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Pennsylvania just elected a new governor and US senator. Here’s where they stand on tech and business issues

Josh Shapiro and John Fetterman connected on platforms promoting STEM education, resources for small businesses and raising the minimum wage.

Josh Shapiro (left) and John Fetterman. (Left photo via a Flickr Creative Commons license, right photo courtesy)
In the early morning hours of Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022, they were called: The two major statewide races for Pennsylvania governor and US Senate went to the elections’ Democratic candidates.

In January, Governor-elect Josh Shapiro and Senator-elect John Fetterman will be sworn into office. Both ran on issues of fighting for abortion access, voting rights and raising the minimum wage.

In Philly, a few workforce issues were on the ballot this year, including questions about creating a permanent aviation department within city government, and changing local civil service regulations by giving preference to graduates from the School District of Philadelphia’s career technical education programs. Both issues were approved by voters Tuesday.

But business and tech issues haven’t been as centered in the statewide conversation. Technical.ly checked in with the candidates in September to hear more about their stances on evolving technologies, STEM education, startup growth and broadband internet access, among other topics.

Fetterman on investing in technology

Fetterman responded to our survey saying he’d invest in workforce development programs, seek more funding to expand broadband internet access across the state, and make Pennsylvania a place where STEM organizations and startups “can thrive” with better access to capital.

He called out support for continuing to fund broadband internet programs and for the CHIPS and Science Act, which will provide billions of dollars for research, development, and workforce development in semiconductor technologies.

“This is exactly the kind of legislation we need to prepare our workers for the good-paying jobs in emerging technologies,” Fetterman told us. “If America wants to compete with countries like China and continue to be a leader in technology, we have to invest in innovation, research and development.”

He also explained a plan to combat “brain drain” by improving quality of life for residents and expanding access to resources, high-paying jobs, affordable housing and healthcare. Fetterman said his support of small businesses will come from his experience as mayor of Braddock, a blue collar town where he was able to attract startup companies to set up shop during his tenure, including the Pittsburgh-claimed Meter Feeder.

“We need to invest in and provide businesses with the capital they need to get off the ground,” Fetterman said. “We also need to invest in programs that teach startup business owners best practice in planning, such as where to locate a business, when to scale, how to differentiate from competitors, and how to lead.”

The (Pennsylvania) state of STEM education

When it comes to enhancing STEM education, Fetterman said he aims to invest in higher ed institutions’ STEM programs, “fostering diverse tech communities that attract talent, and building the infrastructure to ensure industry growth and workplace retention.” A similar stance was taken by Shapiro. While he didn’t respond to Technical.ly’s request to return the candidate tech survey, he’s been vocal about his support of STEM education in schools.

At a July campaign stop hosted by the Pittsburgh Robotics Network in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood, Shapiro said he aims to make Western Pennsylvania the “robotics capital of the world,” echoing a familiar PRN line. He also vowed that the state would triple its investment in apprenticeship programs if elected.

“We’re going to make sure that we put vocational, technical and computer training in our high school classrooms. I want a 10th grader to see the robotics work that’s being done in Pittsburgh, I want them to get excited about it, I want them to see that as part of their future,” Shapiro said. “For thousands of these robotics jobs, you don’t need a Ph.D. from [Carnegie Mellon University] to get that job, you need specialized low-tech training, maybe enhanced with an apprenticeship program to be able to do this work for tomorrow.”

Business moves to come

The wins have been embraced by local business organizations. On Tuesday night, shortly after Shapiro was named winner of the governor’s race, the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce congratulated him on his win.

“We eagerly anticipate partnering with the new administration to achieve a vital, globally competitive Pennsylvania where all people thrive,” Chamber President Matt Smith said in a statement. “We are very encouraged by the Governor-elect’s commitment to serve as Pennsylvania’s Chief Salesperson, and we are at the ready to actively engage with the administration in economic development initiatives that will position the Pittsburgh region and Commonwealth to compete successfully for new jobs, talent and investment.”

Companies: Pittsburgh Robotics Network
People: Pittsburgh Robotics Network / Josh Shapiro / John Fetterman
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