In an effort to make Pennsylvania more business-friendly, Gov. Tom Wolf said the state needs to capitalize on its unique, strategically important location and to strengthen particular industries.
Wolf said he will concentrate on growing business opportunities in the state’s manufacturing, energy and agriculture sectors.
And, noting Pennsylvania’s geographic distinction that earned it the nickname as the Keystone State, Wolf said he would leverage the state’s appeal as a site for distribution centers, such as the one Amazon is building in Palmer Township. He said the ports in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Erie would also be areas of focus for attracting commerce.
“I will use Pennsylvania’s limited resources to make sure we are focusing on those areas,” said Wolf, who fielded questions on a range of business topics in an exclusive interview Monday afternoon with Lehigh Valley Business and its sister BridgeTower Media publication, the Central Penn Business Journal.
Wolf said manufacturing in Pennsylvania was both its past and, in the case of shale, its future.
He said the gas industry, including the proposed $1.2 billion PennEast Pipeline that would run through parts of the Greater Lehigh Valley and New Jersey, needs to create jobs in Pennsylvania, not just extract gas out of the ground.
“We are doing everything we can to make this part of the economy thrive,” Wolf said, including “special inducements.”
“But if all we do is take gas out of the ground and export that, it’s not going to create jobs and it won’t do much for the economy.”
He said the gas industry needs to proceed with “the highest regard for the environment. We take pride in Pennsylvania with our natural resources. We’ve got to do what we can to protect those.”
Wolf said he will announce more projects similar to Shell Chemical Appalachia’s plans to build a new shale plant in Beaver County, which took about five years to come to fruition and is expected to bring 600 permanent jobs.
Wolf said he favors a tax system in Pennsylvania that is “predictable and fair,” dropping the corporate income tax by 50 percent and strengthening infrastructure.