Jeff Kotula: Looking Back – and Ahead – at Economic Development Success in Washington County

by on May 30, 2017

Part XI of a Weekly, 12-Part Series

Note:  The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA) invited each of its economic development partners from the 10-county region to share insight and maybe some hindsight about business investment and the economy’s growth – at the county and regional levels – looking through the rearview mirror at 2016 and at the road ahead and where it might be taking them, their counties and our region in 2017 and beyond.

Here are some of the responses that Jeff Kotula, president of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, shared with us:

What do you count as the most strategically significant (not necessarily the largest in size or investment dollars) economic development-related deal or activity in your county in 2016? Why?

“In addition to our focus on industry sectors such as energy, advanced manufacturing, tourism, financial services and healthcare, we are very proud that 2016 allowed Washington County to focus on industrial sites in the Mon Valley.  Our expectations in marketing that region were exceeded with the attraction of two major manufacturers to the Donora Industrial Park:  Retal Industries and Tech Met, Inc. These investments and commitment to create jobs will contribute to the continued revitalization of Donora and Mon Valley Region.”



How important is regional partnership to economic development success in your county and what do you count among your best partnership assets/allies for achieving success. Can you share a particular memory or reflection about a project when partnership moved the needle? If so, please do.

“The Washington County Commissioners, Washington County Chamber of Commerce and county economic development agencies are all committed to providing a coordinated and single point of contact for companies interested in expanding and locating to the county.  We are very proud of the success we achieve by working together.  We are also fortunate to have regional and state agencies that share our customer-focused philosophy.  For instance, we coordinated – with the Mon Valley Alliance (MVA), another regional agency – on the international Retal project in Donora. It was, and is, great to work with agencies that share our vision and focus.”


What is better about the economic development/business investment climate in the region now, versus 10 years ago? Conversely, what do hope will be improved within the next decade?

“The shale gas industry has grown to provide an abundant domestic energy source and has been a game-changer for Washington County, the region and the country.  Our economic successes, coupled with a need to move products to market, have attracted hundreds of millions of dollars of investments in infrastructure construction.  These include projects to replace and repair the locks on the Monongahela River, the reconstruction of Interstate 70, the construction of the Southern Beltway, pipeline projects and numerous utility company projects.  This activity has enabled us to maintain and grow a diverse economy that includes strong energy, healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture and financial services sectors.  A diverse economy, excellent location, low taxes and great infrastructure has positioned Washington County for continued success for decades to come.”

Read the complete article, “The Rearview Mirror and the Road Ahead,” featuring responses from all of the region’s economic development professionals.  The piece was originally published in the Pittsburgh Business Times as part of a supplement for NAIOP Pittsburgh’s 24th annual awards banquet in March.

Check back on the PRA Blog every Tuesday for the next installment in the series.