If you ask 100 people on the street to play a word association game and gave them the words “Civil War” and “Pennsylvania,” most of them would probably reply, “Gettysburg.” Of course, there’s no doubt that the battle of Gettysburg was a pivotal event in the course of the war, but numerous other communities across Pennsylvania played key roles as well. Communities like Chambersburg and Hanover.

As we all know from studying Pennsylvania history in school, the Commonwealth also played an important part in the Revolutionary War (Germantown), the framing of our Constitution (Philadelphia), the beginning of the oil rush (Titusville), and countless other events of historical significance in our nation’s history.

As we begin 2017, I have no doubt that Pennsylvania’s best days lie ahead. Today, amazing technological and scientific advances are being nurtured and grown right here. Greater Philadelphia’s economy includes major industry sectors in manufacturing, life sciences, healthcare, IT and energy. In addition, the region’s superb academic institutions and highly educated workforce contribute to its ranking as an economic powerhouse in the northeast United States.

In particular, our region is positioned to lead the next stage of disruption within the spectrum of life sciences disciplines, thanks to our world-renowned research institutions, top biomedical programs, and a healthy ecosystem of small and large enterprises and investment activity. A new study, the “Greater Philadelphia Life Sciences Report,” explores Greater Philadelphia’s life sciences footprint and investment activity over the last five years and details the key findings that characterize the sector’s evolution in the region.

The report, a joint study by Ben Franklin, BioAdvance, CEO Council for Growth, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, EY, Life Sciences PA, the Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technology (PACT), Philadelphia Works, Select Greater Philadelphia Council, and the University City Science Center, in collaboration with IHS Markit, details investments in life sciences companies from 2011 through the first half of 2016 and explores how the payoffs from those investments have been woven into the economic fabric of the region. With advances in gene therapy, cancer research, and cutting-edge vaccines, history truly is being made here today.

Report highlights include:

  • 1,200 establishments in the life sciences;
  • Leadership in the fields of cell therapy, gene therapy and gene vaccines;
  • 48,900 direct jobs;
  • Six medical schools (including four NCI-designated cancer centers) and 10 medical centers;
  • $1B in National Institutes of Health funding;
  • More than 5,400 life science-related patents since 2010;
  • $6.3B in investment in regional companies;
  • $24.6B in real output (in constant 2010 dollars), 4 percent of the GPR’s total.

Rob Wonderling is President and CEO of The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia and can be reached at rwonderling@chamberphl.com