Indiana County Winter

Looking for a wonderful place to run a business? A wonderful place to enjoy recreation and family activities? A wonderful place to engage in innovation across multiple disciplines and industries?

A wonderful place of education, learning and a genuine spirit of community and shared values?

In other words, are you looking for a wonderful life?

Then what better place than Indiana County, Pennsylvania – the place where Jimmy Stewart, star of the holiday movie classic, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” grew up and whose influence can still be felt today?

A quick hour’s drive northeast of Pittsburgh, Indiana County prides itself on its ties to the late legendary Hollywood actor, along with its agricultural prowess as the “Christmas Tree Capital of the World.” And while those points of pride may be impressive, Indiana County offers so much more.

Its leading employer, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), serves as a respected and nationally recognized university, offering classes and the full collegiate experience to nearly 13,000 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students each year.

Quality-of-life issues can play a significant role in the site selection process of any business. Providing choices for employees to enjoy outdoor recreation, cultural and entertainment events, special athletic and family oriented events, and the availability of higher education are all very important when recruiting personnel. Indiana County has them all.

Its leading employer, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), serves as a respected and nationally recognized university, offering classes and the full collegiate experience to nearly 13,000 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students each year.

A mile or two from the county seat of Indiana, the Indiana County/Jimmy Stewart Airport – a full-fledged, all-weather airport – represents roughly $11 million in economic output through transportation and cargo, mapping, federal and military support, flight training, patient transport, tourism and recreation, business transportation (particularly the oil and natural gas segments) and education, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Plans call for an expanded runway with the capacity to accept a greater classification of aircraft.

The airport – so named because Jimmy Stewart was an avid flier, including active service as a bomber pilot during World War II; in fact, one of the planes he flew as a civilian in later life has been restored and is on display at his namesake’s airport terminal – provides a convenient, low-cost location for users. In one of the more interesting cases, Carnegie Mellon University and Penn State University selected this facility to serve as a handy mid-point between their two campuses to build and test experimental drones.

Established in 1994, the Indiana County Center for Economic Operations (CEO) is a countywide public-private partnership serving Indiana County, Pennsylvania, and dedicated to the overall growth and prosperity of the county’s business community.

Through this cooperative initiative, the CEO provides access to information, resources and the delivery of integrated programs to assist businesses in their efforts to grow and expand, by managing a variety of buildings and locations to meet specific needs, including multi-tenant buildings, KOEZ/KOIZ location  and pad-ready sites.

These sites can serve as manufacturing facilities, laboratories or office space. The CEO also assists in coordinating numerous state and local programs that offer grants, low-interest loans and tax incentives to help with financing land or building acquisition, construction, equipment, workforce training and working capital.

Indiana County Winter

Some vital statistics for Indiana County include:

• 86,364 – Total 2016 population, U.S. Census Bureau

• $36,013 – Per capita income (inflation adjusted), U.S. Bureau of
Economic Analysis

• 91% – High school graduation rate (above PA average), PA Department of Education

• 14% – Segment of population enrolled in higher education (above PA average), U.S. Census Bureau

• 23% – Segment of adults with bachelor’s degree or higher, U.S.
Census Bureau

“Indiana County is a place where people support and provide for each other,” said Denise Liggett, Executive Director of the Indiana County Tourist Bureau. “We pull together. For example, we hosted the Pennsylvania Junior Legion baseball tournament earlier this year, and it had rained a great deal before the games were to begin. I went down to the field in Homer City and saw a helicopter hovering over it – drying it out with the downwash from the helicopter blades.

“Trinity Energy, a Texas-based company with operations here in the county, volunteered its helicopter to help those kids have a better field for their tournament,” she said. “Where else do you find that kind of embracing of a community?”

Established in 1994, the Indiana County Center for Economic Operations (CEO) is a countywide public-private partnership serving Indiana County, Pennsylvania, and dedicated to the overall growth and prosperity of the county’s business community.

Liggett also spoke with pride of the “It’s A Wonderful Life Festival” spread over five weekends through the holiday season, with nearly 10,000 spectators lining the streets of Indiana for the Lucy Donnelly Memorial Fund kickoff parade, and groups from all over Pennsylvania and surrounding states visiting.

“Every tour we conduct begins at the Jimmy Stewart Museum, and some include visits to local evergreen tree farms,” she added. Tourism represents a significant economic driver, generating more than $175 million in new revenues for Indiana County, and supporting 1,450 tourism-related jobs in food service, lodging, shopping and transportation.

And while much of the attention focuses on Indiana Borough and surrounding White Township, the rest of Indiana County offers much in the way of business development opportunities, historical tours, entertainment venues and recreational outlets, as well.

“We still owe a lot to Jimmy Stewart, even though he’s been gone for many years,” said Liggett. “For the tourism factor, certainly, but also because he provided $500,000 of his own funds to start the Indiana County Foundation, which has helped so many worthy causes for such a long time – along with the rest of our foundation community here.

“Jimmy wanted to establish a grant that serves causes supporting the values of hard work, community spirit and patriotism that he learned while growing up here. I think that’s the best tribute to Indiana County anyone can make.”

Read more about Indiana County and its quality of life here.