Happy Valley may be Industry 4.0’s premier destination, but that’s not the only appeal. The region is rich in opportunities for entrepreneurs and an ecosystem that supports innovation. It also has a unique quality of life, with gorgeous natural surroundings and a vibrant cultural scene that makes it an ideal region to discover professional success and personal satisfaction. To give you a glimpse behind the curtain, we spoke with a handful of industry transplants about their experiences.
A Hub of Innovation That Attracts Top Talent
Dr. Joel N. Myers, founder, CEO and chairman, AccuWeather, fell in love with snow at the age of 3. When he was 7, he decided that he would grow up to become a meteorologist. At age 11, Myers was a budding entrepreneur with a paper route, several other businesses and a drive to start his own weather service.
It wasn’t until 1958 that he discovered the magic of Happy Valley. As he recalls, “When it was time for university, I came to Penn State because it was the only university my family could afford at the time. It turned out to have one of the best meteorology programs in the world.”
Although he came for the university, Myers stayed and built a network that reaches nearly 1.5 million people around the world every day. Myers is proud to be able to hire Penn State students, many of them his former students. “These people had their entire careers here, helping to make AccuWeather what it has become, the most accurate and trusted source of weather forecasts and warnings in the world,” he says.
There was a time that attracting top talent was a challenge. But with Happy Valley’s growing reputation, that challenge is quickly becoming a mere memory. “One of the challenges for many years was attracting top executives in upper management roles from large cities,” Myers notes. “But after 9/11 and because of AccuWeather’s reputation, that has changed and certainly, over the last five years is no longer a factor.”
Myers fondly says, “State College is not your average college town. Fine businesses and tech companies have been established here and have pumped millions of dollars back into the local, state and in AccuWeather’s case, global economy. Happy Valley is rich with arts, entertainment and culture, has great public schools, hiking trails and outdoor activities and, of course, Penn State sports.”
A Supportive Ecosystem for Entrepreneurs
Not only does the region attract top talent, it’s also a supportive ecosystem for startups and entrepreneurs. That’s why, when it came time to grow his business, Juan Mario Gomez, co-founder of Xact Metal, knew that Happy Valley was the place to be.
Gomez originally made the move to the region from Cincinnati in 2003. At the time, he was working for General Electric, and he moved to Happy Valley to be closer to the GE facility in Lewistown, Pennsylvania. After leaving GE in 2016, he set his sights on launching what would soon be a thriving example of Industry 4.0.
He says, “We’ve had help from so many people and organizations in the local ecosystem.” Support came in a variety of forms, ranging from critical funding to networking opportunities to rich resources that have helped Xact Metal succeed in bringing high-performing three-dimensional metal printing to a global market, while remaining accessible.
Come for the Opportunities, Stay for the Amazing Quality of Living
Gomez acknowledges that, while Penn State is an integral part of Happy Valley, it’s only one of its draws. “[Happy Valley] has the merits of a larger city in a small town. There is a thriving high-tech industry, very competent workforce, companies that compete globally, amazing culture and arts scene and all the entertainment and sports that you’d expect from a larger metropolis.”
Myers similarly points out that State College is usually rated among the top 25 places to live in the United States, a ranking that he says, “is well deserved” and he recalls enjoying raising his own kids here and immersing himself and his family in all that Happy Valley has to offer.
Beyond its natural beauty and cultural appeal, Happy Valley and its communities work together as a thriving locale with a diverse mix of university students and educators, entrepreneurs, businesspeople and long-time residents.
Are you an industry professional who moved to Happy Valley to start or grow your business? We want to hear your story. Reach out, at firstname.lastname@example.org.