Pa. Produced Energy Drives High-Tech Manufacturing Job Growth

Energy development is giving rise to Pennsylvania’s next manufacturing chapter, fueling a wave of high-tech jobs and economic growth in communities across the Commonwealth. As the nation’s second largest natural gas producing state, Pennsylvania manufacturers can leverage low-cost, abundant natural gas feedstocks into a competitive advantage.

In Beaver County, for example, along the banks of the Ohio River, Shell is building a multi-billion petrochemical manufacturing facility that will turn locally sourced ethane into polyethylene pellets – the building blocks for common consumer plastics.

Approximately 3,500 construction workers – including many local and regional building trades men and women – are currently on site, with another 2,500 to come at peak construction. When complete, the plant – one of the biggest new manufacturing projects in the U.S. – will employ approximately 600 people in high-tech, advanced manufacturing careers.

“Yes, these are factory jobs. But they’re clean jobs, they’re safe jobs, and they pay well,” Beaver County Commissioner Tony Amadio told Inside Energy recently.

Beaver County residents welcome the renewed investment and opportunity for the next wave of modern, high-tech manufacturing jobs. As reported in Inside Energy:

On the other side of the Commonwealth, energy is fueling another manufacturing revival in Delaware County. As natural gas liquids are safely transported along the Mariner East system, the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex has been reborn into a job-creating energy hub.

While the Marcus Hook community is experiencing a positive economic lift, regional pipeline constraints, however, caused the area to lose out on a significant polypropylene manufacturing investment. As detailed in a new report from the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association (PMA), Braskem’s decision in 2017 to invest in Texas, meant Pennsylvania lost out on one billion dollars in economic activity and more than one thousand new jobs.

Here are the key takeaways from PMA’s report:

  • “An expanded polypropylene manufacturing facility in Marcus Hook, Delaware County means an initial investment of $675,000,000.00, 1,000 construction jobs over a two-year period, and an additional 50 full-time jobs at the plant.”
  • “The economic impact of this initial investment, the support of the 1,000 construction jobs over two years, the 50 permanent plastics and resins manufacturing jobs, and the indirect and induced jobs that support this expanded economic activity totals more than $1,000,000,000.”
  • “From yogurt cups, to bottle caps, to prescription bottles, it is this downstream activity that presents the truly transformative economic opportunity for the entire region. The opportunities are endless, but the lack of pipeline infrastructure in Southeast Pennsylvania renders the area unattractive to investors for future projects such as this one.”

Commenting on the study, PMA’s Dave Taylor stressed the importance of energy infrastructure:

“It’s not just about the jobs building the site or the initial $675 million investment for the plant expansion – it’s about the indirect and induced jobs that would uphold, sustain, and support the construction and the expanded manufacturing activity throughout the entire Southeast Pennsylvania region. The opportunities are endless, but the lack of pipeline infrastructure in Southeast Pennsylvania renders the area unattractive to investors for future projects such as this one.”

Pennsylvania is blessed with an energy advantage that gives our region the ability to compete and win economically, grow good-paying local jobs and improve our environment. With common sense policies that leverage our energy advantage and the infrastructure to bring it to market, Pennsylvania’s future is as bright as it’s ever been.