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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2019:04:24 11:22:40

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2019:05:24 07:59:04

Penn’s Northeast hosted its Second Annual Northeastern Pennsylvania Real Estate Summit Wednesday, April 24 at the Hilton Scranton & Conference Center in downtown Scranton. More than 225 business and community leaders attended the event to learn more about the local, regional and international real estate market.

Penn’s Northeast President/CEO, John Augustine welcomed the crowd and served as moderator for the panelists. Panelists included local and national leaders in the commercial real estate world including Jeff Algatt, senior vice president at Colliers International Group; John T. Cognetti, owner and SIOR, CCIM of Hinerfeld Commercial Real Estate; Jim Cummings, vice president of marketing at Mericle Commercial Real Estate; Ronda Beemer, business development director at Quandel Construction Group; and Brian Knowles, principal with Lee & Associates of Eastern Pennsylvania.

Another panel discussed the significance and opportunities within the new federal Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs). Kevin Rogers, senior vice president with PNC Bank and Evan Weiss, director of Pennsylvania Economy League, explained how investments made by individuals through funds in these zones can defer or eliminate federal taxes on capital gains. There are numerous parcels in Northeast Pennsylvania that qualify.

“Currently we are seeing the largest industrial boom that we’ve ever experienced,” Augustine said. “We have over 9 million square feet of buildings under construction, we have announced more than 5,000 jobs since last year and have over $1 billion worth of capital invested right now in NEPA. So, certainly, from a market standpoint, we are exploding with growth.”

Knowles identified about 90 million square feet worth of projects across the eastern part of the state that haven’t started yet.

“Being close to major Interstates 80 and 81, we are only a day’s drive from a third of the U.S. population and half of the Canadian population,” Augustine said. “We are also seeing an increase in manufacturing due to our utility infrastructure with affordable natural gas reliability, electric, water and power systems.”

Augustine attributes the growth that the region has had to location and an increase in manufacturing. “I think that it’s a good time to be doing business in NEPA. All the presentations today showed that our region is growing,” Augustine said.

Penn’s Northeast is a membership-based organization, with a mission is to enhance the region’s economy through new investments, job creation and increasing the amount of potential business opportunities for regional businesses through targeted business recruitment and unique lead generation activities.

This is done in part by promoting the region’s assets to regional, national and international businesses. Focus is placed on the counties of Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Schuylkill and Wayne, as well the greater Berwick area.

Penn’s Northeast was created through a joint effort of private business leaders, local utility companies, governments, economic development organizations and chambers of commerce to market the collective assets of Northeast Pennsylvania and to facilitate the creation and retention of quality jobs. This is accomplished by providing site selection, labor and incentive financing assistance to businesses, real estate brokers, developers and site selection consultants.

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Photos courtesy of Rachel Antosh Hawk / Penn’s Northeast