The Governor of Pennsylvania is having a moment, and Greater Philadelphia’s business community is one of the beneficiaries.
When a tanker fire caused an overpass to collapse on I-95 – one of the most heavily traveled parts of one of the busiest highways in the United States – experts predicted it would take months to rebuild. Instead, Gov. Josh Shapiro and his Administration acted immediately to cut red tape and devise an innovative plan with a local company and Chamber member, Aero Aggregates, to create a temporary bridge. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation even set up a 24-7 webcam that went viral and served as a live testament to the rapid response to the crisis.
The result: Cars and trucks were streaming over the bridge in less than two weeks, restoring a major artery of commerce safely in an unheard-of time and attracting national attention.
The Administration’s reaction to the highway crisis underscores the business-first approach that Shapiro has taken during his first six months on the job. A key part of this has been the willingness of the Administration to work closely with organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia to spur innovative and inclusive economic growth in the region.
“Leaders often like to say that their state is open for business – Gov. Shapiro’s actions show he genuinely means it,” said Anselm Sauter, Vice President, Regional Advocacy for the Chamber. “Several powerful forces are at work here, from critical investments by the Administration and the General Assembly in education, workforce, and energy development to reduced regulations and business taxes.”
“Combined with greater cooperation among regional development organizations, these actions will go a long way in unleashing the full potential of our economy,” Sauter continued.
Communicating a Spirit of Collaboration
In February, we wrote about the business-friendly statement Shapiro made with his Administration’s new economic development initiatives, including two transformative executive orders demonstrating that Pennsylvania will do whatever is needed to drive economic growth and ensure the state is a friendly place to do business.
That month, Shapiro joined Chamber member Spark Therapeutics to celebrate the groundbreaking of Spark’s new Gene Therapy Innovation Center, which will advance gene therapy manufacturing globally. At the announcement, the Governor shared his Administration’s work to foster innovation, spur growth across the Commonwealth, and support companies to mirror the model that has enabled Spark to thrive.
In May, the Chamber hosted Gov. Shapiro for our annual “A Conversation with the Governor” event, where he restated his commitment to regional collaborations that support businesses looking to locate, expand, and do business in the Commonwealth.
The Governor shared his plans to make Philadelphia a global economic leader in a recent guest editorial for PennLive, where he stated, “I want to plant a flag here in Pennsylvania and show the country that this is the best place to build a business, raise a family, and live a productive, successful life.”
Several other recent announcements and developments demonstrate how the region has been working together in the months since the Governor took office. Among the collaborations, the Chamber is partnering with the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, Life Sciences PA, and others on developing an innovation strategy to establish Pennsylvania as a globally recognized hub of innovation-based industries and talent. Leaders from each Chamber went into further detail on this partnership in a recent op-ed.
The Chamber has also called on state lawmakers to enact a bold public-private sector innovation economy strategy and create at least a $2 billion, 10-year investment program to leverage existing strengths and build capacity in a state-wide, multi-industry innovation ecosystem. The proposed PA Innovation Fund is estimated to eventually generate a total economic impact of as much as $40.5 billion and support as many as 166,100 jobs in the Commonwealth.
Among other recent business-friendly developments in Pennsylvania:
- Lawmakers are currently considering accelerating the planned phasedown of the state’s Corporate Net Income Tax (CNIT). The Chamber earlier successfully advocated for the passage of legislation that mandated phased reductions in the CNIT from an initial 9.99% to 4.99% by 2031. The current legislation would reduce the rate to 7.99% immediately and then by a point each January 1 until it reaches 4.99% in 2026. At the Chamber’s recent ‘A Conversation with the Governor’ event, he expressed his support for the phasedown.
- Another proposal advocated by the Chamber would gradually increase the net operating loss (NOL) carryover limit from the current 40% to 80%, bringing it in line with the federal limitation and those in 48 other states. The Chamber believes that this will help entrepreneurs bear risk and support businesses more susceptible to economic downturns.
- The Governor’s proposed budget called for a 50% greater investment in the Commonwealth’s Manufacturing Innovation Program, which connects Pennsylvania universities with businesses to foster innovation and job creation.
- The budget provides funding for the new Office of Transformation and Opportunity, the Governor’s one-stop shop for businesses.
- The budget includes $20 million for the creation of a program to invest in historically disadvantaged businesses in Pennsylvania and for investments in hydrogen energy to develop good-paying, clean-energy jobs.
- The Governor is also advocating for large investments in infrastructure, job retention and recruitment, and workforce training.
These proposals followed Shapiro’s actions, just days into his Administration, to sign an executive order that established the Pennsylvania Office of Transformation and Opportunity and the Economic Development Strategy Group under the direction of entrepreneur and former Tinuiti CEO Ben Kirshner.
Another executive order was aimed at streamlining the Commonwealth’s licensing, permitting, and certification processes. The order established a date-certain for each application. If applicants don’t receive a response by that date, the agency responsible must refund their application fees.
“Gov. Shapiro has made it clear he wants to do what it takes to foster competitiveness and the economic climate of the Commonwealth by attracting companies to relocate or expand,” said Sauter.
For more information about locating or expanding in the region, visit the Select Greater Philadelphia website.