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  • Laura Martin

Investment Decision: Purchasing Commercial Property in Central PA

While its majesty might not be immediately evident, Central Pennsylvania is a quickly growing market for both commercial and residential property, and for good reason: the Midstate region offers both businesses and residents myriad opportunities, from entertainment, access to larger markets, and a growing professional and entrepreneurial class. Any realtor in the area can point to the growth both in Downtown and Midtown Harrisburg, as well as the many successful businesses on the West Shore as an indication of the area’s value. Harrisburg was ranked #34 in the U.S. News and World Report’s 2017 list of the top 100 best places to live in the country, and among the reasons cited were access to nature, an affordable housing market, a cost of living below the national average, and an urban atmosphere. There’s a consensus that Central PA is a highly desirable place to live and work, so purchasing commercial property in the Midstate region should be an easy decision.


Central Pennsylvania is a great place to start or own a business. Dauphin County, once a sector for industrial manufacturing, is now becoming a high-tech hub. It is ranked the fifth fastest growing tech center in the nation, as Dauphin County’s website boasts. Recently, approximately fifteen new tech companies have opened their doors in the region thanks to ample state grants, tech company funding, and an area much more affordable than similar tech-hubs in California. The county is also great for employment. Dauphin County has an unemployment rate lower than the national average and a highly skilled workforce that has access to many nationally ranked colleges and university campuses, such as Temple, Penn State, and Duquesne. Harrisburg Area Community College is among some of the best, and most affordable, options for high quality degrees in the country. Additionally, we have many top ranked private schools, such as Messiah College, in our backyard.


Both investors and employees are drawn to the area due to its affordability. Go just outside the Harrisburg city limits, and one can find ample land for free parking and other amenities for businesses that would draw from the area’s well-trained workforce. Furthermore, competitive housing prices draw young professionals to the region. Residents in Harrisburg can choose from a diverse group of options, from riverfront properties, city high rises, or chic high-end apartments and condos downtown. Approximately 35 percent of housing in Dauphin County are rentals.


Because of its draw of skilled workers, lucrative businesses, and relatively affordable property, Central PA is a great place to live, work and invest in commercial property. Over the past five years, the region has seen several successful retail, dining, and commercial enterprises pop up, and many of those businesses are now expanding. As Central PA is becoming an increasingly attractive place to live and raise a family, now is the time to make an investment while property costs are still low. The area’s growth is not limited to the Harrisburg, either. The borough of Camp Hill rests just outside Harrisburg, and their businesses earn an average of $2.68 million per business per year. There are nearly seventeen business per 100 people in the small suburban area I know as Camp Hill. Well known companies like Rite Aid Corp., Gannett Fleming Inc, and Harsco all call Camp Hill home.


Central Pennsylvania owes much of its success to its livability. With convenient access to three major interstates, residents can easily travel to large metropolitan areas like Philadelphia, D.C., Baltimore, and New York City. The Harrisburg area also boasts expansive green spaces unlike other urban environments. Bikers and runners can take in a picturesque scenery of the Green Belt bike trail or Riverfront Park, which also hosts festivals and other events year-round. Residents can hike the Appalachian trail, take a ride on the river on a reproduction paddle boat called the Pride of the Susquehanna, or frequent one of the many restaurants that make up a booming nightlife culture on Second Street.


All told, Central PA is a place of opportunity and high potential. Residents can live well and affordably without forfeiting the culture and opportunities that come with larger urban environments. Millennials and young professionals can buy homes and start families, or businesses, with confidence that they are making sound investment choices. Finally, businesses can see the value of leasing and owning in the Midstate. Central PA is a great place to work, live, and raise a family.


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