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Steel used to be big business in Pennsylvania they say … USED to be.

Back in the mid 1800s Andrew Carnegie made Pittsburgh the central hub of America’s burgeoning steel industry. Coal was abundant, and a desperate labor force from Europe came together to create a booming business that became well known around the world. US Steel and The Bethlehem Steel Company employed thousands and fueled the Commonwealth’s exponential growth. The steel industry hits it’s peak in 1969, but began to decline as lower wage producers around the world created a price war that America couldn’t win. Pennsylvania is now littered with the hollow remains of old steel factories and towns that used to house their countless workers. Pittsburgh, Reading, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia have all felt the effects of steel’s diminishing power in Pennsylvania.

Yet steel still remains. 

According to a report prepared for the Pennsylvania Steel Alliance, the industry is still responsible for generating more than $9.35 billion a year for PA. What’s more, the average steel worker makes over $70,000 a year! So where are these steel jobs you might ask? Look no further than York, Pennsylvania.

York has long been known as the manufacturing epicenter of the east coast, if not the US. Huge companies keep plants in York to produce everything from potato chips to Harley-Davidson Motorcycles. Steel is also a part of the business landscape, with companies like Three M Tool fabricating stainless steel baskets by the thousands for various industries around the world. Companies like Boeing, Honeywell, and Exxon Mobile are frequent customers of this York-based manufacturer. Their stainless steel baskets are used for everything from ultrasonic cleaning to waste disposal.

While Pennsylvania is not likely to ever return to its former glory as the world’s leading steel producer, companies like Three M Tool shine a bright spot on an industry that still provides high paying jobs and economic impact to the Commonwealth. The ingenuity and innovation of these specialized steel manufacturers makes them a special part of the industry’s history.

So the next time you hear someone make mention of Pennsylvania’s steel industry as something of the past, remind them that steel is still alive and well in Pennsylvania!

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If you live in the greater Harrisburg area, you’ve likely heard all about the city debt and bankruptcy. Things seem to be headed in the wrong direction for this small city of 50,000 people.

Yet there is one bright spot- the Harrisburg Young Professionals.harrisburg young professionals

This group of active professionals has really lead the charge in the renaissance of the city; supporting local businesses and bringing people back into the city to live and play. Formed in 1998, the organization has grown rapidly, recently surpassing more than 750 members and corporate partnerships. Members come from Harrisburg law firms, banks, accounting companies, and many other local businesses to have fun and support the city.

Within the Harrisburg Young Professionals, there are numerous committees for members interested in marketing, city beautification, sports, and much more. Whatever your personal or professional interests might be, there is sure to be a place for you to contribute to the organization and grow the city. Besides the networking events at local restaurants and bars, the HYP sports league is extremely popular. Nearly year-round you can sign up for recreational sports like flag football, dodgeball, kickball and more. What could be more enjoyable then playing dodgeball against a team of Harrisburg tax attorneys?

HYP also hosts a number of special events throughout the year. They have both member-only events and also socials that are open to people interested in joining. One especially popular event hosted by the Harrisburg Young Professionals is the annual home tour, where members can visit beautiful homes and gardens of residents within the city. During the tour, attendees can see dozens of homes and enjoy an afterparty with food and drink as well. The idea is to showcase the city as a great place to live and this event surely succeeds! HYP has successfully attracted many new young professionals not only to visit the city, but actually move here. What an impact that has made!

The cost of joining HYP annually is just $40, quite cheap considering all of the benefits of membership! Along with great events and activities year-round members also enjoy a city passport entitling them to great discounts at local restaurants and businesses in Harrisburg. If you haven’t already joined, I hope you’re now sold on the benefits of HYP membership! Meet new people, have fun, and use your skills to support the city! There is certainly a lot of work to be done in Harrisburg, but you really can make the city a better place to live, work, and play by joining HYP. Visit HYP.org to learn more about the organization and how you can get involved!

If you’ve ever had a sports related injury or completed aquatic physical rehabilitation you very well may have dipped your toes into a therapy pool made by Middletown Pennsylvania based company HydroWorx International. The company’s advanced therapy pools are enormously popular with therapists, hospitals, clinics, and professional sports clubs all over the world. Not only do they feature a host of technological advancements like multiple depth floors, water treadmills, and deep tissue massage hoses; they have the research to back up their products. Elite athletes all over the world have made incredible comebacks from devastating injuries using the HydroWorx aquatic rehabilitation approach. Injured veterans, patients with neurological disorders, folks struggling with obesity, and elderly with balance problems have all used HydroWorx pools to improve their health. The company takes a research first approach which ensures all of their products are overwhelmingly supported with real data that has opened up partnerships for the company with elite organizations and athletes all over the world. hydroworx

One such athlete that has partnered with HydroWorx: 4 time Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson.

Michael Johnson and Lindsey Anderson, the Director of Performance for Michael Johnson Performance, have teamed up with HydroWorx to offer a free webinar on Linear Speed Mechanics. The webinar is taking place on May 21st at 12:30pm EST, but if you aren’t able to attend HydroWorx does publish all their webinars to HydroWorx.com. For this particular webinar, participants will gain an understanding of linear speed training and also how to use aquatics to improve athletic speed. Coaches, trainers, and therapists will surely benefit from the insight and technique shared by the experts at Michael Johnson Performance.

My understanding is that Michael Johnson knows a thing or two about how to run fast, so make sure to check out this fantastic webinar! HydroWorx frequently offers top notch webinars about various aspects of aquatic training and therapy. Topics range from aquatic therapy for neurological disorders to creative aquatic programming ideas. The folks at HydroWorx truly are the aquatic experts, and they have the clients to prove it! HydroWorx plunge pools can be found in the training rooms of countless professional teams around the world, and a great number of university athletic programs have also added HydroWorx exercise pools to their facilities as well.

If you want to excel as a fitness or therapy professional, or would like to benefit from these amazing pools in your own home I definitely recommend visiting their Middletown, PA facility or visiting the HydroWorx website for more information!

York, Pennsylvania is known for being home to countless names in manufacturing; York Barbell, Harley-Davidson, & American Hydro to name just a few. Industry IS the industry of the “White Rose City” just south of the state’s capitol Harrisburg. The history of manufacturing household names and industrial products alike runs deep throughout the city. One such manufacturer, Three M Tool, has become synonymous with wire baskets around the world. In fact, the company has a history of innovative manufacturing that dates back to the 1940s. Their metal baskets have been used for a wide array of industry applications and include a host of elite customers like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Exxon Mobile. wire-basket

Whether you need metal baskets for heavy industrial purposes, medical devices, or even food services, Three M Tool has you covered with their user friendly ordering website: AnySizeBasket.com. The site has a number of baskets all shapes and sizes ready for immediate shipment, as well as an easy to use tool that you can use to design your own basket. Hundreds of thousands of baskets have been produced locally in York, Pennsylvania, under the highest quality standards, most innovative techniques, and custom designs.

You may not realize it, but products from York, Pennsylvania are well known around the world for their quality and durability. The city is a powerhouse of metal engineering, fabricating, and innovation. The next time you need a durable basket, think first of Three M Tool & AnySizeBasket.com, think local!

AnySizeBasket

Residents across the greater Phoenix area are noticing a lot of product shipped from right here in Camp Hill on shelves of various health food stores. Dr. Frank Jackson, a retired Gastroenterologist and lifelong entrepreneur, has recently found success with his formula for a prebiotic fiber supplement called Prebiotin. Health food stores from New York to California are now selling his family of nutritional supplements.

dr-jackson

The locally developed formula is a daily fiber supplement that easily dissolves in water and is supported by as much research as you can handle! Prebiotics feed good bacteria in your colon, improving immunity and regulating overall digestive health. A few proven health benefits of natural prebiotics are stronger bones, bowel regularity, reduced risk of cancerous polyps, better control over appetite, and correction of ‘leaky gut’. These are just a few of the many health benefits that research has linked to adding prebiotics to your daily diet.

Dr. Frank Jackson has recently been featured in a number of publications and media outlets in health crazy Arizona, and his product continues to grow a loyal following here in Pennsylvania as well. For any Harrisburg locals, you can find the product on the shelves of The Healthy Grocer in Camp Hill. Better yet, order directly from Prebiotin.com and you’ll receive free shipping!

For anyone suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, or any other digestive issues, definitely give this product a try and support a local entrepreneur!

About a month after purchasing my new condo in the quiet neighborhood around Messiah College I received a rather nice surprise in the mail – one of those colorful treasury checks from uncle sam in the amount of $8,000. Well in all honesty it wasn’t really a surprise, the credit was the main reason I decided to buy the place to begin with, but holding that check in my hands I was indeed surprised at how easily the money came to me.

Most people have heard details about this popular program available to first time home buyers making that big decision at some point in 2009. That being said, I’m not so sure that people are really aware that this program is about to expire on December 1st, 2009. That doesn’t leave much time for interested home buyers to participate, as the closing process on a house can take well over a month from start to finish. What I’m really trying to say is; if you want to receive an $8,000 check from the government simply for buying your first house time is running out!

Sure there is strong emphasis on the free housing credit, (and for good reason) but how about historic low interest rates? I locked in my 30 year mortgage at 5%!My first place!

Just think about the numbers:

$100,000 home with 30 year 5% mortgage = about $500 monthly payment!

That should sound pretty affordable to most people, but add a roommate to that spare bedroom for $500 a month and buying a home never looked so enticing. It’s hard NOT to purchase a home right now.

Personally I was able to close on my condo with about $5,000 up front which was returned to me not a month after I closed and applied for the credit. And thanks to my realtor, the process was a breeze. Seriously, I know realtors depend on referrals and I’m happy to recommend mine, even if you’re just looking for some great resources and help getting started you can find a lot of fantastic tools on Keith Reilly’s homepage: KeithReillyRealEstate.com, check it out yourself sometime.

And for anyone even THINKING about buying their first place, don’t delay, this incentive is about to run out!

At first glance, ‘most livable’ could mean a lot of things, but I wanted to make sure this article gets a little more attention because Forbes.com actually uses a very legitimate set of statistics to grade their picks for ‘Most Livable Cities in America-

“Results were the result of comparing five-year income growth per household and cost of living from Moody’s Economy.com, crime data and leisure index from Sperling’s Best Places, and annual unemployment statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

Harrisburg ranked 12th on the list. Personally I think making the list at all is really quite commendable, what do you think?

Check out the full article as well as Forbes ‘Most Miserable Cities’ list.

If you haven’t already noticed, I’m taking on a new page to my blog that is currently entitled ‘local specialty shops.’ I haven’t found any other list of independent specialty stores around the Harrisburg region so I decided to build one myself.

It’s still very early stage but please feel free to leave your favorite shop in the comment section, I’ll be happy to add them.  I just wanted to build a place where people could learn about all the fantastic little niche shops we have in the greater Harrisburg region; from food and drink to home decor and clothing retailers. There’s just no reason to shop national stores with all that’s available to us here!

I’ve noticed lately that there are more coffee shops around Harrisburg than I have time to visit, especially around Camp Hill. I thought I’d create a poll to get an idea of which places are the most popular, please add a destination if I’ve missed it!

Whether you’re looking for last minute holiday gifts, stockpiling future birthday presents or just want to reward yourself for all that hard work you’ve put in lately (of course we believe you), you don’t have to settle with a boring best buy gift card. You honestly don’t have to try too hard or look too far for some creative gifts that are sure to please. I’m personally a huge proponent of the whole buy local movement, it’s just a smart way to support your local economy and get more for your money, gifts are no different. More likely than not, wherever you live there is a unique little gift shop or food store, a local winery, a mom and pop shop that makes something you’ve never seen at Walmart.

In the greater Harrisburg area there exists a number of unique shops that are sure to be enjoyed, remembered, and most importantly used. The National Retail Association estimates that nearly 20% of gift cards vanut-020are never even used- pity. Instead try the Virginia Nut Shop, a family owned nut and candy specialty store since 1959 offering the absolute tastiest varieties of snacks, along with their famoustarnation37s ‘blisters.’ How about some incredible sauces? Torchbearer Sauces have a number of unique flavors for any type of cooking or food that requires something sticky. Harry’s House of Heat is another local sauce shop that offers some intense hot sauces for that extra tough guy uncle of yours (he will cry, trust me).  You can even find international gifts right here in Central PA, Oxford Hall Celtic Shop and Josie’s German Food Market and Delicatessen both offer authentic ethnic groceries, baked goods, sweets, and much more. Sinful baked goods are never hard to find around Harrisburg, my personal favorite is Ciao! Bakery, bring some peanut-butter truffles from this shop and you’re guaranteed to make friends at that holiday party. Of course, you can never go wrong with the gift of award winning wine, West Hanover Winery is a local business that is worthy of sharing (responsibly of course).

The list can really go on and on, please feel free to add your own favorite specialty shop if I’ve missed it. The idea here is simple: give something that actually has some thought or meaning behind it, give something that represents your locale, give anything besides that boring best buy gift card.