Choosing the road less travelled
By ROB WONDERLING
I have traveled many roads throughout our Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania offers plenty of scenic routes with stunning vistas, historic villages, and modern cities and towns. Pennsylvania roads, much like our own lives, offers plenty of twists and turns.
Driving the curve on Route 322 through the village of Van in Venango County, through the horseshoe curve in Blair County, or down the Delaware Water Gap in Monroe County, Pennsylvania’s winding roads snake through the landscape and in many ways serve as a metaphor for all of us as citizens of this great Commonwealth.
For many, the roads are well worn and traveled in routines of work, chores, and obligations. The twists and turns are merely unconscious meanderings that require little effort and no inspiration. Regardless of our condition we press forward in a pattern of “same old, same old” and with each passing day our travels are more about getting by and getting through it all. We become consumed by our own lives while at the same time the world is rapidly changing around us.
Over the past four decades, Pennsylvania has been in decline while other states have moved forward down roads paved with opportunity, progress, and economic growth. By every reasonable measure, Pennsylvania now ranks near the bottom in job and population growth, innovation, modernization, and achievement on a global stage.
I believe we can do better. I believe we must do better. Over the next decade we as Pennsylvanians must decide which road we shall travel together. Do we take the pathway that is comfortable and familiar or do we take the road less traveled with all its uncertainty and challenges.
Individually, we are from the farmlands of Lebanon and Lehigh, the mountains of Kittatinny, Nittany, and Pocono, and the cities and towns of Philly, “The Burgh,” Erie, and the White and Red Roses, but collectively we are all Pennsylvanians.
Pennsylvania has a rich and noble history. There was a time not long ago that Pennsylvania was the focal point of all that was important in the world. We led the way in manufacturing, energy development, food production, and innovation. Communities sprung up throughout the Commonwealth and flourished.
I believe we can once again be a place that the world looks to for innovation and opportunity. A place where all Pennsylvanians can pursue happiness and achieve greatness.
Our shared Pennsylvania story will be about working together to forge an agenda for growth for ALL of our citizens. The Grow Pennsylvania agenda is the story of how together we will harness the power of innovation so that we will live longer and healthier lives. The Grow Pennsylvania agenda is how we will encourage the modernization of our college and universities so they can serve as a powerful magnet to retain our young Pennsylvanians for a lifetime and attract new citizens to our Commonwealth from around the world. The Grow Pennsylvania agenda will no longer tolerate creaking and crumbling last century infrastructure. Our agenda will modernize all aspects of our spaces and places.
Our water and waste water systems, our railroads, pipelines, telecommunications, and transit systems will be vaulted forward into 21st century (we will also straighten out a curved road or two). The Grow Pennsylvania agenda will be our future. It will be optimistic. It will be reinvigorating.
It will be for all of us but it will not be easy.
It will be hard.
The road less traveled is never easy. We, as Pennsylvanians, will encounter plenty of twists and turns. We will confront plenty of special interests with their own narrow priorities. We will confront those that traffic in division and discontent.
However, I am extremely confident that we as 21st century Pennsylvania citizens will rise to the occasion. We will unite and together we will “Grow Pennsylvania.”
Join our hearty band.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit growpa.com and learn more about how we can truly grow Pennsylvania.
Rob Wonderling is president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia and a former state Senator. He also serves on behalf of the Grow PA initiative — a statewide project to grow Pennsylvania’s jobs, economy and population.