Summary

Summary

Pennsylvania is facing a crisis, and business as usual just won’t cut it anymore. Two-thirds of Pennsylvania counties are shrinking every year, with an aging population dying off and other families moving away to find opportunities elsewhere.

The Pittsburgh region faces its own unique challenges. Since 2010, 42,000 more people died in the region than were born, more than the combined population of Uniontown, Greensburg, and Butler. That’s far more than in any other big-city region in the country. That means we must attract thousands of new residents every year just to keep from shrinking. But those new people will only come if they see an opportunity.

But we are losing good paying jobs. Manufacturing jobs anchor the economy and provide the broadest opportunities across urban and rural areas. And we are losing out.

In the five years before the pandemic, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana combined to add more than 66,000 manufacturing jobs. Pennsylvania lost 300. Here’s how Pennsylvania stacks up against the states that have a better reputation than us for being a good place to do business.

CREATE THE OPPORTUNITY: Remove barriers that drag us down

We need to improve Pennsylvania’s business reputation, which lags behind the states we compete with for jobs and investment.

Recommendations:

  • Reduce the 9.9% corporate net income tax rate, the second highest in the country.
  • Provide government grants and loans to help offset the higher costs of building industrial sites on Pennsylvania’s old brownfields and sloping hills, compared to other states where it is less expensive to develop land.
  • Streamline and improve the state’s permitting process:
    • Strengthen the existing DEP Permit Decision Guarantee Program to provide predictable timetables for applicants.
    • Consider “Deemed Approved” permit legislation based on best practices in other states.
    • Ensure competitive pay and technical training for DEP staff tied to better performance.

PREPARE FOR THE OPPORTUNITY: Support training for new careers

We need to support people who use their hands to keep the physical world working and provide welcoming career paths for those who want to enter the workforce without attending college.

Recommendations:

  • Award “Bridge to Opportunity” scholarships to provide living expenses, tools, transportation, etc., for disadvantaged residents during the unpaid portion of skilled apprenticeship training.
  • Consider the Imagine PA reforms from the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges.

ENERGIZE THE OPPORTUNITY: Build on the state’s strengths

We need to advance energy policies that make economic sense, ensure a reliable supply, and respect the environment.

Recommendations:

  • Stop efforts to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which, no matter how well intentioned, will not accomplish its desired environmental goals.
  • Ensure that natural gas drilling and development remain part of the energy portfolio.
  • Support a Southwest PA-based regional clean hydrogen hub.

SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY: Make sure the world knows about the new Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania needs to embrace its heritage, play to its strengths, and become a top competitor for significant manufacturing and energy projects.

Recommendations:

  • The next governor needs to be the state’s top salesperson, going anywhere and talking to anyone to let them know that Pennsylvania welcomes their investment and the opportunities that it provides.
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