Pennsylvania has possessed a reputation as a prime location for companies in the manufacturing industry for decades. This was most evident when the Commonwealth ranked in the top 10 in several categories in two national polls of the top manufacturing states and locations. The Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center (NEPIRC) followed up these national rankings with a regional analysis of the manufacturing industry that shows the current and future benefits for companies located in the region.
In Business Facilities’ 2016 Annual Rankings Report, Pennsylvania ranked in the top 10 across five crucial industry categories, including manufacturing, infrastructure and exports. PA placed sixth in the “Top Manufacturing States” category, which measures employment totals for manufacturing jobs; fifth in the “Infrastructure Upgrades” category and 10th in the “Exports” category.
Manufacturing has played a key role in Pennsylvania’s economic development success for more than a century. Amy Zecha, executive director for marketing at the Department of Community and Economic Development, said Pennsylvania’s place among the best manufacturing states in the nation is attributable to its large, industrial workforce.
“It’s no secret that Pennsylvania is a leader in manufacturing. It’s part of our legacy that continues to shape our future,” Zecha said. “Our manufacturers and manufacturing workforce of more than 565,000 individuals are the backbone of our economy and contribute to our quality of life.”
NEPIRC’s Regional Industry Analysis Report further highlighted the regional benefits that are available and the growth prospects that are on the horizon for manufacturing companies located in Greater Hazleton and throughout Northeast PA. They include modernized manufacturing training programs, a dedicated collaboration between industries and area colleges and universities, and an innovative manufacturing culture that has led to the creation of many high-performing industry clusters, including food processing.
Eric Esoda, President and CEO of NEPIRC, said the benefits already in place, as well as those to come through technical innovation, will lead to a continuous increase of manufacturing success in the area for years to come. “Our regional manufacturing community is well-positioned to thrive in the years ahead. Our region has the workforce pipeline, advanced training programs, university-based resources, innovation infrastructure and collaborative spirit needed to ensure manufacturing growth well into the future. Because of that, our manufacturers, their employees and our community have good reason to be optimistic,” Esoda said.
According to the NEPIRC report, Pennsylvania’s level of manufacturing exports has increased nearly 40 percent over the past five years and now ranks 10th nationwide. Employee productivity also continues to increase. Manufacturing workers now add more than $131,000 to Pennsylvania’s Gross State Product (GSP) annually and, as of the end of 2015 when the latest figures were available, manufacturing provided more than 565,000 full-time jobs in Pennsylvania and accounted for more than 11 percent of statewide non-government employment.
Northeast Pennsylvania also made additional headlines last year as a prime manufacturing location when the Scranton¬–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton, MSA topped a national study of the top food processing locations in the Northeastern United States and ranked 10th overall in the country. Site selection firm Boyd Co. Inc. examined 24 of the top food processing regions in the country as part of the comprehensive study.
The Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton region ranked high because it has low operating costs including payroll, utilities, debt repayment and taxes that help lower a company’s annual cost to do business. In addition to financial benefits, Northeast PA’s skilled and available labor force, and easy access to transportation routes leading to major East Coast cities, make it an attractive location for food processing companies.