Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sleeper with Potential

“Quaint, historic 1700s town nestled in the Alleghenies, on the gently flowing
Juniata River and near the 118 miles of shoreline of Raystown Lake.
Juniata College is a wonderful liberal arts college in the town and just 40
minutes away is a world class engineering college.”

That is the ad I would write for Huntingdon, PA (population 6,918).

The town sits in a wonderfully scenic valley surrounded by the Alleghenies, with the natural beauty and outdoor activities you would expect of such a location. On the outskirts of town begins the 29,000 acres of the Raystown Lake Army Corps’ project, a lake that stretches for 28 miles south and west of the town. Tim Schrack, a local realtor and one of my three tour guides almost sold me a $90,000 lake view lot, which I considered to be an incredible bargain.

Juniata College is what you want a college to look like….beautiful buildings with plenty of green space and on rolling hills with a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside. The college of 1,400 students is known for its pre-med program and recently started an entrepreneurship program and business incubator.

The business incubator is in a remodeled elementary school with plenty of room for growth. Juniata also offers a Student Seed Capital Fund, having funded 10 different student based companies in the past year. Juniata’s work in this area is going to pay big dividends in the long term.

Penn State is only 38 miles away, offering a great pool of engineering graduates and students. I’ve said before, that I’d prefer to have an engineering-rich manufacturing company 20 to 40 minutes outside of an engineering campus rather than right in the town. Huntingdon would fit that picture perfectly.

The other major asset that holds great potential is the downtown. There is an incredible array of historic buildings, anchored by Mutual Benefit, a local insurance company with 200 white-collar employees. Mutual Benefit recently completed a beautiful four story office building that is built to look like it has been there for a hundred years and fits into the downtown look.


tom said...

Jack, thanks you for your kind words about Huntingdon and Juniata College. Your speech has us running to eliminate the "caves" and "silos." We hope to have you back for a retreat! Tom Kepple

BoomtownUSA said...

Tom: You've got some great things going on at Juniata and in the town. I was pleased to get a chance to visit and hope to return soon.


Anonymous said...

Jack, thanks for the words of wisdom. i've been saying a lot of those things about this area for years. now that some of the 'good ole boys' got an outsiders perspective, maybe some changes can start to unfold before our own very eyes.

Tim Schrack said...

Not only were your words "inspiring" for the update for HCBI's strategic plan, but now the Mayor of Huntingdon has called a special meeting of interested parties, to build on the enthusiasm created by your remarks. You certainly built a fire that night! Thanks for coming. Tim Schrack