Connecting to the midstate: Region becoming alternative tech landing spot

The cloud may be all the rage in technology. But companies and their employees have to put their roots in the ground somewhere.

Bustling New York City and technology-rich Silicon Valley have long been popular destination for young tech entrepreneurs, and those areas remain attractive.

But some tech firms, hoping to spread their wings and grow their big ideas, are taking a chance on smaller markets such as Central Pennsylvania.

Harrisburg has seen a surge of tech companies in the last few years, as have Lancaster and York.

The region’s benefits, say tech executives, include a lower cost of living compared with most big cities, a growing volume of high-end rental housing options, mixed-use redevelopment projects in urban communities and relatively easy access to mass transit, like Amtrak, which connects Central Pennsylvania to larger metropolitan areas.

It is still tough to get around the midstate without a car, something that many millennials would like to be able to do. But people who don’t mind driving find a highway network that puts Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C., all within a few hours’ drive.

The region also boasts a growing pool of local tech talent pouring out of schools such as Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, and there is an evolving network of organizations helping to promote the tech industry.

Still, Pennsylvania is no different than other states that are trying to lure growing industries with economic development incentives. Sometimes the commonwealth prevails, sometimes not.

In some cases, it just takes a cohesive pitch to bring it all together and create that “intangible feel of community.” That was how Patrick Ambron, CEO of BrandYourself, described Lancaster. Company officials had been scouting real estate opportunities in surrounding states, including upstate New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Connecticut before setting their sights on Pennsylvania.  

In Tech Report, a special section of the Business Journal, read about Ambron’s experience and the experience of other tech companies that landed in Central Pennsylvania.

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