– With the goal of boosting job opportunities, workforce development and economic growth in the southwestern portion of the Commonwealth, Rep. Abby Major (R-Armstrong/Butler/Indiana) brought local businesses together to testify before the House Majority Policy Committee on Thursday.
“Our discussion centered around what is being done to help our economy thrive and what still needs to be done to ensure our continued growth,” said Major. “If we are to turn this ship around and create an atmosphere where job opportunities are abundant and the economy is healthy, we need to rid ourselves of the policies that hinder job creation and instead facilitate job growth.”
Held at the Inn at Lenape Heights in Ford City, the testifiers included:
Kurt Lipniskis, general manager at the Inn at Lenape Heights.
Ryan Bloser, owner of Ryan’s Creek House.
Scott McDowell, president and chief financial officer at BelleFlex Technologies.
Andy Bradigan, secretary/treasurer at Bradigan’s Inc.
Ryan Sprankle, owner of Sprankle’s Neighborhood Markets.
Recurring themes of testimony offered during the hearing were the need for additional employees and better partnerships between businesses and educational institutions to ensure people are trained for the types of available jobs. Additionally, the need for fairer tax policies was discussed. Federal, state and local taxes all have had an impact on corporate growth and, therefore, growth of the state.
Lipniskis noted that his business is making a positive recovery since the pandemic, but more must be done. “The cost of goods has in many cases doubled,” he said. “The restaurant and banquet industry operated on very small margins. Most privately owned businesses cannot survive with their costs going up 10% to 30 % and at the same time not having the ability to increase prices to cover the difference.
Other testifiers, such as Bloser, added that businesses and people need to be free of barriers of entry from government and be able to engage and create markets. “Competition is extremely beneficial to capitalism, driving innovation, research and investment, and helping to enhance and develop new markets,” he said. “Pennsylvania creates barriers in two lenses – regulation and taxes. In addition, the state needs to focus on programs that encourage marketable skills, education and the development of business.”
“We must bolster our small businesses, the prime generator of jobs in our region and the Commonwealth,” said Major. “It is in our best interest to keep the economy healthy by creating an encouraging environment for businesses. State government must reform the way it operates to make it easier for businesses to expand and hire employees by lowering tax rates, giving tax incentives and providing grants, loans and disbursements. The purpose of this hearing is to find out what these successful entrepreneurs need from us.”
“I want to thank Rep. Major for hosting the Policy Committee in Armstrong County and giving us the opportunity to speak with local employers about the issues that matter most to them,” said House Majority Policy Committee Chairman Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter). “We are not fully out of the woods yet; however, businesses in southwestern Pennsylvania are making a nice recovery after the pandemic. We need to help facilitate new businesses, new industries, new jobs and new skills that will propel us into the future.”
The 60th Legislative District includes Bethel, Boggs, Burrell, Cadogan, East Franklin, Gilpin, Kiskiminetas, Kittanning, Manor, North Buffalo, Rayburn, South Bend, South Buffalo, Valley and West Franklin townships and the boroughs of Applewold, Ford City, Ford Cliff, Freeport, Kittanning, Manorville, North Apollo, West Kittanning and Worthington in Armstrong County; Buffalo and Winfield townships in Butler County and Blacklick, Conemaugh and Young townships in Indiana County.