The Regional Spotlight – State College
State College is a hot market for commercial investment. Located along the I-99 Innovation Corridor in Centre County, State College is home to Penn State University, one of the largest higher learning institutions in the state. The constant influx of students, graduates and educators drives a steady demand for housing and retail throughout the region.
With a total incoming investment index of 31.53 (Smartasset.com), Centre County is ranked number three among Pennsylvania counties with the most investment. A significant commercial project recently completed is the Fraser Centre, an innovative mixed-use project located in the heart of downtown State College, which houses a hotel, retail space, restaurant, conference center and condominiums. Plans for two additional commercial projects like this are under review.
“State College is one of the strongest places in Pennsylvania to invest. The housing sector is extremely strong but the whole market is hot. There’s a high level of demand for commercial real estate which creates opportunities to do deals,” says Drew Bobincheck, CCIM, senior associate, Landmark Commercial Realty. “There are few other places in Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia and Lancaster, where the market is as strong.”
With all of its investment opportunities, State College is also an appealing community and was ranked number five in “Top 20 small-sized cities in the United States” by Prime Workforce. The region boasts a highly educated, skilled work force which continues to grow. More than 92 percent of adults have at least a high school education and 40 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
In addition to the university, growth can be attributed to some 2,000 businesses in the region and an emphasis on supporting technology and start-up companies which earned State College the title “Best U.S. Cities for Entrepreneurs to Live and Launch” by Entrepreneur.com. In 2014, according to U. S. Census data, State College was ranked number 19 among metro areas with the fastest-growing rate of new startups. In addition to a number of specialized life sciences, high tech and advanced manufacturing companies, retail, health care and education are major employers in the region.
The community maintains a strategic approach to growth assisted by the efforts of the Centre County Industrial Development Authority and the Centre County General Authority. These organizations work to promote opportunities for development, expansion, rehabilitation and improvement of business and industry in the region. Nonetheless, potential investors may find it difficult to make inroads without assistance.
“Because a large volume of local investors have traditionally owned the market there’s a high barrier to entry,” cautions Bobincheck. “Working with an experienced commercial realtor is essential to successfully navigate this highly desirable market.”
Drew Bobincheck, CCIM, is a commercial investment and leasing broker specializing in investments, multi-family and retail.