Shapiro bets $11M on site development for major business expansion

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(The Center Square) — Gov. Josh Shapiro wants to attract major business expansions to Pennsylvania by getting sites shovel-ready.

That’s why the administration will spend $11 million on seven sites and has already proposed to spend $500 million more in the coming year.

“Every neighbor around us is investing more in site development than Pennsylvania has in recent years,” Shapiro said at a press conference in Westmoreland County, where $2.5 million will turn a 217-acre former industrial plant into an industrial park.

More than a century ago, Shapiro noted, Westmoreland County’s Alcoa sent aluminum around the world.

“That legacy of economic leadership, legacy of manufacturing, legacy of innovation continues to this day and I think it’s critically important that we invest in it and continue to make progress on it,” he said.

The governor argued the state has no choice but to ready sites with public infrastructure like electrical hookups, sewage connectors and highway improvements.

“If we don’t make these kinds of investments, employers are gonna go somewhere else,” Shapiro said.

The administration has talked up site development as key to broader economic growth. Rick Siger, secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development, has previously argued advanced manufacturing can’t take hold in Pennsylvania without these efforts.

The governor argued that future success will flow from repurposed land.

“You gotta have a direction, a north star, you have to understand where you’re going in order to make sure that the investments, the dollars you put forth, the red tape that you cut through, that it all flows in the same direction and allows you to accomplish something,” Shapiro said.

He called economic development, education and public safety the key areas of investment in his budget proposal.

Beyond Westmoreland County, Allegheny, Bedford, Bucks, Indiana, Lehigh and Wayne Counties will all receive funding for similar site development projects.

“The lack of ready-to-go sites has long been a barrier to attracting new businesses to the Commonwealth,” Westmoreland County Commissioner Ted Kopas said in a press release. “Public funding in business-ready sites are smart investments that generate large returns by generating exponential private investment and supporting the economies and tax base of local governments, like Westmoreland.”