It started with a good idea. Three statistics professors at Penn State University decided they wanted to incorporate statistical software into their classroom instruction, but the packages that existed at the time were too difficult for students taking basic courses. So they decided to create their own software, making it easy enough for students to master in less than one hour of class.
More than 40 years later, their brainchild has grown from an experimental project into a leading firm for developing statistical software for academic instruction. Not only does Minitab provide educators at more than 4,000 colleges and universities with tools for teaching data analysis, but it also produces software that helps major corporations around the world analyze and improve their processes. Access to Penn State’s best and brightest graduates from its schools of computer science, engineering, and information and technology sciences have fueled Minitab’s growth into a global software leader.
“Our employees are our biggest asset,” says Todd Hershbine, Minitab’s vice president of operations. “We wouldn’t be here without the strong base of talent that the State College area has continued to provide.”
Technology innovation is flourishing in Pennsylvania’s I-99 Corridor thanks to the region’s nucleus of highly educated workers, major research centers and resources for entrepreneurs. Tech startups are multiplying throughout the area and expanding their reach across a range of industries, including emerging fields, such as education and health-care technology. The presence of Penn State has helped launch numerous startups that have grown and maintained roots in the region. Graduates have founded influential firms like weather forecasting giant AccuWeather, leading chromatography equipment maker Restek and media technology innovator Videon Central.
A Growing Network
The wealth of tech talent in the area creates a profitable climate for growing companies like Schoolwires, which builds and hosts websites and develops content management and social networking systems for K-12 schools in the U.S. and China. Acquired in 2015 by education technologies leader Blackboard, the State College-based firm serves 1,700 users and employs 300 people, including 185 worldwide. Another fast-growing firm is TMM Data, whose software helps companies manage, integrate and share data across systems and platforms. The Phillipsburg-based company recently landed on the Inc. 5000 for its rapid revenue and employment growth.
Other rising startups include Systems 4PT, which develops practice management and billing software in Bedford, and PS Solutions, an Inc. 5000 firm in Altoona that provides programming, software development and IT expertise for businesses.
Proximity to Penn State offers residents ongoing access to cultural events and intellectual resources, with a short drive to more in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., and New York. “These all combine to create a unique place to live and raise a family – and that’s attractive for many people who have made Minitab successful,” Hershbine says.