Pennsylvania Gets Even More Attractive to Businesses
There is plenty of debate in the economic development world regarding the best ways to stimulate job growth and the kind of large scale projects that impact entire communities and regions.
With more than 450 significant economic projects involving new site development in 2011, it is clear that Pennsylvania's efforts to make itself attractive to expanding or relocating businesses are paying off. Earlier this month it ranked third in the annual Governor's Cup rankings
from Site Selection magazine
, right behind first-place Ohio and runnerup Texas.
"Pennsylvania consistently performs well in our annual ranking of state project totals, and 2011 activity was no exception," says Mark Arend, editor in chief of Site Selection Magazine. In June, 2010, the state re-launched its commercial property and business research website
, which provides vital data that's important to companies who are expanding or relocating
"Its third-place finish, with more than 450 qualified projects in a broad range of industries, is even more impressive than its fourth-place finish the two previous years. This clearly demonstrates that Pennsylvania's economic development efforts are delivering the location solutions required by corporate capital investors."
The rankings are based on data related to new and existing businesses that invested $1 million or more, hired at least 50 people, or built at least 20,000 square feet. Altogether, PA scored 359 such projects among the top 10 metros of all sizes, led by 141 in Pittsburgh, more than any other state.
While Marcellus Shale natural gas activity represents about 10 percent of PA's projects, there is plenty of other activity that keeps it in an elite class nationally. The solar and pharmaceutical sectors each produced about a dozen projects. The largest projects were US Steel's $1 billion construction of a new manufacturing facility in Clairton and the Wellington Development Corporation's $900 million coal-waste energy recycling plant in Cumberland Township.
Projects represent global brands like Amazon (Carlisle) and FedEx (three projects in Lehigh, Bucks and Dauphin counties) and small farms, like Country View in McClure and Kreider Farms in Mt. Joy. There were also several projects that involved beer -- Sierra Nevada, Sly Fox, East End Brewing and Lion Brewery, and Susquehanna Brewing Company are all establishing new facilities.
When it comes to specific locations where business owners look to move their operations, Pennsylvania rates high among both large and small metropolitan areas. Pittsburgh ranked third, behind Houston and Chicago and ahead of seventh-place Philadelphia, among the metro areas with more than 1 million residents. PA joins Texas, led by top-ranked Houston, as the only states with two cities on the large-metro list.
Pittsburgh moved up in the rankings from No. 8 in 2010. While natural gas represents a good portion of the improvement, Pittsburgh has also seen increased activity financial and business services and information and communications technology.
In a separate calculation of Pittsburgh's economic activity in 2011
by the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance Partnership
, 286 economic development deals totaled $1.5 billion in capital investment and created or retained 17,000 jobs. The majority of deals in 2011 were expansion of existing businesses in the region. Still, projects involving companies outside the region rose by about 20 percent.
PA also rated high on Site Selection's smaller metro lists. Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton ranked fourth, Harrisburg-Carlisle ranked fifth and Scranton-Wilkes-Barre was tied for ninth on the list for metro areas between 200,000 and 1,000,000 residents. For metros under 200,000, Williamsport ranked third, followed by Altoona in fifth and Johnstown tied for eighth.
JOE PETRUCCI is managing editor of Keystone Edge. Send feedback here.