Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania – Columbia County

November 30, 2023

Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania

A Much Loved Town in the Heart of Pennsylvania


A Distinctly charming community that residents are proud to call home.

Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania is a vibrant community with a rich history and a promising future. Its appealing charm, historic downtown, and proximity to natural wonders like the Susquehanna River, along with the diverse economic, educational, and cultural opportunities it offers, make Bloomsburg an ideal place for its 12,000 residents to live, work, and enjoy life.

As the sole incorporated town and the county seat of Columbia County, Bloomsburg enjoys an advantageous location, positioned two and a half hours west of New York City and two and a half hours northwest of Philadelphia, providing convenient access to major metropolitan areas via interstates 80 and 81. Coupled with its accessibility to local waterways and state forests, Bloomsburg embodies Mayor Justin Hummel’s apt description of “a good blend of modern infrastructure and recreational opportunity.”

Economic Diversity and a Skilled Workforce

Bruce Schlichter, Manager at Kawneer, one of Bloomsburg’s major industries, highlights the strength of the workforce in the area. He shares, “If you look at Central Pennsylvania, and Bloomsburg, it’s a heavy manufacturing environment. The three main sectors are education, the medical industry, and then manufacturing. There’s a great workforce and employee base here in the area and a lot of strong, hard-working people who help make what we have here today.”

He acknowledges that it is the presence of such a dedicated workforce that enables the company to pursue initiatives related to automation and engineering, allowing them to cover a wide range of industries.

Schlichter also mentions a positive collaboration with different organizations in the community, as well as the town itself. “We have a flood wall right outside our door, that was put in place because of a natural disaster back in early 2010. We work well with them as it relates to projects like that to help make sure that industries like ours can be effective for the long term,” he says.

“We work very well with the university as well, with training and development. It’s a very good location and we have a lot of really good interaction with multiple levels.”

A Commitment to Workforce Development

Dan Knorr, Executive Director of External Affairs at Commonwealth University, discusses the university’s commitment to workforce development, not only ensuring students graduate but also aiding them in finding gainful employment, ideally in Pennsylvania and the local region.

“One of the things that we’ve committed to our students is that we want them to have an internship or job shadowing opportunity during their time here. We have over 7000 students here in Bloomsburg. So that’s a lot of opportunities that we have to offer for them,” he acknowledges.

“That means that we’re heavily engaged with our employers, organizations, and nonprofits throughout the region, to make sure that we’re being good partners with them and creating opportunities for our students, generating those internships and job shadow opportunities, and maybe even full-time job opportunities.”

He relays that Commonwealth University also brings nontraditional programs to the community, offering the example of a CDL trucking program where people can earn their license on campus.

“We’re trying to think of those things, beyond just the typical two or four-year degree, that meet workforce needs,” Knorr portrays.

Regarding the university’s connection with Bloomsburg, Knorr says it is a positive relationship, noting the university’s understanding that its success is intertwined with a thriving community.

“The majority of our students live in the community. About 40% of them live on campus, but most of them are either commuters or live off campus in the community,” he reports.

“So, our ability to attract students to the university is dependent on having a thriving downtown, and recreational assets like the park and walking trails. Our ability to keep them here for the four years or maybe after if they want to come here for graduate school, and then keep them in the area for employment, is also dependent on that. We see it as a mutual relationship, and our success is dependent on the success of the town.”

Embracing the Spirit of Entrepreneurship and Local Talent

Shawn Kessler is a partner in the recruitment division at Aloysius Butler and Clark, one of the largest full-service advertising agencies in the mid-Atlantic region with offices in major cities like Philadelphia and Wilmington, as well as Bloomsburg. He recounts his journey of leaving the region in search of better opportunities in a larger city, to ultimately returning to Bloomsburg and starting an agency.”

When it was time to grow up and have a family, I missed this area. I missed Bloomsburg,” he depicts.

“I came back to the area and eventually started an advertising agency and ended up merging it with Aloysius Butler and Clark. They originally wanted me to move the agency down to Wilmington, Delaware, and that was a deal-stopper for me. I flat out said if I have to move the agency back down there, then this merger isn’t going to work.”

Kessler emphasizes the tremendous talent in the region and his passion for providing opportunities for people to accomplish amazing things. He says the agency’s partnership with Commonwealth University is critical, pointing to the successful hires they’ve made from the marketing department, stressing that great people are readily available in the area.

“This is a hard-working community full of people who are willing to put the time in to be good at what they do, who are looking for that opportunity. Organizations are not going to have a hard time finding great people here.”

Tanner Dilg, a Bloomsburg native and the Owner-Operator of Fourth Taco, a local culinary gem, reflects on the town’s charm and his attachment to it. He notes that while neighboring towns have received recognition for being some of the nicest places on the East Coast, he sees Bloomsburg as equally appealing.

“I did leave, and I went to Philadelphia, not so much because I didn’t have an opportunity here, but to learn more about the world and how I could expand my business and my specialties,” he explains. “I’ve always loved it here. There’s no real other place that I would want to call home.”

Building for the Future

Drew Barton, Principal at Livic Civil, and a Bloomsburg native, provides an overview of the various infrastructure and development initiatives in the community. He details the town’s focus, which includes the repaving of over 10 miles of roads, leveraging a modest annual funding pool of $250,000 with additional resources from private entities, resulting in a total investment of approximately $1.2 million for paving projects in a year.

The town has also undertaken projects to revamp public parking lots within the Main Street business district, with plans for potential future additions like electric vehicle charging stations. Barton conveys that stormwater improvements are also underway, focusing on pollution reduction and nutrient removal, and that Bloomsburg has an ongoing commitment to flood mitigation which includes robust flood protection efforts to safeguard residential areas, large employers, and education facilities in the town.

“There are overall improvements to transportation options in general. Plans from a recent Bike/Walk study are being implemented to provide better access to critical things like schools, grocery stores, the Post Office, and University. Providing safe options for everyone means easier commutes throughout town,” Barton relays.

“Twenty years ago, we seemed to be focused on automotive convenience for everyone, but now we’re getting back to kind of encouraging social interactions.”  Local micro transit options also exist with an on-demand “Stop Hopper” shuttle providing door to door app-based service.

On the recreation side, Barton describes Bloomsburg’s main Town Park complex, which has undergone revitalization of its Little League fields, soccer complex, tennis/pickleball courts and disc golf course. The town also boasts a new recreation trail spanning approximately one and a half miles along the Susquehanna River featuring a public boat launch and terminating at a historic covered bridge on one end and the newly renovated town pool at the other.  The pool complex now offers a zero-entry wading pool, handicapped access, lap lanes, and colorful water features.

As for housing, Bloomsburg is adapting to changing housing needs and demographics, with particular attention to senior housing. Local developers are finishing a fully rented senior living facility and community services hub while local landlords are transitioning former student rentals into professional and single-family spaces.  Available housing provides quality spaces at a range of affordable price points.

Mayor Justin Hummel underscores the role of the Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau in showcasing the town, spotlighting Bloomsburg’s efforts to position itself as a lifestyle community known for offering an exceptional quality of life. He emphasizes the town’s proximity and connectivity to major amenities and services, expressing Bloomsburg’s intention to attract top talent.

In conclusion, he remarks, “We’re looking for the best and the brightest to come here, because it’s a great place to live.”


*Photo credit: Tina Mart Photography

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Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania

What: A vibrant community with a rich history and a progressive approach to the future.

Where: Columbia County, Pennsylvania



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November 2023 Issue of Business View Civil and Municipal

November 2023

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