United States; the work ethic and loyalty of its people and workforce; and, first class infrastructure consisting of wide variety of excellent institutions of higher education, extraordinary healthcare services lead by the internationally recognized Geisinger Health System, and transportation and highway systems. These attributes combine with the region’s natural beauty and resources, and many great bucolic communities in which to raise a family. Central Pennsylvania is by far the leading location for not only establishing and growing a business but also a family.

Frank Trembulak

Executive Vice President & COO (Retired), Geisinger Health System

Why I know Central PA is a choice location to grow a business?

No other area in the United States has same day access to the Northeast Corridor markets combined with a rich quality of life which rivals none. Availability of a skilled workforce/low cost of living combined with solid infra-structure reduces the friction in doing business and allows you to focus on growth. In addition, an interactive local government which promotes growth and education while providing a solid community ensures stability of the work force and overall life enhancement.

USG is a wallboard & gypsum manufacturer with a state-of-the-art facility in Washingtonville, Pennsylvania and operates the world’s largest wallboard manufacturing line, with the capacity to produce approximately one billion square feet of SHEETROCK Brand wallboard annually. 

Nick Latkovic

Plant Manager, United States Gypsum Company (USG)

Why I know Central PA is a choice location to grow a business? 

I can say with confidence that I know this statement to be true, because I see it every day.  As the Executive Director of the Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce, I have the privilege of watching new businesses spring up, and existing businesses and industries expand throughout my two- county area.   I have witnessed a recent renaissance with the addition of coffee shops, farmer’s markets, wineries, distilleries, breweries, an art center and new restaurants.  Combined, they offer our residents and visitors an improved quality of life. I have also observed an interesting phenomenon, with many area millennials choosing to remain in their home town, planting roots, and starting businesses.

The area’s primary health provider is Geisinger Health System, one of the largest rural health care organizations in the country.  Primary Health Network is currently completing the construction of a new three-story, 45,000 square foot facility that will be used to expand access to health care for residents in the region.

Another important contributor in making us a choice location is that fact that we are conveniently situated at the juncture of Route 322, which has recently seen major improvements, and Route 522, with easy on and off access to both.  Our central location also places us between the state’s capital in Harrisburg, and the state’s largest university, Penn State in nearby State College.  This provides abundant opportunities for our residents to enjoy the relaxing quality of life our area offers, while having easy access to these larger communities for cultural and economic experiences.

The people of the Juniata River Valley are a product of their agricultural heritage and their industrial and business successes.  Large, nationally-known industries have selected our area because of its favorable business climate that welcomes start-ups, relocation, and expansion.

The Juniata River Valley is open for business and I would love the opportunity to show you why the Juniata River Valley is a wonderful place to invest, live, work, play, and retire.

Rhonda S. Moore

Executive Director, Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce

Why I know Central PA is a choice location to grow a business? 

I moved to Lewisburg from New York City in 1990 when my husband accepted a teaching job at Bucknell University. After living in every NYC borough except the Bronx, I was ready for smaller-town life. But I’ll admit I was fearful. My career has always been central to my identity. What would I do here? At the time, we had one child, Justin, who was 15 months old (we ultimately raised three wonderful sons here). I remember putting Justin in his car seat, and traversing country roads, coming in contact with natural outdoor beauty, farms, history, culture, outdoor recreation, Amish buggies and friendly people—in short, a high quality of life. In fact, when I would walk down the sidewalk in Lewisburg, my New York City veneer still intact, strangers would smile at me and say good morning, I was immediately suspicious: what did they want from me? It didn’t take long to learn they were just demonstrating the Central PA way – to be friendly, kind and helpful. It didn’t take long for me to realize, too, that this was THE place to make my college-age dream of starting a lifestyle magazine come true. The story of how and why that happened—25 years ago, in 1993—is an interesting but long one. But I’m happy to sit down and tell you how I made my dream of starting, developing and expanding my successful magazine and communications business here, in Central PA, and why it makes sense for you to do the same for your business. – Erica L. Shames, Founder & Publisher, Susquehanna Life magazine and Susquehanna Life Custom Publishing Division

Erica L. Shames

Founder & Publisher, Susquehanna Life Magazine

Why I know Central PA is a choice location to grow a business?

Kish Bank was founded, has grown and continues to operate here in Central Pennsylvania. As a partner to countless business and community enterprises, we know of the incredible commitment and work ethic of the residents in this region. No business can see significant growth and profitability without qualified and motivated employees who are dedicated to customer service. Kish Bank and its affiliates represent strong evidence of that. From tellers to senior management, to insurance, wealth management and travel professionals, Kish’s success is directly related to the people and vitality of Central Pennsylvania. I strongly encourage business owners, managers and entrepreneurs who are looking for growth opportunities to give our region a real good look. Access to major markets, very affordable real estate and a solid and loyal workforce means a very competitive cost of doing business.

William P. Hayes

Chairman, President and CEO, Kish Bank and Kish Bancorp, Inc.

Why I know Central PA is a choice location to grow a business?

The Central PA Chamber of Commerce knows that Central PA is the choice location to grow a business as we are proud to say we have served the Region in helping businesses succeed, thrive and grow for over 100 years. I believe it is the people who call Central PA home in particular that make this the location of choice to grow and even start a business.

Tea Jay Aikey

President & CEO, Central PA Chamber of Commerce

Why I know Central PA is a choice location to grow a business?

Pennsylvania College of Technology, a special mission affiliate of Penn State, is a national leader in applied technology education.

Central Pennsylvania is a goldmine of talented, hard-working, innovative people with an entrepreneurial spirit. The area boasts an impressive number of post-secondary schools, a wealth of outdoor recreational activities, and is within a few hours’ drive to Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and New York City. Those fortunate to build or move a business to this area benefit from a tremendous support network of people ready and able to provide assistance – from securing a workforce to solving everyday business challenges.

Shannon Munro

Executive Director, Workforce Development & Continuing Education, Pennsylvania College of Technology

Why I know Central PA is a choice location to grow a business?

Central PA has an abundance of beauty surrounding us with the ever changing seasons. The people of Central PA are committed to preserving that beauty with the continued desire and promise for growth and to ensure available resources to our diverse populations. As a leader in providing quality health care for everyone, Primary Health Network (PHN), a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) has grown to be the largest FQHC in Pennsylvania and in the Eastern region of the United States. We continue to build and set roots in the communities we serve, working with the many willing partners to create healthy, flourishing communities in both rural and urban settings.

With easy, short commutes to larger cities like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and our State Capital – Harrisburg, Central PA is positioned to satisfy all the needs of the people who live and move here to grow businesses. The multitude of highly respected Colleges and Universities, as well as the many technology schools are also a great resource for finding extremely qualified and committed employees to your workforce.

Matthew D. Eckley, LCSW

Executive Director of Operations – Eastern Division, Primary Health Network

Why I know Central PA is a choice location to grow a business?

Central Pennsylvania is a great place to do business.  From the front line workers, to the government representatives, you can always find people willing to help you grow your business.  As a Vice President at Pik Rite Inc., I have been involved in manufacturing in the Susquehanna Valley for over 15 years and have found the resources of this area to be very fruitful.  Central Pennsylvania includes numerous resources for workforce training including many technology schools and colleges.  The universities and agencies in the region are eager to help organizations innovate and expand.  In terms of logistics, the region is centrally located, with quick access to shipping lanes that make it easy to satisfy customers needs in a timely manner.

Randy Beiler

Vice President, Pik Rite Inc.

Why I know Central PA is a choice location to grow a business?

As president of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, I see firsthand the many benefits of our institution’s location in the heart of beautiful Central Pennsylvania. Located about a mile south of Interstate 80, Bloomsburg University is Columbia County’s largest employer and, as such, has directly benefited from the area’s qualified, stable workforce. In addition, our nearly 9,600 students enjoy professional and learning opportunities through university partnerships with dozens of local businesses, manufacturers and economic organizations, such as Focus Central Pennsylvania.

Central Pennsylvania combines the best of all worlds – a rural setting connected by a string of small towns, yet within easy driving distance of major metropolitan centers, such as New York City and Philadelphia. Combined with educational opportunities through Bloomsburg University and other nearby institutions of higher education and local economic drivers, such as Geisinger Health System, Central Pennsylvania is a choice location to locate and grow a business and raise a family.

Dr. Bashar W. Hanna

President, Bloomsburg University

Why I know Central Pennsylvania is a choice location to grow a business?

It is an unprecedented time in the energy industry. With more than ninety percent of UGI’s Natural Gas supply coming from Marcellus Shale, our customers are benefiting from this locally produced, plentiful, and lower cost supply.  UGI is partnering with businesses for long term, unmatched competitive energy supply to foster economic growth and sustainability, to expand opportunities, and to meet shareholder expectations. We are proud to be the Natural Gas distribution utility serving Central Pennsylvania, and we are committed to supporting the success and continued growth of our customers, as well as investing in our communities to make them stronger today and better tomorrow.

UGI Utilities, Inc. is a Natural Gas and Electric utility committed to delivering reliable, safe and affordable energy to our customers.

Don Brominski

Director, Business Development, UGI Utilities, Inc.

Why I know Central PA is a choice location to grow a business?

Having been born, raised and educated in central Pennsylvania, I can attest to its invaluable combination of strategic location, qualified
workforce, and business-friendly atmosphere. Central Pennsylvania balances beautiful scenery and small town hospitality with easy access to major metropolitan areas. The workforce is skilled, hard-working, and loyal, and is part of a community that is eager to support and encourage new economic and industrial growth.

Schools like the Mifflin County Academy of Science and Technology work closely with businesses and their current and future employees to provide the customized education, training and testing needed for businesses and communities to grow and thrive. When cutting edge
technology and research merges with a community of invested employers and a dedicated and skilled workforce, we step into the future well prepared.

Mike McMonigal

Supervisor for Adult & Post-Secondary Education, Mifflin County Academy of Science and Technology

Why I know Central PA is a choice location to grow a business?

Zimmerman’s Chrysler Dodge Jeep and Ram Truck in Sunbury, has served the transportation needs of central
Pennsylvania for over 100 years.  Our success and growth is a direct result of our quality staff that are dedicated to our mission of Exceeding Customer Satisfaction! The ambitious, hard working and committed work force in our community cannot be beat!
Any company that succeeds knows that a big reason is their employees understanding and fulfilling their company goals! Central Pennsylvania offers dedicated employees, our average length of service is over 20 years!

Robert C Zimmerman Jr.

President, Zimmermans Chrysler Dodge Jeep & Ram Truck