Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro announced on Tuesday that he has established by executive order the Pennsylvania Office of Transformation and Opportunity, a new office designed to boost economic development and improve job opportunities.
Today we are making it clear that Pennsylvania is open for business and that we will be at the forefront of economic growth, job creation and innovation,” said Shapiro.
The executive order also created the Economic Development Strategy Group within the Office of the Governor, which will house the Office of Transformation and Opportunity. The office will be a one-stop shop for companies looking to grow and will work to encourage innovation, support economic development and create opportunities for businesses and workers alike, Shapiro’s office said.
“My administration will connect our business, our workforce, our world-class universities and research institutions, and the public sector to spur economic development, particularly in communities that have all too often been left behind,” the governor said.
The office will be led by Pennsylvania executive and entrepreneur Ben Kirshner, who will serve as Chief Transformation and Opportunity Officer. Kirshner will also lead the Economic Development Strategy Group, which is chaired by the Governor and includes the Ministers of Labor and Industry, Community and Economic Development, Transportation, Agriculture, Education and Environmental Protection as members. The Strategy Group advises the Governor on economic development projects and procedures for attracting and retaining employers and creating jobs.
The Office of Transformation and Opportunity will develop and guide overall growth strategy and implement economic development projects while coordinating with other government agencies to serve as a one-stop shop, enabling businesses to reduce red tape and support economic growth.
“Governor Shapiro has heard from business and labor, and by signing this executive order within his first week, his administration is saying loud and clear that we will work to bring about transformative change in Pennsylvania. Businesses of all sizes have asked for economic development to be a focus of his administration, and he has met their requests by creating the Office of Transformation and Opportunity,” Kirshner said.
The move was supported by business associations.
“This is a step in the right direction and a positive sign that Gov. Shapiro and his staff are taking steps to improve the state’s permitting process and allow companies to expand and undertake new ventures in realistic timeframes,” he said Greg Moreland, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said in a statement. “The NFIB and our 13,000 small business members are pleased that Governor Shapiro is delivering on his campaign promises to improve the business climate here in Pennsylvania.”
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce and Industry also backed the move, saying the new bureau and strategy groups would increase the state’s responsiveness to businesses, which would facilitate private sector investment and job growth.
“Regulatory and licensing reforms continue to be among the critical issues that corporations would like to address — initiatives that the PA Chamber discussed with Gov. Shapiro during his campaign and transition,” said Luke Bernstein, PA Chamber President and CEO an explanation. “We are grateful that Governor Shapiro is taking immediate action to strengthen and streamline our economic development efforts and improve the regulatory climate.”