Living up to Happy Valley’s growing reputation


By Staff Writer

On December 4, Forbes hailed Happy Valley’s strong networks—among them the Downtown State College Improvement District, the CBICC, the Penn State Small Business Development Center, and Invent Penn State—for creating an environment that supports small businesses and entrepreneurs. The article gives a nod to Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2023 alumnus Hunter Swisher, founder of successful ag startup Phospholutions, but goes on to detail how several State College and Bellefonte-based small businesses and makers are collaborating to help all boats rise.

On Sunday, December 3, a piece by St. Louis Post-Dispatch Features Writer Amy Bertrand ran in various media markets, reminding prospective visitors that Happy Valley “offers more than just Penn State.” For her visit, Bertrand chose Bellefonte’s Our Fair Lady B&B (upon finding State College’s hotels booked or “way overpriced”). She enjoyed the charm of Downtown Bellefonte, hiking Mount Nittany, several spots on Penn State’s campus, and a few restaurants.

This little flurry of press reminded us of a recent article in the Wall Street Journal on the place WalletHub deemed the Best Small City in America: Carmel, Indiana. None of us have been to Carmel since the 90s and it sounds like A LOT has changed—for the better. It’s worth the read to appreciate the leap of faith the former self-described “soulless” town took to reinvent itself as a top destination for transplants from Austin and LA. “Carmel’s population in July 2022 was 101,964, more than quadruple the number of people who lived there in 1990, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.” It’s likely that the city’s growth and transformation probably came with its share of discomfort.

Take note—State College also made WalletHub’s 2023 Best Small Cities in America list, landing, impressively, in the 75th percentile. It’s great to see stories amplifying Happy Valley’s positive attributes and its unique blend of education, quality of life, business, and innovation. That is after all the mission and the WHY of this very effort, Are State College and Happy Valley making a Carmel-esque transformation? Tell us what you think in the comments.



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