Washington County, Pennsylvania – which drives the Greater Pittsburgh Region in energy production and manufacturing – continues to increase its leadership position among Southwestern Pennsylvania counties in terms of economic growth and job creation.
To demonstrate this growth, the Washington County Board of Commissioners was joined by more than 200 members of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 28 at Southpointe Golf Club to highlight 73 economic development projects that accounted for more than $346 million in capital investment in Washington County during the past year.
These projects were also complemented by more than $7.7 million in additional investments the county is making this year through the Washington County Local Share Account – a fund capitalized by gaming revenues from The Meadows Racetrack & Casino. These investments are being leveraged by an additional $25.8 million in public and private resources.
During the event, the county commissioners stressed that Washington County continues to lead the Greater Pittsburgh region in terms of economic development projects, energy production and job creation. In 2012, our county’s business community announced the $346 millionn in new business investment that will account for an additional 2,530 jobs in Washington County. This tremendous growth in business investment and job creation was driven by numerous sectors of our economy – energy, technology, commercial/industrial development, hospitality and manufacturing. In fact, Dun & Bradstreet reported that right now there are 280 companies in our county involved in manufacturing alone.
This growth should not come as a surprise to anyone following the energy industry. Washington County is ranked first in the Greater Pittsburgh region in both natural gas wells drilled and drilling permits issued 2012. The county is ranked fourth in Pennsylvania for natural gas wells drilled and second in the state for number of drilling permits issued in 2012. And with 753 unconventional wells drilled from 2005 to 2012, Washington County’s leadership position in our region and state is unmatched.
However, the impact of the energy industry can also be found in other industries. The commissioners relayed that in a recent report prepared for the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, which found that in 2011 direct visitor spending dollars in Washington County was $669.2 million up from $583 million in 2010 – nearly a 15 percent increase.
The commissioners credited a major portion of this significant growth to the impact of the Marcellus Shale play. In 2006, direct visitor spending dollars in Washington County was $333 million. This was prior to the full development of such tourism assets as The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, Tanger Outlets and the influx of workers in the natural gas field.
It is clear that the economic energy we are experiencing in Washington County is directly related to the energy industry that has chosen to call our county home. Impressive results in job creation, new company locations and additional tax revenues will continue as long as we continue to support the energy industry and the tremendous economic benefits of being Washington County – the Energy Capital of the East.
Jeff Kotula is President of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce.