Writer: Joey Garrand
2 min read October 2021 — Although Allegheny County is the powerhouse of the Southwest PA region, surrounding counties are poised for growth and present unique opportunities to companies considering relocation or expansion to areas in close proximity to Pittsburgh. Don Myers, Commissioner Chairman of Armstrong County, and Diana Irey Vaughan, Commissioner, Chair of Washington County, shared with Invest: their outlook for their local economies and opportunities for growth.
What are some of the most significant economic developments happening in the county right now?
Don Myers: We have a large industrial park called Northpointe, which is a 925-acre mixed-use park within 30 minutes of Pittsburgh. We have 115 acres of pad-ready sites available immediately for companies that are looking to have a startup or to expand. That’s a huge deal. You have a four-lane highway that leads right to Pittsburgh, and then outside you have all of this free land that is available for growth. We have a partnership with RIDC, which creates even more opportunities. They have a lot of industrial parks in and around the Pittsburgh area, but none containing this much land that is available for growth. With our partnership with RIDC, with their connections and experience in developing parks, we’re expecting big things to happen here. The land is ready to go, which is important when economic growth is the goal.
What is the state of Washington County’s economy?
Diana Irey Vaughan: Washington County has the lowest effective county tax rate in the southwestern Pennsylvania region, and it is this low tax rate that has allowed us to become the premier county in the region. We call ourselves the Energy Capital of the East because we have enjoyed a very high concentration of energy-related businesses, starting with CONSOL Energy when they moved here many years ago.
Our economy has been growing, with our industrial parks Southpointe I and II being large contributors along with the development of the gas industry. We’ve been diversifying our economy for quite some time. This is my 26th year serving as commissioner and when I first took office, Southpointe was just a year old. Back then, we were targeting tech companies. There was a natural progression of development at the park as gas industry opportunities presented themselves and, today, we’re seeing great growth in manufacturing.
What industries are you targeting for future relocations and expansions to the county?
Myers: Manufacturing is a big one but we entertain whatever interest there is, including medical, educational or distribution centers. Right now, we have 11 companies in Northpointe. We also have some residential developers looking at it. There are multiple avenues for development. The end goal is to have good quality jobs here. The Route 28 corridor is the last to be developed in the Pittsburgh region. All of the other corridors coming into the city are already fully developed. The opportunity lies on that 28 corridor, where there is still room for expansion.
Irey Vaughan: Our discussions right now are starting to center around the medtech industry. We have a new industrial park called Cool Valley that we are confident will be up and running within the next two years. This is a 911-acre park that is right by the Southpointe Road Interchange and holds tremendous potential to house these medtech companies.
What is your outlook?
Myers: Things are going to be booming and we’re very excited. At this moment in time, we’re trying to grow our marketing by reaching out and making those connections. People need to know where you are and what you have to offer. That’s what we work hard on every day. Once you get the right person to come in, it can really change the dynamics of an area. I believe Armstrong County is going to be changing rapidly within the next couple of years. We’re looking for that big company (commercial and/or residential) to come in and make the right kind of investment.
Irey Vaughan: Washington County’s outlook is extremely bright because we have so many individuals with experience who are coming to the table and developing a robust vision and a plan for execution to achieve that vision. We haven’t had that before. We’ve been blessed with great economic development opportunities in the past but we want to make sure we’re taking control of our destiny. That’s the difference between hoping for success and ensuring our success.
For more information, visit: