-- Business issues facing rural Pennsylvania were the focus of a roundtable discussion of the House Majority Policy Committee, chaired by Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest) Thursday morning in Juniata County.
Hosted by Rep. John Hershey (R-Mifflin/Juniata/Franklin), the roundtable discussion featured representatives from a dozen local businesses, local government and nonprofit organizations.
Topics of conversation included regulatory and tax burdens, infrastructure challenges, recreational marijuana and its impact on the workforce, career and technical education, and rural broadband availability.
“We have a lot of good jobs in Pennsylvania, but we need to ensure that we have in place training programs, public-private partnerships and relationships with career and technical education so our residents can obtain the positions available,” said Oberlander, who has coordinated a series of roundtable discussions with small businesses throughout Pennsylvania this year. “We’ve been amazed at the information we’ve received, and we’ve had some opportunity to develop ideas from these discussions into legislation.”
“It was fantastic to have my colleagues join me in Juniata County, where we heard about the successes and challenges of some of our regional businesses,” Hershey said. “There are great things happening in Juniata, Mifflin, and Franklin counties, but our businesses face the same issues with overregulation and finding skilled employees as elsewhere. I thank those who spoke candidly during the Policy Committee visit.”
Specifically, a manufacturer brought up his concerns about the relatively low weight limits and highways that, in turn, cause more tractor trailers on the roads. A local winery spoke about the need for additional permits to be able to sell their products at off-site special events. And the local chamber of commerce highlighted the need to change the culture and misperception of blue-collar jobs.
House Republican members attending, in addition to Oberlander and Hershey, were Reps. Matt Gabler (R-Clearfield/Elk), Torren Ecker (R-Adams/Cumberland), Barb Gleim (R-Cumberland) and David Rowe (R-Snyder/Union).
The visit to Juniata County concluded with a tour of Energex American Inc., the second largest wood pellet manufacturer in North America. The company, which makes heating and cooking pellets for both residential wood stoves and grills, employs 47 people currently. The business has been at its Pennsylvania location since 2000. Members learned about the production of wood pellets, along with the technology and innovation behind this line of manufacturing.
This event also highlighted an extensive legislation package, Good Jobs for PA, the House passed earlier this year as a way to enhance career and technical education and get students into good-paying jobs.
Video of the hearing, which lasts approximately 75 minutes, is available online at PAGOPPolicy.com
Representative Donna Oberlander
| Rep. John Hershey (R-Mifflin/Juniata/Franklin) hosted the House Majority Policy Committee for a roundtable discussion on rural small business issues Oct. 24 in Juniata County. Pictured with him is Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest), chairman of the Policy Committee.
Representative John Hershey
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Algoe Keaton