CPBJ announces Best Places to Work in PA 2023 winners, holding event in December 

The Central Penn Business Journal, in partnership with Best Companies Group and Lehigh Valley Business, is once again hosting its annual Best Places to Work in PA event. 

Best Places to Work in PA 2023 will be held at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square Hotel at 25 S. Queen St., Lancaster on Thursday, Dec. 7. 

CPBJ  recently announced this year’s winners, separated across three categories: small employers (15-99 U.S. employees; medium employers (100-249 U.S. employees); and large employers (250 or more U.S. employees). 

“This year’s 2023 Best Places to Work in PA winners make sure their teams feel appreciated, engaged and challenged. They foster a positive environment for innovative teams to thrive,” said Suzanne Fischer-Huettner, managing director of BridgeTower Media/Central Penn Business Journal and Lehigh Valley Business. “These companies demonstrate consistent communication and recognize good work, important hallmarks of a great place to work. We at the Central Penn Business Journal and Lehigh Valley Business are pleased to join the Best Companies Group in celebrating this year’s honorees.” 

The rankings for this year’s Best Places to Work in PA will be revealed during the event.  

Companies were chosen as winners through a two-part survey process managed by Harrisburg-based Best Companies Group.  

Winning companies must be publicly or privately held, either for-profit or not-for profit; have a facility in Pennsylvania; have at least 15 employees in Pennsylvania; and be in business for a minimum of one year. 

There are various sponsorship levels available, which include the right to use the event logo, multimedia marketing, a table to share with co-workers and guests at the event, and much more. If seats are available after the sponsorship deadline, a limited number of individual tickets will go on sale. Tables are only available with sponsorship.

A full list of winners and sponsors can be found at the landing page detailing the December eventFor more information about the Best Places to Work in PA program, visit BestPlacestoWorkinPA.com 

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.

August home sales beset by low inventory, rising mortgage rates

Home sales in central Pennsylvania continued behind last year’s pace in August, as a new factor – mortgage interest rates nearing 8% – adds to the slowdown.

Greater Harrisburg

In the three counties covered by the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors, year-over-year house sales last month were down 22.1% in Cumberland County (358 to 279); 12.3% in Dauphin County (341 to 299); and 34.2% in Perry County (38 to 25).

Compared with July 2023, they were up 18.2 in Cumberland, up 22% in Dauphin and down 16.7% in Perry.

The median sold price in August was $308,000 in Cumberland County, an increase of 2.7% from a year ago.

Average days on market was 17, and average sold to original list price ratio was 100.7%.

In Dauphin County, the median sold price of $255,000 was 10.9% more than a year ago and 8.5% more than July 2023. Average days on market was 17, and average sold to OLP ratio was 99.6%, which is just under asking price.

Perry County’s median sold price of $242,000 is 19.5% above what it was 12 months ago and 9.5% higher than last month. Average days on market came to 22, while average sold to OLP ratio was 97.4%.

Wendell Hoover, 2023 president of the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors, said in an email that “the sellers’ market has continued,” as fewer homes are on the market as compared with last year, which has in turn led to fewer homes sold.

“Sales prices have continued to increase in comparison to last year,” he continued. “In talking to a lot of homeowners over the past few months, there are a good number that would like to sell but their low current interest rate is too hard to give up (compared with) today’s rates. So when interest rates do decrease, there may finally be an increase to the number of homes on the market.”


In York County, 515 homes sold in August, 18% more than in August 2022. In Adams County, 109 houses sold, 3% fewer than a year ago.

The median house price in Adams was $295,000, a 6% rise from a year ago. In York, the median home price was $275,000, a 10% jump.

Year to date, 719 houses have sold in Adams County, 14% fewer than a year ago through August. In York County, 3,561 settlements have been recorded in the first eight months of 2023, a 20% decrease.

The median sales price in Adams County through the first eight months was $281,000, about the same from this time last year. In York County, the median to date was $263,900, a 8% increase from 2022.

Reid Weinbrom, 2023 president of the Realtors Association of York & Adams Counties, stated in a release: “The continuous shortage of available housing inventory, coupled with strong buyer demand, consistently impacts sales prices, leading many sellers to receive multiple offers shortly after listing their properties.”

Lancaster County

Year over year, Lancaster County home sales declined 14.9% in August, from 571 to 486. However, they were up 12.8% month over month, from 431 to 486.

Average sold to OLP ratio was 103.2%, significantly above asking price.

Jeff Peters, president-elect of the Lancaster County Association of Realtors, said in a statement:

“August saw the highest levels of new listings this summer with 511 homes coming to the market; that’s an increase of 12.3% compared to July. Pending homes fell a modest 1.8% from the previous month, and closed sales saw a 12.8% jump compared (with) July.”

He also pointed out that the county’s median sold price rose to a summer high of $330,000 – a 4.8% increase over August 2022. “The average days on market for a home to sell was consistent with June and July, at 16. A similar trend of ‘cash’ purchases accounted for just over 26% of all purchases in August. Even with a slight increase in new listings, buyers are still struggling to compete for properties. I believe we’ll continue to see an increased median sold price as we approach the fall market.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

CPBJ announces ranking for 2023’s Fastest Growing Companies 

Businesses from across the midstate met at the Sheraton Harrisburg-Hershey Hotel on Sept. 12 to hear the final ranking for Central Penn Business Journal’s 2023 Fastest Growing Companies. 

The Central Penn Business Journal’s Fastest Growing Companies recognizes local businesses’ growth. Companies are ranked according to revenue growth over a three-year period, with both dollar and percentage increases taken into consideration.  

The rankings were calculated by SEK, CPAs & Advisors. Companies chosen for the honor had a revenue of at least $500,000 in each of the fiscal years ending in 2020, 2021 and 2022 and showed revenue growth in 2022 as compared to 2020. 

The top 50 winners were honored at the Central Penn Business Journal’s annual Fastest Growing Companies event. 

Photos from the event, as well as a list of companies, can be seen on the journal’s landing page for the event. 

Sponsors included: Social Media Red Carpet Sponsor IRA G. Steffy & Son Inc., as well as Supporting Sponsors Apex Advertising and Linlo Properties, and Celebration Sponsors ACNB Corporation; AVAIL Technology Solutions; Bank of Bird-in-Hand; Centurion Construction Group, LLC; Keller Contracting, LLC; McConkey Insurance & Benefits; PA Options for Wellness, Inc.; Paramount Contracting, Inc.; Schaedler Yesco Distribution; Stonebridge Financial Group; Storage Asset Management (SAM); Swartz Supply Co., Inc; Tanner Furniture; and truNorth Financial Services. 


Pella Gettysburg invests in AC to protect employees, beat summer heat

To protect the health of their employees, the Pella Corporation in Gettysburg had to figure out a way to beat summer heat.

Winters weren’t a problem since the company’s heating system kept the manufacturing plant warm. But the summer months were a different story for the privately held window and door manufacturing company whose headquarters are in Pella, Iowa, but whose manufacturing and sales operations in several locations across the country, including Gettysburg and Harrisburg.

In past years, the Pella plant in Gettysburg tried various methods to cool down its 230,000 square foot site.

“I’ve been at this site for eight years and every year we’ve tried something different to try to cool the plant down,” said Plant Manager Gilliam Els. “We get warm weather in June, July, and August, and to improve air quality over 230,000 square feet we put out fans, intake and outtake circulation fans that start up at certain temperatures and draw in fresh air and pull-out hot air. But they were insufficient to cool the plant down during summer months.

“We’ve experimented with these types of ways to cool down the plant. We also gave team members extra breaks and handed out extra water, popsicles, and we air conditioned the break room to keep team members healthy.”

Yet little worked in a plant whose heat index inside reflected the temperature outside.

“If it was 100 (degrees) outside it would be 100 inside,” said Els. “Our work is very hands on, and when you’re busy like that, the temperature means a lot more than if you’re working behind a desk.”

Especially when that work involves eight-to-10-hour shifts for four-to-five days per week. High heat and humidity can not only be draining, but dangerous. Els said meetings involving team members and management produced a plan to install air conditioning units to deal with extreme heat.

The result was a proactive approach that would safeguard workers while also increasing productivity by reducing heat-related occurrences. Utilizing Sunbelt Rentals and their own internal engineering team to do the install, Pella positioned three air conditioners – an 80-ton unit, 40-ton, and 25-ton – on the perimeter grounds of the plant to stabilize temperatures and humidity.

“What these units do is create airflow,” said Els. “They pull hot air from inside the plant into the unit, cool it down, and blow it back into the plant. This was done for the safety of team members.

“It wasn’t one specific person’s idea. It came from suggestions from team members and management, in terms of what we could do to cool down the plant. We listened to the team members in meetings, what it feels like for them when they work.”

The units were installed at the end of May and are being used to cool the plant through September, when the heat and humidity of the summer months subside. Els said the difference in the plant and among team members has been noticeable.

“From the safety perspective of our team members, it makes it much more comfortable for them to work in those conditions and it keeps them safe from heat stroke,” he said. “There’s been a very positive response, our team members are all smiles.

“When you work a 10-hour shift, humidity is what gets you. One of the comments from the team members is that when you walk into the plant now you don’t feel the temperature bearing down on you because the humidity is out. The units pull the humidity out and stabilize the temperature inside the plant.

“Obviously, there was a big cost to get the air conditioning units, but we had to make a difference in the plant. We showed that we care about safety by doing more, reducing the temperature and taking out the humidity.”

Pella believes its strategy could serve as a model for others in the industry.

“We installed this at a big cost to our company, but for the safety of our team members we felt we needed to do this,” said Els. “From a Pella perspective we pride ourselves on being a caring company and this is one other way we showed we care about our team members. We wanted to make sure we take care of them.”