HomeSBN Releases Report On Ten Years of GSI’s Impact in Pa and Why it’s a Crucial Tool for Economic Recovery and Growth

SBN’s new report offers a detailed look at how GSI can be used as a tool for economic recovery and equitable growth throughout the Commonwealth and serves as a call to action for increased funding for public and private investments.


(PHILADELPHIA, PA June 1, 2021) — SBN is proud to publish a new report that examines the size and scale of Pa.’s green stormwater infrastructure industry over the last ten years. The report, Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI): A Tool for Economic Recovery and Growth in Pennsylvania, assesses the industry’s growth from 2011 to 2019, evaluates stormwater management needs and opportunities in urban and rural areas throughout the state, and provides policy recommendations to further strengthen and grow GSI infrastructure investment. 

Inside the Report 

The report, conducted by Fourth Economy, a national community and economic development consulting firm, conveys a resounding sentiment that by investing in GSI, Pa. could reap billions of dollars of economic activity that supports small businesses and create family-sustaining jobs while providing access to well-maintained public spaces, healthy rivers and streams, manage agricultural runoff, and reinforce climate resilience. As Pa. and the nation sits at the crossroads of several challenging circumstances: a global pandemic that triggered an economic recession, continued racial injustice, and an ongoing effort to mitigate climate change, this combination of crises presents a unique opportunity to recognize their intersectionality and embrace a holistic approach to problem-solving.

“SBN has been a champion for Pennsylvania’s green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) industry for the last decade,” said Anna Shipp, Executive Director of the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia. “This report underscores why our federal, state, and local policymakers need to provide increased investment for GSI through economic stimulus bills and to ensure its prioritization in state and city funding allocations.”

The importance of increased investment into GSI poses great economic benefits that foster equity and climate resilience for the Commonwealth. Infrastructure investments proved successful during the Great Recession, with every dollar invested in infrastructure resulting in a 1.5x return in GDP growth. And current forecasts show that investing $1 trillion in infrastructure would create 11 million jobs. For Pa., this could be a win-win outcome for years to come providing scores of jobs, an upgrade to the state’s stormwater management infrastructure, enhanced water quality, and dividends for decades.


Transition from Gray to Green: Key Milestones in the Development of the Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) Industry
This timeline, which is on pages 10 and 11 of our report, shows the major milestones in Pennsylvania’s development of the GSI industry.
Key Findings
  • The GSI industry spans various sectors including planning, engineering, and design, construction and material supply, inspections, operations, and maintenance. There are upwards of 34,000 GSI workers across Pa. That’s more than the number of middle school teachers!
  • The number of jobs in Pa.’s GSI industry is growing faster than the Commonwealth’s overall job growth. From 2011 until 2019, jobs in the state’s GSI industry grew at 9.2% compared to Pennsylvania’s 6.3%. In Philadelphia, where there is a comprehensive GSI-based stormwater management plan, the numbers are even stronger. From 2011, when Green City, Clean Waters was fully adopted, to 2019, jobs in Philadelphia’s GSI industry grew by 13.3%, more than double the state’s 6.3%. The Greater Philadelphia region now boasts upwards of 10,300 GSI workers.
  • The GSI industry provides family-supporting jobs and accessible opportunities for career advancement for people with all education and work experience levels. 52% of GSI workers earn at least $15/hour, even without a high school diploma or equivalent. Additionally, several of the sectors in the GSI industry is known for being accessible to returning citizens.
  • The GSI industry spans the state and urban and rural geographies. 55% of Pa.’s GSI workforce live outside of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia metro areas.
  • Pa. has an $8.4 billion funding gap for stormwater management needs over the next ten years. Available funding over that time is estimated to be only $900 million, just 10% of the required annual investment.

Pa. has everything to gain from growing the GSI industry: advancing opportunities for small businesses, increased family-supporting jobs, healthier air and water, stronger climate resilience, and equitable community development. The report outlines the need for cost-effective investments in green infrastructure combined with the urgency for economic recovery, equity, and climate action presents a clear chance for Pa. to leverage GSI as a solution that provides economic, social, and environmental benefits.


A breakdown of the many economic, social, and environmental benefits of GSI.
GSI delivers significant economic, social, and environmental benefits. Smart stormwater regulations and policies, and sufficient funding for all phases of green stormwater infrastructure are necessary to tackle the growing need for stormwater management, economic recovery, equity, and climate resilience.


View the full report here: Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI): A Tool for Economic Recovery and Growth in Pennsylvania  

*For the best viewing and reading experience, please download and view the report in a 2 page spread.