Business "wins" in southwestern Pennsylvania increased 12 percent in 2013

The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA) recently released its annual development performance scorecard, which showed a 12 percent increase in new facilities, company expansions, and attraction/retention of firms and startups across southwestern Pennsylvania.

"The robust economic development activity in the Pittsburgh region in 2013, including a surge of wins in the information and communications technology sector, is a strong vote of confidence by business decisions-makers in the future of this region and a leading indicator of future job creation," PRA Partnership Chairman and President and CEO of Gateway Financial Group David Malone said.

The 302 developments in 2013 included both investment and development projects totaling more than $2 billion in capital investment - the seventh consecutive year the total has exceeded $1 billion.

Investment projects included a regional headquarters expansion for Chevron, a CSX Corp. intermodal terminal and a distribution facility for Gordon Food Service.†Development projects totaled $1.8 billion, the second highest amount recorded for the state.

The expansion of regional businesses accounted for most of the development last year, and attraction "wins" rose from 44 in 2012 to reach 48 in 2013, representing one-fourth of all of the state's total "wins."

Malone said the growth and prosperity seen in Pennsylvania last year can be partly attributed to development partners in the state.

"Economic development partners from across southwestern Pennsylvania, with the support and insights of the public and private sectors, sell the strengths of the entire region," Malone said. "The number of deals that we're seeing speaks to Pittsburgh as an investment-worthy region with a legacy, ample natural and human resources and the drive to innovate."

According to the PRA, an affiliate of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, advanced manufacturing and communications technology are key drivers of the state's economy, alongside financial and business services, which contribute the most to the gross regional product, and healthcare and life sciences.

The PRA said natural gas, a major industry within the region, could facilitate the growth of the petrochemical industry in the region and nationwide.

"Ample supplies of Marcellus Shale (and nearby Utica Shale) natural gas have the potential to fuel a resurgence of manufacturing not only in the Pittsburgh region but on American shores," the PRA said.