While many know Indiana County as the birthplace of legendary actor Jimmy Stewart and the Christmas Tree Capital of the World, there is so much to experience and enjoy here. Unless they’ve visited lately, most people don’t know or appreciate all that Indiana County has to offer.
Everything from recreation, art, culture, beautiful parks and trails, fine dining and entertainment to exciting career, business and development opportunities can be found here. And with the exciting creation of two new business parks, new shopping plazas and significant community investments, it is time for the region to take a closer look at Indiana County.
Covering 827 square miles with a population of about 90,000 residents, the Indiana County community is an easy hour drive northeast of Pittsburgh. If you’ve never been to Indiana County, make plans to visit. It’s always beautiful here and even more so with the fall foliage and upcoming holiday season. From a business perspective, key infrastructure connections make Indiana County an ideal location. The county is already home to some major corporations like Diamond Drugs and Specialty Tires, financial institutions like S&T Bank and First Commonwealth Bank, and many other growing industries.
We also have exceptional educational and academic institutions like WyoTech, Indiana County Technology Center, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), and a campus of Westmoreland Community College. Many smaller and unique businesses keep the window fronts in our vibrant communities welcoming and prosperous.
In the past few years, the Indiana County Development Corporation has created more than 225 acres of new space perfect for commercial development; the Windy Ridge Business and Technology Park and the 119 Business Park. The Keystone Opportunity Zone sites are expected to attract a wide varietyof mixed-use retail and commercial development. Various sites are available at both locations now.
The 200-acre Windy Ridge Park is perfectly located near the intersection of two major arterial highways – Route 422 and Route 286. Windy Ridge has 12 to 14 parcels, ranging in size from 5 to 18 acres, in a prime business park environment with water features, trails and approximately 40 acres of wooded open spaces.
The 25-acre 119 Business Park is at the intersection of Luciusboro Road and Route 119 in the Coral-Graceton area just south of Homer City. Route 119 was widened to four lanes to Route 22 several years ago making this a perfect location for business. This new park features two terraces of about 10 acres and 15 acres respectively, with underground utilities and a public access road.
The Indiana County Jimmy Stewart Airport recently completed a runway extension project and implemented a new GPS landing system to allow flights in inclement weather. This allows the airport to service larger planes and more aircraft. The airport also features a KOZ adjacent to the runway.
The County has many other KOZ areas available as well. Visit www.indianacountyceo.com to learn more about great development locations in Indiana County.
One of Indiana County’s greatest assets is Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Nestled in Indiana Borough, IUP is consistently ranked in national guidebooks as a “best value” and as a “best university,” and is one of only four public, doctoral research universities in Pennsylvania. A member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, IUP offers more than 200 majors at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels, including its newest majors, a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering and a Ph.D. in business.
The entire university campus is part of the Allegheny Arboretum, and covers more than 374 acres with 65 major buildings and seven athletic fields. The University’s presence here has made Indiana a modern center for academia, culture and career advancement. With an average of 12,000-14,000 students annually and 757 faculty members, the University annually welcomes almost 1,000 international students from more than 60 countries.
Its alumni base has grown to more than 120,000 living alumni. IUP has a residential campus and an Academy of Culinary Arts in Punxsutawney (Jefferson County), a campus at Northpointe (Armstrong County) and also offers courses at its Monroeville Graduate and Professional Center in Wilkins Township (Allegheny County).
IUP has experienced dramatic changes in the past decade through significant investment in its physical plant. One of the most impressive additions to the university and community is the $79 million Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex, located adjacent to the campus along Wayne Avenue.
Home for IUP’s basketball and volleyball teams, the 148,500-square-foot facility features a 5,000-seat arena plus ample conference center and training areas. IUP offers some great Division II and Club sporting events that the entire community supports and enjoys.
IUP opened a $12 million Performing Arts Center in 2008. That year, IUP also completed a $2.7 million renovation of Wilson Hall, one of the university’s oldest buildings, home to the department of criminology.
In fall 2010, the university completed the final phase of its four-phase Residential Revival – the largest project of its kind in the nation – a $250 million replacement of 14 university-owned residence halls with eight new suite-style buildings. The Lively Arts at IUP offers around 200 performing and visual arts events each year including some Broadway and international shows.
The University continues to reinvent itself to better serve its students. Its $37 million Dining Innovations program, completed with the opening of North Dining in fall 2017, boasts three state-of-the-art dining and gathering facilities, serving everything from pizza to sushi. In spring 2017, IUP opened a new $29 million College of Humanities building along Grant Street. Leonard and Keith halls are now being razed to allow a new science building to be constructed in this space.
For families, Indiana County is truly a wonderful place to live. We have acclaimed and recognized schools, superb youth athletic programs, beautiful parks and outdoor opportunities, streams, lakes and rivers, an extensive network of walking and biking trails and other exceptional quality of life assets that are hard to find elsewhere. It may sound like a cliché, but the people of Indiana County really do smile when they meet you on the street.
Indiana County also has one of the best independent hospitals in western Pennsylvania. Indiana Regional Medical Center (IRMC), celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2014, continues to grow and expand through significant capital improvements to better serve the community and region.
Several communities in Indiana County have also seen major downtown improvements.
This spring Indiana Borough completed a major $13 million Streetscape enhancement project, also known as Renaissance Indiana, to transform the heart of the community into an exciting promenade with wider sidewalks, improved intersections, beautiful landscaping, more room for dining al fresco and a new park in the center of town.
The borough also celebrates the Christmas season like few other communities can with its “It’s a Wonderful Life” festival and parade. Named for Jimmy Stewart’s classic film, the five-week festival begins with a parade through downtown Indiana and culminates with the lighting of a 30-foot Christmas tree in IRMC Park.
The town of Blairsville near Route 22 has created a network of pedestrian connections that provides a truly walkable community between downtown, residential neighborhoods and the area’s extraordinary natural resources, including the Conemaugh River, its 330-acre greenway, and the recently constructed 1.7-mile Riverfront Trail. In addition, nine blighted buildings have been demolished to allow development of the Blairsville Riverfront Village, an infill housing development that may result in 64 new homes.
Two phases of Streetscape improvements have also occurred through downtown Blairsville, including new brick sidewalks and pedestrian lighting, benches, street trees and reconfiguration of the historic Diamond Square returning it to its original configuration as a traffic circle. Two new boat launches are being constructed for water recreation access into the beautiful Conemaugh River around town.
Other communities like Clymer, Saltsburg, Home, Homer City and Smicksburg continue to improve, transform and attract new businesses while enhancing the quality of life for county residents and visitors.
Although we proudly remain the “Christmas Tree Capital of the World” and the birthplace of actor Jimmy Stewart, you can see in the pages ahead there’s a lot more to Indiana County than many may realize. Looking for a great place to live, work and play? Experience Indiana County and come visit us now! To learn more, visit www.indianacountychamber.com.