Monthly Business Briefing

Commonwealth Chief Transformation Officer Ben Kirshner was the featured guest during September’s Monthly Business Briefing, jointly presented last week by the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association and the PA Chamber.

In January, Gov. Josh Shapiro signed an executive order creating the Office of Transformation and Opportunity, a new office designed to serve as a “one-stop-shop” to streamline permitting and licensure efforts, better facilitate project management across state departments, and help attract new businesses to Pennsylvania.

Surrounded by state agency officials and business leaders (including PA Chamber President and CEO Luke Bernstein), Gov. Shapiro said at the time: “If you want to grow your business or invest in Pennsylvania, you’re not going to need to go to five different agencies anymore. To get all your permits, your approvals, or your funding, the Office of Transformation and Opportunity and Ben Kirshner, who will lead it, will be your point-person in that endeavor.”

Following introductory remarks from Bernstein and PMA President and CEO Dave Taylor, Kirshner shared his experience joining the administration after a 25-year career in the private sector. During that time, Kirshner says he ran a business that operated in several major states and cities across the United States.

“I first-handedly opened each and every one of those offices in every city, so I know what good economic development looks like,” Kirshner said. He contrasted the experience of companies trying to operate in Pennsylvania to more business-friendly states like Florida, Texas, and Georgia.

This experience, he says, makes him a man on a mission:

“I came to this role to fix it and make Pennsylvania a top ten state to do business in. That’s what I am now dedicating my time to doing – to fixing the way that Pennsylvania is perceived by the business community,” he said.

To accomplish this, Kirshner reiterated the governor’s vision of the Office of Transformation and Opportunity becoming a “one-stop-shop” for eliminating red tape and streamlining operations between state agencies.

“In light of Pennsylvania not having the best incentives in the world, I figured, let’s kill ‘em with great service,” Kirshner said. Under the governor’s framework, the Office of Transformation and Opportunity will work directly with businesses, shepherding them through the various state processes and ensuring that the necessary approvals will be delivered in a timely fashion.

“When we’re pitching site selectors, they love this,” he said. “This is something that they say differentiates Pennsylvania. This is something that gives us a competitive advantage when compared to other states.”

Kirshner also spoke of the office’s data-driven approach to monitoring agency performance, indicating that the administration is planning to leverage technological innovations to serve as a “force multiplier” for existing economic development efforts underway at DCED.

Finally, Kirshner acknowledged the “brokenness” of Pennsylvania’s permitting system and referenced the audit which identified the over 2,400 different types of state permits issued by state agencies. He pointed out this was the first time such a comprehensive review has been performed, and that administration officials now have a better understanding of where future reforms can be implemented and targeted most effectively.

Throughout the discussion, Kirshner emphasized the administration’s eagerness to partner with businesses to create a more efficient state government that will enhance Pennsylvania’s economic prospects and deliver a more prosperous future. The PA Chamber appreciates the proactive steps the Shapiro administration is taking to address these critical issues, and we are grateful for our continued partnership with the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association in presenting these conversations to our membership.

To learn more about the Commonwealth Office of Transformation and Opportunity, you can visit its website at ​​ The full Monthly Business Briefing is available to watch here


Founded in 1916, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state's largest broad-based business association, with its membership comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of BusinessTM.