Pa. Senate confirms Shapiro nominee for Community and Economic Development

Rick Siger, Gov. Josh Shapiro’s nominee for Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), was unanimously confirmed Wednesday by the Pennsylvania Senate. 

The role will see Siger lead the state’s efforts to grow the economy, strengthen communities, and seek to build a better future for residents. 

“Governor Josh Shapiro has a plan to make Pennsylvania a leader in innovation, job creation, and economic development,” Siger said in a statement. “I am thrilled to continue working hard in close collaboration with Pennsylvania’s businesses, communities, and my colleagues at DCED to move his vision for our commonwealth forward.” 

Siger added that under Shapiro’s leadership, Pennsylvania is “open for business.” 

Since his nomination in January, Siger has been involved in the following: 

  • Oversaw expansion projects through the Governor’s Action Team for EMD Electronics, Prysmian Group North America, and Re:Build Manufacturing that will collectively generate $403.5 million in investments, create at least 615 new jobs (including 220 related construction jobs), and retain 696 existing jobs statewide. 
  • Oversaw the approval of more than $24 million in loans through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority to spur business growth in 12 counties, create and retain more than 830 total jobs. 
  • Approved the exits of Franklin Borough, Johnstown, and Mahanoy City from distressed status. 
  • Announced $2.1 million in grants to 31 student research projects through the Manufacturing PA initiative to help advance innovation in manufacturing. 
  • Announced the new Airport Land Development Zone Program and the first airports to receive designations. 
  • Announced $3.5 million in new funding through the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority for Pennsylvania start-up tech companies.  
  • Awarded more than $1 million in investments to increase apprentices in the electrical worker, industrial paint, iron worker, and welding trades through the Pre-Apprentice and Apprenticeship Grant Program. 
  • Announced $300,000 in grants through the Manufacturing PA Training-to-Career program to support a student run manufacturing program in Clarion County and Junior Achievement of South Central PA manufacturing program for students in grades 5-12 in York County.

Siger served as Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to the President at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, setting the management agenda for CMU executives and advising the president on a variety of issues, including economic and community development.

The Pennsylvania Senate also confirmed on Wednesday two more of Shapiro’s cabinet nominations – Department of Transportation Secretary Mike Carroll and Department of Aging Secretary Jason Kavulich. 

Carroll served as Chairman of the House Transportation Committee from 2018 to 2022. Under his direction, the Department of Transportation fixed more than 270 miles of roads, put out more than 201 bridge repair projects to bid, and made over 20 driver licensing and motor vehicle forms available for electronic submission to provide faster and more efficient customer service to residents. 

Kavulich has led Pennsylvania’s Department of Aging (PDA) in developing user-friendly materials to help seniors navigate the end of the public health emergency. PDA has helped older residents maintain access to food and health insurance resources.

EMD Electronics, Shapiro announce investment in Lehigh Valley facility

EMD Electronics joined with Lehigh Valley leaders and Gov. Josh Shapiro Wednesday to break ground on the world’s largest integrated specialty gases facility, a multi-million dollar investment that is expected to create hundreds of jobs in Schuylkill County. 

The $300 million investment in semiconductor specialty gases manufacturing will create nearly 200 jobs, including 68 permanent union positions. A manufacturer in semiconductor and electronics manufacturing, EMD Electronics will build a new 96,500-square-foot facility as part of its investment. 

EMD Electronics will use the new facilities to double the production capacity of tungsten hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride, crucial components in semiconductor manufacturing. This will allow EMD Electronics to meet the increased demand in the electronics and semiconductor industries. 

One of the 10 largest manufacturing employers in Schuylkill County, EMD Electronics is the North American electronics business of Merck KGaA in Darmstadt, Germany. According to a press release, EMD Electronics manufactures chemical-mechanical planarization slurries, ultra-thin dielectric and metal precursors of film, formulated cleans and etching products, and delivery equipment for the semiconductor and electronics display industries. 

We have been the employer of choice in Hometown for almost 50 years,” President of EMD Electronics Jeff White said in a statement. “Our commitment to level up our business in Schuylkill County bodes well for the community and its global impact on the semiconductor industry. 

“We appreciate the efforts on the part of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to recognize the value of our growth plans and work with us to make this expansion possible.” 

EMD Electronics received a funding proposal from the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) for a $1,062,500 Pennsylvania First grant and a $122,000 workforce development grant to train workers. EMD has committed to creating 68 new jobs and retaining 289 existing, full-time jobs at its Schuylkill County location within the next five years. Construction of the new facility will add approximately 120 jobs. 

Shapiro said the investment in the new facility sends a clear message to the world that Pennsylvania is open for business. 

“We have enormous potential here in Pennsylvania to be an economic leader and drive innovation on a global scale,” said Shapiro. “Investments in projects like this one further prove this point. EMD Electronics is expanding and bringing more jobs to Schuylkill County. Let’s work together to make more projects like this possible.” 

Shapiro added that his administration promotes growth and seeks to ensure Pennsylvania becomes a leader in economic development and opportunity. 

Shapiro’s first budget, unveiled last month, is seen by his administration as a commonsense set of solutions to the pressing issues Pennsylvanians face, including the importance of increasing funding to attract and retain businesses in Pennsylvania. The budget invests 50% more in the Manufacturing PA Innovation Program, which connects Pennsylvania’s universities with businesses to spur innovation and job creation. 

“Governor Shapiro recognizes the impact the manufacturing industry has on Pennsylvania’s economy, and his budget includes funding for incentive tools to help attract and retain more businesses,” said Acting Secretary of DCED Rick Siger. 

“The governor’s proposed $12 million increase for the Pennsylvania First program would allow for more expansion projects like this one to be funded, bringing additional business investments and high paying jobs to the commonwealth.”

Shapiro signs executive order committing to creating economic growth

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 Groupwill 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.