“Live The Life You Want” is the rallying cry of an economic campaign to recruit career talent and retain skilled workers in the greater metro region of Harrisburg, Pa.
Officials from the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC, it’s economic development arm, launched a two-day media tour on Thursday to attract new workers from outside the central Pennsylvania region. Linda Goldstein, vice president and COO of the chamber and the economic development division, said the area is a great place “to live, work and play.”
Goldstein and other business and educational leaders recognize that skilled workers are a resource that needs to be nurtured just as much as the area’s treasure of natural and cultural resources. They are getting the word out that there are more job openings in the area than qualified individuals to fill them.
A January 2015 Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry employment report noted that “there are only .4 available workers per every advertised job opening in the three county region made up of Dauphin, Cumberland and Perry counties.” A panel of business, social, educational and government leaders formed a task force to develop a strategic plan to respond to the career pool deficit.
Thursday’s tour focused on growth industries, such as medical services and research, educational institutions and cultural resources that are part of the economic and social landscape of the region. Goldstien compared the expanding bio-medical products and services industries to the economic factors that fueled the birth and growth of Silicon Valley, in the San Franciso Bay area of California.
To demonstrate the economic growth of the scientific and medical-resources of the region, the first stop on the tour was the Hershey Center for Applied Research, (HCAR), a Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central Pennsylvania project designed to fund, seed and grow new science, research and high-tech ventures.
Dr. Mel Billingsley, president and CEO of the Life Sciences Greenhouse, said the research complex has attracted companies from as far away as Australia and New Zealand. Anchored by the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State University, the Wexford Science and Technology property serves as home to the applied research center.
The complex’ “mission is to provide state-of-the art facilities and access to needed business and research resources to assist in the advancement of high technology—based research and commercialization,” according to HCAR’s website. “HCAR supports science-based and high technology researchers, companies and organizations through their emergence, growth or mature stages within the global marketplace.”
The Greenhouse concept “provides mentored space to create a nuclear hub of activity,” Billingsley said. “The first company we started funding…was put in the medical center’s basement. Everybody put resources on the table. Hershey Trust willingly leased land for the project. Start-up companies are cash poor and idea rich.”
The list of tenants reads like a who’s-who of cutting edge medical research, such as Azevan Pharmaceuticals, which is developing vasopressin antagonists that are commonly used in the treatment of patients with congestive heart failure, Billingsley said. A sampling of the companies based in the complex include Immunomic Therapeutics, which is developing lysome-associated membrane protein technology—a next generation vaccine production process; and, Maculogix Inc., which is pioneering a device designed for early diagnosis of ocular diseases.
At the nearby Penn State Hershey Medical Center Conference Center, a group of Hershey Medical Center officials explained advances in the reduction of hospital urinary infection rates; and the frequency of surgery-related blood clots, said Dr. Craig Hillemeier, president and CEO. The strength and robustness of the medical services complex are enhanced by the center’s links to 14 county hospitals from around the region.
Robin Wittenstein, of the outpatient surgical and endoscopy center said the delivery of medical services is highly fragmented as a result of numerous geographic and economic factors.
“We want every person to have access to the expertise of Hershey Medical Center,” Wittenstein said. “There are things that we do here that are not done at other centers,” such as tele-medicine and other “patient-centric” services.
Developing the scientific education in an academic health setting is one aspect of providing a continuum of complementary services to residents of the region. An element of the educational and medical services delivery system includes collaboration with primary physicians throughout the region; to collaborate on research projects; to assist with new technology transfers, spin-offs and licensing of proprietary innovations, Wittenstein said.
Other stops on the tour included the Milton Hershey School; Troegs Brewery; Broadstreet Market; The Millworks; and the Harrisburg Area Community College complex on Third Street, in downtown Harrisburg. Doug Neidich, president and CEO of Greenworks explained how various governmental and private forces are coming together creating a renaissance or education, art, culture, dining and other services in the formerly economically depressed section of the city.
For more information on The Life You Want to Live campaign, visit www.thelifeyouwantpa.com; for more information on the Hershey Center for Applied Research, visit www.hersheyresearch.com; for more information on Milton Hershey School, visit www.mhskids.org; for more information on Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central Pennsylvania, visit www.lsgpa.com; for more information on Hershey Medical Center, visit www.pennstatehershey.org; and for more information on HACC, visit www.hacc.edu.