Roads, vision helping to drive Ebensburg growth

The business growth being experienced along the Route 22 corridor in the Ebensburg area is being described as “a rare and unique story” in this part of the state.

One of those embracing that view is Dennis Simmers, chairman of the Cambria Township Planning Commission, who was quoted in a May 27 Mirror article about Route 22’s positive impacts.

“Once you land a business or two or an industrial plant or two, it seems that you get the snowball rolling,” Simmers said.

He’s right, although other places not far away have had — and still are having — experiences like those of the Ebensburg area, which is benefiting from Route 219 as well as Route 22.

One of those other places is Altoona, whose vibrant Plank Road-Pleasant Valley Boulevard-Valley View Boulevard corridor is lined with businesses, not only due to the move from downtown Altoona to the suburbs that shifted into high gear in the 1970s, but also due to new and improved roads that have made that corridor more easily and quickly accessible to people residing significant distances away.

For example, the Altoona-Logan Township-Allegheny Township business strip is just about a half-hour’s drive for people from Bedford by way of Interstate 99 when, in days gone by, that trip was much more time-consuming and, yes, more dangerous.

Southern Somerset County is destined to witness stepped-up new-business opportunities after the new four-lane, limited-access Route 219 between Somerset and Meyersdale is completed later this year, although some possibilities no doubt will continue to elude the county because of the lack of a modern connection to Interstate 68 in northern Maryland.

Similarly, the area of Blair County between Duncansville and the Huntingdon County line continues to be negatively impacted by the failure, dating back to the 1970s, to extend the modern, four-lane Route 22 to Blair’s eastern border.

But Ebensburg’s increasing business-related successes and those that the Altoona area has had and continues to enjoy are a product not only of highways: A progressive, welcoming attitude also is an important component that exists now in both places.

The Altoona area’s business successes have resulted from good planning and good leaders who have been willing to work long and hard to promote local assets in hopes of attracting new enterprises.

Similar energy now exists in the Ebensburg area, a point noted by Tim Bracken, chairman of the Cambria Township supervisors.

“We got a lot of good folks that are growth-oriented,” he said. “If somebody is interested in this area, we try to get together with them.”

Following the lead of Altoona-Blair County officials over the years, Ebensburg area leaders are committed to ensuring that progress moves ahead in an orderly way, consistent with rules and regulations that are in place.

In regard to that, Ebensburg’s leaders are imitating Blair’s longtime strategy of working closely with businesses to overcome roadblocks on the way to achieving full compliance with governing measures.

“Rare” and “unique” are words being used to describe what’s happening in the Ebensburg area, but that’s not really the point that needs to be emphasized or dwelled upon.

Most important for Ebensburg is to make known far and wide that it has an optimistic, welcoming, cooperative spirit, as well as modern transportation resources and other meaningful assets to go along with it.