Huntingdon County is located in central Pennsylvania, just South of State College, PA.
Colleges include Juniata College and Pennsylvania Highlands Community College. The main campus of elite Pennsylvania State University is just over the county’s northern border. The flagship Penn State campus “is outside the county, but it’s one of the leading county employers” says Reitman. Juniata is a private, selective, 1,600 student, liberal arts college. Juniata has biochemistry and health sciences departments with an unheard of acceptance rate of over 90% for pre-medical and health profession students at medical or professional schools.
The expertise of Juniata College and Penn State University, as well as the Entrepreneurial Communities initiative spearheaded by HCBI, the Juniata Sill Incubator, and the County Planning Department provide startups/expansions with places, funding, and support to grow through early stages.
The region has outstanding scenery, Raystown Lake, the largest inland lake in Pennsylvania, incredible hiking trails, abundant hunting, and world-class fishing, hiking, and mountain biking,. U.S. presidents have often fished in Huntington County.Dwight Eisenhower and Jimmy Carter would take their helicopters and land right at Spruce Creek, from Washington DC to fish. Residents knew when they came because they heard their helicopters flying over.
Bicycling magazine has ranked Huntingdon in the top five biking areas in all of America. A mountain bike festival called Dirt Rag Dirt Fest alone attracts about 3,000 mountain bikers from across the country and overseas.
Huntingdon County Business and Industry (HCBI) Executive Director Bob Reitman describes the types of companies the county would like to attract. “We are seeing entrepreneurial growth in our Keystone Innovation Zone, but we also have strengths in agriculture, tourism, retirement and education. We think there’s more of a place for software and mixed manufacturing. We have innovation and strength in metalworking manufacturing.” There are also state and county incentives to help companies. including tax breaks through the Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) program, and low-interest HCBI and County Enterprise Zones.
JC Blair hospital has just opened a new Cardiac Cath Lab that has been much more successful than predicted. “We’ve had over 400 people come in for heart catheterizations since May,” said Dr. Michael Sabatini, the lab’s medical director.
Agriculture is sizable, with a sizable organic grower’s community, and farmer’s markets in local towns. Timber products are available since the county is heavily forested.
Huntingdon County residents often return to the county after leaving for education and early job experiences for an extremely safe environment with community-involved schools. People come back to the county to raise families. People also move back to retire. County residents expend a great deal of energy to find a niche to continue living there.
Low costs bring in new businesses and residents alike with median housing prices under half the U.S. average. A metalworking business recently relocated from Lancaster, Pennsylvania to Huntingdon County from Lancaster, a hundred miles away. The company owner estimates that “they can run their business for about a third of what they run their business in Lancaster, based on land and labor costs.
Reitman said, “With the addition of a few more businesses here and there and a few more destination places to keep more tourism/hospitality money in the county, I see us really becoming a unique jewel of the Northeast.”