The midstate’s fastest growing businesses continue to invest in Cumberland County 

Ioannis Pashakis//December 3, 2021

The midstate’s fastest growing businesses continue to invest in Cumberland County 

Ioannis Pashakis//December 3, 2021

In September two major Pennsylvanian employers, Harsco Corp. and Rite Aid, announced they would be leaving their headquarters in Cumberland County to open new main offices in Philadelphia. 

Harsco explained in its announcement of the planned 2023 move that it was leaving the region to expand its infrastructure and have access to a more diverse hiring pool. For Rite Aid, the move is part of the company’s new “remote-first” strategy that could see it opening a regional office in the midstate. 

While Harsco and Rite Aid plan to leave their Cumberland County headquarters in the coming years, it is anything but a sign of things to come, said Ryan Unger, president and CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and CREDC. 

“Both companies made the decisions that they did based on their own employees and market competition and things like that,” said Unger. “Whenever you look at a region and its industrial heritage, you will see times where companies evolve, grow and shrink and this is part of that process.” 

So, while Rite Aid and Harsco are moving, other local employers are doubling down on the region, citing its assets for raising a family, and proximity to major cities and the state capital. 

A Giant investment 

Nicholas Bertram. PHOTO/PROVIDED

In the last three years, Carlisle-based The Giant Company has grown its employee base by 5,000, acquired four companies and launched multiple new services and partnerships. That growth has been mirrored in the company’s Carlisle headquarters, which received an expansion this year that included remodeling, upgraded technology and a new auditorium. 

The campus also houses Giant’s sister companies Retail Business Services, ADUSA Supply Chain Services and Peapod Digital Labs. 

Giant views each of its 190 locations as a headquarters given the company’s emphasis on community, however, investing in the midstate as the center of the company’s operations has proven fruitful, said Nicholas Bertram, president and CEO of Giant. 

“The people who grew up here absolutely love it and the people who came here, like me, absolutely love it,” Bertram said. “There are great schools, great infrastructure—It’s a wonderful place to live. If you look at the growth in Cumberland County, it’s clear that a lot of people are moving into this area.” 

Bertram pointed out out another major asset to the company, the region’s highway system, which it relies on for its distribution center in Cumberland County, dry grocery storage in York and frozen storage campus in Lancaster. 

As Pennsylvania’s second largest employer, Giant also values its proximity to Harrisburg. 

“For those companies with more influence on the Commonwealth, it makes sense to be closer to the capital,” Bertram said. 

Calling the West Shore home 

Philip Brenckle. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Home remodeling company West Shore Home in Mechanicsburg has expanded to 11 states over three years—a feat the company attributes to a consistent and predictable strategic growth plan and an initial acquisition that brought the company into North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. 

“We are focused on making home remodeling fast, easy, convenient and having a focus on customer service,” said Philip Brenckle, CFO at West Shore Home. “For right now, as we scale nationally, we are staying within our verticals to make sure we offer the best experience in windows, doors, showers and baths.” 

West Shore Home employs about 1,700 people, which is up 750 employees since the pandemic started. 

“We grew just as rapidly prior to the pandemic as we did during, and we look to continue to grow,” said Brenckle. “We saw a surge during the pandemic. The biggest opportunity we seized during the pandemic was the labor force. Many companies were going to shed labor and once we realized that we decided to go on the offensive.” 

West Shore Home’s employee growth caused the company to add more corporate positions in human resources, legal, accounting and more, adding up to 400 corporate positions. 

The remodeling company opened a new corporate headquarters in Mechanicsburg this year. The open design concept features 56,184 square feet and room for more than 560 employees. It has an in-house coffee café, employee training center, private breakout rooms and a podcast studio. 

West Shore Home’s investment in the midstate comes from its origins in the region as well as the positives that the region holds for employees, said Brenckle. 

“Our founder was born and raised in Pennsylvania, this is the birth place of our company,” he said. “Just as importantly, we believe that Central Pennsylvania has a lot to offer: exceptional costs of living, it’s close to a lot of major cities and there’s access to large major markets.” 

Selecting the midstate 


Select Medical in Mechanicsburg is the country’s largest post-acute care company at $6 billion in revenue. 

This year the company joined the ranks of the Fortune 500, something that Bob Ortenzio, co-founder and executive chairman attributed to the region the company started in. 

“This area supported the company and helped us grow from a pure startup to a Fortune 500 Company,” Ortenzio said. “It supported us as a small company, through huge growth years and it supported us in being a national leader in what we do.” 

In the last five years, Select Medical has doubled in size from $3 billion in revenue to $6 billion and currently operates 140 specialty hospitals, 1800 outpatient clinics and 522 occupational medicine centers. 

Within the midstate alone Select Medical operates four hospitals, two occupational medicine locations and 40 outpatient clinics.  

The company’s campus consists of six buildings in Mechanicsburg with a majority of its services centralized to the campus. A portion of its operations are also located at an office building in Camp Hill. 

“We would never move from Central Pennsylvania. We want to continue to invest in the region, invest in our people that are here,” said Ortenzio. “It may not be the best to access our West Coast operations, but we do a lot of work in DC, a lot of our banks are in New York and we have a lot of operations in the South—we have access to the whole Eastern seaboard from here.” 

Select Medical has found success recruiting staff for its Mechanicsburg headquarters thanks to the state’s strong educational institutions and the growing economies of the region’s cities, said Ortenzio. 

“I believe in the continued growth for the city of Harrisburg. The company and I have supported places like Harrisburg University which continue to grow,” he said. “This area has grown a lot. It’s been great for our employees and we are a big advocate.” 

Ortenzio also pointed out Harrisburg International Airport as a nearby asset for Select Medical, noting that while it is not as big as an Atlanta or Philadelphia airport, the company still brings clients to the region through the airport. 

“We have a lot of people who travel here and say that Harrisburg is a joy to fly out of. You can get to Atlanta, Chicago, Charlotte, Nashville and Philadelphia,” he said. “We have an airport; we have a great base for education and we have good housing. What more does a growing company need?” 

Improving on a good thing 


Part of the region’s success as a place for businesses to grow as quickly as organizations like Select Medical, West Shore Home and Giant have, is that the midstate’s economic centers follow the “15-minute city” residential urban planning concept, according to Unger. 

In residential planning, the 15-minute city refers to the idea where a resident is able to get their daily necessities by foot or by bike within 15 minutes—an idea popularized by French cities expert Carlos Moreno. Those necessities include education, health care, arts and culture, parks and recreation, grocery stores and walkability and transit. 

“You want to check all of those boxes off. When we speak with businesses that want to come here, we highlight that,” Unger said.  

Organizations like the Harrisburg Regional Chamber continue to find ways to create workforce development programs with area business leaders to ensure that midstate businesses continue to have access to talent. That doesn’t mean that the region doesn’t already have a diverse talent pool to draw from, said Unger. 

“We have a great workforce here. (West Shore Home, Select Medical and Giant) wouldn’t be able to grow if they didn’t have employees and access to talent,” he said. “We want to continue to work on that. We have all the assets we need here in the region to succeed.”