Famous for its lush mountain landscape and pristine lakes and streams, northeastern Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains region has long been a place of escape and adventure for visitors looking to relax, rejuvenate and explore away from congested cities nearby.
More than 26 million people travel to the Pocono Mountains each year to visit its numerous resorts, ski, snowboard, hike, bike, kayak, fish, hunt or just enjoy nature. Tourism brings in more than $3 billion a year and supports nearly 50,000 jobs locally, but it is just one of the forces shaping the dynamic economy of this resort mountain community.
The region, which encompasses Carbon, Monroe, Pike and Wayne counties, is home to manufacturers that make vehicles, equipment, furniture and other products distributed worldwide, as well as a life sciences sector that includes the world’s largest vaccine producer, Sanofi Pasteur.
Many of the region’s top employers are companies built by people who vacationed in the area and loved it so much they moved their business there, says Chuck Leonard, executive director of the Pocono Mountains Economic Development Corp.
Along with its spectacular nature and limitless recreation, the region’s location between the New York and Philadelphia metros offers close proximity to major markets without the cost or hassles of operating out of them.
“Businesses can operate at a lower cost here than New York, New Jersey, Connecticut or Massachusetts and keep more of their money,” Leonard says. “Their taxes are lower, yet they still have access to those marketplaces – and it is easy to get to them because of our excellent highway system.”
Positioned for Business
Major interstates such as 80, 380, 84 and 476 run through the region, and I-81 is minutes away. The region has miles of railways with local shortline carriers that connect to Class I service via Norfolk Southern, CSX and Canadian Pacific Railways.
“People are reaching out and looking to this area because they are familiar with it, they like the quality of life, and they realize that if they can support their business here, they want to be here,” says Mary Beth Wood, executive director of the Wayne Economic Development Corp.
Businesses can easily find skilled workers to meet their needs, from veterans to graduates of local technical institutes and nearby colleges. The region is known for its strong school systems and workforce development partnerships.
“Employers here rate their workforce among the best in their operations,” Leonard says.
The region is home to innovators, such as power brush and abrasives manufacturer Weiler Corp., children’s magazine publisher Highlights for Children and concrete form fabricator Architectural Polymers, as well as the Tobyhanna Army Depot, where sophisticated electronics work takes place for the military.
Best of All Worlds
With technology access and amenities growing in the region, more companies are seeing the Pocono Mountains as a destination for business, as well as a vibrant place for attracting and retaining talent.
“They like the unspoiled nature that we have,” says Kathy Henderson, director of economic development for the Carbon Chamber & Economic Development Corp.
Living in the region means hiking through national parks, fishing on the Upper Delaware River, watching NASCAR at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond and skiing on some of the Northeast’s best slopes one day, and driving to the Lehigh Valley or a major city nearby the next to shop, dine, catch a hockey game or attend a Broadway show.
With specialty health care, resorts and attractions growing in the Pocono Mountains, people are finding even more reasons to stay.
“We are fond of saying that you get two paychecks for working in the Pocono Mountains: the first is the one you get from an employer, the second is the privilege of living here,” says Carl Wilgus, executive director of the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau. “People used to gravitate to where the jobs were; now they are discovering where they want to live first and finding the jobs or creating them. That bodes well for destinations like ours.”