Local businesses gain CREDC financing

Harrisburg-based businesses, Latino Connection, LLC, and Idea, LLC/Lonely Monk Coffee Roasting, LLC, have secured essential financing through the Pennsylvania Catalyst Loan Fund.

The announcement was made by the Capital Region Economic Development Corporation. CREDC said in a release that these recent developments exemplify the program’s commitment to fostering local economic growth and enabling businesses to thrive.

“We are delighted to witness the success of Latino Connection, LLC, and Idea, LLC / Lonely Monk Coffee Roasting, LLC, in securing financing through the Pennsylvania Catalyst Loan Fund,” CREDC Lending Officer Anita Weikel said in a statement. “These loans will enable these businesses to embark on expansion plans, fueling job creation and contributing to the economic vibrancy of our region.”

On August 16, Latino Connection President & CEO George Fernandez of Latino Connection closed on a $250,000 loan to facilitate the renovation of newly acquired real estate situated at 940 East Park Drive in Harrisburg. Provided through the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), this five-year loan features a fixed interest rate of 4.75% and is amortized over 25 years, with a balloon payment at the end of 5 years.

On Sept. 11, Joshua Willits, owner of Idea, LLC and Lonely Monk Coffee Roasting, successfully secured a $97,000 loan to acquire Bagel Lovers Cafe, located at 2237 Paxton Church Rd, Harrisburg. This five-year SSBCI loan offers a fixed interest rate of 4.75%, with an amortization period of 10 years and a balloon payment due at the end of 5 years.

Term loans are administered through the Chester County Economic Development Council, the Pennsylvania Catalyst Loan Fund. Loans can be utilized for machinery and equipment, refinancing, working capital, real estate purchase, and construction, all subject to SSBCI federal and state guidelines. Fixed interest rates are offered below prevailing bank rates, making it an attractive option for businesses seeking financing.

Priority consideration is given to diverse business owners, those located in disadvantaged areas, and businesses with 10 employees or less. In Cumberland, Dauphin, and Perry Counties, applications for the Pennsylvania Catalyst Loan Fund are packaged and underwritten by CREDC, ensuring local businesses accessible access to financing.

New study sees disparity in Harrisburg businesses

Commissioned in 2022 by the City of Harrisburg and Impact Harrisburg to study disparity in Pennsylvania’s capitol city, Econsult Solutions Inc. was not surprised by its findings. 

“Our study found that there has been some disparity the utilization of black and brown businesses in the broad sense,” said Frank Robinson, Econsult Solutions Inc. (ESI) vice president who directed the City of Harrisburg Disparity Study. “We were discovering, like a lot of cities, there was a disparity.”

Milligan Consulting, LLC, and the Winston/Terrell Group were part of the ESI team commissioned by the City of Harrisburg, Impact Harrisburg, and Dauphin County to conduct the study. Three goals highlighted their work:

  • Provide a baseline understanding of Harrisburg City’s utilization of available diverse business enterprise, including minority-owned businesses, woman-owned businesses, and other disadvantaged business categories, relative to their availability in the marketplace of vendors Harrisburg has to choose from for goods and services. 
  • Substantiate appropriate race- and gender-specific contract participation goals and programmatic remedies to guide Harrisburg City’s efforts to ensure equitable access for diverse businesses to the economic opportunities represented by the goods and services the city procures. 
  • Inform policy, programmatic, and analysis actions that Harrisburg can use to improve its understanding of and performance in supplier diversity. 

ESI analyzed the close to $150 million spent in Harrisburg City contracts from 2017 to 2021, and studied the data by county of business, contract type, and Diverse Business Enterprise (DIVBE) type. Upon completion of their analysis, ESI made recommendations to Harrisburg for utilization goals, as well as programmatic recommendations to help achieve them. 

“We presented to the city council our initial findings and had a meeting with Impact Harrisburg’s Board and a group of stakeholders like the city’s office and Dauphin County,” said Robinson, who added that study was presented to Harrisburg Mayor Wanda Williams through her staff. 

“Our recommendations were in several forms. The city was already in the progress of upgrading their systems to do tracking, and that was one thing we continue to encourage the city to do. Making sure certain metrics were added, more advocacy with organizations that support black and brown business, making sure people know about the permit opportunities with the city, making sure they know how to apply, what the certification is, and that the city is open for business.” 

Robinson said ESI also recommended advocacy programs, making certain that businesses are in partnership with chambers and other organizations.  

“One of the things we found in the survey is that people often don’t think they can get a city contract, which is not the case,” he said. “Making sure people are aware that this is not an overwhelming process and giving businesses some of the confidence that they need to do that has been important.” 

ESI has done a similar study with Philadelphia and remains in contact with Harrisburg officials. 

“We left the door open,” said Robinson. “I’ve been responsive to questions the city continues to have. One of the recommendations we made was that there should be small updates to this (study), and how we can help in other areas.” 

Looking at Harrisburg’s economic development projects, housing projects, and its goal of a regional economy that is robust and inclusive, Robinson said City leaders appear “ready to roll up sleeves, get to work and make the recommendations actionable.”

New UPS ‘Super Hub’ marks major investment in Harrisburg community

United Parcel Service celebrated its opening Wednesday of an East Zone Regional “Super Hub” in Middletown. 

Located six miles northeast of Harrisburg International Airport, the 775,000-square foot distribution facility located at 2110 North Union Street features the latest sorting, processing, and data capture technology. The advanced automation of the United Parcel Service (UPS) hub is expected to enhance the speed and reliability of package delivery to customers in the region and help Pennsylvania businesses reach a greater number of East Coast markets.  

The fourth largest UPS hub in the U.S., the East Zone hub will employ more than 2,500 people at its 192-acre site. It will also house the largest renewable natural gas fueling station in the UPS network. 

“This UPS project is another clear example of why Pennsylvania is a great place to do business,” Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Rick Singer said in a statement. “The Shapiro Administration is aggressively competing with other states and countries to attract and keep businesses in Pennsylvania, and we’re doing that by creating growth-focused policies and breaking down bureaucratic barriers.”

Coordinating the UPS expansion was the Governor’s Action Team, economic development professionals who work with businesses that are considering locating or expanding in Pennsylvania.

“UPS appreciates the Shapiro Administration’s support for our business, customers and employees across Pennsylvania,” said Nando Cesarone, UPS executive vice president and President U.S. “The jobs at this facility will provide industry-leading pay and benefits to support local families and communities, and companies throughout the Northeast will benefit from this investment in our global integrated network that provides reliable on-time delivery and world-class service.”

The world’s largest package delivery company and a leading global provider of specialized transportation and logistics services, UPS manages the flow of goods, funds, and information in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.

Shapiro appoints diverse leaders to Pa. Workforce Board

Revamping the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board, Gov. Josh Shapiro has appointed a diverse group of more than 40 members to help guide his Administration’s goal of creating opportunities for workers and businesses. 

Housed under the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I), the Workforce Development Board serves as the Governor’s private-sector policy advisory board. Shapiro said in a statement that Pennsylvania needs to invest in and expand its workforce to meet the demands of today and tomorrow.  

“This diverse group of experienced leaders representing labor and business across every Pennsylvania industry will help us make smart investments to produce the results that we all want – a thriving economy where workers have access to stable careers with family-sustaining wages and employers have the talent they need to continue growing their businesses while supporting communities across the commonwealth,” said Shapiro. 

L&I Secretary Nancy Walker said workforce development is about solving the challenges of today while seeking to figure out the solutions that might work tomorrow.

“I look forward to working with the governor’s appointees to the Workforce Development Board on all the smart, innovative ways we can invest in the workers of Pennsylvania to overcome our challenges and achieve a people-driven, dynamic economy,” said Walker.

Individuals appointed to the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board include the following:

Among those representing labor are Robert Bair, PA Building & Construction Trades, president (Dauphin County); Angela Ferritto, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, president (Dauphin County) and Matthew Yarnell, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, president (Dauphin County).

Individuals representing business include Brian Funkhouser, Buchart Horn, CEO (York County); Shea Zwerver, Flagger Force, workforce relations manager (Dauphin County); Marguerite A. Kline, County of Berks, human resources manager (Berks County); Kait Gillis, Nour Coffee Shop, owner (Cumberland County); and Michael Shirk, The High Companies, CEO (Lancaster County).

Among those representing local government and community organizations are Don Cunningham, Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, president and CEO (Northampton County) and John J. Sygielski Ed.D, H.A.C.C., president (Dauphin County).

Representing the Shapiro Administration are Walker; Jason Kavulich, secretary of aging; Russell Redding, secretary of agriculture; Laurel Harry, secretary of corrections; Frederick Siger, secretary of community and economic development; Khalid Mumin Ed.D, secretary of education; Akbar Hossain, secretary of policy and planning; Valerie Arkoosh, MD, MPH, secretary of human services; and Ryan Hyde, director, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

JPMorgan Chase opens first Central Pa. branches

JPMorgan Chase has officially expanded its footprint into Central Pennsylvania.

The bank opened full-service branches July 6 at 10 S. Second St., Harrisburg, and 4700 Jonestown Road, Lower Paxton Township.

JPMorgan will cut the ribbon at the downtown Harrisburg branch July 25, which will be proclaimed “Chase Bank Day” in Dauphin County.

A press release announcing the ribbon cutting said the Second Street branch combines “a modern design, layout and state-of-the-art banking technology, reflecting how customers engage with Chase today. Employees welcome customers in casual meeting spaces, emphasizing a more consultative approach with personal banking, credit cards, mortgages, auto financing, investment advice, small business loans and payment processing.”

Self-service transaction areas are available, too, including a digital access bar, indoor ATM, outdoor 24-hour ATM, drive-thru ATM and night depository. The branch also features Chase teller services and free Wi-Fi.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Philadelphia Business Journal reported last year that the Central Pennsylvania locations would be a loose bridge to JPMorgan’s Philadelphia and Pittsburgh markets, where dozens of branches have opened. Michele Lawrence, divisional director of network expansion, said in a statement at the time:

“We credit our real estate team for continually identifying opportunities in the marketplace, that enable us to have bank branches as well as ATMs. We are excited to have a presence in the state’s capital serving the community through banking needs as well as Financial Health Workshops. We are looking forward to working with community leaders and key stakeholders on building a stronger economy.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Dauphin County to receive more than $2M for sewage treatment improvement

The Highspire Borough Authority in Dauphin County has been approved for $2.1 million in state funding to help pay for sewage treatment improvement. 

State Sen. John DiSanto, R-Dauphin, announced the funding on Wednesday. 

“Proper sewage treatment is critical to maintaining public health, but it is expensive and requires ongoing investment,” DiSanto said in a statement. “I am happy to announce this state assistance that will allow Highspire to make these crucial upgrades while maintaining affordability for local ratepayers.” 

A $274,000 low-interest loan and a $1.8 million grant from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) will go to the Highspire Borough Authority for the improvement project. PENNVEST is an independent state agency providing financial assistance to fund construction of drinking water, sewer, and stormwater projects throughout Pennsylvania. 

The improvement project includes demolition of the primary digester and building, construction of a new digester and dewatering building, a new shelter for die sludge cake dumpster, and two new common wall digester tanks. 

Also included are new transfer structures. The centrifuge is nearly 30 years old and is nearing the end of its useful operating life. Due to the equipment’s age, parts for the centrifuge are not readily available and have long lead times when ordered. The results are accelerating costs and unpredictability related to the treatment process.

Harrisburg has 14 renters per vacant apartment, report says

Having trouble finding an apartment in the Harrisburg area? Join the club. In RentCafe’s latest Competitivity Report of the nation’s 137 rental hotspots, Harrisburg ranks first as the most competitive small rental market, with less than 4% of units available.

The 96.2% occupancy rate makes apartment hunters feel like they’re “looking for a needle in a haystack,” the report said.

Nationally, the rental occupancy rate is 94%. Last year at this time it was 95.1%.

On average, there are 14 renters per vacant apartment in the Harrisburg metro; the U.S. average is nine. Available units on average are filled within 41 days.

With no new apartments coming into the pipeline recently and very limited options to choose from, 76.9% of those renting in greater Harrisburg preferred not to move this rental season.

That’s significantly higher than the 59.7% on average nationally who renewed their leases. A year ago, 65.6% of renters renewed leases.

Based on these metrics, RentCafe calculated a Rental Competitivity Index for Harrisburg of 123 out of 130, indicating a highly competitive market. For comparison, Philadelphia’s RCI score is 66. Also making the top 10 among competitive small markets is the Lehigh Valley, at No. 7.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Award-winning Middletown brewery listed for sale

Middletown-based Tattered Flag Brewery has been listed for sale. 

NAI Global lists the sale of the renowned establishment as a unique opportunity to buy an “award-winning brewery and distillery in the heart of Dauphin County.” 

The 13,000-square-foot building was built in 1910 and is situated at 1 South Union St. in downtown Middletown less than one mile from PSU-Harrisburg. The building’s lower level is 6,000-square-feet and fully functional. 

The Tattered Flag was founded in 2015 by a military veteran, his friends, and business partners. NAI describes the business as a “state-of-the-art brewery, distillery, and full-service restaurant” that seats as many as 200 customers. 

Since its founding, Tattered Flag has evolved into a recognizable brand throughout Pennsylvania. NAI states that the company is known for “quality and customer service experience” along with “producing award-winning, handcrafted beer, spirits, and cocktails.” 

Bottling and canning lines are included in the sale, as is all furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E). According to NAI, ownership is willing upon sale to stay on to facilitate a transition to the new owners. 

In addition, the Tattered Flag Distillery Bar in Hershey announced its site on March 2 that its facility would be taken over this spring by YAH Brew. Also, the Tattered Flag Tap Room in Gettysburg and Tattered Flag Barrel House in Lancaster are listed on their respective sites as being closed temporarily.

Signature Staffing celebrating quarter century of staffing PA workforce

In celebration of its 25th anniversary, Signature Staffing is hosting an event today in Lemoyne recognizing a quarter century of staffing Pennsylvania’s workforce. 

Signature Staffing Founder and CEO Pamela Hill said it’s important to recognize partners and leaders who have paved the way for a woman-owned business in central Pennsylvania. 

“From access to financing to growing my network to choosing a business address, I am grateful for the opportunities our region provides to thrive and succeed here,” Hill said in a statement. 

Signature Staffing places employees for more than 100 corporations and businesses. According to a company press release, many of the state’s leading accounting, banking, IT, legal, manufacturing, and warehouse companies are staffed with Signature Staffing clients. 

The celebration is scheduled to include: 

Rep. Patty Kim; Gwen Ross, Director of Workforce Development Initiatives, PA DCED; Dauphin County Commissioner George Hartwick; Cumberland County Commissioner Jean Foschi; Lemoyne Borough Council; Solomon Wheeler, Eastern District SBA; and Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC). 

M&T Bank, business colleagues, friends, and the Harrisburg Chamber are expected to join Hill as she speaks to the impact of mentoring on her success as a woman-owned small business and opportunities in today’s region. A single mother who did not return to college, Hill had a mentor who she said changed her life, and she credits her success to the value of mentorship.

Ex-Eagle and McDevitt star McCoy involved in real estate of a different kind

LeSean McCoy has gone from breaking tackles in the NFL to breaking ground for sustainable housing. 

A developer in his hometown Harrisburg real estate industry and the owner of Vice Capital LLC, McCoy recently held a groundbreaking event for his new Harrisburg housing complex, Savoy 48. The complex is designed to provide modern, sustainable housing to meet the growing needs of the Harrisburg community. 

As a star running back for Bishop McDevitt High School, the University of Pittsburgh, and the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, McCoy provided plenty of real estate of a different kind. A six-time all-star in the NFL, McCoy led the league in rushing touchdowns with 17 in 2011, and in attempts (314), rushing yards (1,607), and yards per game (100.4) in 2013. 

McCoy was a member of two Super Bowl championship teams, the 2019 Kansas City Chiefs and 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He retired from the NFL following the 2020 season, ending a 14-year pro career that saw him produce 15,000 yards and 89 TDs. 

“After I retired from the NFL I thought, ‘10 years from now they will only know about me for the NFL football player I was,’” McCoy said in a statement. “How can I still impact my community without shoulder pads, helmets or fans screaming my name?” 

McCoy found his answer in real estate, something he gained a lot of as a running back with the Crusaders, a powerhouse high school football program. 

“I realized it was real estate,” McCoy said, “because I can make a difference in my community that helped raise me.” 

McCoy’s Vice Capital LLC is a full-service real estate development, management, and investment group. According to its company site, Vice Capital specializes in identifying prime real estate opportunities across the country. 

McCoy has found such real estate in Harrisburg. Situated at 1524 N. 6th Street, between Harris & Boyd Streets, Savoy 48 is so named because it is a 48-unit, mixed-use development. The four-story building will cover approximately 46,000 square feet and will include 6,500 square feet of commercial space for lease, and a rooftop venue. 

Included in the 48 units will be approximately 10 affordable units, and 4 handicap accessible units. 

The total cost is approximately $9.5 million. The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency has committed $800,000, and Dauphin County has committed $325,000. An amount of $1.5 million has been requested from the City of Harrisburg, $1.5 million, and approximately $7 million will be debt financing.