The Transportation Education and Economic Network (T.E.E.N.) Industry Partnership has combined and integrated the expertise of its members to better organize, align and direct resources toward the Logistics and Transportation industry cluster as it interacts within the seventeen (17) counties of the Northwest, North Central, Tri-County and West Central Workforce Investment Areas (Armstrong, Butler, Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Indiana, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Potter, Venango, and Warren). As a result of Governor Rendell’s Job Ready PA initiative, the T.E.E.N. partnership has improved the recruitment and retention elements and national and local employer partners have come to understand the benefits and opportunities of doing business in Pennsylvania. It is our hope that the attention to the industry will continue to open the door for the attraction of additional business elements such as depots and warehousing functions to the region.
An ever-present goal of the T.E.E.N. partnership, the creation, attraction, expansion and retention of business to the Commonwealth will provide needed expansion and diversification to Pennsylvania’s economic base with a quick, highly visible impact with new jobs, income, families, and potential community leaders. T.E.E.N. believes that Pennsylvania has a competitive advantage for recruiting L&T business. Employment in the L&T cluster is concentrated geographically along the major highways that connect ports to the east of the Commonwealth with western PA and states in the Midwest. Four major arteries (76, 79, 80, and 90) converge in Northwest PA providing rapid access to and from these densely populated areas. Despite continued declines in recent years, manufacturing employs nearly half a million jobs with wages 20% higher than the statewide average for all industries. Still, there remain a number of factors L&T firms must take into consideration before investing business elements, including market conditions, location factors, industrial manufacturing sites, availability of qualified labor, utilities, financial capital, tax structure, laws and inducements. Traditional costs associated with transportation and marketing will continue to be critical. The availability of financial capital will also be crucial. T.E.E.N. will continue to explore local, state and federal sources of capital and utilize those resources to their fullest potential.
Recent economic studies of the region indicate that the Logistics and Transportation industry offers some of the most significant opportunities for growth and economic development within these counties in years ahead. Logistics and transportation has been designated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as one of the Targeted Industry Clusters for focused workforce development strategies based upon projected labor shortages, growth potential and significance to the state’s economy. According the Center for Workforce Information and Analysis there are 1,135 employer units within the 17 county network encompassed by the T.E.E.N. partnership.
With multiple interstates and main thoroughfares crossing the 17 county region, Northwest PA is strategically located for trade and is highly competitive in the warehousing and transportation of goods and materials. Over 30% of the region’s workforce is employed in the Manufacturing industry; this strong presence necessitates the existence of opportunely located Logistics and Transportation companies to fulfill the needs of that industry. According to the Pennsylvania Center for Workforce Statistics’ Long-Term Industry Employment Projections report, 20,360 jobs are projected within the partnership’s geography over the next five years. In addition to the 1,550 new jobs that will be created in Northwest PA, new employees are also needed to replace the retiring workforce. According to the Aging Workforce Analysis, the Logistics and Transportation Industry’s workforce is predominately aged 45 and older. Without a significant increase in the number of people who choose to pursue a career in L&T, the report concludes that the area will face a worker-shortage crisis.
In order for businesses in the Logistics and Transportation Industry to remain competitive companies must constantly adopt and integrate new technologies into their already existing systems. L&T firms must implement cutting edge technology to offer increasingly effective supply chain solutions. Electronics have enhanced communication dramatically. The use of specialized equipment requires computer skills and specialized training. Shipments are tendered via electronic means including global positioning satellite systems, accident avoidance systems, fuel efficiency technologies, compliance automation and paperless logs. Government regulations on exhaust emissions and clean energy fuels such as biodiesel create even greater challenges for the industry and require the adoption and integration of these new technologies. Still, job opportunities are expected to be excellent for logistics and transportation workers over the next decade.