Governor Josh Shapiro’s first steps earned him recognition from Pennsylvania business leaders


Pennsylvania got a handful of new statewide leaders earlier in the year, and most importantly, a new governor: Josh Shapiro, whose campaign included prioritizing corporate investment and a stance that PA should be a place for new industries to grow.

Shapiro took office on January 17. In the two months since, he has made a number of business moves. His policy proposals have been of paramount importance to Pennsylvania researchers and business groups and are likely to influence Pennsylvania’s innovation economy for at least the next four years.

The following has happened so far:

Early signs of priorities

A Brookings Institute report released during the 2022 campaign season assessed Pennsylvania’s current innovation landscape and identified its weaknesses. The authors made suggestions on solutions to build on their strengths, but said the next group of leaders must wholeheartedly endorse and support the innovation economy for these tactics to work.

Shapiro took office on Jan. 17, the same week that the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, along with Brookings and the Hillman Foundation, hosted a discussion forum focused on the report’s findings. There, Allegheny Conference CEO Stefani Pashman said she was encouraged by Shapiro’s business plan.

“We have the opportunity to work with them to design a new model of economic development, increase government investment to boost economic growth, implement policies that support innovation clusters, and create a common and open mindset for business at all levels of government.” support financially. ‘ she said at the conference.

implementing regulations

Another indication that business support is a priority came on Jan. 24 when Shapiro signed an executive order establishing the Pennsylvania Office of Transformation and Opportunity and the Economic Development Strategy Group.

This newly created office is intended to be a “one-stop shop” for companies looking to grow and “work to aggressively revitalize Pennsylvania’s economy – fostering innovation, supporting transformative economic development, and creating real opportunities for businesses and workers alike in.” our commonwealth, particularly in communities that have too often been left behind,” Shapiro said at the time.

The governor appointed Ben Kirshner as chief transformation and opportunity officer and charged him with establishing the Economic Development Strategy Group. The group is chaired by Shapiro and consists of Ministers for Labor and Industry, Community and Economic Development, Transport, Agriculture, Education and Environmental Protection. They will advise Shapiro on the state’s economic development projects, job creation, employer attraction and retention, and the like.

In late January, Shapiro also signed an executive order streamlining the Commonwealth’s licensing, permitting and certification processes. The purpose of the order is to make the process faster and more efficient for Pennsylvania workers who hold professional licenses, permits or certificates by assigning a “specific date” for applications. If they do not receive a response within this period, the agency will reimburse the cost of their application.

The measures aim to bring together existing government agencies more comprehensively in order to improve the business climate, attract companies to settle or expand and make the country more attractive to talent.

First budget proposal

Earlier this week, Shapiro delivered his first budget address, a $44.4 billion proposal that touched on issues of education, human resources development and small business operations, in addition to non-business spending. On the same day, he also signed his support for a project to produce and distribute hydrogen in the Pittsburgh area. In his address, Shapiro cited this and other similar energy projects as ways to boost Pennsylvania’s economy.

Notably, Shapiro proposed raising Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $15 an hour from $7.25 an hour, a campaign promise he and many other Democrats debated in the 2022 midterm elections.

The budget proposal also included:

  • A $24.7 million tax credit, equivalent to $2,500 per year for three years, for residents earning a teaching, nursing, or law enforcement certification beginning January 2023, or anyone earning those degrees move to Pennsylvania
  • A 50 percent increase in funding for the Manufacturing Innovation Program, which “connects Pennsylvania’s universities with our companies to find new solutions and drive innovation.”
  • A 25 percent increase in funding for the PA Smart program, a STEM education and technical training program started under former Gov. Tom Wolf

During the address, Shapiro called the new Office of Transformation and Opportunity and the Economic Development Strategy Group and said Kirshner met with business leaders to identify bottlenecks companies face when they want to work with the state.

“Whether people in this room like me or not, I hope you can all agree that I’m competitive as hell — and I’m sick of losing to other states,” the governor said.

The budget also directs state funding to the Historically Disadvantaged Business Program to support women and minority-owned businesses and proposes $66.7 million to Child Care Works to improve access to stable childcare.

Support for new industries

In February, Shapiro attended Spark Therapeutics’ groundbreaking event where the cell and gene therapy company would build 500,000 square feet of laboratory space in college town Philly. There he predicted: “Philadelphia will be the world capital of gene therapy.”

Earlier this month he toured Astrobotic, the North Side, Pittsburgh-based space technology company that sent its Peregrine lunar lander to the moon this spring. During the visit, he also said that the Federal Appalachian Regional Commission with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development awarded $400,000 to the Keystone Space Collaborative with a focus on expanding the region’s space engineering workforce.

“Astrobotic is an excellent example of the tremendous potential for innovation and leadership that we have here in Pennsylvania, and we are proud that Pittsburgh is the home of the first commercial spacecraft to land on the Moon,” said Shapiro.

Praise from the business world

A handful of business-related groups in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh were mostly positive about the address and the proposed budget.

Executives at the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce said in a statement they were pleased with the call for investment in education and human resources development, public safety and energy development. The organization shares Shapiro’s “vision” for the state and looks forward to policies for innovation, job creation and economic development taking shape.

“The Chamber thanks Gov. Shapiro for his comments highlighting an innovative, inclusive economy that provides opportunity for all Pennsylvanians,” said Chellie Cameron, Chamber President and CEO. “I look forward to working with the Governor to grow businesses and create jobs throughout the Greater Philadelphia region and the Commonwealth.”

Similar sentiments came from Southwestern Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Conference leadership, who commended Shapiro for the address and said she felt an “intense focus” on economic development opportunities.

“Through our continued partnership with the Governor and his administration, we will work to create an economically competitive environment focused on demonstrating that Pennsylvania is open to business investment and the people we need to thrive.” , the organization said in a statement .

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