Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf’s Budget Proposal Includes Funding for Manufacturing, Talent Supply
By Colin McEvoy on February 4, 2020
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced a $36.1 billion budget proposal today that includes funding for various economic development initiatives, particularly in the areas of manufacturing, talent supply, and workforce development.
These areas of focus align with the Lehigh Valley economy, where manufacturing is a major driver of economic growth, and also align with the efforts of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), which has made a top priority of maintaining a competitive workforce and talent supply for the region.
“Employers and companies seeking a location to operate or expand their businesses continually say their most important issue is finding the talent they need,” said LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham. “We appreciate Governor Wolf’s recognition of the importance of this issue, which is critical for both Lehigh Valley and the state of Pennsylvania.”
Among the initiatives in Wolf’s budget proposal are a $12.35 million funding increase for manufacturing research, $14 million to support a statewide workforce strategy, and a $4.5 billion plan to fund Pennsylvania’s infrastructure needs through a new severance tax on natural gas production.
LVEDC has been focused on developing and implementing strategies to help Lehigh Valley maintain a competitive workforce and talent supply. These efforts have been supported by the LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council, a partnership of Lehigh Valley educational institutions, major employers, and economic development and workforce agencies.
Last month, LVEDC’s Board of Directors identified its legislative priorities for the year. Among them were support for employer-driven funding to close the state’s skills gap, marketing to attract businesses to Pennsylvania, and greater funding and flexibility for job creation, retention, and expansion programs.
LVEDC has also called for a reduction to Pennsylvania’s 9.9% Corporate Net Income Tax, which is among the highest in the country, as well as new appropriations for the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) loan program for manufacturing.
Wolf said his proposed $12.35 million funding increase for advanced manufacturing research and colleges and universities will fuel innovation across Pennsylvania, and make the commonwealth a national competitor in attracting and retaining entrepreneurs.
“A strong community and entrepreneurial network are crucial for success. This holds true for start-ups, as well as established businesses,” Wolf previously said. “I’m proposing a strategic statewide innovation investment plan that will help get us on the right track to making Pennsylvania an innovation leader.”
Manufacturing is the second-largest economic sector of the Lehigh Valley, making up $7.3 billion (or 17.7%) of Lehigh Valley’s overall $41.2 billion gross domestic product. Manufacturing makes up a larger portion of Lehigh Valley’s economy than it does the overall U.S. economy, where it constitutes only 12%.
Wolf’s budget proposal also includes a $5 million increase for the statewide Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority, which fuels the statewide Ben Franklin Technology Partners initiative, including the regional BFTP of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
It also includes a $2.5 million increase for Industrial Resource Centers for such projects as robotics utilization and advanced manufacturing techniques, as well as $2.35 million for Invent Penn State and a $2.5 million increase for the PREP Network to help reduce the number of college students leaving the commonwealth.
Additionally, Wolf’s budget proposal includes a $14 million investment to support 42 recommendations made by a workforce report issued last month by the governor’s Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center. Those recommendations can be found here.
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