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Gas drilling industry helps Pa. become one of top states in number of new or expanded corporate facilities

| Tuesday, March 5, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The booming gas drilling industry may have helped to seal Pennsylvania's position as one of the top states in the nation for the number of new or expanded corporate facilities.

The state ranks No. 1 in the Northeast and third in the nation, with 430 new facilities in 2012, according to Site Selection magazine, which specializes in corporate real estate. Pittsburgh was sixth among metro markets of at least 1 million people, with 126 new or expanded corporate facilities.

The ranking, which was released Monday, “is verification that our efforts to improve the business climate and encourage job growth is paying off,” Gov. Tom Corbett said in a statement.

It is the second consecutive year that Pennsylvania was among the top states and the third for Pittsburgh in the top 10 among large metropolitan markets.

“Pennsylvania has done quite well,” said Mark Arend, editor in chief of the real estate and economic development publication based in Norcross, Ga. “Any state that finished in the top 10 has done extremely well. So, to finish in the top three is really quite impressive.”

Arend said the energy industry in Western Pennsylvania probably helped the state's ranking.

Pennsylvania was the top finisher among the nine Northeast states — besting by a long shot second-place finisher New York, which attracted 119 new or expanded corporate facilities last year.

Pennsylvania's Northeast primacy occurred despite frequent television ads New York has run since summer in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, part of a $50 million marketing campaign to lure companies and jobs to New York state.

The ads tout New York as a great place in particular to locate high-tech companies, one of the key business segments that helped Western Pennsylvania's economy recover from the collapse of steel 30 years ago.

Philadelphia, with 124 projects last year, ranked 7th in the nation's large-market rankings, right behind Pittsburgh. Among second-tier markets with populations of 200,000 to 1 million, Lancaster ranked fifth, with 33 projects. Allentown-Bethlehem ranked 9th, with 24 projects.

Corbett said more and larger corporate facilities “mean economic investment in our state and new jobs for our citizens.”

The magazine counted projects that met at least one of the following criteria: involved a capital investment of at least $1 million, generated at least 50 new jobs or added at least 20,000 square feet of space. The tallies exclude government, school and hospital facilities.

Thomas Olson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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