Harrisburg: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Harrisburg is the metropolitan center for some 400 communities. Its economy and more than 6,900 businesses are diversified with a large representation of service-related industries (especially health) and growing technological industry to accompany the dominant government field inherent to being the state's capital. National firms either headquartered in the region or with major operations there include Tyco Electronics Corp. (components), IBM, Hershey Foods, Harsco Corp., and Rite Aid Corp. (retailers). The largest employer, state government, provides stability to the economy and attracts attendant services. Excellent roads and rail transportation contribute to the city's prominence as a center for trade, warehousing, and distribution.

Items and goods produced: shoes, books, computer products, food products, textiles, apparel, leather goods, machinery, railway equipment

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

Local programs

The Mayor's Office of Economic Development (MOED), created in 1983, supports new and expanding businesses in site selection and securing financing. The city also offers tax abatement on new investment, lower property tax millage on improvements, below-market-rate financial assistance, investment tax credits, and more. The MOED directs business and industrial development programs, including the Division of Contract Compliance and Minority and Female Business Enterprises which offers certification programs, financial counseling, and bid assistance. City incentives designed to increase residential sales in Harrisburg include the Mortgage Tax Credit Certification Program, real estate tax abatements, special financing, and investment tax credits, among others.

The Harrisburg Regional Chamber, through the Capital Region Economic Development Corporation (CREDC), is an active association offering a variety of services to enhance business growth, including lobbying at all levels of government, sponsoring an annual business fair, offering financing programs including small business loans, and providing training programs.

State programs

The state of Pennsylvania provides about 100 programs for new and existing businesses that are searchable at the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development's (dubbed NewPA) website, which works with new and existing companies and community leaders to foster development and growth for businesses and neighborhoods. Ben Franklin Technology Partners operates four centers throughout the state with Harrisburg and Dauphin County under the central and northern district that provides assistance to entrepreneurs via investments, information, and solutions. The Team Pennsylvania Foundation (more commonly referred to as Team PA) was founded in 1997 to bolster the state's business environment by collaborating the efforts of business and government leaders to feed into the creation of initiatives and programs.

Job training programs

The most widely used state and federal programs to help employers reduce the costs of hiring and training workers include the federal 1998 Workforce Investment Act (WIA), Customized Job Training (CJT) funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and maintained by the Pennsylvania Workforce Development department, Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) Program, and a state-tax-credit Employment Incentive Payment (EIP) Program. Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) offers customized training programs for business and industry and in 2001 opened a new Technology Training Center. Shippensburg University, accredited by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business, offers custom-tailored programs through its Frehn Center for Management. The Mayor's Office of Economic Development (MOED) also helps in identifying training programs for local businesses.

Development Projects

Harrisburg claims national recognition for its strong economy and high quality of life. City planners continue to follow a comprehensive land use plan titled "Forum 2000" that covers a wide array of different elements of the community including downtown, commercial, and neighborhood development along with recreational opportunities, transportation resources, and parking availability.

In its recent history, Harrisburg has witnessed the opening of the $52.7 million Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts in 1999 and the $10 million conversion of a Ramada Inn in 2000 to the Crowne Plaza Harrisburg hotel and conference center. In the planning stages is the "Entertainment Crossroads" that will encompass several streets and blend existing and new entertainment and nightlife amenities into various corridors and bolster the availability of hospitality and commercial services. The future creation of "Neighborhood Service Centers" will allow residents nearby availability of convenience shopping, personal and business services, professional services, and recreational centers which will recreate an old-time, small-town feel.

Economic Development Information: City of Harrisburg, Mayor's Office of Economic Development, City Government Center, 10 N. 2nd St., Ste. 405, Harrisburg, PA 17101; telephone (717)255-3027; fax (717)255-6432; email moed@cityofhbg.com. Harrisburg Regional Chamber, 3211 N. Front St., Ste. 201, Harrisburg, PA 17110-1342; telephone (717)232-4099; fax (717)232-5184

Commercial Shipping

Located midway between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Harrisburg grew up from its earliest days as a transportation center and has long been an important freight center. All major air, rail, and highway arteries linking the markets of the East, Midwest, and South pass through the region. There are eight public airports in the region, the largest being Harrisburg International Airport (HIA), a modern facility where twice the national average of freight and mail (in excess of 61,000 tons annually) are handled by five air freight forwarders. The Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority (SARAA) and the city are in the process of establishing HIA as a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ), which would facilitate in the delivery of local goods to the international market. Several major interstate and U.S. highways connect the region to major metropolitan areas, and local roads are well maintained. Norfolk Southern operates two intermodal freight facilities within the city, which also opened up the rail for freight service between Canada and the Gulf of Mexico.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

The Capital Region boasts a growing pool of talented, productive, and educated workers. While the city's population decreased by more than six percent, the metropolitan area's population increased seven percent between 1990–2000. Wages paid in the region are reported to be competitive. The state provides resources to area residents through its Pennsylvania Workforce Development department as does the Capital Region Economic Development Corporation (CREDC).

The following is a summary of data regarding the Harrisburg-Carlisle metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 323,000

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 12,100

manufacturing: 25,500

trade, transportation, and utilities: 69,100

information: 6,400

financial activities: 24,800

professional and business services: 35,200

educational and health services: 42,900

leisure and hospitality: 26,900

other services: 17,200

government: 63,000

Average hourly earnings of workers employed in manufacturing: $15.15

Unemployment rate: 3.6% (April 2005)

Harrisburg: Economy

Largest employers (Harrisburg metropolitan statistical area) Number of employees
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 31,200
U.S. Government 11,600
Hershey Food Corp. 5,600
Highmark Blue Shield 5,600
Tyco Electronics Corp. 5,332
Hershey Medical Center 4,251
PinnacleHealth 3,587
EDS Corp. 2,708
Rite Aid Corp. 2,375
County of Dauphin 2,175

Cost of Living

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Harrisburg area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average Home Price: $240,280

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 98 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: 3.07%

State sales tax rate: 6%

Local income tax rate: none

Local sales tax rate: none

Property tax rate: in the two-rate system, 24.414 mills on land; 4.069 mills on building and improvements

Economic Information: Capital Region Economic Development Corporation, 3211 N. Front St., Ste. 201, Harrisburg, PA 17110-1342; telephone (717)232-4099; fax (717)232-5184