The ups, downs and continuing sagas of 2021

Like their peers around the U.S., local businesses were battered in 2021 by inflation, labor shortages and supply chain glitches – not to mention the persistent challenge of navigating Covid-19.

  • But there also were ups and downs unique to Central Pennsylvania.

Like what: On the upside, a new hospital opened — and another is on the way — while a former pharma plant is back in operation.

What were the downs: Two of the region’s biggest companies announced they were picking up stakes, and a well-known textile manufacturer shut down.

What are the toss-ups: Several stories in 2021 covered events likely to see some kind of resolution in 2022, including the legal fight over federal Covid-19 vaccine mandates and an investor’s push for the sale of a regional bank.

  • In July, New York-based hedge fund Driver Management began pressing for a sale of Codorus Valley Bancorp, the York County-based parent of PeoplesBank
  • The hedge fund’s campaign continued through the summer and fall, with the investor most recently taking issue with by-law changes by Codorus Valley that Driver claims will make it harder to nominate new board members. The changes include moving up nomination deadlines.
  • “It couldn’t be a more lame attempt to jam us up,” said Abbott Cooper, the head of Driver Management. 
  • In a press release this month, Codorus Valley described the changes as “promoting industry leading corporate governance practices,” adding: “The Company and Board will continue to maintain an open dialogue with shareholders.”
  • A bank spokesperson declined to comment further.
  • In September, President Joe Biden unveiled a series of vaccine mandates. Legal challenges quickly followed, with the U.S. Supreme Court set to hear arguments on Jan. 7 over a vaccine-or-test mandate for firms with at least 100 employees.
  • Plans for tolling motorists that cross the Interstate 83 bridge in the capital region also are likely to continue attracting attention — and fire — in 2022.

What about elections: The coming year will usher in a new governor for Pennsylvania. After two terms, Gov. Tom Wolf is barred from running again.

  • Attorney General Josh Shapiro will be the likely Democratic standard-bearer.
  • A host of Republicans are vying for the GOP nomination. They are scheduled to meet for their first debate on Jan. 5 at Dickinson College in Carlisle. 
  • Some Central PA voters also may see new names on the ballot this spring for state and federal legislative races, provided officials can agree on a new map laying out legislative districts.

The bottom line: The Covid-19 pandemic shows little signs of loosening its hold on the health care system and the economy at large.

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