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Gov pitches new strategy for PA economy

Gov. Josh Shapiro laid out a vision for jumpstarting economic development in Pennsylvania during an address yesterday at OraSure Technologies, a medical diagnostics company in Bethlehem

  • The 52-page strategy includes a mix of new funding, a focus on key industries and a series of other steps designed to make Pennsylvania more competitive in retaining and attracting workers and businesses over the next decade.
  • “I am sick and tired of losing to Ohio, New York, New Jersey or anywhere else,” Shapiro said, noting those states’ relatively greater spending on economic development. “Weve got to win again here in Pennsylvania and, to do that, we are going to invest.”

How much: Exact amounts will be forthcoming. Nonetheless, Shapiro cited a few specific numbers, including:

  • $2 million for a program called “Career Connect,” designed to connect employers and workers.
  • $3.5 million for what will be called the Pennsylvania Regional Challenge, which will fund efforts to hone local economic development strategies.
  • $10 million for an agricultural innovation fund.
  • $25 million for a program called Main Street Matters that will support small businesses and downtown areas.
  • Shapiro also pledged a “major investment” in site development along the lines of the $10 million PA SITES program launched last year. The state received 102 applications for more than $236 million in funding from the program, suggesting that demand outstrips the current supply.

What’s the focus: The administration has its eye on five industries — agriculture, energy, life sciences, manufacturing and robotics/technology.

  • “These industries are the legs of our economy’s stool,” Shapiro said, joking that a five-legged stool makes for a stronger base.
  • By having a focus, Shapiro said he aims to make better use of tax dollars.
  • One part of the strategy, for example, directs state officials to help strengthen in-state supply chains for the five key industries.

What about innovation: That’s another focus.

  • The strategy calls for creation of a Pennsylvania Innovation Fund to support entrepreneurs and startups.
  • In addition, the strategy proposes a competition called Pennsylvania Problem Solvers, which appears loosely modeled on things like the XPRIZE, which has spurred a private-sector space industry.
  • “The Pennsylvania Problem Solvers competition will target complex and persistent problems facing both government and the private sector and offer award funding to startup firms with technologies and approaches to solve them,” according to the strategy.

What’s next: Shapiro is likely to fill in more of the blanks when he presents his budget proposal on Feb. 6.

  • But debates over economic strategy this year are likely to hinge as much on questions of taxes and wages as they are on which programs to fund.
  • Democratic lawmakers will be pushing for a higher minimum wage, while Republican lawmakers will be seeking a quicker reduction in corporate net income taxes, among other changes.

Gov. Josh Shapiro unveiled a new economic-development strategy at an event in Bethlehem. (photo/submitted)

Gov. Josh Shapiro laid out a vision for jumpstarting economic development in Pennsylvania during an address yesterday at OraSure Technologies, a medical diagnostics company in Bethlehem

  • The 52-page strategy includes a mix of new funding, a focus on key industries and a series of other steps designed to make Pennsylvania more competitive in retaining and attracting workers and businesses over the next decade.
  • “I am sick and tired of losing to Ohio, New York, New Jersey or anywhere else,” Shapiro said, noting those states’ relatively greater spending on economic development. “Weve got to win again here in Pennsylvania and, to do that, we are going to invest.”

How much: Exact amounts will be forthcoming. Nonetheless, Shapiro cited a few specific numbers, including:

  • $2 million for a program called “Career Connect,” designed to connect employers and workers.
  • $3.5 million for what will be called the Pennsylvania Regional Challenge, which will fund efforts to hone local economic development strategies.
  • $10 million for an agricultural innovation fund.
  • $25 million for a program called Main Street Matters that will support small businesses and downtown areas.
  • Shapiro also pledged a “major investment” in site development along the lines of the $10 million PA SITES program launched last year. The state received 102 applications for more than $236 million in funding from the program, suggesting that demand outstrips the current supply.

What’s the focus: The administration has its eye on five industries — agriculture, energy, life sciences, manufacturing and robotics/technology.

  • “These industries are the legs of our economy’s stool,” Shapiro said, joking that a five-legged stool makes for a stronger base.
  • By having a focus, Shapiro said he aims to make better use of tax dollars.
  • One part of the strategy, for example, directs state officials to help strengthen in-state supply chains for the five key industries.

What about innovation: That’s another focus.

  • The strategy calls for creation of a Pennsylvania Innovation Fund to support entrepreneurs and startups.
  • In addition, the strategy proposes a competition called Pennsylvania Problem Solvers, which appears loosely modeled on things like the XPRIZE, which has spurred a private-sector space industry.
  • “The Pennsylvania Problem Solvers competition will target complex and persistent problems facing both government and the private sector and offer award funding to startup firms with technologies and approaches to solve them,” according to the strategy.

What’s next: Shapiro is likely to fill in more of the blanks when he presents his budget proposal on Feb. 6.

  • But debates over economic strategy this year are likely to hinge as much on questions of taxes and wages as they are on which programs to fund.
  • Democratic lawmakers will be pushing for a higher minimum wage, while Republican lawmakers will be seeking a quicker reduction in corporate net income taxes, among other changes.

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