Pennsylvania's Changing Coal Economy

The Pennsylvania SBDC is a network of 18 university-based centers that serve all 67 counties of the Commonwealth.  Five centers—Clarion University SBDC, St. Francis University SBDC, St. Vincent College SBDC, the University of Pittsburgh SBDC, and Wilkes University SBDC—are part of this project and target the following counties: Armstrong, Bedford, Cambria, Clarion, Elk, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Somerset, Washington, Westmoreland, Luzerne, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Allegheny, Beaver, Blair, Butler, Carbon, Columbia, Dauphin, Huntington, Lackawanna, Lycoming, Mercer, and Venango.

Together, the SBDCs and the Kleinman Center research the economic issues facing small businesses in these regions and potential opportunities. 

This research effort aims to identify business development services for businesses and individuals negatively impacted from the downturn in the coal economy. The research effort plans for a future in which the downturn in the coal economy continues, noting that even with an improvement in the coal economy it is critical to help small businesses be more resilient to withstand potential future disruptions.

Pathway to implementation: Currently, the federal grant supporting this work is limited to research and plan development. However, this plan can serve as a prerequisite to obtaining federal funds for implementation of beneficial strategies identified in the report. In addition, the report will be used to inform Pennsylvania policy makers about strategies the state can pursue to assist distressed coal communities.

Stakeholder Meetings

As part of this project, the Pennsylvania SBDC and the Kleinman Center convene a series of stakeholder meetings to get regional input on the changing coal economy and how it is affecting small businesses. 

Wednesday, May 10
Wilkes-Barre, PA

Thursday, May 11
Latrobe, PA


Kleinman Center's Research Team

Principal Investigator

Christina Simeone is director of policy and external affairs at the Kleinman Center. Prior to this, she served as the Director of the PennFuture Energy Center for Enterprise and the Environment, where she focused on energy and climate issues that impact Pennsylvania. Additionally, Christina has experience in private environmental consulting, in the financial management sector, with the PA Department of Environmental Protection, and with the Alliance for Climate Protection, where she served as the Policy Director.  She holds a Master of Environmental Studies degree from Penn, a B.A. in Economics from the University of Miami, and B.S. in Music from Drexel University.


Policy Research Assistants

De Shaun Bennet is a Dual Degree Masters student at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, Education Policy program and Fels Institute of Government Masters of Public Administration program. He is a recent graduate of Morehouse College where he obtained a B.A in Sociology with Mathematics minor. De Shaun was a Gates Millennium Scholar and was recently selected as a Woodrow Wilson – Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellow.  Originating from Little Rock, AR, De Shaun aspires to obtain his PhD, focusing on social, economic, and community development. 



Theodora “Theo” Okiro is a first year Master of Public Administration candidate at the Fels Institute of Government. Prior to coming to the University of Pennsylvania, Theo was the Director of Communications to a City Council member in Chicago for two years. Her responsibilities there included legislative affairs, constituent services, and press relations. Theo was born in Bronx, New York and is of Nigerian descent. She has a strong interest in promoting fair and equitable access to credit, social policy and economic development.