Spotlight on: Kenneth Lawrence Jr., Commissioner, Montgomery County

Writer: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read AUGUST 2019 — Montgomery County is the third-most populous county in Pennsylvania and the state’s the No.1 county for manufacturing. With an extensive trail network, the largest indoor mall in the country, a growing population and diverse economy, Montco presents unique opportunities for businesses among several industries. Commissioner Kenneth Lawrence recently spoke with Invest: about the county’s efforts to grow its economy, attract businesses and embrace sustainability.

What were some highlights for Montgomery County over the last 12 to 18 months?

Montgomery County had its AAA bond status restored by Moody’s. We are working hard on our transportation and infrastructure, repairing our roads and bridges, and making sure these are in good, working condition. We implemented a parental leave policy for our employees. The new policy is not gender-specific and employees can get six weeks off for the birth, adoption or guardianship of a child. We believe that will spur area companies to implement similar initiatives. Montgomery County has the best trail network in the region. We have over 90 miles of trails, including the Schuylkill River Trail, which is the most popular trail in the region, and we are working on expansion, improvements and new connections for many of our trails.

What are some business opportunities unique to Montgomery County, in relation to other counties in the region?

Montgomery County is the No. 1 county in Pennsylvania for manufacturing. We have more manufacturing jobs than any of the 67 counties in the state. There are numerous opportunities in manufacturing, especially in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. For example, Thomas Jefferson University recently opened the Jefferson Institute for Bioprocessing in Lower Gwynedd, which is a specialized education and training institute for biopharmaceutical processing. Upper Merion is the third-largest employment hub in this region, following Center City and University City. We are working with SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) on King of Prussia Rail to connect University City, Center City, and Upper Merion with public transportation. This is a 10-year project, but we are working very hard to connect the three major employment hubs in the region.

The pharma and healthcare sectors keep growing in the county. Tourism in Montgomery County is a $1.2 billion industry. Valley Forge National Historical Park gets over 2 million visitors a year. King of Prussia Mall is the largest shopping mall on the East Coast.

What is the county doing to develop sustainable operations?

Sustainability is very important for us as a county government and we want to take a leadership role. We recently announced a wind energy purchase that will power all of the county’s electrical accounts. The commissioners also made a commitment to transition to

renewable energy for heating all county-owned buildings and powering all county-owned vehicles by 2050. Another major project is a new justice center, which is part of six individual construction projects in downtown Norristown to address service, operational and energy inefficiencies and modernize county buildings for the future. We are taking every step possible to make sure that sustainability is a major part of that project so that we’re not increasing our energy footprint. We are also working with our municipalities across the county to explore options for sustainability.


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