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Member Perspective: Tony Abraham

Posted Thursday, January 4th, 2018

Programs & Events, Member News, Public Policy, Advocacy, Member Submitted, Member Spotlight

Guest Commentator: Tony Abraham, Special Projects Reporter, Technical.ly Media, @TechnicallyPHL

Having reported across the state for the past 8 months for the Grow PA newsletter, what takeaways have you gathered from Pennsylvanians looking to drive growth in the state’s economy?

We kicked Grow PA off last year knowing that the state’s greatest economic potential lies in healthcare, higher education and infrastructure, and its greatest challenges are an aging workforce, industry flight and talent loss.

We also knew that, regardless of those strengths and weaknesses, the immediate barriers to economic growth in Pennsylvania vary from county to county — and, in many cases, neighborhood to neighborhood.

For example, business and civic leaders in Johnstown, Pa., an industrial city in Cambria County that stayed afloat for three decades by procuring federal defense contracts with help from Congressman John Murtha, are pursuing different means of economic success than their counterparts in Westmoreland, a rapidly-aging county that is hemorrhaging young talent and struggling to retain big employers.

But there are plenty of similarities between both of those initiatives, and others simultaneously underway in counties and townships across the state. That said, we’ve whittled our eight months of economic development reporting down to three big ideas. In other words, three common problems we’re seeing business and civic leaders across Pennsylvania address in similar ways:

  1. Talent pipelines are being built by employers partnering directly with education institutions. We’re seeing this with the Westmoreland County Forum for Workforce Development, Beaver County’s push to staff Royal Dutch Shell’s ethane cracker and the Collegiate Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development coming together to train pipeline workers for PECO.
  2. Retraining programs are being implemented to build local workforces in areas impacted by industry flight. Making Your Future and The Trade Institute of Pittsburgh are rebuilding Pittsburgh’s workforce, the District 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund is retraining healthcare workers in Philadelphia, Johnstown’s Bridge to Pittsburgh is looking to boost the city as a manufacturing hub and Penn State is banking on telemedicine innovations to make up for healthcare gaps created by shuttering clinics in rural Pennsylvania.
  3. Employers are out of touch with job requirements, and universiies aren’t properly preparing students for the workforce. This misalignment is being addressed by Delaware Valley University’s Experience360 Program, Robert Morris University’s specialized leadership training module, young professional-led initiatives in Harrisburg and Washington & Jefferson College’s entrepreneurship-driven incubator.

All three, while certainly interconnected, have this in common: Pennsylvanians need to talk to each other more. That’s something we’re hoping to continue to foster in 2018.

Grow PA: Gubernatorial Republican Primary Election Debate

Tuesday, March 6, 2018
8:00 – 10:00 a.m.
National Constitution Center
Register: chamberphl.com/growPAdebate

Pennsylvanians will go to the polls to vote in the primary election for Governor on May 15, 2018. Republicans will be able to cast their votes for one of four candidates in the race to become the next Top Executive of the Commonwealth. Join fellow civic and business leaders from across Pennsylvania in preparing for the upcoming election at this debate between the four Republican Gubernatorial candidates: Laura Ellsworth, Paul Mango, Mike Turzai, and Scott Wagner. 

Grow PA is a statewide initiative to convene people and organizations throughout Pennsylvania to establish a modern economic growth agenda. To learn more, visit grow-pa.com.

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