Creating a vibrant community and competitive-business climate, the Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber is leading the way to strengthen the region’s economy and develop strategic opportunities for future growth. Businesses and new residents are drawn to the region for many reasons, including housing affordability and for the attractiveness of the region for doing business.
“We have an attractive cost of living, which translates to a very high quality of life,” said David Ruppersberger, president of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA). “The cost of doing business is still below the national average and considerably lower than our competitor cities. On top of that we have a first-class university system and abundant choices for education in excellent school districts throughout the 10 county region. It all adds up to opportunities and a highly desirable place to live and own a business.”
Location is prime, too.
“We’re proximate to the larger portion of population in North America,” Ruppersberger said. “It’s highly advantageous for logistics. Within a day or day-and-a-half you can be as far north as Toronto, or all the way south down to Virginia or North Carolina.”
Working in partnership with the chamber, the PRA is an affiliate of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, the organization proactively improving the region’s quality of life and economic future by bringing public and private sectors together, leveraging collective knowledge and resources throughout the ten-county region. Both organizations are focused on developing sustainable employment opportunities.
“The job market is growing, and particularly in construction,” Ruppersberger emphasized. “The construction sector is exceptionally robust and expected to stay that way for the next five to ten years. It’s not going to change. There are big opportunities, strong growth and good family sustaining jobs, and we’re seeing investments in infrastructure across the board. Healthcare and hospitals all have big plans for construction, as do the universities.”
Housing construction is another very bright spot.
“Suburban home building is still thriving, but we’re experiencing a definite shift,” Ruppersberger said. “As businesses are moving their operations into the city, we’re seeing more housing underway in the downtown core.”
And fueling almost every aspect of the economy, the multibillion-dollar Shell Chemical petrochemical plant under construction in Beaver County is making everything perk.
“It’s a massive project and we’re still very early on its development,” Ruppersberger said. “They are building an ethane cracker plant, a process that breaks a natural liquid gas, ethane, into smaller molecules to create ethylene, which is used in plastics manufacturing for a host of applications.”
The plant is scheduled to begin commercial operations in the early 2020s, Ruppersberger said.
“Already there are 3,000 construction workers on site and we’re expecting that total to climb to 6,000 during the next several months,” he said. “One of the many positive benefits of the project is that a lot of the construction workers will remain in our community after the plant is finished, taking jobs in ongoing construction projects. They’re already qualified and will be prepared to go to work when they leave the plant.”
The region is perfectly poised for strategic growth, focused on capitalizing on established sectors such as financial and business services, manufacturing and industry, while cultivating new opportunities for technology, robotics and other emerging industries, as outlined in the Allegheny Conference’s 2018-2019 agenda: Creating a Next Generation Economy for All.
Some surprises are in store, too. Leaders know success depends in part on how well the region is perceived, locally, nationally and around the globe.
“We’ll be rolling out a new branding campaign next year,” Ruppersberger said. “We have an abundance of opportunity in an ever-evolving region with a unique character, and that’s a story we need to tell. It’s a place of authenticity built on 200 years of history, with a remarkable future ahead.”