It's been a rough six months listening to all the negative economic news, both in the midstate and nationally. That's why it is especially gratifying to hear the Pennsylvania Economic Development Association's announcement last week that its partnerships leveraged $4.6 billion in investments into the state's economy over four years, creating 186,000 jobs.
The report, "2007 Economic Development Corporation Impact and Client Satisfactory Study," covers work done by PEDA members from 2003 through 2006. Surveys were completed of PEDA members and their customers who succeed in completing their state-assisted projects. The survey did not include businesses whose projects did not succeed, so not surprisingly, most reported that they were satisfied with their experiences.
But the important point to remember is that these programs are making a difference in businesses across the state. "IDC/EDCs in Pennsylvania are proud of the role we play in Pennsylvania's future by helping companies to grow, expand and locate in the commonwealth," PEDA IDC Committee Co-Chairman David Black said. Black is also president and chief executive officer of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and CREDC.
But where do we go from here? What can we do to make the commonwealth a more positive place for businesses to operate? Respondents to the survey had their own ideas, and they are quite simple. The most frequently cited action to stimulate business development in Pennsylvania, survey respondents said, was to reducing the tax burden. Other actions include streamlining permitting processes; reforming unemployment compensation; reducing the number of municipalities, or otherwise doing more to encourage land use and zoning decisions on a regional/multimunicipal basis.
This report is good news, but clearly business owners have a consistent message for Harrisburg: For the state to grow, make it simple to operate a business. We must continue our efforts to seek regional solutions to transportation and infrastructure problems that hinder trade. We must cut the red tape that stifles our productivity daily. And we must gain relief from a burdensome tax system. Do these things, and watch the state take off and prosper.