Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

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Local Economy

Local economies are distinguished by their geographical or similar types of interconnectedness. The Lancaster Stock Exchange project defines its local region as seven counties in South Central Pennsylvania: these are anchored around the metropolitan areas of Lancaster, York, Reading, and the Harrisburg capital area. A local economy is a flexible concept, but some definition is useful for benchmarking and discussion purposes. It should be viewed as open to reasonable revision and evolution.

What are the key characteristics of a local economy?

First, people should be able to meet each other easily. This means that people should be able to meet each other within an hour or two at the most. Investors should be able to visit businesses in a morning or afternoon. As a practical matter, this means a circle with a 50 or 100 mile radius.

Second, people should be able to learn more about each other without meeting. This means that people should be able to obtain and follow local news, or look in archives or libraries to learn more about the business and social life of their region.

Third, the region should be distinctive in some way. Perhaps it is a demographic or geographic uniqueness. Or perhaps there are historical traditions and cultural norms. Whatever it is, just being a big suburb of some other city elsewhere is not sufficient to be a local economy.

Franklin & Marshall College's Local Economy Center devotes time and energy to describing and analyzing the Lancaster local economy. Learn more at the Local Economy Center


Not all firms are local. To be considered a local company, the firm should be headquartered and have most of its operations in the local area, roughly 100 miles from the geographic center of the region.