Pennsylvania is unique among states in cultivating industries so seemingly unrelated as potato chips and candy on the one hand, and new pharmaceuticals and medical devices on the other. How is this possible? A rich set of natural resources is part of the formula, giving rise to industries in energy, polymers, paper, lumber and food processing. But another important component is supportive educational, medical and research institutions. The Keystone State is becoming one of the leading centers for life sciences and biotech industries, while advanced manufacturing continues to thrive.
The Marcellus and Utica Shale formations extend under 60% of Pennsylvania’s land mass, creating one of the largest concentrations of natural gas in the world. In 2016, Pennsylvania was a top three exporter of natural gas among states. Ethane, propane, methane, polyethylene and liquified natural gas are all part of the Keystone State’s economy. A $6 billion ethane cracker near Pittsburgh is scheduled to be up and operating by the early 2020s.
The Marcellus and Utica shale formations extend under 60% of Pennsylvania’s land mass, creating one of the largest concentrations of natural gas in the world. In 2016, Pennsylvania was a top three exporter of natural gas among states. Ethane, propane, methane, polyethylene and liquefied natural gas are all part of the Keystone State’s economy. A $6 billion ethane cracker near Pittsburgh is scheduled to be up and operating by the early 2020s.
Pennsylvania’s plentiful supply of natural gas has enabled the state’s growth in plastic products, such as food packaging, medical devices, recreation and consumer products, automotive and construction. Pennsylvania is home to two of only five accredited academic programs in plastics engineering in the U.S., Penn State Behrend Campus and Pennsylvania College’s Plastics Innovation & Resource Center.
Pennsylvania is a burgeoning leader in life sciences, with 2,300 biotech companies and 1,100 research, testing and medical labs. The state ranks in the top five for R&D expenditures and pharmaceutical employment. Pennsylvania offers a supportive environment for medical device and pharmaceutical companies, with interested angel investors, a trained talent pool, and research partners at major universities and medical facilities.
Sometimes referred to as the “Snack Food Capital of the World,” Pennsylvania produces pretzels and potato chips, candy and chocolate, as well as canned fruit and vegetable products. The state also has the largest hardwood forest in the nation. Timber- and wood-related industries, including forestry, logging, lumber, paper and secondary wood product manufacturing, employ 66,000 residents in the state.
Pennsylvania is a thriving center for advanced manufacturing, with 12,000 manufacturing firms, producing primary and fabricated metals, machinery, computers and electronics. The nation’s largest cluster of powdered metals companies is located in North Central Pennsylvania. The state’s manufacturing companies benefit from a highly trained workforce and partnerships with university programs, such as Penn State’s Materials Research Institute.