PA Chamber Testifies on Workforce Challenges in Rural Communities


HARRISBURG – This week, PA Chamber Director of Government Affairs Kevin Sunday testified on the ongoing workforce challenges that employers face in the Commonwealth’s rural communities during a public hearing at Penn College hosted by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.

The hearing brought together leaders from Pennsylvania’s energy and healthcare sectors as well as educators, agency officials, and nonprofit associations. Participants included PA Chamber members UPMC, Coterra Energy, Penn College, Penn State, Shippensburg University, and the University of Pittsburgh. Senator Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) – who also serves as the Center for Rural Pennsylvania’s board chairman – chaired the hearing.

During his testimony, Sunday emphasized the importance of improving Pennsylvania’s economic competitiveness through favorable tax and regulatory policies. “Our goal at the PA Chamber is to make Pennsylvania the most economically competitive state in the nation. This requires a tax and regulatory environment that encourages investment into the state,” Sunday said.

He also highlighted the need for modernized infrastructure to support economic growth throughout Pennsylvania. “We need modernized infrastructure across the state – from a safe and efficient system of roads and bridges to world-class airports and ports, to reliable gas, electric, and water infrastructure, and, just as important, access to high-speed broadband.”

Sunday also discussed recent legislative achievements, including the Senate’s advancement of comprehensive permitting and licensing reform legislation (SB 350) and tax reform measures (SB 345 and 346) that accelerate reduction of the state’s corporate net income tax and enhance businesses’ ability to carry forward net operating losses into future years.

The PA Chamber also supports efforts to improve the state’s workforce by addressing key barriers such as affordable childcare, occupational licensing requirements, and re-entry into the workforce after incarceration. In his testimony, Sunday reiterated the Chamber’s support for expanding Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate law and efforts to improve childcare for working families.

With Pennsylvania’s population decline being another major concern in the hearing, Sunday’s written testimony cited IRS data demonstrating that residents are leaving Pennsylvania for states with better economic climates. Sunday recommended targeted regional marketing efforts and greater collaboration with local chambers of commerce and economic development groups as a solution to help attract more residents to the Commonwealth.

Sunday urged policymakers to focus on creating an environment that attracts investment and promotes population growth. “We encourage the Center to take a close look at regional economic needs and population migration trends. Reforms to the state’s tax and regulatory structure help everywhere, but it is certainly the case that each region of the state has its own key industries.”

Sunday concluded his testimony by restating the PA Chamber’s commitment to working with stakeholders including the governor’s office, state legislature, and local communities to help move Pennsylvania forward.

Sunday’s full written testimony is available here. To watch his remarks, click here.

ICYMI: PA Chamber Co-Hosts Tele-Town Hall with U.S. Chamber Leaders

Discussion highlighted state and federal efforts to combat inflation and rising costs


In case you missed it, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Luke Bernstein, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Suzanne Clark and Executive Vice President Neil Bradley, and thousands of concerned citizens from across Pennsylvania discussed key economic issues during a tele-town hall on Tuesday night.

Bernstein and the U.S. Chamber leaders answered live questions from callers and highlighted Chamber-supported policies at the state and federal level to support job creators and their workforce.

“The PA Chamber represents businesses of all sizes, in every industry, across Pennsylvania. Yet, rising costs, supply chain issues, and the labor shortage are impacting nearly every business, regardless of size or location. We heard from many Pennsylvanians tonight who told us how inflation is taking away opportunity from their families and leaving them further behind. These concerns, which remain top of mind for Pennsylvanians, underscore the need for policies that will help bring down costs,” Bernstein said.

Callers’ questions focused on how to combat the rising costs of everything from gas to groceries.

Bernstein highlighted the PA Chamber’s efforts to address inflation, including advocating for utilizing Pennsylvania’s vast natural resources to bring down costs, enacting permitting reforms to move goods to market more quickly, and promoting the Commonwealth’s unrivaled educational institutions to address labor concerns.

“Everyone is feeling the effects of higher prices. To bring costs down and insulate against global markets shifts, we need an all-of-the-above energy strategy,” Bernstein said. “Pennsylvania is home to oil and natural gas, coal, wind, solar, nuclear, and hydroelectric energy. Expanding the use of Pennsylvania’s diverse natural resources, both domestically and abroad, will not only help drive down energy costs, a key driver of inflation, but it will also support good-paying Pennsylvania jobs and cement our state as a global leader in energy production and innovation.”

Bernstein added, “Pennsylvania is home to world-class educational and research institutions. While we need to encourage students to pursue four-year degrees so that we can continue driving innovation, we also need to eliminate the stigma around career and technical education. Students often graduate from these schools with little debt and the training necessary to fill in-demand jobs. A comprehensive workforce strategy will help us address the labor shortage, bridge the skills gap, and encourage our kids and grandkids to stay in Pennsylvania with good paying jobs.”

Bernstein also explained how the Pennsylvania Chamber’s recent success in enacting historic business tax reform will lead to greater investment and growth in Pennsylvania.

“In our most recent state budget, we worked in a bipartisan fashion with Republican majorities in the General Assembly and a Democrat governor, to cut our Corporate Net Income tax in half—from 9.99 percent, the second highest in the nation, to 4.99 percent by 2031,” Bernstein said. “This was the most monumental tax reform in Pennsylvania in three decades and sends a strong signal to companies to invest and grow here.”

Clark spoke about national economic challenges, including taxes, regulations, and surging crime, and the Chambers’ collective efforts to work with elected officials to address these concerns.

“Businesses today are operating in a uniquely challenging environment,” Clark said. “Many of the pressing headwinds confronting them have not existed in the modern economic era. Inflation is at a 40-year high. These continued price increases for everyday necessities put enormous pressure on business budgets, and on family budgets. Food prices have risen 11.4 percent annually. That’s the largest annual increase since 1979. Not to mention prices at the gas pump, and in our energy bills.

“This is not sustainable,” Clark added. “These are real problems that Pennsylvanians and all Americans are facing. We know that new higher taxes and more energy regulation are not the answer. In fact, they just make the problems worse. We are deeply alarmed by the surge in crime and retail theft here in Pennsylvania and across the country. We know that customers won’t patronize businesses when they don’t feel safe. Business won’t open or stay in communities where the threat of crime is high, and corporations will not invest in cities where lawlessness is left unchecked. These issues have to be addressed by our elected officials immediately. Amid these challenges and many more, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Pennsylvania Chamber are fighting for you and businesses across the state to get this economy working again.”

Western Governors University Launches Tech is Everywhere Scholarship

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