Thought sharing my Central PA Business Journal write up would be good this week. Enjoy!
Central Pennsylvania Business Journal
September 13, 2019
Blue collar growth
By: Thomas A. Barstow, contributing writer
September 13, 2019 9:48 am
Jeffrey West was looking over the geographic territory of his client base — what he calls his heat map — when he noticed something about York County, especially the southern portion of it: There are a lot of people making good blue-collar wages who might need financial advice.
So West, who started Freedom Financial in Lemoyne in 2005, decided to expand his presence into York County. For now, a law firm on East Market Street outside York lets his advisers use some space when they need to meet with clients, but he hopes to have an office staffed with two advisers by the end of the year. They would complement the four-person office in Lemoyne. That means he is looking for office space in the suburbs near York, he said, although southern York County is where he sees the most potential.
“York County has a lot of good employers with good blue-collar employees,” said West. His clients mainly are in central Pennsylvania, although his client base stretches from New York to North Carolina, he added.
The Peach Bottom nuclear power plant is an example of an employer with high-wage, blue-collar jobs, he said. He has found that blue-collar workers who have saved might not know how to invest as they near retirement, so he thinks there could be a lot of potential with that market.
For decades, the southern part of the county has been attractive to Marylanders who can buy a home in Pennsylvania for less than in Maryland and then commute to jobs in Hunt Valley, Harford County or Baltimore. That trend hasn’t abated, said Kevin Schreiber, president and CEO of the York County Economic Alliance. Schreiber said some members of his staff recently toured the New Freedom area to see the potential, which includes 100 new residential units. “When you go through that area, you can see the development going on,” he said. All the communities in the southern end, including Shrewsbury Township, have a variety of residential, retail and business development underway, he said.
In late August, the York County Economic Alliance was to have participated in an event called the Municipal Highlight of New Freedom Borough, which was to focus on opportunities for businesses. The event, which was to be similar to programs the alliance has held in other communities, was to look at issues and initiatives facing New Freedom. Stakeholders countywide, as well as on the state level, were expected to attend, David Gonzalez Jr., advocacy manager for the York County Economic Alliance, said in an email.
Schreiber said the commuting patterns go both ways between Pennsylvania and Maryland, with about 2,000 people per day commuting to jobs into York County. While he didn’t have a number for the drivers going south in the morning, he said the intensity can be seen daily by the lines of cars during morning rush hour along Interstate 83 and then coming north in the evening.
“The elements are there that would indicate strong growth is not likely going to slow down,” he said. Schreiber pointed to statistics that back that claim. For example, Shrewsbury Township had about 5,947 residents in 2000 and that was expected to be 6,777 in 2020, according to the York County Planning Commission. By 2050, the population is expected to be about 7,882. Construction and building permits continually show steady growth in most southern York County boroughs and townships, he added.
Home sales have been strong, as well. The Realtors Association of York and Adams Counties reported in its July report that sales increased 11 percent countywide compared to July 2018. The median sales price increased from $179,900 to $190,000 countywide. And one of the biggest gains was in the South Eastern School District, where the July 2018 median price was $180,000. In July of this year, it was $255,000, a 42 percent increase, according to the association.
For West, the other statistics to look at are the aging population – and Pennsylvania’s retirement friendly tax policies — and the vast number of baby boomers who will be retiring. It is not unusual for him to work with a client who has $250,000 or more put away in a retirement plan, but they have no idea of how to make the money last through their retirement years.
That led him to start a financial literacy program to help clients navigate those waters. And the employers he works with pay a fee so that their workers can use the tools, he added. It is those types of customers who need help that he hopes to tap in York County, West said. “For the first time, they are looking at a pile of money,” he said. “A lot of them say, ‘I wish I would have met you when I first got started.’ “