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Growth, diversity mark Cumberland CountyTop companies range from local to national across several sectors

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Cumberland County really does offer a little something for everybody.

Geographically, its landscape ranges from bustling West Shore suburbs to quaintly historic boroughs and bucolic countryside.

Its economic landscape contains everything from corporate offices and professional services to dense retail, construction, education, health care, manufacturing, distribution and agribusiness.

Likewise, the county’s top private companies, as seen in this year’s edition of the Top 100, are a diverse collection of names — including brands with national, regional and local reach — spread across several sectors.

That doesn’t surprise Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp. CEO Jonathan Bowser, who has discerned much incremental growth among new players in recent years.

“We’ve been seeing a lot on the smaller side — your 10-to-50-employee companies,” Bowser said.

Among this year’s top 10 private firms in Cumberland County, there are three in that general vicinity — R.S. Mowery & Sons Inc., Groff Tractor & Equipment Inc. and Daily Express Inc., all of which have fewer than 100 employees, based on information provided to CPBJ.

Other top 10 firms range from a few hundred employees to as many as 1,000 employees at Fry Communications Inc.
Running like threads through the list are themes seen in Cumberland County’s comprehensive plan for economic development, which was approved late last year.

That document’s overall goals are to increase the commercial and industrial tax base; to increase median income and opportunities for the broadest possible number of residents; and to maintain a diversified industrial base as the business landscape changes.

In that spirit, it identifies several industry “clusters” for attraction, retention and expansion: tourism, agribusiness, transportation and warehousing, health care and social assistance, manufacturing and professional industries.

Vibra represents health care. Napa Transportation Inc. and Daily Express Inc. fall under transportation and warehousing. Karns Prime & Fancy Food Ltd. and The Warrell Corp. are linked to agribusiness as they rely on that sector for produce and raw materials, while Warrell also is a manufacturer.

“We’ve been seeing a lot on the smaller side — your 10-to-50-employee companies.”

- Jonathan Bowser, CEO, Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp.



But another key element also appears: construction. That should not be surprising, given that Cumberland was the commonwealth’s fastest-growing county between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2015, its population rising by 4.6 percent, nearing 250,000.

Representing construction in the top 10 are Mowery and Groff, but also Gannett Fleming Inc., whose services and expertise are provided nationally and internationally.

Sun Motor Cars Inc., meanwhile, represents the Carlisle Pike retail corridor, where everything from gas and groceries to cars and heavy equipment is on sale, drawing shoppers from around the midstate.

Rounding out the top 10, Fry Communications Inc. includes a manufacturing component, as the company remains a printing and mailing giant. But it also represents the future of publishing and distribution, as Fry now offers a range of web development and e-commerce solutions.

What does all this mean for Cumberland County?

Jonathan Bowser, CEO, Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp.
Jonathan Bowser, CEO, Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp.

In Bowser’s estimation, there’s much room to grow — but from a land-use standpoint, he predicts much of the growth could take place as infill development in established areas.

And on that note, he expects that the county will continue to find different types of businesses opening up side-by-side with one another, as well as in conjunction with residential properties — the planned redevelopment of former industrial sites in Carlisle for housing and commercial is an example.

“I believe we are going to see more mixed-use development,” Bowser said.

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Roger DuPuis

Roger DuPuis

Roger DuPuis covers Cumberland County, manufacturing, transportation, distribution, energy and environment. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at rogerd@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @rogerdupuis2.

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