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The SVA’s Strategic Early Warning Network

In the 1980s, the decline of the steel industry stagnated Pennsylvania residents, businesses, and communities. As a response, City of Pittsburgh and various Mon-Valley area community leaders and legislators banded together to form the Steel Valley Authority as the “best response” to plant closings and reindustrialization planning. 

The Steel Valley Authority’s Strategic Early Warning Network (SEWN) has become a statewide program that administers free turnaround services to small and medium sized manufacturers throughout Pennsylvania. These services include financial restructuring, streamlining operations, ownership transition, new market opportunities, and high-performance workplace strategies.

SEWN responds to troubled companies within 48-hours, bringing together public and private resources to avoid any type of employee layoff or shutdown. Clients who utilize the SEWN program cover the gamut of industry types including fabricated metals, computer and electronics components, wood products, printing, food production, and apparel. When a SEWN Director enters the company, problems are quickly defined, solutions identified, and resources matched.

Over the last five years, SEWN has saved more than 7500 Pennsylvania manufacturing jobs at an average cost of $891 per job saved. Compare this to the going rate of roughly $25,000 to train laid-off employees for a new career plus the $47.3 million in unemployment costs saved by the state.

Executive Director Tom Croft, who has been with the Authority since 1988, notes that preserving manufacturing in Pennsylvania is paramount to the commonwealth’s overall economy, “We’ve been doing this, manufacturing revitalization and retention, longer than anybody else in Pennsylvania. If we don’t maintain our strong manufacturing base, then a lot of communities that want to reinvent themselves won’t be able to do so.”

SEWN has five locations across Pennsylvania including Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg, Bethlehem, and Reading. If you know or work for a company who can benefit from these free services, contact your local SEWN Southeast Regional Director, Greg Olson at 215-776-0130, sewnse@steelvalley.org or visit the website at www.steelvalley.org