For as long as I can remember, I have had an immense sense of pride for the state that I have always called home. I remember learning about the treacherous winter 1777 in Valley Forge where George Washington was headquartered during the midst of the Revolutionary War, thinking about the Battle of Gettysburg that had so much significance as the turning point of the Civil War, and imagining the founding fathers gathered around to sign the Declaration of Independence at Independence Hall.
The state of Pennsylvania holds so much weight for not just the Greater Philadelphia region, but our entire nation. The sense of pride I have always had in our commonwealth is why, over the last two years, I have dedicated time to meeting with and listening to the stories of Pennsylvanians from every corner of the state. Through these conversations, this much became clear: the opportunities for our commonwealth lie within its people.
Yet, between 2010 and 2015, in Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, population declined in 42 of them. Overall, Pennsylvania’s population increased just 0.7 percent — not surprisingly mostly in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. If we are to attract people to Pennsylvania, we must start by growing our economy and providing the jobs needed to keep them here.
I firmly believe we have a unique opportunity to build an agenda for growth and prosperity for Pennsylvania. This agenda is a collective effort to galvanize and mobilize an array of players focused on a pro-growth agenda to do the following:
· Transform our higher education system so that it will serve as a magnet to retain and attract a growing number of citizens to our commonwealth.
· Modernize all aspects of our infrastructure, from our roads and bridges to our water and wastewater systems, to our digital network that is so vital for our continued prosperity.
· Encourage innovation in Pennsylvania’s health care delivery system so that our commonwealth leads the nation in consumer-driven quality healthcare.
The time to act is now.
Here at the Chamber, we are seeking to build an agenda around the future of Pennsylvania’s economic growth to engage candidates of the 2018 gubernatorial and legislative elections.
On Nov. 15, a statewide coalition of interests will gather to develop an agenda for economic growth to share with policymakers in Harrisburg. If you are interested in being part of our Grow Pennsylvania initiative, join us on Nov. 15 at Penn State Harrisburg and share your ideas about how we should Grow Pennsylvania.