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Pennsylvania Chapter of APA Policy Statement on Community and Economic Development

Issue

Per capita income in Pennsylvania has stayed even with the rest of the U.S., but we share the growing income disparity between the richest and poorest Pennsylvanians. Many citizens do not earn enough money to cover their basic needs even as they work “fulltime.” Our Gross State Product has risen more slowly than the U.S. Gross National Product since the mid-nineties.

Employment lags behind the national average, and the largest growth rate has been in the service industries, which generally pay lower wages than the manufacturing jobs we are losing. Our crime rate is level while the rest of the country’s decline. We have an increase in the rate of juvenile arrest for violent crimes. The average age of Pennsylvanians is rising as our young people leave for better prospects elsewhere.

We tend to forget that agribusiness is the commonwealth’s number one industry, one that earns billions of income dollars per year, as we allow thousands of productive, tax generating, acres to be converted to tax-eating, residential and commercial property. Typically, rural counties receive about 25% of the total DCED program dollars, the rest going to urban counties (according to the Center for Rural Pennsylvania).

There are linkages between economic and community development that need to be recognized and used in development planning and management. It is a joint endeavor that also involves business and government cooperation both horizontally and vertically from hamlet to Harrisburg. We are a commonwealth of diverse social, economic and political cultures. Even our immensity and geographic variety create differences that cry out for rigorous and consistent community and economic development planning and management in every community regardless of size, and in local, county, regional and statewide alignments.

Vision

An economic climate that secures and maintains for the Commonwealth a reputation as a good place to do business in a way that does not diminish the quality of life and commerce that makes Pennsylvania so attractive.

Supported Actions
  • Pennsylvania Chapter of APA encourages the Commonwealth’s efforts to proactively identify economic opportunities and entice commercial and industrial entities to Pennsylvania. We also urge that the process be open, fair and oriented to redeveloping areas already capable of receiving new businesses.
  • Pennsylvania Chapter of APA supports the modernization of the Commonwealth’s tax structure and regulatory procedures to produce a business-friendly environment that raises the quality of life of all Pennsylvanians.
  • Pennsylvania Chapter of APA urges the State Planning Board to prepare a State Policy Plan with a vision for Pennsylvania that links community and economic development, defines appropriate roles for all state agencies within the plan, takes into account the impacts of a global economy, and fosters development that seeks to recognize, protect and promote community values on the one hand and eliminate barriers to economic development and job creation on the other.
  • Pennsylvania Chapter of APA urges integrated comprehensive planning, economic development and environmental preservation collectively to synchronize implementation and management of Pennsylvania’s quality of life.
  • Pennsylvania Chapter of APA supports comprehensive plans containing economic development components with accompanying support services and facilities. They should include local and regional economic analyses addressing community land use goals. The resulting ordinances should enhance the economic vitality of existing business and the potential of vacant land
  • Pennsylvania Chapter of APA supports state and county farmland and open-space preservation programs and urges growth in their rate of preservation.
  • Pennsylvania Chapter of APA urges local governments to participate in preservation of valuable lands through municipal preservation programs such as the purchase of development easements. Pennsylvania Chapter of APA supports the establishment of local ordinances that enhance the economic viability and vitality of farms and farmers.
  • Pennsylvania Chapter of APA recognizes it’s own obligation and role in development planning and supports such planning through education (at the annual Pennsylvania Chapter of APA conference, it’s newsletter and various symposia); through training opportunities provided throughout the Commonwealth; active support of course, certificate and degree programs offered by educational institutions dealing with development in its many forms; and by monitoring the actions of its members, reporting on noteworthy activities and periodically updating this policy statement as experience indicates.