– Morgan O'Brien, 2014-2015 Chair, Allegheny Conference on Community Development
President and CEO, Peoples Natural Gas
The Allegheny Conference on Community Development and its affiliates – the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce (GPCC), the Pennsylvania Economy League of Greater Pittsburgh (PEL) and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA) – work together to improve the economy and the quality of life in the 10-county southwestern Pennsylvania region.
The GPCC advocates at the local, state and federal levels of government for economic climate improvements that enhance our region’s competitiveness.
The PEL provides public policy research and analysis on the most critical issues for our region’s competitiveness.
The PRA markets the benefits of conducting business in the region to companies all over the world that are growing, relocating or expanding.
Our 2015-2017 Agenda: Connecting People to Opportunity aligns three strategies, Economy & Community, Infrastructure and Workforce, that connect people to opportunity throughout the 10-county region, making southwestern Pennsylvania a better place for everyone who lives, works and invests here.
In 2015, the first year of the new three-year plan, we were able to make significant progress on each of these strategies thanks to leadership and support from our Regional Investors and public and private sector partners. See our successes on the pages below.
Economy & Community
Economy & Community
This strategy focuses on maximizing business investment opportunities in sectors where the Pittsburgh region offers a significant comparative advantage to employers. It does so in alignment with programs to strengthen communities throughout the region, with a focus on those that have been left behind despite the region’s economic transformation.
The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA), the economic development marketing affiliate of the Allegheny Conference, works to attract new investment and helps existing businesses grow. It does so in partnership with leaders of the business community, elected officials and economic development professionals across the 10 counties of southwestern Pennsylvania.
The Conference was instrumental in the creation of an almost $49 million fund to provide patient mortgage loans to sites located within the 32-county, multi-state Greater Pittsburgh region that have potential for regional economic impact if they are made ready for construction.
The Conference led a partnership of economic development groups that convened the Tri-State Shale Summit and successfully negotiated a Regional Cooperation Agreement among Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and Ohio Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor that pledges collaboration to capitalize on the economic opportunity for downstream manufacturing presented by Marcellus and Utica shale gas.
The Strengthening Communities Partnership (SCP) focuses private sector resources on targeted communities that have been left behind despite the transformation of the Pittsburgh region’s economy, positioning these communities for greater success in the future.
In 2015, Homewood and Sharpsburg joined five other SCP communities which include Connellsville, McKees Rocks, Mt. Oliver/Knoxville, City of Washington and Wilkinsburg.
This strategy focuses on improving systems and structures that enhance the region’s economy and sustain its population. To attract and retain talented individuals and employers to our region, we must provide a world-class transportation and infrastructure network, including transit, to better connect the region locally, nationally and globally.
We have worked closely with the Allegheny County Airport Authority for almost 15 years to improve air service. We congratulate the Authority on the significant progress over the past year.
Four airlines – Allegiant Air, Frontier, One Jet and Porter Airlines – began serving a total of 16 destinations from the region. Southwest expanded service. Service has been restored to St. Louis, Milwaukee, Indianapolis and New Orleans, with other added flights providing more links to Chicago, Toronto and Denver.
The non-stop Pittsburgh-to-Paris flight on Delta Airlines announced expansion to seven days a week for six months. In 2009, the Allegheny Conference and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania put up a financial guarantee to encourage Delta to launch the service. The investment is paying off.
The Regional Transportation Alliance (RTA) is a coalition of public and private partners from each of the 10 counties of southwestern Pennsylvania and the City of Pittsburgh and was formed to imagine a new transportation future for our region. Working together through a “crowdsourcing” initiative with hundreds of partner organizations across all 10 counties, the RTA began to gather ideas for projects that will enhance regional connectivity, competitiveness and quality of life.
The initiative is a direct result of a benchmarking trip to Denver, Colorado, which hosted almost 100 civic leaders from all 10-counties of the region.
This strategy focuses on connecting people to skills, connecting job seekers to employers and connecting skilled workers from inside and outside our region to opportunity here. The Conference strives to meet the workforce needs of the region with two initiatives: one targeting supply and the other targeting demand.
More than 270,000 Baby Boomers working here are eligible to retire over the next 10 years. If we do nothing, our region faces a shortage of about 100,000 skilled workers to replace them. Through its Workforce Steering Committee, the Conference in 2015 moved forward with several initiatives to address these challenges. We launched our 2014-2025 Occupational Supply and Demand Analysis, which will forecast workforce demand – as well as the available labor supply and talent pipeline – across all economic sectors through 2025. The results will be used to help the region better align education and training with market demand.
ImaginePittsburgh.com is the gateway to opportunity in the Pittsburgh region. It's a comprehensive database of more than 20,000 open jobs across all sectors. In 2015, ImaginePittsburgh.com reached a number of milestones in efforts to attract and retain talent:
We are Bridging the Soft Skills Gap and elevating talent in the region:
To help to retain more of the 40,000 individuals who graduate from our region’s colleges each year, we surveyed employers about the soft skills of their young professionals. We worked with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to develop a business plan for a potential pilot training program in soft skills at our colleges.
This comprehensive recruitment, training, placement and retention program for the oil and gas industry served 1,320 students in 2015.
Appalachia Partnership Initiative
A collaboration of Chevron Corp., the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, RAND Corp. and the Allegheny Conference, the Appalachia Partnership Initiative funds STEM education and workforce training and development for energy and manufacturing employers across southwestern Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio.
Service To Opportunity ®
An initiative that matches veterans with in-demand energy and advanced manufacturing jobs.
The Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce (GPCC), the advocacy arm of the Allegheny Conference, advocates at the local, state and federal levels of government to improve the economy and quality of life in the Pittsburgh region. In 2015, the GPCC successfully advanced a number of priorities critical to achieving the goals of the Allegheny Conference’s 2015-17 agenda of Connecting People to Opportunity.
One of our values is that we’re in it for the long haul. While our agendas span three years each, we are dedicated to carrying our programs over the finish line, no matter how long they take. In 2015, two long-term projects came to fruition that demonstrate the power of staying the course. General Electric’s decision to site its Center for Additive Technology Advancement here was the culmination of 15 years of effort to prepare the region for this type of successful economic development. Another example was the City of Clairton’s exit from Act 47, the result of a nearly three decade-long effort to help the community get back on its feet and to modernize earned income tax collection in Pennsylvania.
Watch how our blueprints on these two issues culminated in success:
– Rich Harshman, 2016-2017 Chair, Allegheny Conference on Community Development
Chairman, President and CEO, ATI