Expanding the definition of ‘Made in PA’
For November, it’s all about making things in Pennsylvania — past, present, and future.
Our lead story looks at the maker movement across the state. Makerspaces have popped up in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Altoona, Erie, the Lehigh Valley, and State College, to name a few. These collaborative workshops — filled with both basic tools (saws, hammers) and high-tech gadgets (3-D printers, design software) — provide a space for amateur entrepreneurs and creative laypeople to work with their hands and come away with something tangible.
“We try to change people’s idea of what being a scientist or artist is,” says Nina Barbuto, director and founder of Assemble, a Pittsburgh arts- and technology-focused makerspace. “We help people understand that they have the power and the choice to create and bring their ideas to fruition.”
So, if makerspaces are part of Pennsylvania’s future, they are also a continuation of the state’s legacy. This month, we take a look at our glorious manufacturing past via the new National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem. The institution opened in August in a century-old former Bethlehem Steel plant, well-known for supplying materials used in Rockefeller Plaza and the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as countless warships.
Looking for a company that represents the current health of the state’s output? Look no further than Phillipsburg’s DiamondBack Truck Covers. Thirteen years ago, two Penn State undergrads used a class assignment as inspiration for a company. Now they’re opening a 38,000-square-foot plant and earning more than $6 million per year. It’s a true homegrown success story.
Of course, “Made in PA” extends beyond industrial manufacturing to things that grow and ferment. In Carbon County, Red Castle Brewery is luring thirsty travelers to Lehighton. The brewpub grew out of a restaurant serving Polish favorites and now draws both locals and out-of-town craft beer lovers.
“When you look at any microbrewery…it draws a different type of clientele,” explains owner Frank Potoczak. “They’ll stop in here to try the beer then travel on to Jim Thorpe. Tourism is very big here seven months out of the year, and located where we are off the Lehigh River, we draw rafters and kayakers. We’re giving them something different.”
Exhausted from all that productivity? Looking to burn off steam? Check out this feature on the new Trails at Jakes Rocks in the PA Wilds. Completed thanks to support from over a dozen local and statewide partners, these world-class mountain biking paths will hopefully draw visitors from across the region and spur the development of local small businesses catering to riders. With the first phase complete, partners aren’t looking to downshift anytime soon: in total, 46 miles of trail are proposed for the Jakes Rocks recreation area.
As you can see, we have a lot to be thankful for here in Pennsylvania. Interested in keeping up with the latest from Keystone Edge? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter.
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.