Jerry Andree, Township Manager

Jerry Andree, Township Manager

No level of government has more impact on daily life than local government. That’s why my colleagues and I at Cranberry Township are passionate about pushing the limits of excellence to provide the best possible services to our residents and customers. However, being well-served is not a passive achievement; it is a collective undertaking. Through this blog, we offer our personal reflections on that assignment. And we hope it will help engage you in joining us on that same collaborative mission.

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Oct 26

If you can't get here, you can't work here

Posted on October 26, 2016 at 3:08 PM by Jerry Andree

Where did all the workers go? 

The Community Bulletin Board in our Municipal Center is crowded with postings from organizations both within and around the Township.  Many carry the same message: We’re Hiring. 

Up and down Rt. 19 there’s a similar story, with signs and banners pleading for help.  Many of those openings are associated with food service, human service, hotel and retail organizations.  But local manufacturing, automotive and computer services are also hunting for talent, although the greatest need appears to be in the hospitality sector, where wages vary but are typically somewhat less.  However, wages are not the only issue.

What we do hear from employers in Cranberry, as much as anything else, has to do with the lack of public transit to get their employees to Cranberry and back from wherever they happen to live.  It particularly affects entry-level jobs and younger workers.  Unless aspiring employees have cars of their own, they’re pretty much out of luck commuting to, from, or within Cranberry.  It is an issue that the Township has been aware of and attempting to address for a number of years with agencies in Butler and Allegheny counties, as well as with the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, SPC – the region’s 10-county transportation planning body. 

Right now, in fact, we’re involved in a technical review group for an SPC study of transit in Butler County.  At some point, that study is expected to develop into a transit plan for the area.  But bringing any transit plan to life is going to require some heavy lifting. 

In the meantime, motivated, articulate and talented young people are enjoying a number of employment options in the region.  And those options are only expected to grow as Baby Boomers retire in greater numbers.  But the issue of transportation keeps coming back. 

Commuting to and from Cranberry is already quite extensive.  The composition of Cranberry’s daytime and nighttime populations are very different as a result.  Of the approximately 24,000 jobs in Cranberry, only about ten percent are actually filled by Township residents.  And of the nearly 12,000 Township residents in the workforce, more than 9,000 commute to work somewhere else.  So while there’s a lot of private travel in both directions, there is essentially no public transportation either to or from Cranberry.

Workforce imbalances like we’ve experienced here have not escaped the attention of the influential Allegheny Conference on Community Development, and those imbalances may grow worse.  This past May, the Conference issued a study that projected a significant labor shortfall throughout the Tri-state area by 2025, largely driven by retirements, job changes and economic growth.   

Creating new American jobs has been a mantra for both political parties in this fall’s election, and it’s important.  But the companion issue of getting people to those new jobs from wherever they happen to live is something that also needs to be addressed.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the transportation issue as well.  Write to me at
jerry.andree@cranberrytownship.org

 

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