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PA releases new economic development strategy; budget calls for new $20M innovation fund

February 08, 2024
By: Laura Lacy Graham

Last week, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro and the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) released what they are describing as the Commonwealth’s first comprehensive Statewide Economic Development Strategy in nearly 20 Years. Seeking to build a more competitive, inclusive, and innovative economy that positions Pennsylvania for the technologies of the future, the administration identified five sectors (Agriculture, Energy, Life Sciences, Manufacturing, and Robotics and Technology) for focus and resource investment. While some of those sectors already are foundational to the state, taken all together, the administration believes they will make Pennsylvania competitive in research and development, entrepreneurship, attraction and retention of businesses and workforce, and economic growth.

The identified five goals of the plan are:

  • Invest in economic growth to compete and prioritize economic development investments that capitalize on Pennsylvania’s strengths.
  • Continue to make government work at the speed of business and ensure all companies find an attractive business environment.
  • Open doors of opportunity for all Pennsylvanians and increase pathways to the workforce.
  • Innovate to win because innovators become entrepreneurs, and new discoveries enable our people and companies to succeed.
  • Build vibrant and resilient regions.

As the plan seeks to leverage the state’s current strengths—workforce, interconnected industry clusters, and geographical location to the nation’s major markets—it also recognizes the need for greater investments in workforce training programs and higher education, particularly in:

  • research and development, commercialization, and tech transfer;
  • more focused and targeted economic development activities, including site development and business incentives; and,
  • building out some of the identified industry sectors into either high-growth or high-technology areas while re-investing and revitalizing those of historical and economic significance to the state.

Gov. Shapiro recommended a number of investments in his proposed Fiscal Year 2025 budget brief, including:

  • $20 million to support large-scale innovation and leverage Pennsylvania’s best-in-class research and development assets;
  • $3.5 million to create and launch the Pennsylvania Regional Economic Competitiveness Challenge to provide different geographic regions with the resources they need to plan and implement localized economic development strategies;
  • $25 million to establish a new Main Street Matters program to support small businesses and commercial corridors (this program will build upon and modernize the Keystone Communities program); and,
  • $2 million for ‘Career Connect’, an investment that seeks to connect employers with talented workers, help create thousands of internships, keep young people in the Commonwealth, and enable Pennsylvanians to secure a family-sustaining job.

This article was prepared by SSTI using Federal funds under award ED22HDQ3070129 from the Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. (The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.



economic development, state budget, innovation