Employment figures that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released earlier this month show Butler County as a hot spot for job growth, and local officials say Cranberry Township was key to the uptick.
“We are the economic hub of our region,” said township manager Jerry Andree.
Between March of 2010 and March 2011, job growth in the United States was 1.3 percent, according to the report. In Pennsylvania, job growth was slightly less at 1.2 percent. In Allegheny County, employment figures were about the same at 1.5 percent. In Butler County, those numbers were more than doubled.
Butler saw a 4.2 percent increase in job growth, the report said. Washington County had a 4.3 percent increase in employment.
Andree said the findings' data showed most of Butler County’s job growth was in Cranberry Township, particularly after Westinghouse Electric Company moved its headquarters in 2009 from Monroeville to the Cranberry Woods office park. The move brought about 3,500 jobs to the area.
Andree said the township was able to woo Westinghouse from a potential transfer to Charlotte, NC, by providing an attractive work environment with walking trails, fountains, trees and other aesthetically pleasing niceties.
“Quality companies want to move here because their employees want to live here,” he said.
For that, he credited a comprehensive plan for future growth that Cranberry’s leaders put together in 1995. The program aimed to build a community full of the amenities that would attract businesses and residents.
He said he was not surprised the federal report showed most of Butler County’s job growth centered in Cranberry.
“I think it just validates good planning,” he said. “Our community a long time ago created aspirations for itself.”
In the past eight years, the township almost has doubled its employment, growing from 10,500 to 18,500 jobs, the township said. Jobs are predicted to reach 32,000 by 2030.
There also has been a building bonanza, with many offices, stores and hotels being built within the past year. A Hilton Garden Inn is under construction at the intersection of Franklin Road and Route 228 in The Village of Cranberry Woods, and a Candlewood Suites Hotel opened on Route 19 in the spring. Plans also are moving forward for a Courtyard by Marriott hotel in the Cranberry Woods office on Route 228.
Retail-wise, wheels are in motion for the Cranberry Crossroads shopping center and office space on Route 228 and the Cranberry Promenade retail complex on Route 19.
Between 2000 and 2011, new commercial construction permits in the township totaled almost 4 million square feet of office, retail, hotel, industrial and restaurant space, the township said. The value of residential construction in Cranberry exceeded $414 million over the past 10 years.
There’s no secret behind the township’s success, Andree said. All it involves is some planning.
“There no magic about it. Anyone can do it,” he said. “It involves staying with a plan. Fortunately, we had a destination.”