These homegrown companies are helping fuel economic growth in NePa | Opinion

The sun sets on Kingston and Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (Photo by Hank Rogers, via Flickr Commons)

By John Yudichak

Fall always brings a renewed sense of excitement in Pennsylvania.  The beautiful fall foliage begins to adorn our mountain peaks, children eagerly start a new school year, and mighty roars ring up from football stadiums in Philadelphia, Happy Valley, and Pittsburgh.

In northeastern Pennsylvania, the mighty roar you are hearing in cities from Nanticoke to Pittston and from Hazleton to Wilkes-Barre is the humming sound of a growing economy along the Interstate 81 corridor.  Homegrown businesses as well as national corporations are, in increasing numbers, selecting Luzerne County as the best place to expand their business and create new jobs.

GUARD Insurance, led by Judd and Susan Shoval started as a homegrown company in 1982 before being acquired by Berkshire Hathaway in 2012 — a company created by the world renowned investor, Warren Buffett.

Led locally by the exceptional executive team of Sy Foguel, Carl Witkowski, and Eitan Ajchenbaum, Berkshire Hathaway GUARD’s decision to purchase the Wilkes-Barre Center Building on Public Square two years ago signaled the beginning of one of the most significant economic development expansions in the history of the city.

When renovations are completed to the Wilkes-Barre Center building this fall, more than 700 employees will be working in downtown Wilkes-Barre, with more expected to be hired as the company continues to grow.

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Berkshire Hathaway GUARD’s commitment to growing its workforce and its steadfast support of the community, which includes partnering with the Wyoming Valley Art League to support local artists by featuring their artwork in the new building, is something that deserves recognition. Thank you Berkshire Hathaway GUARD!

Many other successful, homegrown companies are also investing in our region and creating more new jobs. McCarthy Tire Service will be expanding its national headquarters in Wilkes-Barre.

And in July, Gov. Tom Wolf announced funding for Piling Solutions Inc., a steel manufacturer that started in Mountain Top, that will be renovating and expanding their operations at the former Air Products building in Hanover Township.

Thank you McCarthy Tire Services and thank you Piling Solutions.

The homegrown companies that have called northeastern Pennsylvania home for years are also helping us open the eyes of national corporations, showing them that Luzerne County is open for business and ready to create new jobs.

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NorthPoint Development saw an opportunity in the South Valley of Luzerne County, and it invested over $400 million in private funds in the Interstate 81 corridor that helped attract five national companies that have created over 4,000 new jobs in the past two years.

Thank you NorthPoint and thank you Chewy.com, Adidas, Patagonia, True Value, and Spreetail.

In Greater Hazleton, CANDO continues to attract manufacturing jobs to the region. Thank you to Hershey Company, Iris USA, and Highwood USA who have all recently invested in creating jobs in northeastern Pennsylvania.

It is exciting times in northeastern Pennsylvania, especially along the Interstate 81 corridor.

Whether it is a homegrown company that continues to grow or it is a new company looking to grow roots in the fertile economic soil of Luzerne County, we are grateful for the private sector partners that have joined with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, along with our county and local governments, to build a better, and more prosperous, future for all northeastern Pennsylvania.

State Sen. John Yudichak, a Democrat, represents the 14th Senate District, which includes all of Carbon and part of Luzerne counties. He writes from Harrisburg. 

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