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PA: The home of the next great American brands

An editorial by PA Secretary of Community and Economic Development Dennis Davin

In Pennsylvania, manufacturing is woven into our DNA.

From the sweat and steel that helped build America to recent technological advancements from our world-class universities, manufacturing is essential to our economy, our heritage, and our road ahead.

As Gov. Tom Wolf continues to strengthen Pennsylvania’s manufacturing future, this Independence Day is a moment to celebrate some of the great American manufacturers that are Pennsylvania-born, bred and thriving today, and that have forged the way for the next generation. 

Many of our nation’s most iconic brands were established in Pennsylvania as early as the 1800s, including guitar crafter Martin Guitar, located in Nazareth, and outdoor clothier Woolrich, Inc., based in Woolrich; some have been operating for nearly a century like lighter legend Zippo, in Bradford; and others have making some of our favorite treats for as long as we can remember, like world-famous chocolatier Hershey and candy-maker Just Born Quality Confections. What these companies share is that they make great products that consumers love, and those products are made right here in Pennsylvania, by Pennsylvanians, still to this day. 

Manufacturing has an $84-billion impact on the state’s economy, and Pennsylvania has the eighth-largest manufacturing industry in the nation.

We’re home to more than 14,500 incredible manufacturers that employ more than half a million individuals, who earn an average annual wage of nearly $60,000 – considerably higher than the average annual wage in Pennsylvania. At the state level, it’s our role to do everything we can to support the sector and the workers it employs.

That’s why, under Governor Wolf’s leadership, we work just as hard to help our established brands thrive as we do to help our next generation of new manufacturers succeed.

The governor has launched new programs like Manufacturing PA, a multifaceted initiative to enhance the growth and competitiveness of manufacturing companies by linking job training to career pathways.

Manufacturing PA includes grant program to help manufacturers identify and train a skilled workforce, an innovation program to leverage the strength of the state’s institutions of higher education, and centers to expand outreach to small and medium-sized manufacturers.

And it’s working. Our emerging manufacturers are literally changing the landscape of manufacturing, utilizing new and innovative technologies to create better products through better processes. We are working with them to ensure they become the next generation of iconic Pennsylvania brands.  

Bethlehem-based Mezzimatic used our small business assistance programs at the Department of Community and Economic Development to develop throwable paintballs that are now sold nationwide in Michaels Stores. Even technology companies like the Carnegie Mellon University spinoffs Simcoach Games and Birdbrain Technologies, both based in Pittsburgh, are improving the manufacturing industry. 

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PA Workforce Development Association