For Immediate Release
April 23, 2018
HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, the largest, broad-based business advocacy organization in the Commonwealth, has announced a partnership through its 501(c)(3) Educational Foundation with Forge The Future, a project of Pennsylvania businesses designed to help the state advance and accelerate an energy-enabled economy based on the use of its world-class natural gas reserves. The focus of the project, which will be completed by the third quarter of 2018, is to engage business and other leaders across the state to build on initial economic development ideas and direction set forth in an econometric study: Forge the Future: Pennsylvania’s Path to an Advanced, Energy-Enabled Economy.
“We have the potential to add at least $60 billion in state GDP growth, 100,000 jobs and billions more in much needed revenue for our fiscally-challenged Pennsylvania treasury,” said PA Chamber President and CEO Gene Barr. “Pennsylvania’s gas reserves are so vast, this represents a historic opportunity to build a more vibrant, growing economy.” Barr added that it’s urgent to increase demand for shale gas right here in our state. “Current and future Pennsylvania-based companies that use natural gas, as a gas or liquid, as feedstock, or related industries, will benefit from this abundant, efficient and affordable resource. Exports, which are already happening and will grow, are an important part of the equation but right now it’s urgent that we work quickly to grow downstream businesses that create jobs and revenue for Pennsylvanians.”
Initiated in 2016 and funded by Chevron Appalachia and Peoples Gas, the Forge the Future study was conducted by a leading global consulting firm. Experts in economic development, oil and gas, petrochemicals and global economic trends built a fact-based analysis that identified five key sectors as strategic drivers of that growth: commercial and residential heat and power generation; petrochemicals/plastics; advanced materials; advanced manufacturing; and export/infrastructure.
“With this report, and now our partnership with the PA Chamber, we’re moving into a second phase of the work,” said Stacey Olson, president of Chevron Appalachia. “As we’ve shared Forge the Future, we’ve heard business and other leaders express valuable ideas that can help Pennsylvania realize the full potential of growing these downstream economic opportunities.”
Morgan O’Brien, president and CEO of Peoples Gas, said outreach is starting now to recruit Pennsylvania business leaders who will work in teams to define actionable initiatives. “Our state is among others facing fiscal challenges, and shale gas represents an unparalleled opportunity to grow our way to more revenue, population and job growth.” O’Brien noted that it’s one thing to wrestle with flat revenues and the status quo, and another to aggressively pursue growth. “Forge The Future can be the recipe to make a bigger economic pie for Pennsylvania, one that will help all of our communities and residents to thrive.”
Rob Wonderling, president and CEO of The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, underscored the significance – and the urgency -- of the shale gas opportunity. “Pennsylvania’s Marcellus and Utica shale gas development will continue increasing, and we are competing with other regions in the US and worldwide to attract and grow the businesses and customers who will use our wet and dry gas resources. That’s why the Pennsylvania business community is coming together to generate ideas for action. There’s no reason we shouldn’t realize the benefits right here, to build a healthier fiscal future and the best quality of life possible.”
Barr, Olson, O’Brien, Wonderling, Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association President David N. Taylor and former Allegheny Conference on Community Development CEO Dennis Yablonsky make up the current Forge The Future Steering Committee, which is expected to grow as businesses sign on to provide funding, talent and technical support for the project.
“Manufacturing has long been the engine that drives Pennsylvania’s economic prosperity,” said Taylor. “By strategically deploying Pennsylvania’s vast energy resources, we have a unique opportunity to reignite manufacturing growth and jobs across the entire commonwealth for years to come.”
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry Educational Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) organization created to fund timely and insightful research and educational programs that will positively impact Pennsylvania's economic future and enhance the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians.
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state's largest broad-based business association, with its statewide membership comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of BusinessTM.