Counties across Pennsylvania are seeking answers to the same problems.

Namely, an aging population and difficulties retaining talent and growing the workforce. But the state’s 67 counties also share many of the same economic strengths, specifically within the realms of higher education, healthcare and infrastructure.

One (big) barrier preventing Pennsylvania from meeting its potential as a thriving economic powerhouse is a lack of commitment to a unified road map for growth. That lack of a single agenda is often the result of a lack of communication between counties.

That’s the divide #GrowPA seeks to bridge, by sharing local economic lessons learned across the state and building a growth agenda that will be used to inform the 2018 gubernatorial elections.

Last month, economic development leaders from around the state convened in Middletown, Pa. to vote on policies impacting healthcare, post-secondary education and infrastructure.

That’s also where FS Investments Senior Economist Lara Rhame offered three things to keep in mind while we collectively build this growth agenda.

Three Things To Know

  • Pennsylvania’s growth issues mirror those facing the nation. It’s not just us, says Rhame. Slow growth is happening everywhere, and presenting less significantly in Pennsylvania than it is nation-wide. But household formation is lower in Pennsylvania than it is across the country.
  • Pennsylvania is demographically challenged. That’s due in part to a rapidly aging population. Rhame said the state can counteract stunted productivity rates by pushing for increased infrastructure spending.
  • Per capita GDP and cost of living are favorable rates in Pennsylvania. The latter can speak hopefully for household formation in the future.

“As we think about how to bring business and improve business creation here in Pennsylvania, we can’t lose track of the fact that we need to invest in schools,” said Rhame. Investing in schools, she added, makes raising and keeping families here easier.

This story is part of Grow PA, a reported series on economic development across 10 Pennsylvania counties supported by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia.