You are here:HomeNews CenterInsurance News2007Pennsylvania Promoting Itself as a "Backup Wall Street"

Pennsylvania Promoting Itself as a "Backup Wall Street"

Pennsylvania officials have launched a campaign to encourage financial companies based in New York to set up backup facilities in one of the nine counties...
June 19, 2007

Pennsylvania officials have launched a campaign to encourage financial companies based in New York to set up backup facilities in one of the nine counties in the northeastern region of the state, a region being promoted as "Wall Street West." The campaign is based on concerns over the possibility of another terrorist attack and emphasized - in a rather ghoulish fashion - that the region, 100 miles west of Manhattan, is outside of the blast zone that would follow a nuclear attack.  The officials note that the region is close enough to be directly linked to the computers that operate banking and trading systems.  Catherine Bolton, project director of the Wall Street West consortium, said that this area of Pennsylvania was ideal for backup facilities and noted that available locations in New Jersey were not outside the blast zone. 

On June 7 Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell came to New York to announce plans to build a $24 million network of fiber optic cables that would carry data from Manhattan to the Poconos, the mountain region of northeastern Pennsylvania. None of the large banks, investment firms or insurance companies based in New York has announced a plan to set up backup centers in Pennsylvania.

What It Means to Agents:  While everyone knows the importance of preparing for all kinds of disasters, there is something troubling about Pennsylvania's efforts here. State officials seem to be basing their campaign on a presumption that the New York area will suffer a nuclear terrorist attack. The danger is with states or the federal government assuming that any future attack will follow the patterns of the ones that have occurred before, with a widening of the method of attack.
 
The important question is, are states such as Pennsylvania that offer themselves as secondary backup sites fully capable themselves of taking care of all of their own state's needs, should such an event happen to them? This effort seems to be based on a belief that NYC would be in ruins and Pennsylvania would be left untouched. There is also something unseemly about how this is being handled as a PR campaign, complete with slogans such as "Wall Street West," high-profile visits by the governor and even having a consortium with a project director. At minimum, this in very poor taste.