Regional approach to job creation best
All across Pennsylvania, businesses, nonprofits and governments are taking a regional approach to job creation and economic development.
In doing so, they can use their collective influence and strengths to build stronger communities.
And it’s working. We see tremendous progress being made by regional efforts in the Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and south-central Pennsylvania. We believe that time has come for our region. We’re proud of where we live. And we’re passionate about the present – and excited for the future.
For these reasons, we have created The Fund for Northern Tier Development. There is a tremendous need to create a vehicle that will provide a stronger and more cohesive voice regarding economic development in the Northern Tier counties of Bradford, Tioga, and Potter along the Route 6 Corridor.
The Fund will bring together the very best talent in our region to support and advocate for the economic development, job creation and educational priorities important to the northern tier counties of Pennsylvania.
We know that a regional effort requires a broad collective, and we welcome other voices and talent.
We want to partner with existing development and chamber organizations to amplify their efforts, not to duplicate or supplant their roles.
Working collaboratively, we can focus our resources to educate the public, employers and policymakers, and provide a vehicle to advocate on behalf of the region.
In addition to job creation and development, the Northern Tier has many challenges to tackle including housing, social and cultural enhancements, plant closings, railways and transportation, and natural gas.
One of our first priorities is to nurture and protect a threatened institution that is the fifth largest employer in Tioga County and has an annual $115 million impact on the Northern Tier economy – Mansfield University.
As one of the 14 state-owned universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) system, Mansfield is experiencing budgetary and enrollment issues that also are plaguing its sister schools.
State budget support has fallen dramatically, and enrollment numbers continue to suffer as Mansfield competes with community colleges and other universities that are dropping the cost of tuition in order to attract more students.
Enrollments at Mansfield have fallen by 26 percent, below 2,000 for the first time in years.
These problems have led PASSHE to bring in an outside consultant to conduct a thorough review of each university and provide recommendations on how to improve system operations to make them function more efficiently.
The results of the study, conducted by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, are to be announced by the end of the summer.
That means there will be winners and losers, but we believe this period of uncertainty also provides a tremendous opportunity.
Let’s face it, not only is the university a strong economic driver today, but it is also critical to our collective future.
With nearly 78 percent of its students from Pennsylvania, 37 percent of which commute, our region must work with the university to determine a stronger course to a future that better aligns with the needs of job creators in the Northern Tier. By delivering a higher education approach that is more practical and job-focused, we have an opportunity to not only improve Mansfield’s attractiveness to students, but also drive up the numbers of young professionals in our region.
Just know this: Time is not on our side.
The PASSHE study won’t wait for the Northern Tier community and Mansfield to come together before issuing its report and recommendations.
That’s why the Fund for Northern Tier Development is laying down a marker.
We want to engage with others in an effort to improve the quality of life for all who live, work and play along the Route 6 Corridor.
We should decide the future of higher education and one of the biggest employers in our region – not an outside consultant.
Gingrich represents the Fund for Northern Tier Development.