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CPBJ Blog Extras

Making place in Central Pennsylvania

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Swatara Plaza at The Concourse, developed by Smith Land & Improvement Corp., is a 1 million-square-foot, mixed-use infill project that sits on 165 acres in Swatara Township. At build out, it is slated to bring 4,100 jobs to the region.
Swatara Plaza at The Concourse, developed by Smith Land & Improvement Corp., is a 1 million-square-foot, mixed-use infill project that sits on 165 acres in Swatara Township. At build out, it is slated to bring 4,100 jobs to the region. - (Photo / Submitted)

Our built environment is one of the top assets that defines a region.

The landmarks, the office architecture, the manufacturing hubs, transportation corridors, hospitals and schools, tourism destinations and “third places” — the places people meet between home and work.

As a real estate developer, we study a region’s assets and then seek to add value by developing our land to its highest and best use. We build community assets with an eye on long-term benefits to the economy and the environment.

Many times projects are brought to market without the benefit of multiple, external voices at the table adding fresh perspectives. On July 18, the Central Penn Business Journal is hosting an executive roundtable with a focus on “Placemaking in Central Pennsylvania: Why the built environment is critical to Pennsylvania’s business growth, community health, economic strength, workforce competitiveness and sustainable tax base.”

One of the most impressive elements of this panel is the caliber and commitment to Central Pa. of the eight men and women adding their voices. We all have skin in the game (to borrow Warren Buffet’s investment idiom) with respect to ownership of land and responsibility for resources — people, built and natural.

These decision-makers are land owners, urban planners, builders, engineers, developers, government leaders and job creators. Our purpose is to share our community vision of “placemaking” and to discover new growth trends, areas for collaboration and innovation and to understand how to position ourselves prominently for global competitiveness.

Over the past 50 years, we’ve seen tremendous change in the physical design of our environment. Today, we are redoubling efforts to invest in infill developments and retrofit older buildings to meet new sustainable office uses.

The health of a community has a tremendous impact on our economy. U.S. health care costs comprise a whopping 17 percent of GDP and that promises to increase in dollars and complexity.

Building a healthy community isn’t limited to access to hospitals. It also includes safe roads and bridges and easy access to public transportation.

It requires well-built commercial real estate properties that entrepreneurs and small-business owners can afford to lease. It requires available and efficient energy sources; access to higher education; construction companies that care about the environment and the resources they use; trusted companies that can attract and retain the best and brightest to our region; and ample space for parks and recreation.

The quantity and quality of these assets define our powerful competitive advantage and put Central Pennsylvania on the radar of growing businesses, corporations and site selectors.

I look forward to seeing the multiplier effect of these executives adding their voice to making place in Central Pennsylvania. Follow the hashtag #CPBJExecs on July 18, or tweet us with your questions or your story to @CPBJ and include the hashtag. We also invite you to follow the livestreaming video here.

Rick Jordan is a guest blogger this week. He is the CEO of Lower Allen Township-based Smith Land & Improvement Corp., a commercial real estate developer.

Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@cpbj.com

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