Tech companies booming in Harrisburg

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Harrisburg is attracting an influx of tech companies looking to capitalize on what Pennsylvania’s capital city has to offer.

Brad Jones with Harristown Enterprises said he can hardly keep up with new tech startups and blue chip companies moving into the city limits.

“We’re continuing to find new companies practically every week here that we weren’t aware of,” Jones said.

Jones presented a list of 18 tech companies in the city. He said at least 15 opened shop within the past five years. Several began within the past year.

Treff LaPlant, CEO of Work Xpress, is a Midstate native. When he went to Southern California to start his company, he found the sunshine could not outshine the cost of doing business.

LaPlant found other companies were moving near his hometown to capitalize on state grants and funding for tech companies, tax-free zones, and affordable workspace locations.

“From the standpoint of growing your own company, a high-tech startup company, Central Pennsylvania is actually a very good area to do that,” he said.

Xerox Information Management chose to relocate to Harrisburg within the past year, and many non-Pennsylvania residents are choosing to come here to take advantage of programs and support organizations that support tech growth.

WebpageFX, a search engine optimization company, began a couple years ago in Harrisburg with a handful of employees. The company recently refurbished a Midtown mansion on Front Street and needs to expand again after tripling its workforce.

The 18 companies have created more than 700 jobs in recent years. Several tech CEOs said the Mid-Atlantic has a strong crop of young tech talent they can tap into, and they can recruit nationally by touting Harrisburg’s low cost of living compared to San Francisco, one of the most expensive places to live.

“Even though the salary may not quite be what it is in San Francisco, the quality of life might be two or three times better than San Francisco in terms of how much the dollar goes,” LaPlant said.

Companies can also recruit nationally by selling Harrisburg’s easy access to clients and investors in Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York, and Washington D.C.

Harristown Enterprises said it is building three housing complexes just to keep up with the growing population, including 50 new apartments this summer.

Jones said Harrisburg’s financial struggles might have scared manufacturing businesses away a few years ago, but fearless tech industries are filling those spaces.

Even though major blue chip companies such as Apple, Google and Facebook are positioned around Santa Clara, Harrisburg may be home to the next tech giant. The city will hold its third annual UPNEXT Fest this year, allowing ideas to be pitched to investors.

The tech community continues to make itself comfortable in a city that is rebounding with new bars, shops, and restaurants catering to the millennial crowd. WebpageFX’s employees are strongly engaged in Harrisburg Young Professionals and community outreach programs.

“They’re finding the city an attractive place to walk, to meet friends, to enjoy restaurants, to enjoy all the amenities the city has to offer,” Jones said.Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download the ABC 27 News App and the ABC 27 Weather App for your phone or tablet.

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