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FY 2015 Defense Spending By State report now available for download.

Cambria County, Pennsylvania


Regional Background

For the past two decades, the Cambria County economy has been dependent upon DoD work orders and contracts. With recent cutbacks in defense spending, severe job losses have occurred at local defense contractors, and several firms have completely closed down their operations. Cutbacks are expected to continue throughout the region in the coming years.

As of 2014, the current poverty rate within the city of Johnstown, which is the metropolitan center of the county, sits at 34.3 percent - one of the highest in Pennsylvania. In order for the local economy to survive and prosper, Cambria County is seeking other economic and market opportunities beyond defense.

Project Overview

In 2014, DoD’s Office of Economic Adjustment awarded a Defense Industry Adjustment grant to Cambria County to use for planning effective strategies for the local industry’s transition away from defense spending. Under the grant, Cambria County will:

  • Engage a broad spectrum of defense-related stakeholders in transition planning to create an effective plan, vision, and strategy for the community at large.
  • Integrate state and local economic development plans and strategies for the defense sector so that all of the entities can move forward in a unified way.
  • Identify and profile the top non-defense industry clusters that Cambria County employees, workers, entrepreneurs, and support organizations should target for transition efforts.
  • Outline how to reuse the existing infrastructure in downtown Johnstown to support local new opportunities.

Projected Outcomes

Cambria County expects to use its new strategies for local economic growth to help its own workforce. In turn, it will also serve as a strong anchor to several other small and struggling communities in the region. By facilitating workforce retraining and entrepreneurship that is geared towards newly emerging industry clusters beyond defense, the county will encourage the broadening of worker skills to promote overall regional economic diversification and growth.