Economic Development
Pennsylvania

From Chocolate to Medical Devices – The World’s Most Diverse Economy

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.

top 10

top 10

in STEM jobs (science, technology, engineering and math)

250

250

colleges and universities, including the nation’s No. 1 business school (Wharton School)

5th

5th

among states for employment in pharmaceuticals    

Major Industries in Pennsylvania

Energy

Polymers

Life Sciences

Agribusiness

Advanced Manufacturing

Energy

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 is one the top three energy exporting states.
  • Pennsylvania has enough natural gas supply to support four additional world-scale ethane crackers.

Polymers

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.

  • 53,000 Pennsylvania residents are employed in polymers.
  • 70% of North America’s polyethylene demand is located within 700 miles of Pennsylvania.

Life Sciences

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.

  • About 77,000 Pennsylvania residents are employed in life sciences.
  • University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh are ranked #4 and #5, respectively, in NIH (National Institutes of Health) funding.

Agribusiness

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 leads the nation in the number of food processing companies – 2,300.
  • The state ranks No. 1 in mushroom production and No. 2 in butter.

Advanced Manufacturing

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.

 

  • About 570,000 residents are employed in manufacturing.
  • Manufacturing firms produce about $95 billion in value-added goods.

plane FirstEnergy Territory plane Airports train Rail boat Ports
scaled circles

A Diversified Economy but Still Solid in Manufacturing

Pennsylvania has given rise to a diverse set of industries, from pharmaceuticals and medical devices to energy, food and agribusiness, but it still ranks No. 4 in the nation for manufacturing.
Major airports 5
intermodal terminals 21
major ports 6
miles of rail 5,100

Our Pennsylvania Team

Roger J. Heasley
Senior Advisor, Economic Development
610-921-6910
rheasle@firstenergycorp.com
Lisa K. Nentwick
Economic Development Advisor
724-453-3438
nentwickl@firstenergycorp.com