In December’s Keystone Edge, defying expectations across the state

It’s that time again. Sure, time for the holiday season, but also time for Keystone Edge — an online magazine covering what’s next and best in Pennsylvania — to share an inside look at our December issue.

December’s issue of Keystone Edge is full of stories about Pennsylvania innovators, the things they make, and the places they call home. This month’s edition also seeks to challenge your expectations when it comes to the state’s towns, food, culture, academia, tech scene and more.

First up, check out our “Made in PA” Gift Guide. It’s the perfect inspiration for that last-minute shopping trip. Whether you’re shopping for someone with a sweet tooth or looking to impress a design-minded friend, these amazing options are sure to impress. And feel free to mention that you supported the state’s economy — it’s a double dose of good cheer.

Another thing that’s sure to delight is an in-depth look at the evolving face of Lancaster County: the area has so much more to offer than the Amish and Central Market. With a booming downtown, an entertainment industry mecca, a growing tech sector, a gorgeous countryside, and a wealth of vibrant towns, this energetic county will charm and surprise you.

“I think Lancaster County was poised [to embody] what is popular today as a part of the cultural norms in the county,” muses Sam Beiler of Spooky Nook Sports, one of the area’s prime new attractions. “Those Lancastrians who have been here a long time have a more independent mindset. Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is a common trait. That led to a revitalized city with restauranteurs, artists, and cultural experiences that probably outpace the size of the city. If you go downtown, you don’t find many chains. You could probably go to a phenomenal restaurant every night of the month, every one of them being independent, and never visit the same one twice.”

January 7 through 14, half a million people will head to Harrisburg for the 101st Pennsylvania Farm Show, an annual family favorite featuring 6,000 animals and 10,000 competing exhibits. Looking to rethink your road trip? Here’s a list of tantalizing detours no matter what direction you’re driving from. It’s the first story in a new series we’re calling, “On the Way To…”

Who’d expect to find a slice of Italy in York County? At Caputo Brothers Creamery, a young couple is transforming local milk into nationally renowned cheese. Stop in at their facility on Main Street in Spring Grove to shop or enjoy a quick lunch. Hungry for more? Book a seat at a farm-to-table Italian feast or sign up for a trip to the Motherland with this dynamic pair.

Meanwhile, on a mountaintop in the Lehigh Valley, students are spending the summer toiling away in an old Bethlehem Steel facility. At LaunchBayC, fledgling CEOs can get creative and work towards commercialization without grades or benchmarks.

“What we do have is an immersive environment in which we create deep engagement through entrepreneurial thinking and action,” explains LaunchBayC Program Manager Chris Kauzmann. “This means we teach by doing, and students are motivated to learn because they have passion for the end result.”

It’s all part of a continuing legacy of innovation happening at Lehigh University’s Mountaintop Initiative (neighbor to Ben Franklin TechVentures). Applications for summer 2017 are now open.

Bethlehem is not the state’s only hotbed for disruptive technology. The Penn State EdTech Network, in partnership with Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA and Penn State’s Small Business Development Center, is sponsoring its first-ever BIG IDEA EdTech Contest to promote the promising sector.

“Our goal [is] to advance Penn State’s teaching and learning capabilities, increase EdTech leadership through research, and help drive economic development in the state,” says Heather Fennessey McWhorten, executive director of the Small Business Development Center. “The BIG IDEA Contest is one way to engage innovators and entrepreneurs, and to help spur business startups.”

The contest is accepting applications through January 9 from entrepreneurs, teachers, students, and software developers.

See you in January!

Guest Blogger
Lee Stabert is Editor in Chief of Keystone Edge, an online magazine covering what's next and best in Pennsylvania. A native Philadelphian, Lee has spent her journalism career covering everything from indie music to local food to economic development. She is always looking for the next small town or historic neighborhood to explore: tips welcome.
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