Pittsburgh and its environs are expanding. Not like the universe, but in terms of business investment and job creation.
For 2012, the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance
counted 269 economic development deals -- or "wins" -- worth $3.2 billion in capital investment and expected to create 8,388 new jobs and retain another 3,422 over the next several years.
The Alliance also reports record-high employment levels of 1.16 million. Equally significant: 42.6% of the region's jobs are in high-paying industries with an average wage of at least 110% of the U.S. total. What's more, the Brookings Institution
last year identified Pittsburgh as one of only three U.S. metro areas that are fully recovered from the recession in terms of employment and GDP per capita.
What accounts for the prosperity of the 10-county region and its recovery from the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression? "Without question, it's our diverse economy," says Alliance President Dewitt Peart.
Access to an educated, highly skilled workforce and a competitive cost of doing business are key factors in the region's continuing success in attracting and retaining business, he adds.
In 2012, manufacturing re-emerged as the fastest-growing industry sector, with 59 deals announced. But this is not your grandfather's assembly line. "These days, all manufacturing is advanced manufacturing," says Jim Futrell, VP for market research. High-tech manufacturers, he adds, are reliant on a skilled workforce, "with at minimum some kind of post-secondary education."
The other major drivers for 2012 were financial and business services, energy, information and communications technology and healthcare and life sciences, but there is a lot of overlap, says Peart, such as "the law firms that are coming from Texas to set up practices to deal with [energy] growth."
About half of the deals counted by the Alliance are located in Allegheny County; the rest are spread among the other nine counties.
Source: Dewitt Peart and Jim Futrell, Pittsburgh Regional Alliance
Writer: Elise Vider