Pennsylvania Launches First Statewide Economic Development Strategy in Nearly Two Decades

January 30, 2024

The Shapiro Administration worked alongside partners across Pennsylvania to create the targeted strategy, which maps the Commonwealth’s path forward to strong economic growth and more good-paying jobs.
This new strategy will help the Commonwealth reach its full economic potential and ensure every Pennsylvanian has the opportunity to succeed by focusing on five key sectors: Agriculture, Energy, Life Sciences, Manufacturing, and Robotics and Technology.

Bethlehem, PA – Today, Governor Josh Shapiro and Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Rick Siger delivered on their promise to create the Pennsylvania Economic Development Strategy ― the first comprehensive plan of its kind to guide the Commonwealth’s economic growth in almost 20 years.

Since day one, Governor Shapiro and his Administration have been working aggressively to make Pennsylvania a leader in innovation and economic development, and create economic opportunity for all Pennsylvanians. The new ten-year strategy, announced during a visit to global life sciences manufacturing company OraSure Technologies, will capitalize on the Commonwealth’s strengths and reignite our economy.

“For too long, Pennsylvania’s neighboring states have invested and focused on economic development while our Commonwealth has lacked a targeted game plan and serious investment,” said Governor Josh Shapiro. “With this plan, for the first time in nearly two decades, Pennsylvania has a serious economic development strategy that brings together our private and public sectors, our highly skilled workers, and our world-class universities. We’re ready to work together to grow our economy, create jobs, foster innovation and economic opportunity, and build vibrant communities – because when we work together, Pennsylvania Gets It Done.”

Pennsylvania has a strong foundation for the new economic development strategy, including our proximity to major U.S. markets and relative low cost of doing business; the more than 23 Fortune 500 companies and over 1 million small businesses in the Commonwealth; 190,000 skilled graduates produced by our colleges and universities every year; a diverse, talented workforce, and much more.

But there are challenges we must address to compete and succeed globally. For example, Pennsylvania faces critical workforce challenges, unnecessary barriers to success for new startups and tech spinoffs, and a complex and underfunded suite of economic development incentives. And there are deep disparities in economic performance among regions of our state, as well as a lack of targeted, meaningful focus on the key industries that drive our economy’s growth now and into the future.

Governor Shapiro is changing how we do business in Pennsylvania — and his Administration has hit the ground running, securing $1.2 billion in private sector investment, significantly cutting down business licensing time, and rethinking the way government can work at the speed of business in his first year. In that time, Pennsylvania added over 100,000 new jobs, increased economic output, and saw its unemployment rate drop.

Building on that progress, recognizing our strengths, and with a clear-eyed understanding of our challenges, Governor Shapiro’s plan sets forth five ambitious goals for our Commonwealth to:

  • Invest in our economic growth to compete, and prioritize economic development investments that capitalize on Pennsylvania’s strengths and result in real opportunities for our businesses, communities, and residents.
  • Continue to make government work at the speed of business, and ensure all companies find an attractive business environment where they can innovate, thrive, and get responses from government on a reasonable timeline.
  • Open doors of opportunity for all Pennsylvanians, and increase pathways to the workforce that enable every Pennsylvanian to secure a family-sustaining job and have a meaningful career.
  • Innovate to win, because innovators become entrepreneurs and new discoveries enable our people and companies to succeed.
  • Build vibrant and resilient regions, where every community flourishes, we focus on each region’s diverse strengths, and localities can provide for the needs of all residents and businesses.

Each of these five goals includes specific, dedicated initiatives to maximize the plan’s impact. On February 6, Governor Josh Shapiro will hold his annual budget address. His Fiscal Year 2024-25 budget will call for significant investments, directly tied back to this ten-year strategy. The budget address will issue a strong call to action for partners across all sectors to join in with their support. Some of these investments include:

  • A major investment in site development to bring more commercial and industrial sites online and ensure companies have options for attractive business environments where they can thrive in Pennsylvania. Last fall, the Shapiro Administration launched a new pilot program called PA SITES to provide $10 million in grant funding to conduct site assessments and prepare them for remediation. The demand for this investment is clearly there because in response, DCED received 102 applications requesting more than $236 million in funding.
  • $2 million for ‘Career Connect’, an investment that will connect employers with talented workers, help create thousands of internships, keep young people in our Commonwealth, and enable every Pennsylvanian to secure a family-sustaining job.
  • Significant new innovation funding that provides support for start-ups and entrepreneurs, and an additional $10 million for the Agriculture Innovation Program to support innovation in our agricultural industry.
  • $3.5 million to launch the new Pennsylvania Regional Challenge, which will incentivize regional growth, build vibrant and resilient regions, and support communities by investing funds into the development of comprehensive strategies to propel entire regions forward.
  • $25 million for the Main Street Matters program, to support small businesses and commercial corridors that are the backbone of communities across our Commonwealth. This new program will build upon and modernize the Keystone Communities program.

“If we are going to be competitive in attracting new businesses and helping Pennsylvania businesses grow, then we need to invest in economic development,” said Governor Shapiro. “Over the last five years Ohio, New York, and New Jersey all committed far more resources to economic development than Pennsylvania. Ohio, for example, has one-and-a-half million fewer people than Pennsylvania, but they’ve provided at least seven times more economic incentives to encourage businesses to relocate and grow there. We need to catch up, and I hope my colleagues in the General Assembly will work with me to make that happen.”

To compete in today’s global marketplace, this plan also focuses and amplifies the Commonwealth’s investment in high-growth, high-value sectors where we have both a serious competitive advantage and where we expect significant potential for growth in the next ten years — especially in higher-wage, family sustaining jobs. Based on rigorous data-driven analysis, the Shapiro Administration will focus our resources in the following five key industry sectors: Agriculture, Energy, Life Sciences, Manufacturing, and Robotics and Technology.

“To compete nationally and globally, Pennsylvania must make aggressive investments in economic development,” said DCED Secretary Rick Siger. “Our competition has long been committed to investing in sustaining growth, jobs, and innovation — and those efforts have allowed them to surpass Pennsylvania for far too long. But we’re no longer accepting the status quo and hiding from these challenges. Today, we issue a strong call to action to partners across the Commonwealth to join us in supporting the need for significant investments in Pennsylvania’s economic success.”

The ten-year strategy could not have been developed successfully without the input and hard work of our partners in local government, the private sector, the economic development community, labor, higher education, and the nonprofit sector who helped the Governor and his Administration shape this comprehensive plan.

“Since the first day of the Shapiro-Davis Administration, Governor Shapiro and I have been laser focused on creating economic opportunity for all and investing in the needed resources and support that will empower our workforce and businesses – including those looking to move and expand to Pennsylvania,” said Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis. “This strategic plan will continue to create opportunity and empower Pennsylvanians by investing in our Main Streets and every corner of our Commonwealth – and the Shapiro-Davis Administration will continue to get stuff done to spur innovation, create jobs, support our communities, and invest in Pennsylvania’s future.”

“On behalf of the PA Chamber, the state’s largest broad-based business advocacy organization, the business community stands ready to work with the Governor, his Administration, and the legislature towards the shared goal of making Pennsylvania the most competitive state in the country to do business,” said Luke Bernstein, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.

“Pennsylvania needs to be in the economic development business,” said Senator Lisa Boscola. “We need to leverage our strengths like our plentiful energy and strong workforce and make sure companies looking to relocate know all about them. I am proud to stand with a Governor that gets it, like this one does. It is time Pennsylvania re-engage in economic development.”

“As a longtime advocate for the Keystone Communities Main Street and Elm Street programs I am very pleased to see Governo Shapiro announce his Main Street Matters initiative with a proposed allocation of $25 million,” said Representative Bob Freeman. “Main Street Matters will complement the existing Main Street and Elm Street programs and provide critical additional financial resources toward the revitalization of our Main Street businesses and commercial corridors in our small towns and small cities. As the Governor rolls out his Economic Development Strategy for Pennsylvania it is reassuring that the Governor is committed to having that strategy also address the need for economic opportunity in our smaller communities as well, so as to ensure their stability and success.”

“Governor Shapiro’s new economic strategy for Pennsylvania is a smart and practical approach to economic growth that is focused on helping to create jobs and opportunity in the 21st Century,” said Don Cunningham, President & CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. “It’s long overdue for the state to have a comprehensive and strategic approach that will help all the regions of Pennsylvania thrive and prosper in a competitive world. It’s clear that a lot of thought and work was put into this plan.”

“At OraSure, we are proud of our legacy and energized about what lies ahead for us, and this new plan announced today by the Governor increases our optimism and confidence as we look to the future,” said Carrie Eglinton Manner, President and CEO of OraSure. “We are excited to see the Governor’s strategy in action and know it will greatly benefit the business community, as well as the entire Commonwealth, for years to come.”

The full Economic Development Strategy is available at Pennsylvania Gets it Done website.

Need to start or move your business?