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Pennsylvania: Educated Workers and Strategic Location Key to Varied Sector Growth

Mali R. Schantz-Feld (Oct/Nov 09)
The push towards alternative and clean energy is not a new trend for Pennsylvania. Since 2003, Governor Edward Rendell's administration has invested $915 million in this sector, resulting in about 600 projects that have created and retained more than 8,300 jobs. George Cornelius, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, points out that the state is encouraging energy projects with incentives such as the $650 million Alternative Energy Investment Act and the nearly $16 million Alternative Fuels Investment Fund, which includes the incremental inclusion of a certain percentage of biofuels in every gallon of gasoline and diesel sold in the state to spur development of homegrown options.

In industry sectors, manufacturing is a keystone in Pennsylvania's economy that contributes $64 billion annually to the gross state product. R&D in advanced manufacturing rallies the metals, machinery, pharmaceuticals, and food manufacturing categories. State funds encouraged an expansion in Reading by specialty metal producer and distributor Carpenter Technology that is expected to generate 261 new jobs. "Reading has been Carpenter's home for 120 years," says Anne L. Stevens, Carpenter's chair and chief executive officer. "We have recently completed a $125 million expansion of our melting capacity here with tax and training incentives from the local community and the state. Our dedicated and talented employee base was crucial to our decision to keep the expansion in Reading."


In life sciences, "Our funding is unlike any other state's commitment," says Cornelius, who says that Pennsylvania was the only state to dedicate 100 percent of all tobacco settlement funds to health-related programs, adding up to a multi-year commitment of $2 billion. The state's Life Sciences Greenhouse Initiative, state funding of early stage risk capital, was cited by the Battelle Technology Partnership as one of only two university/industry funding programs focused solely on the biosciences in the United States. Since 2001, the three regional greenhouses have directly invested more than $36.5 million in more than 170 projects.

Australia-based Unilife Medical Solutions intends to create at least 33 jobs and retain at least 87 positions in Lewisberry. According to Stephen Allan, the company's vice-president of marketing and communications, the firm reviewed more than 17 cities across 10 states before selecting central Pennsylvania as the location to establish its U.S. corporate and operational headquarters. He cites critical location-related factors such as proximity to established industry clusters as key to finding prospective employees across key areas such as engineering, automated assembly, and pharmaceutical device validation. "We found central Pennsylvania to be rich with talented engineers, and situated at the crossroads of several of the world's largest life science clusters such as Philadelphia and New Jersey," he says.  "As a bonus, central Pennsylvania is one of the largest transport hubs in North America."
In the logistics sector, ES3 LLC's $200 million expansion in Conewago Township adds a 705,000-square-foot tower to its existing 790,000-square-foot warehousing and distribution facility. "We believe Pennsylvania is the gateway to the Northeast Corridor," says Brenda Hambleton, chief customer officer. "We are also thrilled to have a terrific labor force here and to have helped create 1,700 jobs right here in the commonwealth. In these difficult economic times, we feel fortunate to have the opportunity to make such an investment that will directly benefit many people and their families."
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