Key Industries Overview
Indiana County is growth-oriented and well positioned to maximize access to business resources and services. The Indiana County Center for Economic Operations (CEO) is dedicated to supporting basic principles for economic development in the County, like providing efficient infrastructure, concentrating development, and increasing job opportunities.
As a result, Indiana County’s businesses range in size from small independent organizations to mid-size franchises to large national chains. Business and industry diversification helps support a stable economic base in Indiana County.
Goods and Services Employment
The Resource-Based and Knowledge-Based Economy
Indiana County is not an economic island unto itself. The economy in Indiana County is both influenced by and has economic influence on the other counties of the Southwestern Pennsylvania region. Historically, the natural resources of the County were coal and timber. During the era of America’s industrialization, Indiana County played a significant regional economic role by supplying energy resources, like coal and coke, to the vast steel manufacturing plants in the Pittsburgh area.
Today, four major power plants continue to make Indiana County a national center for energy generation. In recent years, however, coal has increasingly shared the energy theater with a relative newcomer–deep well natural gas production. Although shallow-well natural gas drilling has been commonplace for decades, Indiana County’s geographical location at the heart of the Marcellus Shale geologic formation means Indiana County is positioned to be a significant supplier of natural gas to the nation for decades still to come.
Manufacturing is also a major component in the County’s economic base. Historically, manufacturing has primarily supported the energy industry, and that supporting role still continues today. However, the manufacturing base today is more diversified and encompasses several of the sub-sectors within the manufacturing supercluster, such as Advanced Materials, Specialized Equipment Production, and Chemical Products Production.
Indiana County also has a robust health care presence that not only serves the health needs of a regional population but also provides employment in a diverse range of healthcare occupations.
Our agriculture community confers the unique title of Christmas Tree Capital of the World on Indiana County, with over one million Christmas trees sold each year. In addition to traditional crops and timber production, the agricultural community now also supports the energy industry supplying biofuel components produced from local soybean crops.
The Financial Services industry sector is likewise well represented in Indiana county, with three publicly traded companies making their headquarters in Indiana Borough.
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Goods and Services Employment
Goods-producing industries accounted for about 31% of the County’s employment base in 1980, and service producing industries accounted for about 55% of all jobs.
In the decades since 1980, employment in goods-producing industries declined by about 3,800 jobs (about -33%) and employment in service producing industries increased by almost 9,000 jobs (+44%). By 2010, goods-producing industries represented 22% of all employment and services-producing industries represented 77% of the employment base.
The Resource-Based and the Knowledge-Based Economy
Economic recessions during the early 1980s and early 90s resulted in sharp contractions of the coal industry and corresponding declines in the County’s population base and traditional downtowns. Local officials recognized the need to diversify the County’s economic base and focus greater attention on technology-oriented businesses. During this transition, business growth has increasingly created occupations with higher skills and higher technology applications.
At the same time, the local economy is experiencing increasing levels of service sector jobs. Adapting to these changes, the County has shifted considerable focus to development of business/industrial parks to support a wider range of industries and business sizes. The County’s overarching economic development goals in recent years have been to support and strengthen its existing industry base while diversifying and cultivating more knowledge-based industries.
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