In the decade that the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance has been issuing its annual scorecard of business developments in the region, manufacturing is once again the most active sector with 50 projects in 2016. It leads other sectors for the eighth time in 10 years.

The investment projects include company expansions, attractions, relocations, retentions and startups.

“The sector that once put Pittsburgh on the map as the maker of the steel that built much of the modern world, continues to show strength in spite of its history of 150-plus years and an ongoing evolution,” said David Ruppersberger, PRA president who spoke at the press conference held at the Fairmont today.

“Today, attractions or expansions in advanced manufacturing are focused on innovation-driven, high-efficiency environmentsboth newly constructed and existing facilities creatively adapted for re-use. Typically, facility footprints are smaller, and the workforce is proportionate. On the other hand, wages are growing for advanced manufacturing employees for whom skills in technology, engineering and math are job requisites,” said Ruppersberger.

He pointed out that the average annual wage for manufacturing employees$59,683is 12.5 percent higher than the average job in the region and there are nearly 3,000 advanced manufacturing establishments in the region, employing 94,000 people. The sector has the most per capita value-add and a high multiplier effect across the economy, he added.

The second most active sector was information technology with 39 deals representing $38.6 million in capital investment. Six of those deals were in the field of robotics and all 39 were in Allegheny County.

The headline for the PRA luncheon that followed the press conference was the $10.2 billion capital investment in the Pittsburgh region in 2016 which includes Royal Dutch Shell’s $6 billion investment in the ethane cracker in Potter Township in Beaver County. That is expected to break ground later this year.

The total scorecard, which includes five sectors in the 10-county region, records a total of 245 deals, 177 investments that include attractions, retentions and expansions, and 68 infrastructure and brick and mortar development projects.

In a measure called job impact, the PRA says the total job impact expected from the 245 deals is 11,3445, 761 new jobs and 5,583 retained jobs. The greatest job impact is expected in manufacturing (3,667) healthcare and sciences (2,893) and energy (2,288).

What does that mean for the future in advanced manufacturing in the region? More jobs, for one.

“Advanced manufacturing jobs will require advanced skills to program, operate and maintain sophisticated computer-controlled equipment,” says Petra Mitchell who heads Catalyst Connection. “In addition, the soft skills, based on team building and problem solving, will be critical to success. 

“Our region is fortunate to have a large number of high-quality educational institutions ready, willing and able to prepare the workforce of tomorrow. We just need to encourage our region’s young people to pursue these high-paying, family sustaining advanced manufacturing careers.”