Report: More than $10 billion invested into region last year, highest amount ever

PITTSBURGH — Companies invested more than $10 billion into the 10-county region last year, the largest capital investment ever recorded in western Pennsylvania, according to the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance.

The alliance, which serves as the economic-development and marketing affiliate of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, released its “business investment scorecard” Thursday morning in Pittsburgh.

That scorecard highlighted significant investments made across the region last year, bolstered mostly by Shell Chemicals’ $6 billion decision to build an ethane cracker plant on the banks of the Ohio River in Potter Township.

Calling it a “banner year for capital investment” in the region, alliance officials tied recent gains to “legacy industries” of manufacturing and energy.

The report issued Thursday morning piggybacked on others that have been released recently that said western Pennsylvania could experience an economic renaissance, with the foundation being the emergence of a petrochemical industry here.

Shell’s decision to build here has sent “a strong message to the global petrochemical industry” that the Pittsburgh region is a viable option for “the kind of investment that has traditionally not been made” in the northeastern United States.

“The (alliance) and its regional partners are going to capitalize on this, support Shell in its construction efforts and work to build out the downstream supply chain and a petrochemical industry cluster in the greater region,” President David Ruppersberger said.

Despite the size of the cracker plant development, Shell isn’t the only game in town in the energy sector.

The alliance report noted an additional $3.11 billion in announced investments in energy, including the $1.5 billion natural gas processing and pipeline system being built by Energy Transfer Partners and a $785 million natural gas power plant in Westmoreland County.

A total of 245 deals were announced last year across all economic sectors in the 10-county region, and more than 11,000 jobs were retained or created as a result of those deals.

In total, nearly 6,000 new jobs are expected to come here because of the $10 billion invested into western Pennsylvania last year.

For the fourth consecutive year, the information technology sector registered the second-highest amount of investments across western Pennsylvania.

According to the alliance report, 39 deals were made last year in the information technology sector totaling more than $38 million in investments.

That sector, which includes robotics, is “holding its own as an economic driver for the region,” the report said. In addition, it’s a high-wage sector that provides family-sustaining wages across the region.

Specifically, six of the 39 deals made in information technology were specific to robotics. However, all of those investments totaling $14 million were made in Allegheny County.

Finally, the health-care and “life sciences” industry came in third in terms of investments last year, with 18 reported deals worth more than $150 million in capital investments.

Projects in the area included a $30 million expansion by Mylan in Washington County and a $15 million renovation by UPMC in New Castle, Lawrence County.

Author: Jared StonesiferPublication: The Times