Gov. Josh Shapiro signed an executive order Tuesday creating the Pennsylvania Office of Transformation and Opportunity within the Governor’s Office and the Economic Development Strategy Group.
The two offices will seek to create a unified strategy for economic growth and development, with a focus on disadvantaged and underserved communities.
The Office of Transformation and Opportunity will help develop and lead an overall growth strategy and implement economic development projects – coordinating with Commonwealth agencies, expediting permit reviews, and ensuring the speed of business review and approval of key incentive programs.
Rather than require business to go to multiple agencies for permits, approvals, and funding, the office will serve as a one-stop-shop to cut through red tape, bring state agencies together, support the growth of state businesses, and encourage out-of-state businesses to move to Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania business leader and entrepreneur Ben Kirshner has been named by Shapiro Chief Transformation and Opportunity Officer.
The Economic Development Strategy Group will be driven by the Chief Transformation Officer, and will be chaired by the governor, consisting of the Chief Transformation and Opportunity Officer and the Secretaries of Labor & Industry, Community and Economic Development, Transportation, Agriculture, Education, and Environmental Protection.
The group will advise Shapiro on economic development projects and processes to attract and retain employers, recruit innovation leaders, and create good-paying jobs in Pennsylvania, particularly in underserved communities.
Shapiro said in a statement he’s heard from state business and labor leaders that government needs to work more quickly. He said Tuesday’s action makes clear that Pennsylvania is open for business and is looking to be an aggressive leader when it comes to economic growth, job creation, and innovation.
“My administration will connect our business, our workforce, our world-class universities and research institutions, and the public sector to spur economic development, particularly in communities that have too often been left behind,” Shapiro said. “By helping businesses that are already here, encouraging new ones to move to Pennsylvania, and investing in our workforce, we can create real opportunity and build an economy that works for everyone.”
Kirshner stated that Tuesday’s executive order signals the Shapiro Administration’s willingness to create transformational change in Pennsylvania.
“Businesses of all sizes have been asking for economic development to be a focal point in his administration,” said Kirshner, “and (Shapiro) answered their calls by creating the Office of Transformation and Opportunity.”
Acting Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development Rick Siger said he looks forward to partnering with the Office of Transformation and Opportunity. The goal, said Siger, is “to support Pennsylvania businesses and workers and maximize the opportunity to attract game-changing economic development projects to our Commonwealth.”
PA Chamber President and CEO Luke Bernstein said “regulatory and permitting reform continue to be among the critical issues that businesses would like to see addressed.”
A long-standing deterrent to business investment in Pennsylvania has been the state’s slow permitting process and uncompetitive tax structure. Recent reforms to Pennsylvania’s Tax Code – including the reduction of our Corporate Net Income Tax rate from 9.99 percent to 4.99 percent by 2031 – and Tuesday’s executive order look to make Pennsylvania more competitive and incentivize economic growth.e