“Several of our local manufacturers have really been positively impacted by globalization,” Leann Smith, Executive Director of the Grove City Chamber in Grove City, PA (population 8,000) was telling me as I toured her picturesque town in western PA. Several of her local companies are in growth spurts.
“GE is building their new green engine here. They build big diesel locomotive engines and other big engines here. They’ve been here about 25 years and continue to expand. They recently shipped 350 locomotive engines to Kazakhstan and are doing a similar export order to China. We also are seeing several of their suppliers move here because of GE’s Lean Manufacturing focus.”
“Another company that is exporting more is Pine Instruments which makes testing systems and components. They have 100 employees and are also growing.”
Grove City went through some tough times a decade ago when their major employer, Cooper Industries, which at one time employed over 2,000, closed their doors. At the same time their downtown retail stores were decimated by the opening of a major outlet mall on the outskirts of town.
However, the town has rebounded with growth in the manufacturing sector and a downtown that today has very few vacancies. Restorations at the Guthrie Theater, a 1920s Vaudeville Theater, Burdick’s Men’s Clothing and other downtown institutions have the downtown rebounding.
It helps that the 2,500 student Grove City College, an “authentically Christian” college abuts the downtown. Grove City College was founded in 1876, bringing in students from 48 of the 50 states and from a half dozen foreign countries.
Grove City impressed me as one of the more balanced towns I’ve seen from a commercial standpoint. They’ve got some great retail, large concentration of manufacturing jobs (18% of the workforce), a superb college, wonderful location and beautiful scenery.