Gov. Shapiro creates Office of Transformation and Opportunity to spur economy

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Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro announced he has established the Pennsylvania Office of Transformation and Opportunity via executive order on Tuesday, a new office designed to stimulate economic development and increase job opportunities.

Today, we are making clear that Pennsylvania is open for business, and that we are going to be leaders in economic growth, job creation, and innovation,” Shapiro said.

The executive order also created the Economic Development Strategy Group within the Governor’s office, which will house the Office of Transformation and Opportunity. The office will be a one-stop shop for businesses looking to grow and will work to foster 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 too often been left behind,” the governor said.

The office will be headed up by Ben Kirshner, Pennsylvania business leader and entrepreneur, who will serve as the office’s chief transformation and opportunity officer. Kirshner will also drive the Economic Development Strategy Group, chaired by the Governor, and having the Secretaries of Labor & Industry, Community and Economic Development, Transportation, Agriculture, Education, and Environmental Protection as members. The strategy group will advise the governor on economic development projects and process to attract and retain employers and create jobs.

The Office of Transformation and Opportunity will develop and lead the overall growth strategy and implement economic development projects while coordinating with other state agencies to serve as a one-stop-shop allowing business to cut through red tape and support economic growth.

“Governor Shapiro has heard from the business community and labor, and by signing this order within his first week, his Administration is saying loud and clear that we will work to create transformational change in Pennsylvania. Businesses of all sizes have been asking for economic development to be a focal point in his administration and he answered their calls by creating the Office of Transformation and Opportunity,” Kirshner said.

The move was supported by business organizations.

“This is a step in the right direction and a positive sign that Governor Shapiro and his staff are taking steps to improve the state’s permitting process, allowing businesses to expand and undertake new ventures in realistic timeframes,” Greg Moreland, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said in a statement. “NFIB and our 13,000 small business members are excited that Gov. Shapiro is addressing his campaign promises of improving the business climate here in Pennsylvania.”

The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry also supported the move, saying the new office and strategy groups would increase the state’s responsiveness to businesses which would facilitate private sector investment and job growth.

“Regulatory and permitting reform continue to be among the critical issues that businesses would like to see addressed – initiatives the PA Chamber has discussed with Gov. Shapiro during his campaign and throughout his transition,” Luke Bernstein, PA Chamber president and CEO, said in a statement. “We are thankful that Gov. Shapiro is taking immediate action to strengthen and streamline our economic development efforts and improve the regulatory climate.”