Cross the line from Allegheny into Washington County on Interstate 79, and you find yourself in a different sort of business setting.
More open, perhaps moving faster. It’s tough to describe, but it just has its own vibe. Then you come up onto Southpointe – the 900-acre blended office campus, golf course, and high-end community – and it all makes sense.
Southpointe is a suburban business park located in Washington County, Cecil Township, near Canonsburg, about 17 miles south of Pittsburgh. It’s home to more than 300 businesses and many corporations, including CNX, ANSYS, Range Resources, EQT, Halliburton, Mylan Labs, Chesapeake Energy, Columbia Gas, Southpointe Telecom, Crown Castle, and many more.
It’s hard to believe that Southpointe has been around for a couple of decades, when it still feels new, energetic, and fresh. Perhaps it’s the fact that waves of industries have flourished and settled there. Whatever it is, Southpointe has got it.
The question is: How can Southpointe keep it going?
“How is Southpointe doing in terms of economic growth and jobs for 2019 versus 2018?” asks Don Hodor, President of the Southpointe Chamber. We’re coming out of a slowdown in the gas and oil industries, when the available number of Marcellus Shale leases went down. But over the past 12 months, gas and oil has been coming back, although in a different way.
“The Marcellus market has moved into the next phase,” he said. “Distribution, pipelines, all equipment related such as pumps, monitoring equipment – all of this is bringing new levels of activity now to Southpointe. Office buildings are filling up. We’re about 90% full, with new companies still coming in and expanding. They call the chamber office every week asking about office space and availability.
“That activity all trickles down, as companies come in and existing companies expand, they need vehicles, services, restaurants, lodging, and it’s all happening now. Law firms, caterers, even dog walkers, all affected in a positive way. Added are events, lectures and seminars for training and information purposes. Things are opening up very nicely.”
Hodor said Southpointe represents business opportunities beyond its physical limits.
“Many of the company operators call the chamber, looking for direction on adding human resource capacity,” he said. At our weekly and monthly chamber gatherings vendors come here and meet clients who are also coming from Pittsburgh to do business with Southpointe companies. The common denominator may be the connection to Southpointe, but establishing and building a wider network for our members is the key. That’s why our reach is bigger than most other office chambers.
“This represents a new attitude, new growth and a level of excitement here,” Hodor added. “A high percentage of our members are not physically based in Southpointe, actually – only about 10% are here. The others are from Pittsburgh and other parts of this wider region who want to be a part of the new growing positive attitude.”
He describes the site as a product of “destination marketing,” meaning that Southpointe began as a golf course with high-end living options that expanded into a provider of new office space within a single location. The project was based on a model that had taken root in Florida, but at the time was new to this area.
All 900 acres are filled up today, with an escalation of high tech and medical-related companies. Surrounding properties are next on the list for continued expansion, Hodor explained.
“Coal Valley, a property located next to Southpointe, offers another 900 acres to be developed,” he said. “Racetrack Road, a little further down I-79 near The Meadows Casino, is growing faster than any area in Washington county, and offers retail, lodging, restaurants, factory outlet stores and additional services. That collection of available services works great together with our Southpointe tenants and visitors.”
The Southpointe Chamber also has economic and political ties with countries, including China, Japan and Canada, among others, as international firms express continued and growing interest in the energy-related development in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The Chamber helps local interests make and deepen business connections with these foreign companies.
Each year, Southpointe conducts a comprehensive trade show, including representatives of multiple businesses, including Marcellus Shale oil and gas contractors, hotels, law firms, engineers, printers, office supply providers, financial institutions, flower shops, health professionals, transportation companies, musicians, artists, and more. The 2019 Southpointe Trade Show, in fact, featured approximately 100 vendors with an emphasis on business-to-business relationships, and drew more than 1,000 visitors.
“The key to getting leads is connecting with attendees,” Hodor said. “That means not only networking with visitors, but with other vendors. The annual trade show demonstrates what Southpointe is all about – bringing business people together to the benefit of all.”