Centre County’s business leaders look toward 2020

Editor’s note: This column is part of the CDT’s Business Matters special section.

Divining the future is a difficult proposition.

Even the experts, professionals who have spent years starring into a crystal ball or carefully tracing a line on somebody’s palm have been known to get it wrong once in a while.

In the absence of those folks, we’ve turned to some of Centre County’s industry leaders for some insight into what business in the area might look like in a few years.

Vana Dainty, Bellefonte Keystone Coordinator: The economy will be thriving for several different reasons. One reason is, SpringBoard Incubator Center will have graduated three businesses that have located in the Bellefonte area adding to the economy. The Waterfront in Bellefonte is under development and promises to add new businesses and tourism to the area. The bike/hiking trail between Milesburg and Bellefonte is almost complete and promises to bring a new element of attraction and a change for more tourism and consumers spending money. In 2020, overall, Bellefonte is an exciting place to work and live and will get even better over the next decade.

Charlie Campbell, director of special projects at Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc.: Our view is that State College and Centre County is and will remain a desirable place to live and work. This makes it attractive to new businesses and the expansion of existing businesses. Our health care system continues to grow as a regional center. I-99 and I-80 provide excellent transportation arteries. Working toward the completion of U.S. 322 from Potters Mills to State College will complete the infrastructure to keep our transportation access safe and competitive.

Betsey Howell, executive director of the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau: If the community works together — the momentum for developing new and additional sports facilities would surge so that by 2020 Centre County residents would have use of new indoor facilities, as well as outdoor fields, and the area could be bustling with visitors here for a variety of regional, state and national tournament action, which would mean more business for our lodging properties, restaurants and retail shops.

Susan Smith, Lemont Village Association board chairwoman: I hope that by 2020 people will realize that shopping locally, whenever possible, helps everyone. I hope that we “pre-cycle,” that is only buy things that are not over packaged, or plastic, or non-renewable, or not made in the U.S. I hope that local businesses will respond to this “new” marketplace and seek out suppliers that these products. It may be an impossible goal, but soon people must understand that we all need to change our impact on the world.

Vern Squier, president and CEO, Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County: The more densely populated area of Centre County, known as the Centre Region, will continue to surge as a local economy over the next three years due to increased investment and job creation in the area. The efforts of various partners, public and private, laid the groundwork for such economic activity. Fueled by a skilled and mobile workforce, this increase in economic strength will further support residents of Centre County and the region.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready