By Tim Hayes
It might be easy, even understandable, to think of Butler County as Allegheny County’s version of Canada – a very nice, scenic, friendly neighbor to the north. And while each of those attributes may be true and accurate, just like with Canada, Butler County is so very, very much more.
“Quality of life is what we sell,” explained Jack Cohen, President of the Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau. “We look like a rural county. People are surprised to see all the manufacturing done here. We have sales representatives who travel regularly to Europe and Asia, with people from those areas coming here. That’s a large part of why Westinghouse came into Butler County.”
One of the more notable industries is Butler Technologies, a Butler-based company that creates user-interface products including e-textiles and wearables. In addition to work developing specialized products for the automobile and apparel industries, Butler Technologies created heating elements used in the outerwear worn by the U.S. Olympic team at the most recent Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Some of the key statistics of Butler County include:
• 800 square miles
• 190,000 residents
• Average per capita, median household and median family incomes all outpace the state averages
• 15 golf courses
• 9 IPAs
• 1 university
• 1 college
• Several vo-tech schools for students who want to get family-sustaining jobs without going to college
• Tourism represents $592 million a year to Butler County (a 1,000% increase since 2001)
• The three top employers are the federal government, Westinghouse Electric and Butler Healthcare Providers.
“Good schools, great parks, some interesting history – it’s all here, in a very well-rounded community,” Cohen said.
Part of that history surrounds the Jeep – the workhorse stripped-down basic vehicle used by the U.S. military starting in World War II – which was invented in Butler, PA. An annual Jeep Festival is still held in that city, attracting some 30,000 people who bring their Jeeps, do off-roading activities, learn about maintenance tips and swap stories.
In Mars, PA, the community draws from its unique name every 22 months, as representatives of NASA help observe the “birthday” of the planet Mars, with special programs for students.
More than 2 million people visit Moraine State Park every year, enjoying the park’s seven-mile-long lake – the largest man-made lake in Pennsylvania. Lernerville Raceway attracts 10,000 spectators every Friday night. And the Butler Blue Sox – the New York Yankees farm team in the 1940s – hosted many of the great Yankees of the ‘40s and ‘50s. The team still plays in Butler.
Slippery Rock University has sustained and increased its student population, bucking the trend of many other state-owned universities, by paying attention to what the markets are asking of college graduates today – areas such as STEM, hospitality, sports marketing and more.
“With tons of great little towns, a thriving business and manufacturing community, and a wonderful quality of life, Butler County is a hidden gem that we want to share with the world,” Cohen said.
With access from I-279, I-79 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Cranberry Township represents Butler County’s primary gateway to Pittsburgh.
The fastest-growing municipality in Pennsylvania, Cranberry Township has benefited from its location and its leadership.
“The board of supervisors set a direction years ago,” said Jerry Andree, Township Manager. “They knew tremendous growth was coming, and made a plan on how to manage it. The approach has been: Create the best community to live in, and all else will take care of itself. Our governing body really had a vision. If you know where you’re going, it’s easy to build a path to get there. Plus, we’re always watching other municipalities to learn best practices.
“Our location is a primary draw, with access to interstate highways reaching most major markets in the eastern U.S. within a day’s drive,” Andree added. “Our residents love living here. Great communities need great schools and vice versa – we can’t let each other down, and we don’t.”
By 2030, Cranberry anticipates having 50,000 in population, the level at which the township will be most financially sustainable, Andree noted. The average age of residents in the township is significantly lower than the rest of the Pittsburgh region.
“We’re looking to increase diversity,” he said. “Currently, 25% of students in the Seneca Valley School District come from international locations.”
Regarding the business community, Cranberry Township follows a business advocacy playbook that has produced good results. “We actively engage with the business community to make sure we understand their needs and are meeting them as best we can,” said Andree. The township has partnered with CMU on a number of advancements, including introducing autonomous vehicles years ago, and using a coordinated traffic signal system.
UPMC LEMIEUX SPORTS COMPLEX
Opening its doors in August 2015, the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex is not only a comprehensive outpatient facility for UPMC Sports Medicine, but is also the primary training home for the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League.
A first-of-its-kind facility, the Lemieux Complex – named in honor of Penguins owner and Hall-of-Fame legend Mario Lemieux – features 185,000 square feet of total space, with 54,000 square feet dedicated to UPMC Sports Medicine’s orthopedic, primary care, physical therapy, concussion, imaging and sports performance services. Those services include:
• A Saturday injury clinic
• Athletic training
• A concussion program
• Imaging services
• Performance services
• Physical therapy
• Physician services
• Sports nutrition
• A young athletes program
While the connection with the Penguins represents the most visible and notable function the complex provides, its comprehensive set of additional offerings makes it one of the most valuable centers of its kind.
PTC Members in Butler County
The Pittsburgh Technology Council’s membership base extends across southwestern Pennsylvania. Here are some PTC Tech members with operations, facilities and other presences in Butler County:
Compass Business Solutions: Driving organizational performance with proven human resource and business solutions that are unique. Compass navigates beyond the traditional HR concepts to facilitate the success of its clients.
D’Angelo Technologies: A small, woman-owned business providing professional and technical services to the Department of Defense. D5T brings together a multidisciplinary team of SMEs from industry and academia to develop solutions and plans.
Houk Consulting: Providing fanatical customer service with delivering a complete technology/IT solution for small businesses. Houk manages everything for its clients, becoming their IT department or an extension of a team.
HV3DWorks: As automotive restorers and builders, HV3D is aware of the challenge of locating rare and expensive components for cars. It was in pursuit of these treasures that HV3D began to explore additive manufacturing to manufacture hard-to-find or unavailable parts.
Kenson Plastic: Specializes in the custom design and production of precision pressure-formed plastic components, enclosures and other specialty parts. Markets served include medical, general electronics, industrial and specialty.
Keystone Ridge: Adds style, color and smart function to public spaces with exclusive lines of American-made site furnishings. It designs and manufactures a collection of uniquely customizable benches, litter receptacles, recycling containers, bike racks, table sets, planters, ash urns, bollards and other site amenities to transform landscapes nationwide.
LabChem Inc.: Manufactures and sells a wide variety of laboratory and production chemicals. LabChem sells its products directly to customers, as well as through distributors. Principal markets are industrial, government and university laboratories; pilot plants; and manufacturing facilities.
MarketSpace: A full-service marketing agency specializing in brand strategy, communications planning, creative, digital, public relations and social media. MarketSpace develops custom plans with integrated communications that break through the clutter and stand out against the crowd.
MSA: Mine Safety Appliances Company’s principal products are personal protective equipment, permanent and portable instruments, communication equipment and systems, and life support equipment and systems. MSA’s largest market is the fire service.
Northeastern Exec Group: A successful information technology and engineering recruiting firm that has been servicing various size companies in multiple industries since 1986.
OmniCell: Since 1992, OmniCell (NASDAQ: OMCL) has been inspired to create safer and more efficient ways to manage medications and supplies across all care settings. As a leader in medication and supply dispensing automation, central pharmacy automation, IV robotics, analytics software, and medication adherence and packaging systems, Omnicell is focused on improving care across the entire health care continuum—from the acute care hospital setting, to post-acute skilled nursing and long-term care facilities, to the patient’s home.
On the Edge Manufacturing: A precision sheet metal fabricator with a wide range of capabilities, along with the latest in sheet metal fabrication technology. Helps customers to eliminate costly procedures.
Pegasystems: The leader of software for customer engagement and operational excellence. Pega has delivered award-winning capabilities in CRM and BPM, powered by advanced artificial intelligence and robotic automation, to help the world’s leading brands achieve breakthrough business results.
Prodigo: A health care transformation company that improves provider financial control and reduces supply chain cost through guaranteed savings solutions made possible by supply chains technology, people and process.
Redmorph: Redmorph offers the only comprehensive solution for your Android Smartphone to get proactive control over both privacy and security issues. Redmorph blocks non-essential background activity and network connection results in significant data usage savings and improved device performance in most devices.
TrueCommerce: Gives your business a competitive edge with simple, adaptable and cost-effective solutions that harness the power of its trading partner community. It provides the industry’s most accredited managed service EDI solution, support and integrates with all the most popular ERPs and is also a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.
Westinghouse: Westinghouse Electric Company provides a broad range of products, services and technology to the global nuclear power industry. Fifty percent of the world’s commercial nuclear power plants are based on Westinghouse technology. The company provides nuclear fuel, nuclear plant services, instrumentation and controls, and new plant design for the commercial nuclear industry.
So Much to Do in Butler County
By Jack Cohen, President of Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau
With outdoor recreation, history, dining and shopping, and a never-ending schedule of fairs and festivals attracting visitors from near and far, tourism represents $592 million a year to Butler County. Its close proximity to Pittsburgh and accessibility via the PA Turnpike, I-80, I-79 and Routes 422, 19 and 8 have made it a destination for both businesses and tourists looking to get off the beaten path. On the next page are some of the more popular attractions and amenities defining the Butler County experience.
Moraine State Park
Moraine State Park is the county’s biggest attraction and sees more than two million visitors a year, but 50 years ago, this beautiful park didn’t even exist. What is now the park was once farmland, strip mines along with gas and oil wells. In 1968, the dam was completed and in 1970 Lake Arthur reached its full level.
The park was dedicated on May 23, 1970. Today, Moraine State Park consists of 16,725 acres of pure beauty intertwined with an abundance of outdoor activities, making it the most visited attraction in the county at any time of the year. Moraine State Park is the third-largest park in Pennsylvania and offers a variety of activities for year-round enjoyment like camping, hiking, biking, boating, cross-country skiing and more.
The main feature of Moraine State Park is Lake Arthur. With more than 3,000 acres, Lake Arthur is the largest man-made lake in Pennsylvania and offers 42 miles of shoreline. Moraine also features 28 miles of hiking trails (including the Glacier Ridge Trail which is part of the National North Country Trail), bike path, a world-class disc golf course, hunting, snowmobiling, sledding and cabin rental. Hosting numerous events throughout the year, Moraine constantly attracts thousands of guests nationwide providing something for every outdoor enthusiast!
North Country Trail
The North Country National Scenic Trail currently stretches from North Dakota to New York. It is the only national trail to stretch west to east, and 265 miles of the trail cuts across western Pennsylvania. Portions of the North Country National Scenic Trail run through Moraine State Park and Jennings Environmental Education Center. The trail provides scenic beauty to all, and can be enjoyed by hikers year-round.
There are many facets to tourism, and sports is definitely one of them. Sport tourism is a fast-growing sector within the travel industry and Butler Country is quickly becoming a premier sports event destination. Featuring several versatile sporting and multifunctional venues, Butler County hosts a variety of sporting competitions. The Butler County Sports Commission features a top-notch advisory panel of professional athletes, coaches, athletic directors, trainers, sports medicine authorities and the leaders in sports from our region.
The UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, located in Cranberry Township, is a large, multi-functional venue attracting thousands of visitors nationwide. The facility hosts many hockey tournaments that bring in a volume of teams, families and spectators. In an effort to welcome visitors, the Visitor Bureau created a concierge desk in the lobby of the complex to assist visitors while they are here.
Cooper’s Lake, with its rolling hills and open layout, has become a recurring destination for Pittsburgh’s Tough Mudder. This two-day event brings 11,000 out-of-market visitors to the county and generates more than $4 million annually with overnight stays, shopping and dining.
Butler County also features a variety of championship disc golf courses located at Moraine State Park, Slippery Rock University and a brand-new course in Cranberry Township that will be one of the world’s longest disc golf courses. Several major disc golf tournaments have taken place, resulting in an economic impact of more than $645,000. These events continue to draw in thousands of spectators and stimulate the local economy.
Butler County features more than 21 hotels, nine B&Bs and eight campgrounds! The bustling area of Cranberry Township is one of the fastest growing communities in the country, and has more than a dozen hotels, trendy shops and a multitude of restaurants.
With the increase of visitors for major events and tournaments, Butler County is likely to see a rise in economic growth and development. The Tourism Bureau is funded by a tax on overnight stays and generates millions of dollars in revenue from visitor spending.
Impact of the Tourism Bureau
The Tourism Bureau wants residents and visitors to know about the wonderful things the county has to offer. Every year, they produce an Official Visitors Guide which serves as an effective marketing tool along with their website, event calendar and social media platforms. The Tourism Bureau is excited to market the area and looks forward to seeing continued growth in Butler County.