Good morning. The mismatch between job openings and job growth appears to have staying power. Despite a widespread demand for labor, the U.S. economy created less than half the jobs in September that economists had predicted. Employment in many industries remains below pre-pandemic levels. But there are some pockets of growth in Pennsylvania, according to the Independent Fiscal Office, a state agency. Not surprisingly, transportation and warehousing are on the list.
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The main administration building at the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg. (photo/submitted)

Nonprofit gears up to buy Dixon center

If all goes as planned, Harrisburg's Jewish Community Center could find a home next year at the Dixon University Center, a complex that is currently owned by Pennsylvania's state university system.
  • The Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg said Friday that its offer to buy the Dixon center has been accepted by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education
  • The federation, which operates the JCC, hopes to close on the sale by January, said Abby Smith, the federation's chair.
  • She declined to disclose the sale price, but said the nonprofit's bid was supported by a gift from the Alexander Grass Foundation
  • "It is really an incredibly generous gift and a testament to how much of a legacy Alex Grass leaves in the community," Smith said. Grass, who died in 2009, founded Rite Aid.
  • A spokesperson for the state system also declined to disclose the price or other details of the sale process.
  • "The sale of the Dixon University Center is still going through the procurement process, and we do not comment on the details of the bidding process until it is closed," Cody Jones, chief strategic relations officer for the system, wrote in an email.

Why is this happening: The state system authorized a sale of the Dixon center last summer amid efforts to cut spending in the face of declining student enrollment.
  • At the time, the system's board described the complex as under-utilized and said a sale or lease would trim overhead costs.
  • The system has also moved over the last year to integrate operations at some of its 14 campuses around the state.
  • The Jewish Community Center, meanwhile, needs new digs. 
  • "We have felt like we've been bursting out of the seams for a while at our current location," Smith said. 
  • The nonprofit's building at 3301 N. Front St. also faces costly mechanical repairs over the next three years, she added.

What's on campus: The Dixon center sits on 6.42 acres at 2986 N. Second St. and includes six buildings totaling about 135,000 square feet. The site also has an underground parking garage.
  • The state system, known as PASSHE, has used the Dixon center since 1992. It was built originally to house the Harrisburg Academy, which called the campus home until 1941.
  • The property was marketed by real estate firm CBRE, according to Jones.

What's next: Harrisburg's Jewish Federation has several ideas for how it would reuse the property, which would be renamed the Alexander Grass Campus for Jewish Life. 
  • The current plan calls for renovating the main administration building to house the JCC's fitness center and early learning programs, Smith said.
  • Duncan Hall, which was a gym in the past, could be converted for use as a basketball court.
  • Richards Hall could become home to a senior center open to people regardless of religious affiliation, as well as federation offices.
  • The center also would become home to Jewish Family Service of Greater Harrisburg and the Silver Academy, a Jewish day school.
  • Overall, it would take about a year to fully shift operations from the current center to Dixon, given the need for renovations, Smith said.

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Quick takes

WHAT'S REORGANIZED: The leadership team at ENB Financial, the parent of Ephrata National Bank in Lancaster County. As part of a broader plan to bolster its financial performance and remain independent, the bank has redrawn its executive chart.
  • Banks in general face an uncertain future, as they grapple with where to find growth following the recent flood of mortgage refinancing and Paycheck Protection lending. Mergers and acquisitions also are expected to pick up.
  • Ephrata National is aiming to take what it feels it does well and do it better, and for more people, said Craig Rodenberger, a senior vice president and marketing officer at ENB.
  • That includes aligning the bank's operations to create the best customer experience, which increasingly means using digital tools.
  • "What we've said is, basically, running our business as usual and hoping for the best doesn't feel like a great strategy in this environment," Rodenberger said.

Who's on the new chart: Existing bank executives, some with new titles.
  • William Kitsch will oversee the bank's sales and revenue channel -- which includes commercial lending, agricultural lending and small-business lending -- in the newly created role of chief revenue officer. He had been senior vice president of business performance strategy and head of ag lending
  • Chad Neiss, head of the bank's mortgage division, will lead strategy in the new role of chief strategy officer. He will continue to lead the mortgage unit.
  • Current COO Matthew Long will head the operations channel. He has been COO since 2019.
  • Cindy Hoffman will oversee HR and training in her current role, chief human resources officer.
  • Finance and investment will be led by Rachel Bitner, who was named the bank's CFO earlier this year. She has worked at ENB since 2009.
  • Enterprise risk management falls under the purview of Nick Klein, who has been the bank's chief risk officer since 2020.

The background: ENB has assets of about $1.6 billion. It operates 14 branches in Lancaster, Lebanon and Berks counties.
  • The bank made a profit of $3.55 million in the second quarter of 2021, down slightly from nearly $3.6 million in the second quarter of 2020, according to its most recent earnings report.
  • However, it is up for the year so far, with net income of nearly $8.1 million for the first half of 2021, compared to about $5.8 million in the first half of 2020.
  • The bank is closely held, with about a third of its shares owned by a trust started by a former bank president, J. Harry Hibshman. 
  • The trust provides scholarships for higher education to students in the Ephrata Area School District. 

WHO SET A DEADLINE: The General Services Administration. The federal agency has set Dec. 1 as the deadline for bidders interested in buying the Ronald Reagan Federal Building and Courthouse in downtown Harrisburg. The minimum bid is $3 million. 
Are there any bids yet: No, according to the GSA's auction listing for the 246,000 square-foot building (shown below in center of photo).

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Compiled and written by Joel Berg

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