Package Designed to Spur Job Creation
Harrisburg – October 11, 2017 – A new legislative initiative designed to spur manufacturing and job creation should be a priority for Senate consideration, according to Sens. Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia), John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne) and James R. Brewster (D-Allegheny), the prime sponsors of the plan.
“The new legislative proposals are designed to refocus efforts toward both building up and bolstering the existing manufacturing base and creating new jobs,” said Hughes, who serves as Democratic chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Yudichak’s bill (Senate Bill 923) will create a “Chief Manufacturing Officer” within the governor’s office to provide advice on economic policy. The measure also establishes a “Manufacturing Competitiveness Board” to help develop manufacturing strategy.
“Our manufacturing sector has been, and will continue to be, the steel in Pennsylvania’s economic spine,” Yudichak said, “but, we can do even better if we coordinate policy and bring new ideas forward.
“Communities across Pennsylvania, big and small, have been impacted by economic shifts which affect our manufacturing sector.”
According to the Center for Manufacturing Research, manufacturing accounts for more than 12 percent of the state’s gross state product. More than 516,000 Pennsylvanians are employed in manufacturing.
The senators said that more manufacturing companies need access to additional state financial resources to gain a competitive advantage and keep up with changing technology and job training needs. To assist manufacturers, Brewster will introduce a bill to fully develop access to the Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund.
Brewster’s proposal (Senate Bill 924) would direct up to $5 million to a grant program for vocational technical schools, vocational programs and equipment purchases.
“An important aspect of improving our manufacturing sector, building our job base and retooling manufacturing to serve economic needs for years to come is through enhanced vocational training,” Brewster said. “This is an important initiative that will open more doors to more workers.”
A second element of his legislation would increase the maximum loan amount from $5 million to $7.5 million and authorize loans to retrofit equipment.
Another important feature of the package is a measure authored by Hughes to maximize the Manufacturing Tax Credit. The Philadelphia lawmaker’s bill (Senate Bill 925) would increase the credit cap to $12.5 million from its current $4 million, expand the credit to include job training costs, and allow small manufactures to apply jointly for the credit. A $2.5 million piece of the tax credit would be reserved for businesses located in distressed communities in addition to disadvantaged, minority, women and veterans owned businesses.
“Businesses who are engaged in manufacturing should be able to use tax provisions to generate new business opportunities and jobs,” Hughes said. “The initiative is unique in that it permits small operations to come together in applying for the credit and includes job training costs.
“Our small manufacturers play an incredibly important role in our economy. Too often our policy focus is on attracting large businesses when we could also be finding new ways to help small operations grow and prosper.”
The Center for Manufacturing Research reports that Pennsylvania manufacturers employ nearly 10 percent (9.6 percent) of the state’s workforce. Pennsylvania exported more than $33 billion in manufactured goods in 2016.
Hughes noted that “given the need to build a diverse and strong job base, lawmakers should explore every avenue that is available to secure new manufacturing jobs. The initiative is aimed squarely at helping business create jobs.”
“It is clear, our economic recovery is gaining steam, but it remains uneven,” Yudichak said. “There are many sectors that are growing but others need new tools to get traction in today’s international marketplace.”
Brewster noted worker’s wages grow when job skills are enhanced and that is the result of additional job training.
Building the manufacturing sector generates family-sustaining jobs, reinforces a strong middle class, improves wages and helps strengthen neighborhoods and communities, Hughes notes.
“This fall, I am hopeful that legislative energy can be aimed at aiding the manufacturing sector so that jobs can be generated,” he said.
Hughes said that he expected the legislative package would be introduced within the next two weeks.