The Regional Spotlight – Lebanon
Though smaller than the nearby cities of Lancaster and Harrisburg, the city of Lebanon, with a population over 25,000, has many of the same benefits of an urban center but with the advantage of being surrounded by farms, open spaces for development, and conservation lands for recreation.
As the county seat, Lebanon is host to many government and social service agencies. The downtown offers an appealing mix of restaurants, a farmer’s market, specialty stores and plays host to numerous activities throughout the year to keep the city vibrant. Among the promising revitalization and economic development projects underway both in the downtown and throughout the City is Grow Lebanon 2020, a proactive plan designed to leverage the city’s strengths to promote continued growth and prosperity.
In 2016, Lebanon County, which has seen four percent overall growth since 2010, tied with Cumberland County for top growth in Pennsylvania with a .8 percent population gain to reach 136,359. Leading growth industries for the county include manufacturing, retail trade, transportation and healthcare. There is also a large core of micro-businesses particularly those centered on the transportation and logistics industries.
Here’s a detailed outlook for several sectors:
“One factor driving housing growth in Lebanon County is the increasing cost and shrinking availability of economical housing and housing developments in the Lancaster, Harrisburg and Hershey areas,” says Ted Pfeifer, Landmark’s Vice President of Retail.
He notes a shortage of affordable housing options in Lebanon County that is beginning to be addressed with housing developments underway in the southern portion of the county, and proposed mixed use retail/office residential projects. With job growth fueling demand, there’s promise of additional housing projects that will be focused in all directions from the city of Lebanon.
“In the last few years, Lebanon County has seen an increase in medical offices and facilities driven by Wellspan to the south, PinnacleHealth in the west, and associated medical practices,” says Pfeifer. “The continuation of this niche growth hinges partly on the final national policies on health care and insurance.”
Businesses nationwide are expanding, relocating or adjusting to current economic conditions. Increasing reliance on the internet is driving a demand for large and medium size distribution centers with appropriate utilities and access to adequate road systems. As prime locations for these centers and new manufacturing sites become scarce in the South Central Pennsylvania market, some companies are looking to Lebanon County with its available real estate, easy access to routes I-81, I-78 corridor and the Pennsylvania Turnpike as well as proximity to Harrisburg International Airport, the Norfolk Southern rail freight system and ports in Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York and Wilmington, as an attractive alternative.
“The region’s strategic location combined with a strong workforce and high quality lifestyle make it an attractive place for a start-up, relocation or expansion,” says Pfeifer noting as an example, the Illinois-based Ace Hardware’s plans to invest more than $20 million to create a northeastern U.S. distribution center in Lebanon County that should create 208 new full-time jobs over the next three years.
Lebanon leaders have taken steps towards creating a business-friendly locality, which encourages development. An increase in new development and growth relies partly on the county’s efforts to increase “business friendly” zoning and building codes to avoid major time delays for developers. As an example of government programs which promote business growth, several sites within the City of Lebanon have been designated as Keystone Opportunity Zones. These parcels are situated at prime locations and businesses are given various tax incentives to improve the sites and provide stable jobs for the community. City officials work closely with the Lebanon Valley Economic Development Corporation to market these available building sites.
“Business, education, and civic leaders in Lebanon are working together to create, manage and sustain growth opportunities to increase jobs, create more housing, better roads and communities. There are many opportunities to be part of this strong collaborative effort with revitalization focused on the Central Business District and beyond,” says Pfeifer. “Their efforts recognize that in today’s world, it is not new large projects, but rehabilitation of existing buildings and reconfiguration of existing shopping centers that will be the future of real estate developments in all areas of the county in the months and years ahead.”
Ted Pfeifer specializes in and enjoys working with landlords providing creative solutions to help re-tenant retail buildings and assist in the re- design of centers to assure landlords can stay competitive and earn the income they need for the oncoming years. Ted is always available to talk and help in designing an effective strategy for your business needs.