Want to know the primary driver of the Pittsburgh economy in 2014? Two words: advanced manufacturing.

Last year the 10-county Pittsburgh region tallied 274 regional business investment deals. Of that total, the industry sector with the greatest growth by far was advanced manufacturing with 68 investment deals. A majority of the deals were business expansions and retention projects. In dollars, these manufacturing deals translate to $450,234 in capital investment as well as 5,400 new jobs.

Information Technology totalled 47 deals, energy companies 31 deals, financial and business services 28 deals and health and life sciences 24 deals.

“Manufacturing’s performance is especially encouraging,” said Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance. “That sector’s investment deals are creating and retaining high-wage jobs that support a robust supply chain throughout the Pittsburgh region.”

The PRA presented its Business Investment Scorecard Wednesday, an annual report that highlights year-to-year milestones in terms of the region’s economic growth.

While manufacturing has long been a powerful economic engine for the region, this marked a shift with advanced manufacturing taking center stage. Among companies leading the way is robotic baby gear maker 4moms, which moved to 81,000 square-feet in the former FiServ building last year. Universal Electric Corp. announced an 81,000 square foot expansion to its Canonsburg facility. General Electric invested $32 million in an advanced manufacturing facility in Findlay and WindStax Wind Power Systems continues to grow in producing small-scale wind energy systems in the Strip District. All are hiring.

The combination of manufacturing with high-value industries that include IT, cybersecurity, medical devices and energy sets the stage for further growth and regional prosperity, said Petra Mitchell, president and CEO of Catalyst Connection. Advanced manufacturing “supports one in four jobs with an average wage of $57,894,” Mitchell noted at a press conference yesterday.

“While today’s manufacturing requires fewer employees because of technological advances, the sector demands smarter, tech-savvy workers whose salaries are competitive and reflect the education and training that individuals bring to 21st century manufacturing operations,” she said.

Go here to view a video of Pittsburgh Regional Alliance CEO Dennis Yablonsky discussing how advanced manufacturing is propelling the Pittsburgh region’s economy, including touching a broad supply chain serving manufacturers in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Deb Smit

Deb is an award-winning journalist who loves ancient places and cool technologies. A former daily newspaper reporter and Time-Life Books editor, she writes mostly about Pittsburgh. Her stories have appeared in Fast Company, Ozy and Pittsburgh Magazine.