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Funding will be used to grow robotics and artificial intelligence sector in Southwestern PA, support projects estimated to create or retain 12,000 jobs

Casey advocated for funding to equip Southwestern PA tech workforce, strengthen American competitiveness

Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is announcing that the Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative is receiving $62.7 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) as one of 21 winners of the American Rescue Plan’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge. The funding will be used to strengthen and expand the Collaborative’s trailblazing work in Southwestern PA promoting economic development through the region’s robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) sectors. The EDA grant will fund projects that will help small, medium and family-owned businesses adopt new technologies, train workers for family-sustaining careers and support entrepreneurs who will contribute to the growing field. The projects are estimated to create or retain 12,000 jobs in Southwestern PA and generate $335 million in direct regional GDP.

“The Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative is an embodiment of the spirit of the entire Pittsburgh region,” said Senator Bob Casey. “When Southwestern Pennsylvania was knocked down, they didn’t wait for someone else to pick them back up. They reinvented themselves to become leaders in technology and winning the Build Back Better Regional Challenge will allow workers and small and family-owned businesses to take advantage of the region’s robotics and AI industries to modernize their own businesses and keep them growing in a 21st century economy. By working together to invest in the region, the Collaborative’s efforts are going to support thousands of jobs and generate hundreds of millions of dollars of new economic prosperity across Southwestern Pennsylvania.”

The Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative is a coalition of regional governments, workforce agencies, labor unions, educational and research institutions, economic development and community organizations and businesses—all dedicated to growing economic opportunity across all 11 counties in the Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Coalition. As a region of coal- and power-impacted communities, Southwestern PA has suffered economically from the shift away from coal production. This transition, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, has created a significant need for workforce development to give workers the skills needed to succeed in other industries. Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative is dedicated to ensuring 55% of the Collaborative’s benefits—including jobs created and GDP—go towards the 10 counties outside of Allegheny County, fueling rural economic growth and building career pathways for traditionally under-represented communities.

The Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative’s newly-funded projects will:

  • Help small and family-owned companies modernize their businesses by using robotics and AI, specifically targeting industries including agriculture, construction, energy, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing;
  • Invest in the next generation of workers at the high school and college level, as well as through apprenticeships, meeting students where they are by bringing robotics and AI to their schools;
  • Create a collaborative AI/robotics community to provide businesses with all types of support and resources they need while promoting collaboration and networking; and
  • Diversify robotics and AI with a holistic commitment to equity, lifting up businesses from historically underrepresented communities.

In October 2021, Senator Casey advocated for the Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative to receive this historic funding. He announced the Collaborative’s award of $500,000 for their placement as a finalist in the Build Back Better Regional Challenge in December 2021. The Build Back Better Regional Challenge is a competitive federal grant program that invests in regional coalitions to drive inclusive economic growth and support community-led economic development and job creation.