Live, Launch, Love Happy Valley

UNIVERSITY PARK — It’s not the setting for a fairytale, but Happy Valley is producing beautiful beginnings and happily-ever-afters for more than Penn State’s 40,000-plus students. Young professionals, entrepreneurs, growing companies and more are finding central Pennsylvania is the ideal place growing their careers, innovations and businesses.

When the Happy Valley area started appearing in national rankings, praise revolved mostly around lifestyle. The area was named “Least Stressful Town in the U.S.” by Psychology Today in 1988. Soon after it made lists for safety, health, walkability and recreation — traits it shares with many college towns. and adventure culture.

Fast-forward to today and Happy Valley is gaining recognition that reflects how Penn State has fused education, research and business to create an environment that’s conducive for starting and growing businesses. named it one of the best cities for entrepreneurs, with statistics on venture capital deals, how much funding business owners received from SBA and 7(a) loans and how much money residents spent within their community. Personal finance company ValuePenguin named State College as a top city for new students to launch. Best College Reviews calls it “one of the smartest towns in America.”

Overlay these new accolades on a region that’s just 3-4 hours from New York, Philly, and Baltimore/DC, and earns high marks for quality of life, and you have one happy valley.

State College Tops the Charts

Praise for State College and Happy Valley

Best Town in Pennsylvania, Niche, 2018

Top Adventure Town, National Geographic, 2011

“Happy Valley continues living up to its name.”

Top 15 Best U.S. Cities for Entrepreneurs to Live and Launch, Entrepreneur Magazine, 2016

No. 7, The Best Places for Business and Careers, Forbes, 2018

No. 5 Best Summer Festivals, Livability, 2013

Praise for Penn State

No. 1 for Recruiting, Wall Street Journal, 2010

Top 50 Best National Universities, U.S. News & World Report

Smeal College of Business Dean James B. Thomas: "We know we have some of the best students in the country at Penn State, and recruiters know it, too."

My Happy Valley Experience

Actuated Medical CEO, co-founder and owner Maureen L. Mulvihill: “The people that work in central Pennsylvania are working individuals; they love coming to work and they love where they live. When you’re happy at home and you’re happy at work, life is good.”

HigherEdJobs co-founder Eric Blessner: “While we work with colleges and universities across the United States and abroad, we have stayed committed to our values by growing our business in smaller communities like State College, so while we have spent the last 20 years supporting and serving the academic community, we have also worked hard to a build a company that supports our local community.”

Xact Metal CEO Juan Mario Gomez: “We have access to the university, students, faculty and outstanding resources — we have a world-class 3-D printer right at our doorstep. It would be difficult to have this same level of success if we were not as close to Penn State. There is a huge amount of talented, hard-working people who are committed to making our company succeed. I don’t know if it would have been as easy to start up in a larger city and attract the same amount of talent.”

L4IS founder Benjamin Hall: “The school is a tremendous resource for expertise in a wide breadth of fields, and has a population of bright-eyed and motivated students. The business incubator, in conjunction with Ben Franklin Technology Partners, allowed us to develop a basic skill set and understanding of this new startup world, and provided opportunities for getting initial funding to launch.”

“I can’t imagine a scenario where [launching L4IS] could have been possible without these key resources in place; the support and environment were critical to get my company off the ground.”

OGOVO co-founder President Michael M. McCarthy:“There is so much support for entrepreneurs to get started and get growing. We have a strong loyalty to the Centre region. Luckily for me, and so many others, Penn State and State College is one of the most innovative and supportive town and gowns in America — and at the top of the list in the entrepreneurship conversation.”

KCF Technologies CEO Jeremy Frank: “Just a few hours from 20 percent of the country’s manufacturing and industrial infrastructure, a few blocks from campus, and a bike ride away from home, there’s no place else KCF Technologies would rather be.”

KCF Technologies VP of Sales and Marketing Ben Lawrence: “The schools are good, the area is beautiful, and you get to enjoy small-town living with the perks of a university town.”

Morgan Chief Technical Officer Mike Murray: “For us, the decision to work with Penn State was a natural one. As a world leader in carbon-related research, Penn State has an unrivaled reputation for innovation in this field, which we believe will add real value for our customers. We hope the partnership will help accelerate our development of new products and capabilities, enabling us to continue to meet the future needs of our customers more quickly, efficiently and comprehensively.”

A Sports Fan’s Paradise

With 31 NCAA Division I teams, plus club sports and a minor league baseball team, Happy Valley has the best in collegiate athletics and a whole lot more.

Nittany Lion Football

Saturdays in the fall are all about football. Well, tailgating and football. Nittany Lion fans love to win, but at the heart of Happy Valley’s football culture is fun. Enjoy some tailgate treats and beverages under the sun (or in the snow, it is central PA after all) then head into Beaver Stadium in 109,000 of your closest friends. Go State!

Hockey Valley

The 6,014-seat Pegula Ice Arena, opened for business in October 2013, replacing the 1,350-seat Penn State Ice Pavilion as the home of Nittany Lion men’s and women’s ice hockey (the former club teams became NCAA Division I in the 2012-13 season). Since then, hockey is the hottest ticket in the valley, and for good reason. The teams are competitive, the space is gorgeous, and the concessions are delish—hello Penn State Creamery.

State College Spikes

Summer is for baseball and Happy Valley has a hometown team. The State College Spikes, a class A short season affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, play in the New York-Penn League. Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, also home to Penn State Baseball, has all the amenities of a major league ballpark, including comfortable suites, microbrews on tap, fireworks galore, and a gorgeous view of a local landmark—in this case, Mount Nittany.

Arts & Entertainment Just Outside your Door

When you think of the best in visual arts, performing arts, music and cinema, central Pennsylvania may not top your list. But it should. Penn State’s Palmer Museum of Art hosts a permanent collection of more than 8,000 works, and adds nine rotating exhibits a year. The Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County showcases local artists and offers free art shows, classes and cultural exhibits, including a permanent exhibit that remembers the role of our region in the operations of the Underground Railroad.

No need to drive to the closest major city for concerts or shows. Big name music acts, including Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, and Luke Bryan, regularly stop at the Bryce Jordan Center; and The Center for the Performing Arts’ annual line-up includes top touring musicals, plays, dance troupes, symphonies and musical groups from around the world. Indie fans shouldn’t worry; The State Theatre in downtown State College brings music and film to town. Deer Tick plays April 30 and the BANFF Mountain Film Festival, which stops annually, is here this weekend.

Get Outside

Centre county and surrounding counties are home to state parks and state forests that offer hiking, mountain biking, camping and boating for all levels of outdoor lovers. Just four miles from Beaver Stadium you can bike, walk and birdwatch in Millbrook Marsh Nature Center, a 62-acre nature preserve with protected wetlands and boardwalks for hiking and wildlife viewing. Centre county’s pristine limestone streams, including Spring Creek, Penn’s Creek and Elk Creek, offer world-renowned trout fishing. And just over 40 minutes away you can spend the weekend on a houseboat or a day on the water or on the trails surrounding 8,300 acre Raystown Lake.

Fun with Family and Friends

Kids and families love Happy Valley. Popular spots around campus include the Penn State Berkey Creamery and the Arboretum, which includes botanical garden’s and a children’s garden featuring a limestone cave and stone amphitheater. In the summer, it’s a short drive to nearby Del Grosso Amusement Park for water slides, rides, games and their famous Italian concessions.

Happy Valley was an early-adopter of the locavore movement and has an abundance of options for farm-to-table dining and market shopping. The Central PA Tasting Trail features a growing selection of craft breweries, distilleries, wineries and cideries. In total, there are 12 unique destinations to visit for handcrafted local beverages.

What else…

Basketball, soccer, field hockey, lacrosse. You name it, Happy Valley has it.

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