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Politics & Government

Pittsburgh Region Has a Voice in Wolf Transition Teams

Even before being sworn in on Jan. 20, Gov.-elect Tom Wolf is already working to ensure the transition from current Republican Gov. Tom Corbett to him is a smooth one.

A number of transition teams are taking on issues including aging, banking, agriculture, environmental protection and community and economic development. Co-chairing the economic development team is Dennis Yablonsky, president and CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Economic Development and his counterpart in Philadelphia, Rob Wonderling.

“The economy of Pennsylvania, if you look where it comes from, about two-thirds of the economic activity in the state comes out of greater Philadelphia and greater Pittsburgh,” said Yablonsky. “So you’ve got a large section of the economy represented by the two of us and our respective business organizations.”

But the state government can’t put all its focus on those two regions. Yablonsky said the community and economic development transition team will include members from across the state.

“So, we’ll be getting input to make sure that what we’re doing is good for everybody,” Yablonsky said. “We’re also, outside of that group, we’re getting both unsolicited and solicited input from all over the state on ideas, and we’re going to be absorbing all that and reviewing it and eventually reaching a consensus about what goes into this report.”

The report will be an analysis of the department of community and economic development, its programs and its policies and outline what is and isn’t working.

“Which existing programs should continue or be bolstered, if there are efficiencies to be gained, things that should be changed and overall suggestions to help drive some growth in the economy for Pennsylvania,” said Yablonsky.

The transition team has been working since late-December and is slated to be done in mid-January. Yablonsky said that the report will be done on time. And, he said, it’s an effort that includes people from both major political parties; while Wolf is a Democrat, co-chairs of this team are both Republicans.

“I don’t view this as a political activity in any way, shape or form,” said Yablonsky. “I view this as a policy activity, something that we’ll work on for the best of the whole state – whether it’s Democratic or Republican parts of the state.”

Yablonsky is a former secretary of the Department of Economic and Community Development. His co-chair Wonderling is a former state senator.