Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Harrisburg, PA

Harrisburg, PA

Despite its small size, Harrisburg’s position as one of the hubs of the Pennsylvania Railroad made it a major economic player for the region, especially during the Industrial Revolution.

Harrisburg, PA is the commonwealth’s capital and just its 11th-most populous city. Despite its small size, Harrisburg’s position as one of the hubs of the Pennsylvania Railroad made it a major economic player for the region, especially during the Industrial Revolution. While the manufacturing business in the area has died down since the 19th century, however, the city is still a hotspot for entrepreneurs and small business owners. In early 2019, the commonwealth posted a list of the best cities in Pennsylvania for tech startups with Harrisburg coming in at number two. The city also appeared on a country-wide list, coming in at 689th on WalletHub’s 2019 list of the best small cities to start a business.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Harrisburg’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

Just down the road from Harrisburg, the Carlisle Young Professionals meetup hosts regular networking events and development workshops

Entrepreneurs in the Harrisburg area can attend this meetup group’s monthly events to expand their networks and connect with like-minded people.

Just outside of Harrisburg in Hershey, the New Tech Meetup of Central PA holds monthly meetings for tech innovators to make presentations.

The Professional Referral Exchange meetup group in nearby York is an opportunity for entrepreneurs from around central Pennsylvania to meet one another and make connections.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

The City of Harrisburg hosts regular business support workshops to help area small business owners launch, grow and maintain their businesses.

The Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC hosts over 60 events every year, ranging from networking opportunities to conferences to educational business workshops.

Formerly known as Harrisburg Startup Week, UPNEXT Fest is an annual weeklong celebration of Central Pennsylvania’s startup and tech culture.


Startup Competitions:

The Harrisburg Regional Chamber hosts an annual startup competition, free of charge, for high school students in the area.

Hosted down the road in Lancaster, the Great Social Enterprise Pitch competition is open to all Central Pennsylvania entrepreneurs with startups that make a positive social impact.

Undergraduate and graduate students at Harrisburg University can compete in the school’s annual startup competition, LanchU.

Penn State’s Harrisburg location hosts a unique annual startup competition, in which competitors – not limited to students – have 48 hours to build and pitch a business.


Co-working Spaces:

In addition to providing several flexible month-to-month membership plans, The Park Coworking space also hosts regular social and business-related events.

Startup Harrisburg is a coworking space that offers three membership levels to help best meet the needs of its members, which range from entrepreneurs to freelance workers.

The Workplace Hub provides traditional co-working space, executive suites and a number of other business development services to its members.



Located in Lancaster, make717 is a workshop that provides a variety of tools for use in small-scale manufacturing and production work.

The Pennsylvania State Library in Harrisburg runs a small makerspace workshop, which also offers classes and educational workshops for kids.

Down the road in Dillsburg, Katapult Makerspace is a 7,000 square foot workshop full of tools and equipment available for public use.



Harrisburg University’s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship runs a number of programs designed to help support student entrepreneurship.

Those looking to compete in the Great Social Enterprise Pitch competition must first complete the organization’s 10-week incubation program.

The Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center, which runs programs to support and launch small businesses, has offices throughout the state, including Harrisburg.



Ben Franklin Technology Partners is an organization that invests in and provides development and support services to technology startups in Central and Northern Pennsylvania.

The goal of Catamaran is to create a thriving ecosystem of startups and entrepreneurs in central Pennsylvania by running programs to support new startups.



While Harrisburg Area Community College does not offer any academic programs specifically related to entrepreneurship, it does have an associate’s degree program in business.

Students at Harrisburg University can earn a Bachelor’s of Science degree through the school’s Management, Entrepreneurship, and Business Administration program.

Penn State Harrisburg’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship organizes a number of resources and programs to support entrepreneurial students.


Angel Groups/VCs:

The Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central Pennsylvania is an investment firm that provides funding to innovative startups in the life sciences and healthcare industries.

Based down the road in York, MI-12 Ventures is an angel group that looks to invest in promising startups led by experienced founders in the area.

Though it’s located in Philadelphia, RobinHood Ventures invests in promising startups throughout region, including Harrisburg.


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

The Central Penn Business Journal offers a number of email newsletters focusing on different aspects of the region’s business environment.

Pennsylvania Business Central, which covers business news throughout the entire state, offers Biz Alerts sent to subscribers’ emails.

Those interested in Pennsylvania’s business environment can subscribe to the Pennsylvania Business Report’s weekly news summary.


Are you familiar with the entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Harrisburg not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

Rochester, NY,  Philadelphia, PA, Pittsburgh, PA,

Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.