Shapiro executive order

Gov. Josh Shapiro signs an executive order establishing the Pennsylvania Office of Transformation and Opportunity within the Governor’s Office and the Economic Development Strategy Group on Jan. 24, 2023.

(The Center Square) – Gov. Josh Shapiro signed his second executive order expanding economic opportunities in Pennsylvania since taking office one week ago.

The directive, issued Tuesday, creates two new offices tasked with establishing a coordinated strategy to streamline starting and growing a business, with a special focus on disadvantaged and underserved communities.

“We are planting a flag here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania today and saying, we are open for business, and we are ready to compete,” Shapiro said at a press conference held prior to signing the order.

Ben Kirscher, a businessman and entrepreneur, has also been named chief of the Office of Transformation and Opportunity. The office is responsible for developing growth strategies and implementing economic development projects while coordinating with state agencies.

The effort is meant to cut through red tape and expedite starting or expanding a business, Kirscher said. Instead of forcing businesses to deal with multiple agencies for permits, approvals, and funding, the office will serve as “a one-stop-shop,” he added.

The second office, the Economic Development Strategy Group, will advise the governor on economic development projects and processes that will attract and retain employers, recruit innovative leaders, and create well-paying jobs in Pennsylvania – particularly in underserved communities.

Chaired by Shapiro – with Kirshner as its point person – other members of the group include the secretaries of Labor & Industry, Community and Economic Development, Transportation, Agriculture, Education, and Environmental Protection.

Luke Bernstein, President and chief executive officer of the PA Chamber of Business and Industry, thanked the governor for making good on his campaign promises and for his commitment to create opportunities for economic growth.

“Today's executive order takes that important step of bringing together people and creating a long-term sustaining futuristic strategy that will drive economic growth and job creation throughout the commonwealth,” he said.

He also praised Shapiro's willingness to consider accelerating the schedule to decrease the state's corporate net income tax rate from its current 8.99% down to 4.99% by 2031.

Shapiro told reporters the new office is for both “main street businesses” and big businesses – ready to “shepherd” owners through the process.

The day after his inauguration, Shapiro signed his first executive order abolishing college degree requirements for state job listings in an attempt to address labor shortages.