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Shapiro administration launches 10-year economic game plan

Secretary Russell Redding from the PA Department of Agriculture and Secretary Rick Siger from the PA Department of Community and Economic Development tour Reykjavik Creamery after announcing the state's Ten-Year Economic Development Strategy.
Isabela Weiss | WVIA News | Report for America
Secretary Russell Redding from the PA Department of Agriculture and Secretary Rick Siger from the PA Department of Community and Economic Development tour Reykjavik Creamery after announcing the state's Ten-Year Economic Development Strategy.

Pennsylvania will lead America’s industry by 2033, according to the Shapiro administration.

After teasing it at this year’s Pennsylvania Farm Show, Gov. Josh Shapiro unveiled the state’s Ten-Year Economic Development Strategy on Jan. 30. It’s Pennsylvania’s first economic strategic plan in nearly 20 years.

Rick Siger, PA’s Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary, zeroed in on the plan’s purpose on Feb. 1 at Reykjavik Creamery.

“Our goal was to put together a plan that would help Pennsylvania compete. Not just nationally, but globally,” said Siger. “The governor said it well himself on Tuesday, he’s sick and tired of losing job creation projects to other states.”

Besides sharing its name with Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik Creamery is a skyr and greek yogurt dairy farm in Cumberland County. Skyr is an Icelandic traditional yogurt, CEO Gunnar Birgisson explained.

“We strain it more. So, it’s thicker. It has more protein. We use a slightly different culture combination as well. And then the pH level in the fermentation process is slightly lower. So, it has a little more bite when you eat it,” said Birgisson. “But the traditional, old skyr was only made with skim milk.”

Now, skyr is made with all different kinds of milk, said Birgisson. Reykjavik processes yogurts for local companies, like Norr Organic and Painterland Sisters.

Reykjavik Creamery CFO Donald Everett explains how milk is fermented to create yogurt.
Isabela Weiss | WVIA News | Report for America
Reykjavik Creamery CFO Donald Everett explains how milk is fermented to create yogurt.

Hayley Painter is Painterland’s co-founder and co-CEO. She emphasized agriculture’s importance in the state’s economy. Painterland is a Pennsylvania-based, farmer and women-owned company.

“Diving into this yogurt brand, it’s kind of got me optimistic. And, I have so many ideas, and I want to keep being a voice for other entrepreneurs to come out, for new food brands to pop-up in PA, and for us to really be a national player,” said Painter. “We have a ton of milk here – we should be supplying the rest of the 49 states.”

DCED and Shapiro’s plan to make Pennsylvania the nation’s economic powerhouse aims to invest in economic growth and innovation, make government more efficient, and increase workplace opportunities – all while focusing on regional needs and strengths. They list five priority industries: agriculture, energy, life sciences, manufacturing, and robotics and technology.

DCED Secretary Siger said the agricultural industry runs deep in Pennsylvania’s DNA.

“And that’s why Governor Shapiro mentioned earlier this week, he’ll call for a $10 million dollar investment in the Agricultural Innovation Program to support innovation in his budget address next week.”

The budget address is scheduled for Feb. 6 in Harrisburg, where officials plan to formally announce the Agricultural Innovation Program.

Currently, Pennsylvania’s Economic Development Strategy has limited information on timelines for proposed programs and funding information. WVIA News asked when more formal information will be available, specifically about the newly established Pennsylvania Innovation Fund, which plans to invest in local entrepreneurship. Officials said that more information will be released during Shapiro’s budget address.

Isabela Weiss is a storyteller turned reporter from Athens, GA. She is WVIA News's Rural Government Reporter and a Report for America corps member. Weiss lives in Wilkes-Barre with her fabulous cats, Boo and Lorelai.

You can email Isabella at isabelaweiss@wvia.org