The global economy demands fast-paced innovation at all levels, and Pennsylvania is getting the job done—from pioneering the latest technological and scientific advances and developing collaborative support networks for early-stage entrepreneurs, to pursuing smart, creative approaches to community development and workforce training.
The life sciences have played an important role in Pennsylvania since its founding, where it was home to the first U.S. hospital and innovations like the first mechanical blood pump, polio vaccine and others. Now, a national leader in testing and medical labs, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals, the state’s life sciences ecosystem is driven by thoughtful leadership and businesses, world-class R&D institutions, top-notch universities and incubators, and strategic investments in venture capital, technology and infrastructure.
Creating Jobs and Expanding Businesses
In the 2018-19 fiscal year, job creation through investments in economic development and business expansion programs played an important role throughout the Keystone State. The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development invested nearly $1 billion in grants, loans, and tax credits. The almost 5,000 projects pledged to create more than 11,000 jobs and retained more than 27,000 existing positions. These investments leveraged an additional $1.9 billion in public and private funding.
Investing in Workforce Development
In February 2019, Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order creating the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center. This innovative approach to workforce development brings together state government, labor, and business leaders to find real-time solutions to address workforce issues. As this collaboration grows, so do opportunities for workforce development and business growth.
The Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center complements two existing workforce initiatives guiding the evolution of Pennsylvanians’ skillsets to meet 21st century workforce needs: Manufacturing PA and PA Smart. Both initiatives take a multipronged approach to improving Pennsylvania’s workforce by forging career pathways, leveraging industry and university partnerships, and creating custom workforce development training for students and employees.
Working with strategic partners, including Industrial Resource Centers (IRCs) and Pennsylvania’s colleges, universities, technical schools, and nonprofit organizations, the Manufacturing PA initiative fosters collaboration and partnerships to accelerate technology advancement, encourage innovation and commercialization, and build a 21st century workforce. It provides funding for manufacturing training programs, leverages the state’s research capacity to support students in engagements with industry, and expands the outreach of Pennsylvania’s existing Industrial Resource Centers to target small and medium-sized businesses. Since the launch of the initiative in 2017, more than $10 million has been approved to support the IRCs in Pennsylvania.
PAsmart is a phased approach to further strengthen workforce efforts at multiple agencies while aligning their work with K-12 and higher education to help all Pennsylvanians prepare for successful careers by supporting STEM and computer science education, increasing the number of registered apprenticeships across the state, forging technical and STEM career pathways, and developing industry-university partnerships to help prepare students for the high-demand jobs offered by local employers.
Visionary Tech and Innovation
Pennsylvania’s technology industry is robust and includes first-time innovators, serial entrepreneurs, and established companies supported by a thriving innovation ecosystem comprising exceptional regional economic development partners, access to critical venture capital, and impactful collaborations between its higher education and research institutions and businesses. Recent Brookings research shows that several of Pennsylvania’s regional hubs help create a perfect mix of environment and resources to inspire and commercialize innovation. These resources, which include research-oriented institutions, high-growth companies, and tech and creative startups in vibrant, amenity-rich residential and commercial environments, are setting the state apart in the tech landscape.
University partnerships also help bring early-stage technology and innovations to the marketplace. Pennsylvania is home to nearly 250 public and private higher education institutions, including three of the top 50 educational institutions in the country, and it ranks among the five states producing the most STEM graduates. In addition to being a national leader in STEM education, the state has some of the best graduate programs for business and computer engineering and has made early and important progress in delivering more resources to schools and classrooms while fostering collaborative, cross-sector dialogue to support STEM education, work-based learning, career pathways, and college access and completion.
In southwestern Pennsylvania, several global corporates—including Uber, Google, and Ford—are making significant investments in the technology and robotics scene in Pittsburgh while working with world-class institutions like Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.
Companies aren’t confined by borders, and neither is Pennsylvania, which offers high connectivity and quality of life to both domestic and international businesses. The state’s three major ports — Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Erie — offer access to the Atlantic Ocean, The Great Lakes, and The Gulf of Mexico. With an optimal location in the heart of nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population and 60 percent of Canada’s population that’s close to four of the 10 largest U.S. markets and situated midway between the East Coast financial and regulatory hubs, the state’s strategic Northeast location offers prime access for global companies to top U.S. markets. Pennsylvania’s access to key East Coast markets continues to attract major distribution and logistics expansion projects.
Chewy Finds Fulfillment in Pennsylvania
In December 2019, an online pet supply retailer pledged to expand its operations in Lackawanna County with a $35 million expansion. The project expects to create at least 1,000 new full-time jobs. It is Chewy’s third Pennsylvania fulfillment center. The one million-square-foot, built-to-suit location will allow the company to ship to millions of its customers even faster.
UPS Delivers on 1,700 New Jobs
In January 2020, the United Parcel Service (UPS) announced plans to expand operations in Pennsylvania. The world’s largest package delivery company and provider of supply chain management solutions committed to creating 1,721 new full-time positions, adding to its 6,458 existing jobs. This expansion will take place in four locations in Pennsylvania in Cumberland, Dauphin, Northampton and Philadelphia counties. Through these projects, the company will invest in building renovations, equipment and infrastructure improvements. UPS plans to invest at least $1.4 billion to support the expansion.
From business resources and diverse communities to cultural assets and inspirational individuals, the companies, communities and people that call Pennsylvania home continue to make it a premier place to work smart and live happy and will attract business to the state in the years to come.
PROFILE FROM 2019: