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Global tech firm Excelitas to move headquarters and 250 jobs to Pittsburgh's Strip District

Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro speaks during a news conference in Philadelphia, Feb. 16, 2023.
Matt Rourke
Gov. Josh Shapiro on Tuesday announced the relocation of Excelitas Technology Corp. to Pittsburgh, a move that will bring an estimated 250 jobs to the region during the next four years.

Gov. Josh Shapiro is announcing today that Excelitas Technologies Corp, a manufacturer of light-technology products, will relocate its headquarters from Waltham, Massachusetts to the Strip District during the next four years.

The move is expected to create at least 250 jobs in the area, and the firm will invest $2.3 million to establish its new flagship location at 2545 Railroad St.

In a statement announcing the deal, Shapiro said the move proves that “we are competitive as hell. I’ve been telling the world that Pennsylvania is open for business ― and Excelitas clearly agrees,” he said.

The company, which already has a facility in Chester County, has committed to a 12-year lease at the Strip District location. It stands to receive $2.3 million in state aid, with opportunities to apply for research and development tax credits.

Excelitas works in photonics technology ― developing and manufacturing equipment that uses light for applications ranging from thermal cameras to missile systems and the technology that helps autonomous vehicles monitor their surroundings. The equipment is used in fields that include the defense industry, advanced manufacturing and medicine.

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Founded in 2010, it boasts of employing 8,000 people in 33 locations around the world.

“Pittsburgh and the Western Pennsylvania region have developed a significant high-technology presence, combined with a strong work ethic and an engaged state and local leadership who understand the value of job creation,” said Excelitas CEO Ron Keating in the statement announcing the move.

Keating has first-hand experience with the area: As CEO of Evoqua Water Technologies, he presided over the 2021 creation of a sustainability and innovation hub with laboratories and training facilities in Lawrenceville. Keating oversaw the sale of Evoqua last year, and took the reins at Excelitas this past fall.

Stefani Pashman, who leads the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, credited Keating for “casting his vote for Pittsburgh — first with Evoqua and now with Excelitas.” The move, she said, reflects and would enhance the Strip District’s reputation as “one of our region’s most well-known and vibrant centers of tech and innovation.”

Shapiro said the announcement Tuesday is the latest example of his administration’s success at attracting new business: Since he took office a year ago, his administration had attracted more than $1.2 billion in private-sector investment, he said.

In its statement, his office said Shapiro “is getting stuff done” — a commonly repeated, if sometimes more prosaically expressed, summary of his agenda. Shapiro, it said, was continuing “to create real opportunity and advance real freedom in Pennsylvania.”

In a statement, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey hailed the news as more proof that "Pittsburgh is quickly becoming the next great tech city." And while the deal was negotiated last year, it offered an early gift to Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato, who took office just last week.

In the statement, Innamorato predicted that Excelitas “will be right at home with the other leading life science, space, and technology companies headquartered in our region. … We look forward to welcoming our new neighbors to Allegheny County.”

Nearly three decades after leaving home for college, Chris Potter now lives four miles from the house he grew up in -- a testament either to the charm of the South Hills or to a simple lack of ambition. In the intervening years, Potter held a variety of jobs, including asbestos abatement engineer and ice-cream truck driver. He has also worked for a number of local media outlets, only some of which then went out of business. After serving as the editor of Pittsburgh City Paper for a decade, he covered politics and government at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has won some awards during the course of his quarter-century journalistic career, but then even a blind squirrel sometimes digs up an acorn.