The Most Important Industries in Chester County

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Chester County, Pennsylvania, shines as an exemplar of economic prosperity in the region with elevated household incomes and a vibrant economy that surpasses both state and regional averages. Its economic landscape exhibits diversity, embodying a strategic approach that nurtures private sector growth.

The backbone of Chester County’s economy is made up of nine critical industry groupings identified by the Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC). These include agriculture and food production, education, energy, finance, health care, information technology, life sciences, manufacturing, and tourism and entertainment. These industries, while not necessarily the largest in terms of employment, play a crucial role in shaping the county’s economic fabric and driving its prosperity.

In this article, we delve into each of these industries, exploring their unique contributions to Chester County’s thriving economy and highlighting key employers within each sector.

Agriculture and Food Production

Chester County’s economy is deeply rooted in its agriculture and food production industry. With 1,733 farms spanning 166,900 acres of farmland, this sector plays a pivotal role in shaping the county’s economic landscape.

  • Economic Impact: The industry contributes significantly to the county’s economy, providing an essential source of income and employment. It also supports related sectors such as food processing, distribution, and retail.
  • Land Use & Conservation: The vast acreage of farmland underscores the county’s commitment to land conservation and sustainable practices. It also highlights the importance of agriculture in the county’s land use strategy.
  • Food Production & Supply Chain: The county’s farms produce a variety of crops and livestock products, forming a crucial link in the local and regional food supply chain.
  • Community & Lifestyle: Beyond its economic contribution, the industry plays a key role in preserving Chester County’s rural character and lifestyle. Many residents and visitors enjoy the county’s farm markets, wineries, and agricultural fairs.

Agriculture and food production are not just industries in Chester County – they are integral parts of the community’s economic, environmental, and social fabric.

Education

Chester County’s education industry is a major player within its economic landscape. It not only provides employment opportunities but also plays a crucial role in preparing the county’s workforce for the future.

The Downingtown Area School District, the PA State System of Higher Education, and the West Chester Area School District stand out as top employers in this sector. These institutions provide quality education to thousands of students while also contributing significantly to the county’s economy through their staffing needs.

Moreover, Chester County has consistently achieved higher averages in PSSA scores in reading and math compared to other counties in the region, reflecting the high standard of education provided by these institutions.

The county also offers various workshops and training programs through the PA CareerLink-Chester County, further enhancing the quality of the workforce and meeting the economic development needs of the area.

Energy

Chester County’s energy industry is a dynamic and evolving sector, underpinned by a commitment to smart energy solutions and sustainability. The Smart Energy Initiative (SEI), established in 2007, has been instrumental in supporting the region’s energy industry, providing comprehensive workforce and business development services.

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A significant development in the county’s energy landscape is the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program. This financial tool enables commercial property owners to secure low-cost, long-term financing for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation projects.

Furthermore, there are 11 communities in Chester County that have pledged to transition to a 100% energy future. This commitment underscores the county’s dedication to sustainable energy practices.

Likewise, PECO, the prominent energy company in the region, is undertaking more than 77 projects to boost electric service reliability and system resiliency throughout the county.

Finance

Chester County boasts a robust finance industry, serving as a supportive pillar for the county’s economy. It is home to a diverse range of financial services companies, from banking and insurance to asset management.

The Vanguard Group Inc., an American registered investment advisor, stands out as a top employer in the county. Offering a broad array of mutual funds and ETFs, Vanguard plays a significant role in driving the county’s finance sector and contributing to its economic vitality.

Chester County’s finance sector is also characterized by a strong banking presence, with numerous banks and credit unions offering a variety of financial services. This underscores the county’s commitment to excellence and innovation in financial services.

Moreover, bodies like the Chester County Industrial Development Authority (CCIDA) provide essential capital financing for businesses, further bolstering the growth of the finance industry.

Health Care

Chester County’s health care industry is a prominent sector, accounting for a large percentage of jobs in the region. This sector provides critical services to the county’s residents and contributes significantly to its economy.

The Chester County Hospital, chartered in 1892, has been serving the county and its surrounding communities for more than 130 years. It has grown from a 10-bed dispensary to a comprehensive health care facility, providing a wide range of services and creating numerous job opportunities.

Main Line Hospitals, another key employer, also offers a variety of health care services to Chester County residents. The organization plays a significant role in the health care industry, employing a large workforce and contributing to the county’s health care landscape.

Health Care Connect (HCC) likewise plays a crucial role in advancing the health care industry through training, outreach, and other industry strategies. Their mission underscores the county’s commitment to enhancing the quality of health care services and expanding employment opportunities in this sector.

Information Technology

Chester County’s Information Technology (IT) sector is a significant contributor to its economy and employment. The industry is broad and diverse, including top IT companies like Ricoh USA, Bentley Systems, and Innovative Solutions & Support.

The CCEDC’s Chester County Economy Report acknowledges the IT industry as one of nine key sectors driving the region’s economy. It plays an essential role in fostering innovation, boosting economic growth, and providing high-quality jobs.

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Local IT employers and volunteers drive the Innovative Technology Action Group (ITAG), which welcomes technology professionals from all industries. This group promotes workforce development and collaboration, further strengthening the county’s IT sector.

Chester County government has also been recognized for its best technology practices, ranking 4th out of more than 3,000 counties nationwide. This achievement highlights the county’s commitment to leveraging digital technology for efficient governance and public service.

Moreover, Managed IT services, such as those offered by PCH Technologies, provide critical support to businesses in the county, ensuring smooth operations and security.

Life Sciences

Chester County’s life sciences industry is a burgeoning sector, representing a diverse range of companies including medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, and investment organizations.

One significant player in the region’s life sciences landscape is Purolite. The company recently established its first U.S. biologics unit in Chester County, located at 380 Starr Road in New Garden Township. This new facility will manufacture healthcare and life science products for the global medical market, strengthening the county’s role in the life sciences sector.

Chester County is also home to a number of rapidly growing businesses within the life sciences industry, such as Janssen Biologics in Malvern and Arch Bioscience Company in West Chester.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and particularly Chester County, has become an epicenter for life sciences, from medical research and laboratory testing to pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing.

Manufacturing

Chester County’s manufacturing industry is a substantial component of its economy, offering myriad opportunities for employment and growth. This sector comprises diverse companies, including AMS Filling Systems, Hardinge, Omega Flex, and more.

The Manufacturing Alliance of Chester and Delaware Counties plays an integral role in bolstering the industry. It fosters a strong partnership between the private and public sectors, creating a robust, technology-driven environment conducive to innovation.

Notably, Chester County has a high share of employment in household appliance manufacturing, indicating the sector’s significant contribution to job creation3. The county’s large manufacturing firms, such as Road-Con Inc., also provide numerous employment opportunities.

The Chester County Industrial Development Authority (CCIDA) further supports the industry by providing capital financing for manufacturing companies.

Tourism and Entertainment

Chester County’s tourism and entertainment industry is a vital contributor to the local economy. With 24,809 employees, it ranks among the top three industry clusters in the county.

The Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau plays a significant role in promoting tourism. The county is home to an array of attractions, including intriguing museums, historical landmarks, and extravagant botanical gardens. These sites attract individual leisure travelers and contribute significantly to the tourism sector.

Moreover, the county has initiatives to strengthen historic tourism. Efforts are underway to improve existing historic and cultural sites, which will potentially attract more visitors.

Chester County Commissioners have also recognized the importance of travel and tourism, stating it fuels every industry across the nation. Indeed, the tourism and hospitality industry is second only to agriculture in job production in Chester County.

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Key Takeways

Chester County’s economy is a diverse and dynamic ecosystem, with several industries playing significant roles. The healthcare sector, represented by top employers like The Chester County Hospital and Main Line Hospitals Inc., is a major contributor to employment and economic growth. The finance and insurance sector, led by The Vanguard Group Inc., also holds a significant position in the county’s economy.

The professional and technical services, retail, and manufacturing sectors collectively account for over 50% of jobs, underlining their importance in the local economy. Chester County’s manufacturing industry is particularly notable, with a range of companies from household appliance manufacturers to large manufacturing firms, contributing significantly to job creation.

Agriculture remains a vital industry, with Chester County home to the majority of mushroom production in the United States and a top-ranking Pennsylvania county for dairy farm production.

Looking ahead, these industries are well-positioned for continued growth. Initiatives like the Manufacturing Alliance of Chester and Delaware Counties and the Chester County Industrial Development Authority support the manufacturing sector, while efforts to bolster historic tourism promise growth in the tourism and entertainment industry.

In conclusion, Chester County’s diverse industries drive its economy, providing numerous employment opportunities and fostering innovation and growth. The future outlook for these sectors remains positive, bolstered by supportive initiatives and robust demand.

Additional Resources

Here are valuable resources providing information on the industries in Chester County:

For the latest news on everything happening in Chester County and the surrounding area, be sure to follow MyChesCo on Google News and Microsoft Start.

This article is intended for informational, entertainment or educational purposes only and should not be construed as advice, guidance or counsel. It is provided without warranty of any kind.