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Economics / Municipal government

Shapiro: Strategic plan underway to bolster economic development in Pennsylvania

"We have fallen behind as a Commonwealth when it comes to competing with other states," the governor said when announcing the plan in York County on Tuesday.

Gov. Josh Shapiro speaks in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in September 2023. (Flickr/Commonwealth Media)

This article was written by Cassie Miller of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where it originally appeared. It is republished here with permission.

For the first time in two decades, Pennsylvania will have a commonwealth-wide economic development strategy, Gov. Josh Shapiro announced during a visit to York County on Tuesday.

“We have over the past decade or so — we have fallen behind as a Commonwealth when it comes to competing with other states,” Shapiro said, adding that the statewide strategy will serve as a “north star” for economic growth and development in Pennsylvania.

Pointing to economic development investments made in neighboring states New York, New Jersey and Ohio, Shapiro emphasized the need for Pennsylvania to “catch up.”

“Ohio, our neighbor to the west, has one-and-a-half million fewer people than us in Pennsylvania. Yet they have invested seven times the amount of money in economic development than we have over the last few years,” Shapiro said. “They have put more economic incentives on the table. To encourage businesses to relocate there to go there. And you know what? They’ve been successful. Now we’re poised to be successful too because we’re now ready to make similar investments.”

The economic development strategy, Shapiro said, will allow the Department of Community and Economic Development to “assess” areas of strength and barriers to growth for Pennsylvania and help state officials determine the best path forward.

According to the Shapiro administration, the strategy will focus on six key areas, including:

  • Simplifying the landscape of available programs and incentives available through DCED;
  • Streamlining the process for businesses relocating or expanding in Pennsylvania, including through the work of the Office of Transformation and Opportunity;
  • Addressing the lack of “shovel ready” sites to attract new business and retain existing companies that require space to expand and grow;
  • Doubling down on areas of strength in high-growth sectors, such as life sciences, agribusiness, manufacturing, technology and robotics, and energy, and providing targeted and focused support to these vital industries;
  • Encouraging the creation, growth, and sustainability of small businesses in Pennsylvania;
  • Supporting strong communities for businesses and workers by revitalizing and addressing the challenges facing Pennsylvania’s downtowns.

“We need to do a better job, frankly, of fostering these kinds of innovative ideas and take advantage of the potential we have to offer in Pennsylvania,” Shapiro said. “This strategy, I believe, it’s just the beginning of how we can transform economic development in Pennsylvania.”

The effort has the support of economic organizations representing businesses and organized labor.

In a statement Tuesday, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Angela Ferritto praised Shapiro for his “strategic approach to economic development.”

“By seeking input from diverse stakeholders, including unions, Governor Shapiro shows he is in tune with the needs of hardworking Pennsylvanians who want better pay and benefits to improve the lives of their families and the vibrancy of their communities,” Ferritto said. “We applaud this initiative and look forward to being at the table as it takes shape in the coming months.”

The administration said that DCED officials would begin a listening tour in the coming weeks to gather more input on economic development priorities and concerns, but did not provide date or location details.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

Companies: State of Pennsylvania

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