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.”

Commuter Services Provides Employers Access to Transportation Resources as a Workforce Development Strategy

As we continue to navigate the pandemic, workforce development has become an important topic of discussion as employers compete to fill open positions.  Transportation is one of the major barriers faced by individuals seeking work, and Commuter Services can be a vital tool to help provide transportation resources to both employers and employees.

 

Commuter Services and Employer Partnerships

Commuter Services is an initiative that was established over 15 years ago to help reduce traffic congestion and improve the local air quality by providing options for the work commute, other than driving alone.  Our services are available to employers within Adams, Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, and York counties as well as commuters who live or work within one of those nine counties.  Employers recognize how the commute to work can create effects, both negative and positive, to the job performance of their employees.  If an employee does not have a reliable way to get to work, this creates a negative impact on their job search, as well as on the employers looking to hire.  Employers who take steps to create positive commute experiences will reap the financial benefits and have greater employee retention.

Employees who arrive at work with a stress-free attitude are more productive and willing to go the extra mile for their employer.  Traffic congestion, tolls, endless wait times at traffic lights and unreliable transportation add stress and expense to an employee’s daily travel.  Commuter Services is able to help employers by providing FREE services that aid their employees in the search for a better commute and therefore a longer, more productive tenure with their place of business.

 

Commuter Services: Commuter Programs

Our staff will listen to the employer needs and then structure a program that works best to get their employees into a more cost-efficient mode of transportation.  Some options we can customize to their specific location and employees include:

  • Carpool and Vanpool Programs – Employees can cut their commute costs up to 50% by sharing a ride in a carpool or vanpool. In turn, employers may find advantages from supporting rideshare efforts, by reducing their investments in expensive parking infrastructure costs or providing solutions to those seeking employment.
  • Transit Information Services – Transit offers a reliable mode of transportation at a very economical cost. Employers can support employees’ use of transit by making transit passes available for purchase at the worksite; offering pre-tax benefits; or coordinating with the transit agencies to assure bus stops are convenient to the worksite.
  • Bicycling and Walking Resources – Biking and walking to work are great options that can significantly reduce employees’ commuting costs while offering an opportunity for regular exercise. Employers can encourage biking and/or walking to work by offering convenient bike racks, lockers, and/or shower facilities.

Online Ridematching: Commute PA

Through our customized rideshare and rewards program, Commute PA, commuters can find carpool or vanpool arrangements.  This program can be accessed via the Commute PA app on Android and Apple or directly from our website – PaCommuterServices.org.  Employees can use this program to locate potential rideshare partners.  Commute PA will geographically match commuters’ starting and ending locations with the commuters’ work hours, to help form convenient, workable carpool and vanpool arrangements among people with the same travel needs.  The program is a valuable tool for those looking to cut down on their commuting costs as well as bridge the gap for those needing transportation for work.

Commuters can connect directly with others that have similar travel patterns and reach out to start a carpool.  For employers, this resource can provide options to those that need transportation assistance and at the same time help current employees find more efficient ways to get to work.  In addition to finding rideshare matches, employees have access to resources for biking, walking, and taking transit.  Once a commuter starts using a green mode (carpool, vanpool, telework, bike, walk or transit), they are able to record those trips and earn rewards, which is just an added incentive to enroll in Commute PA.

 

Emergency Ride Home Program

Many people think, “I’d like to carpool or ride the bus to work, but what happens if I get sick during the day, or the person I rode with has to leave for some reason?  What if my child gets sick at school and I don’t have my car?  What if I’m asked to stay late for unexpected overtime?”

Commuter Services knows that these concerns can cause many people to think they need their car every day “just in case.”  To help with this concern, we have an Emergency Ride Home program.  This program is for anyone who uses a green mode for work, is enrolled in Commute PA, and is recording their trips.  Eligible commuters can receive a reimbursement for an emergency ride up to 6 time a year.

 

Next Steps

As you look to develop your individual workforce development strategies, Commuter Services of PA can help provide resources and solutions to your employees.  These strategies may involve starting a preferential carpool parking program, developing a telework policy or providing transit pass subsidies to employees that want to commute by bus.  To learn more about how we can help provide transportation options to your employees, please email us at customer.service@pacommuterservices.org or visit www.PaCommuterServices.org for more information.