Major Industries and Commercial Activity
Once a one-industry town, Scranton is still dominated by manufacturing enterprises, primarily in the nondurable goods sector for companies such as Proctor & Gamble and Techneglas. However, between 1995 and 2000, major financial and professional services corporations such as AT&T, Fleet Financial Group, Cigna Health Care, and Alliance Fund Services opened large offices locally. Since that time, there has also been a marked increase in the number of people employed in the health, education, and social services industry—close to 25 percent of Scranton's employed population. Defense contractors also play an important role in the region's diversified economy, and construction, utilities, retail trade, and government make up a large part of the economic base. Tourism is also a growing industry.
Items and goods produced: apparel and related products, plastics, compressors, automotive components, heating and air conditioning equipment, candy, fabricated metal products, records and compact discs, caskets, books, furniture, chemicals, electrical equipment, glass products, tank parts, ordnance supplies, and other products for the Armed Forces
Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies
Many programs available in Lackawanna County can be combined to form a comprehensive funding package for an eligible project. The primary programs are administered through SLIBCO (Scranton Lackawanna Industrial Building Company), PEDFA (the Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority), PIDA (the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority), and SIDCo (the Scranton Industrial Development Company). Working together under the auspices of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, these organizations coordinate public and private sector resources to purchase industrial sites, construct shell buildings for lease to outside industry, develop raw land into industrial parks, and generally promote the region to corporate officials worldwide and assist expanding local businesses and industries.
The University of Scranton McDade Technology Center serves as a resource for high technology businesses seeking to locate or expand in the Scranton area. Skills in Scranton, a business/education partnership run by the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce since 1989, has created a forum of communication between business and education to address the employment needs of Northeastern Pennsylvania's employers. The organization helps businesses with job training and re-training, and helps new graduates with making the school-to-work transition.
Pennsylvania's Department of Community and Economic Development is the main source of funding and other economic growth programs for state businesses. Funding programs offered by the state include bond financing, grants, loans and loan guarantees, tax credits and abatements, and technical assistance. The state's tools include the Job Creation Tax Credit Program, which provides a $1,000-per-job tax credit for businesses that create new jobs; 25 percent of the tax credits allocated each year must go to businesses with less than 100 employees. The Opportunity Grant Program provides funds needed to create or preserve Pennsylvania jobs to businesses involved in manufacturing, exporting, agriculture, and research and development. The First Industries Fund is a grant and loan program aimed at strengthening Pennsylvania's agriculture and tourism industries. Loans up to $200,000 can be used for land acquisition and construction, machinery purchase, and working capital. The state also runs a number of technology investment programs, which are designed to help create and bolster new and existing technology companies within the state. Program areas include funding, assistance programs, industry initiatives, and research and development.
Job training programs
There are a number of widely used state and federal programs to help employers reduce the costs of hiring and training workers. The Customized Job Training Program reimburses local employers for up to 75 percent of certain job training expenses, including instructional costs, supplies, contracted services, and travel costs. In return, companies must demonstrate an increase in employment opportunities, improved wages, and job retention. The Workforce Investment Act brings together area employers and unemployed or dislocated workers and trains those workers for employment with those companies at no expense to either party. Funds from this program can be used for job placement, skills assessment, labor market information, and training services.
A variety of projects are underway or have been completed in the Scranton area since the early 2000s. Almost $300 million has been invested in a variety of city improvement projects; recent construction projects include the $16 million Southern Union Headquarters, the $2.3 million Marquee Theaters, the $11.5 million Hilton Parking Garage, the $3.5 million police headquarters, and the $4 million Riverfront Sports complex. Infrastructure improvements include a number of road paving and improvement projects, the Meadow Avenue Flood Protection Project, the renovation of a number of area bridges, and the rehabilitation of the Merrifield Pumping Station.
Scranton's Nay Aug Park recently underwent a major renovation, including work to the Harlon's Grove Amphitheater, John Cleland Greenhouse, Rose Garden Fence, and Wildlife Center. The park's electric service and heating were also upgraded, the Davis Trail was restored, and workers installed safety rails along various pathways and constructed observation decks. Other neighborhood parks that have undergone rehabilitation include Weston Park, Weston Field, Crowley Park, Robinson Park, Jackson Street Playground, and Dorothy Street Playground. Scranton's downtown revitalization projects alone have totaled more than $26 million in improvements.
Economic Development Information: Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, 222 Mulberry St., PO Box 431, Scranton, PA 18501; telephone (570)342-7711. Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Room 1700, 7th and Forster Sts., Harrisburg, PA 17120; telephone (717)787-5279
Scranton's proximity to Northeast Corridor markets is enhanced by an excellent transportation network. Five major interstate highways are accessible within 30 miles of the city's center, and both Manhattan and Philadelphia are two hours's drive from Scranton. Rail customers have access to Norfolk Southern, the Canadian Pacific Railway, and several other short lines, including the Lackawanna County Railroad Authority. Dozens of major trucking terminals and package delivery companies also service the area. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, a full-service facility located nine miles south of Scranton in Avoca, maintains inland port-of-entry facilities and an adjacent foreign trade zone, enabling Scranton to accommodate a growing international market. The northeast Pennsylvania area has a number of general service airports, heliports, and private service airports.
Labor Force and Employment Outlook
In recent years the city has experienced an influx of financial and service companies lured there by low costs and easy access to New York and Philadelphia. Scranton has also seen a large increase in jobs available in the fields of education, health, and social services; a number of hospitals that serve the area are located in Scranton. The city also draws an increasing amount of tourism traffic from visitors of the nearby Pocono Mountains resort area and visitors to the Steamtown National Historic Site.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Scranton metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.
Size of nonagricultural labor force: 255,700
Number of workers employed in . . .
construction and mining: 10,300
trade, transportation, and utilities: 57,500
financial activities: 14,100
professional and business services: 20,800
educational and health services: 47,600
leisure and hospitality: 21,900
other services: 10,200
Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $13.87 (metropolitan area average)
Unemployment rate: 5.3% (metropolitan area; April 2005)
Cost of Living
Lackawanna County is a family-oriented, non-transient community. Housing costs are relatively low, with one-bedroom, one-bath apartments typically renting for less than $800 a month, and houses for purchase range from $100,000 to $300,000.
The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors in the Scranton area.
2004 ACCRA Average House Price: Not reported
2004 ACCRA Cost of Living Index: Not reported
State income tax rate: 3.07%
State sales tax rate: 6%
State property tax rate: none
Local income tax rate: 3.4% (city of Scranton)
Local sales tax rate: none
Local property tax rate: 82.122 mills on land, 17.86 mills on improvements (city of Scranton), 29.7293 mills on real estate (Lackawanna County)
Economic Information: Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, 222 Mulberry St., PO Box 431, Scranton, PA 18501; telephone (570)342-7711
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