Parsons Brinckerhoff has a lot of work to do here — and it's planning to stay for a long time.
This fall, after more than a year investigating 400 possible locations, the New York-based global consulting firm announced that it had decided to shift the majority of its support staff operations out of New York and into a new office in Lancaster County.
Mike Fisher, Parsons Brinckerhoff's chief of staff, said 32 employees will be relocating here, and the company has already set up a recruiting office to start filling another 135 positions in IT, accounting, building services, human resources, communications, law and purchasing.
"That Lancaster was chosen after a rather exhaustive search indicates that the city and county have the goods, so to speak," said Judy Cooper, senior vice president and director of corporate communications. "We know both our current and future employees will be happy there."
"I've been there 11 times," Fisher said of Lancaster.
To help employees considering the move to get acquainted with the area, the company offered two bus trips here, including walking tours and a survey of various housing areas. In October, the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry sent a busload of area leaders to New York to put on a "Lancaster expo" and answer questions from the employees.
"It allowed all those people that we had just announced this to to go through, for about a six-hour period, and talk about what they wanted to," Fisher said. "That entire organization has just gone out of their way to help inculcate us into all the fine aspects of Lancaster."
Many of the New York transplants are coming with their families, according to Fisher, have already signed leases "and are well on the way to getting the housing part done."
Work also is progressing on the 80,000-square-foot former D&E building at 4139 Oregon Pike, for which Parsons Brinckerhoff signed a 10-year lease with a five-year extension.
"We're building it out to where we have some fairly elaborate areas where people can eat, a gym, et cetera," Fisher said. "We intend to occupy the office over the weekend between the 15th and the 18th of March."
Also instrumental in bringing Parsons Brinckerhoff here was the Economic Development Company of Lancaster County. John W. Biemiller, EDC's executive vice president and COO, said it often handles questions about the area's labor force, which was a major consideration for Parsons Brinckerhoff.
"Labor is always a huge concern for people moving into the area," Biemiller said. And, he said, as in this case, the questions often come long before the identity of the company is revealed. "We had no idea who they were when we were selecting their site selection searches."
Biemiller said EDC is excited that Parsons Brinckerhoff is moving here and contributing to the local economy. These days, he said, relocation enquiries can come from "all over the place," with companies considering Central Pennsylvania for a variety of reasons, including proximity to or distance from another location.
Cooper stressed that the company's plans call for long-term involvement in the area. Parsons Brinckerhoff is approaching the 128th anniversary of its founding, she said, and its support staff is vital to the success of its 14,000 employees across the globe.
The firm offers skills and resources in strategic consulting, planning, engineering, program/construction management and operations for transportation, power, mining, water and wastewater, and community development projects.
"We're looking to become very active members of your community," Cooper said. "That's what Parsons Brinckerhoff does."