C. Alan Walker, the state Department of Community and Economic Development secretary, today said his department will focus more on retaining Pennsylvania entrepreneurs and companies by creating a better business environment.
DCED also will coordinate more with regional economic development groups to do that, said Walker, former president and CEO of Clearfield County-based Bradford Energy Company Inc. He gave his remarks to a lunch audience at the Radisson Hotel Harrisburg in East Pennsboro Township, Cumberland County. The Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp. sponsored the event.
"We're looking for creativity that will create jobs," Walker said.
Doing more with less will be imperative for DCED to help retain companies and convince young entrepreneurs to keep their businesses here following the 35 percent cuts in the department's budget, he said. DCED's programs were reduced from 127 to just 56 in the latest budget.
Walker also tied economic development to Marcellus Shale gas exploration. For the state to reap the full benefits, it will have to develop in-state end-use for the gas, he said. Conversion of large vehicle fleets to natural gas engines, attracting companies that make such engines and retaining homegrown manufacturers will create more value for the state than simply shipping gas elsewhere, he said.
The department also will put a large emphasis on technology fields, especially in medical research and development, he said.
"If we do it right, I truly believe we'll have an economic renaissance," Walker said.