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. 


Springwood Hospitality changes ownership

York-based Springwood Hospitality, a hotel development and management company, recently announced new ownership and other organizational changes.

Earlier this year President Justin Shelton assumed ownership from founder and partner David Hogg, who will remain involved as Springwood’s development specialist. To accelerate growth, Hogg is also mentoring an expanded development team.

Shelton partnered with Hogg and joined Springwood Hospitality as president in 2009. He recently purchased Hogg’s remaining 50% interest and became CEO. It was always the goal for Shelton to eventually take the reins, and for Hogg to remain involved.

Shelton had an extensive history in hospitality before coming to Springwood, landing his first general manager position before his 21st birthday.

He served on the prestigious Hilton Owner’s Advisory Council and through his distinguished service with the Tru Brand and Springwood’s award-winning development and operation of several Home2 Suites hotels, Hilton honored him with his position on the Advisory Council of Home2 Suites. Shelton is a graduate of the University of Alabama with a B.S. in hotel and restaurant management and a marketing minor.

“I am thrilled to have Justin at the helm,” Hogg said in a release. “He has driven most company decisions for years, with industry-recognized excellence that has substantially benefitted our team and our investors. I believe his leadership will deliver the best possible future for Springwood Hospitality.”

Other organizational shifts include the promotion of Director of Operations Molly Jensen to company vice president.

“It is a true pleasure to officially announce Molly’s well-deserved promotion. She has been such an asset to Springwood from day one,” Shelton said.

Springwood and its affiliates have profitably developed 34 projects worth more than $360 million in central Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York and Maryland. They have helped high-net-worth entities and individuals invest $140 million of private capital in these projects.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Yorktowne Hotel to re-open

The 100-year-old Yorktowne Hotel, operated by GF Hotels & Resorts, a full-service ownership and management company specializing in hotels, resorts, golf courses and other related hospitality assets, will re-open Tuesday as a Tapestry Collection by Hilton.

Located in the heart of downtown York at 48 E. Market St., the hotel features 123 guestrooms with 27 luxury long-term stay suites and over 10,000 square feet of flexible meeting space to host events from corporate functions to weddings.

The interior has been redesigned, with signature amenities and the latest technology, including the Stewart Companies Room for private dining; the WellSpan Ballroom; The Graham Rooftop Lounge offering over 4,500 square feet of a panoramic view; a well-equipped, state-of-the-art fitness center featuring Peloton; and The Davidson Lobby Bar and dining room.

“It’s a great honor and privilege to join efforts with the York County Industrial Development Authority, York County Economic Alliance and Hilton Hotels Worldwide to bring The Yorktowne Hotel, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, back to the city of York,” Ken Kochenour, founder and CEO of GF Hotels & Resorts and a York College alumnus, said in a release.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Local hotels are finalists for historic awards

Six hotels in central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley have been chosen as finalists in Historic Hotels of America’s 2022 Awards of Excellence, which recognize and celebrate the finest historic hotels and hoteliers from across the U.S.

The awards ceremony and gala will take place Nov. 17 at Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa in Point Clear, Alabama.

Finalists were selected from nominations received from historic hotels, preservation supporters, prior award recipients, community leaders, and leadership from Historic Hotels of America.

· The Inn at Leola Village (1867) earned nominations in the both the Sustainability Champion and Best Small Historic Inn/Hotel (Under 75 Guestrooms) category.

· The Sayre Mansion (1858) in Bethlehem also received a nomination in the Best Small Historic Inn/Hotel (Under 75 Guestrooms) category.

· Skytop Lodge (1922) was nominated in the Best Social Media of a Historic Hotel category.

· The Cork Factory Hotel (1865) in Lancaster and Historic Hotel Bethlehem (1922) garnered nominations in the America Best Historic Hotel (76-200 Guestrooms) category.

· Historic Hotel Bethlehem also was nominated in the Best City Center Historic Hotel category.

· The Hotel Hershey (1933) earned a nomination in the Historic Hotels of America Best Historic Hotel (201 – 400 Guestrooms) category.

Historic Hotels of America is an official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Mechanicsburg hotel sells for $10.2 million 

A 90-room Holiday Inn Express & Suites Harrisburg S in Mechanicsburg sold for $10.2 million to Mechanicsburg HIX LLC. 

Commercial real estate firm Marcus & Millichap announced on Thursday that it sold the property on behalf of the seller, Dauphin County-based Hanuman Two Lodging LLC. The hotel is located at 5011 Louise Dr. In Mechanicsburg. 

Jerry Swon, Daniel Zagoria and Luke Prybylski, investment specialists in Marcus & Millichap’s Manhattan office, listed the property. 

“Hospitality transactions require a specialized skill set and the pandemic has brought forth many more challenges to getting deals done. While we continue to navigate through these uncertain times, we are pleased to have successfully completed this, our team’s ninth hotel transaction of 2021, to the satisfaction of both buyer and seller,” said Swon. “As we move into 2022, we have a strong pipeline of hotels under contract and interest in deals that we are actively marketing. I look forward to the continued rebound of the sector.” 

Area entrepreneur opens new Best Western Plus in Hershey

Best Western Plus Hershey. PHOTO/PROVIDED


A new 60 room Best Western Plus opened in Hershey this week at 1800 E. Chocolate Ave.

The hotel, owned by local entrepreneur Anish Patel, is located minutes away from popular attractions such as Hersheypark and Hershey Gardens.

The property is the third franchise owned by Patel, joined by a Red Roof Inn in Hershey and a Subway in Harrisburg.

The Best Western Plus Hershey offers guests a heated indoor pool, fitness center, outdoor patio area, complimentary breakfast and high speed internet. It also features 1,000 square feet of meeting space and a business center, according to a press release from Best Western.

“We are thrilled to be part of this well-respected and highly-regarded brand,” said Patel. “Hershey is a destination for travelers around the world,” he said, adding that the new hotel will be a “preferred travel option” for business and leisure travelers.

Radisson Hotel Harrisburg sells for $5.9M, auctioned after defaulting on bank loan

The Radisson Hotel Harrisburg in Camp Hill.

The Radisson Hotel Harrisburg in Camp Hill sold for $5.9 million to an undisclosed buyer on Wednesday after a two-day auction.

The 250-room hotel located directly off Highway 15 was listed for auction shortly after former owners Penn Lodge Partners defaulted on a loan from M&T Bank last year.

The Buffalo-New York based bank filed a complaint in Cumberland County Court against the Delaware limited partnership in December, noting that the firm owed the bank over $11 million.

In the December complaint, M&T wrote that Penn Lodge had informed the lender that it had seen a decline in revenue.

“Defendant has advised the lender that the hotel business is suffering substantial cash flow shortages and, as a result thereof, the hotel business operations may cease in the immediate future,” the company wrote in the complaint.

Michael Gallerizzo, a partner at Gebhardt & Smith LLP, a Baltimore, Maryland-based law firm providing counsel to M&T, was unable to comment on the ongoing litigation.

The 45,000-square-foot Radisson Hotel Harrisburg was built in 1964 and sits on 15.88 acres in Camp Hill. The hotel has 30,000 square feet of meeting space and features a business center, a fitness center, a pool, two restaurants, on-site retail and an on-site bar.

The hotel was listed for auction last week by HREC Investment Advisors, a lodging and gaming real estate advisory firm. It was sold for $5.9 million, according to Abc27.

The hotel industry took a massive dive in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, the Radisson had strong top-line revenues, including over $8 million in year-end 2019, according to HREC.

“The hotel had strong pre-COVID revenues, and we believe there is additional revenue and cash flow upside following the completion of a renovation and change in operational strategy,” the real estate firm wrote in the hotel’s listing. “A new owner will have the opportunity to improve the property’s position and capitalize on the hotel’s well-established presence in the market.”

Guest view: In 1925, The Yorktowne Hotel was built for the people, by the people. That still holds true for its renovation.

In 1925, the York community was tasked with building a hotel, a cornerstone for downtown revitalization. In 2015, we were tasked with revitalizing said hotel – The Yorktowne – to once again be a cornerstone. As with all great projects, it takes more than a village. It takes community partners, passion, volunteers, and more.

Since the York County Industrial Development Authority (YCIDA) stepped up to this project of revitalizing The Yorktowne, we have turned to the community to guide it. We are a volunteer board, with a passion for the revitalization of York.

This project is meant to be all about York:

-We’ve partnered with the Crispus Attucks Association and Salem Square Community Association to host hiring information sessions for contractors, and provided workshops on the bidding process to guide smaller contractors through the process.

-We’ve partnered with York College of Pennsylvania to engage their hospitality students in project-based learning in the hotel on topics such as food safety, housekeeping and customer service. Now entering its third year, we’ve included marketing, business and economics students in this initiative as well. This has become a model of excellence for project-based learning, as well as created a framework for workforce training for future Yorktowne Hotel employees at all career levels.

-We’ve partnered with the Cultural Alliance of York for an artist inclusion program to make the hotel a hub for local art to showcase to the public the talent right here in our community.

-We’ve held public information sessions, given countless number of tours of the hotel and even auctioned away some of the memory-evoking pieces for the public to take home.

-We’ve engaged a project team consisting of GF Management, owned by York native Ken Kochenour, who will operate the hotel; our partners at Tapestry by Hilton, the brand of the hotel; locally-owned Kinsley Construction, the project manager guiding the nuts and bolts of this revitalization; and our historic tax consultants to ensure we are preserving the historic elements of the hotel as we modernize it.

Together, working side-by-side, we are dedicated to this project and its success. Each time there is a decision to be made, whether budgetary or historic, we make it together.

What’s next?

This summer, you will notice windows going in and out of the hotel as they are replaced and sealed. The rear exterior of the building, formerly the parking garage, has been sealed, and interior work will continue with Jones Masonry based in Harrisburg.

We anticipate more packages going out to bid this summer and fall, including for site improvements and landscaping, interior general construction and general trades, interior fit-out (broken into several packages), installation of furniture, fixtures and equipment, fire protection, and mechanical and electrical.

We’ve heard from contractors they’d like even more assistance in learning how to bid large scale projects such as the Yorktowne. To fulfill this need, we are launching a curriculum with HACC York this fall to give a deep dive in the how-tos. This 8-week program is provided at no cost to business owners and will aid both new and existing businesses.

We continue to engage new philanthropic partners in the project and review every opportunity with local inclusion in mind.  Just recently the YCIDA approved the WhyFly wireless network, run by York’s own United Fiber & Data, to equip the roof of The Yorktowne for business wireless connectivity, while still allowing us to use the roof as a public space.

We continue to listen to you, the community, and your vision for the hotel. Together, with our fully dedicated project team, we look forward to bringing the hotel back online in 2020.

Jack Kay is president and CEO of Susquehanna Real Estate in York. He also is chairman of the York County Industrial Development Authority and sits on the board of directors of the York County Economic Alliance.

Homewood Suites under construction in mixed-use redevelopment in Carlisle

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday for the Homewood Suites by Hilton in Carlisle. (Rendering: Submitted)

Construction is underway on a new hotel in the north side of Carlisle, part of a major mixed-use redevelopment in the Cumberland County seat.

Carlisle Auto Industries, a sister company of car-show producer Carlisle Events, held a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday afternoon for a Homewood Suites by Hilton that is being built near the intersection of Carlisle Springs Road and Hamilton Street.

Carlisle Events is leading the transformation of a former factory site, known as the Masland/IAC site, which covers 48 acres near the Carlisle Fairgrounds. Carlisle Events owns the fairgrounds, where it operates a series of annual car shows that draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Carlisle area.

The Homewood Suites will include 96 suite-style rooms with full kitchens and separate living spaces. The hotel, which will be operated by Cumberland County-based Simraj Hospitality Management, also will feature an indoor pool and 24-hour fitness center.

The hotel is expected to open in 2020. Lemoyne-based Eastern PCM is the construction manager on the project.

In addition to the hotel, the large redevelopment effort in the borough will also include car condominiums, a restaurant, retail and office space, and a three-acre public park with trails. The eatery, Marcello’s Ristorante, is expected to break ground in the near future.

Carlisle Events purchased the site in 2010. The IAC factory closed in 2008.

“After more than 10 years of dormancy, we’re excited to take the next step in returning this property to its former glory and once again making it a centerpiece for those who are not only part of this community but visit it too,” said Bill Miller Jr., co-owner of Carlisle Events.


Editor’s note: This story has been updated with construction details and a rendering of the hotel project.

Former Bon-Ton, Borders face wrecking ball

The Lower Allen Township Development Authority purchased the former Bon-Ton on Gettysburg Road in the township for future redevelopment. The purchase price was $7.6 million. (Photo: File)

The former Bon-Ton and Borders stores on Gettysburg Road in Lower Allen Township will soon be demolished to pave the way for future commercial redevelopment.

The Lower Allen Township Development Authority, which controls the 14-acre site, conditionally awarded a demolition contract on Thursday to Steelton-based BWB Inc. The authority acquired the vacant property off Route 15 earlier this year for $7.6 million following Bon-Ton’s liquidation last year.

BWB was one of six bidders and came in with the low bid of $379,780 to tear down the 141,148-square-foot Bon-Ton building and connected Border’s book store that is used seasonally.

Erin Trone, the township’s assistant manager, said the demolition will clear the site for a planned hotel and conference center, along with other retail uses.

“No sales agreements to speak of as of yet, but things are moving in promising directions,” Trone said.

A final mix of new tenants would be determined by a development partner selected by the authority.

Trone said the demolition work could begin this summer, though the bulk of the work to tear down the buildings will probably get underway this fall.

The buildings will be torn down bit by bit over several months. The authority expects the work to be completed by the end of the year.

The 14-acre site also has three freestanding restaurants, including a Bonefish Grill, Burger King and Texas Roadhouse, that would not be impacted by the proposed redevelopment.

Harrisburg University taps Hersha company as hotel partner on 17-story tower

Harrisburg University of Science and Technology has named a hotel company with Harrisburg roots as its hospitality partner on the university’s new academic tower, which is slated for construction at Chestnut and South Third streets in downtown Harrisburg.

The university on Monday said HHM, formerly known as Hersha Hospitality Management, will be building an upscale, 197-room boutique-style hotel as part of the 17-story tower project, which is expected to open in 2021.

HHM, which has corporate offices in Harrisburg and Philadelphia, is a hotel management, investment and development firm that operates 125 hotels across the country. That list includes hotels owned by Hersha Hospitality Trust, a publicly traded real estate investment trust with offices in Harrisburg and Philadelphia. The two companies are affiliated through Hersha Hotels and Resorts.

Harrisburg University is planning a 17-story academic tower with a hotel at the corner of Chestnut and South Third streets in Harrisburg. Pictured is a rendering (center) of the tower. (Photo: File)

“This is a natural partnership for us,” HHM CEO Naveen Kakarla said in a news release. “Hersha is ingratiated in the Harrisburg community and we are honored to lend our expertise to this exciting project in the city where our company began.”

University President Eric Darr said the hotel space in the tower has been designed to the standards of Marriott’s Autograph Collection Hotels, though a final decision hasn’t been made about the hotel’s brand. David McCaslin, HHM’s executive vice president, said the company is still negotiating the brand, but he expects a decision will be made this summer.

“We talked to them from the very beginning about being part of this project,” Darr said. “I’m happy that it all worked out.”

Harrisburg University still needs to secure city approvals to begin construction on the tower. Darr is hoping to have that approval this spring so construction can start around July.

The project began with a vision in 2017 for a 36-story tower with student housing and a public parking garage. The scaled-down version will now cost the university about $100 million, not including the hotel portion. A first-floor restaurant also is included in the plan, though a partner has not yet been named.

Darr said last month that the hotel would add another $30 million to $35 million to the construction tab. McCaslin confirmed that price range. He also said HHM believes this new hotel will complement the nearby Hilton and Crowne Plaza hotels, which have large meeting and event spaces.

“We believe we will help them attract more group business into the downtown,” McCaslin said.

HHM also expects the tower will drive more daily foot traffic to retail shops and restaurants in the downtown.

“Harrisburg University has done a great job of helping to revive their part of downtown,” he added. “We think this new product will help bring new people downtown.”

The university and the hotelier would share space on 10 floors. The remaining seven floors would be used entirely by Harrisburg University.

The educational space in the tower is expected to accommodate at least 1,000 new students and a health science education center that would serve degree programs in nursing, pharmaceutical sciences and other allied health programs. The university also will have classrooms and training space for advanced manufacturing and interactive media programs, the latter fueled by the esports boom at Harrisburg University.