August 21, 2012

Governor's Manufacturing Council Issues Report

Gov. Tom Corbett Tuesday joined manufacturing leaders to announce the findings and recommendations of his Manufacturing Advisory Council during a visit to Westport Axle in the Lehigh Valley.
“Manufacturing adds more than $70 billion in value each year to our state’s economy and employs more than 570,000 Pennsylvanians,” said Corbett. “Creating a business climate where manufacturers like Westport Axle can prosper will result in a growing economy and more jobs for our citizens. The company we are visiting today will be adding more than 500 new jobs.”
Recognizing manufacturing’s value to Pennsylvania’s economy, Corbett late last year commissioned a private advisory council to identify and prioritize top issues that can help influence, sustain and advance that sector’s statewide growth.
The 24-member Governor’s Manufacturing Advisory Council, or GMAC, led by the Team PA Foundation, today sent its report to Corbett and the General Assembly outlining a list of 15 key recommendations it believes will help Pennsylvania remain competitive in today’s global economy.
“I commend the work of this council and their commitment to this critical Pennsylvania industry,” said Corbett. “I am proud to say my administration has already taken the first steps to address some of the highlighted issues and we look forward to working with industry leaders to address others identified in this report.”
The report focuses on the building blocks of a strong manufacturing sector; new sets of tools to drive innovation and product development; better access to domestic and international markets; strategic public/private collaboration; improved access to capital; and a highly skilled and educated workforce.
The council also found that many companies are having a problem finding workers with the education and skills to fill the growing number of advanced manufacturing positions available.
“We’ve recently seen the largest increase in manufacturing jobs in the state since 1991, but we can do better,” Corbett said. “Bridging the gap between job-seekers and employers will address the great disconnect that currently exists between the number of available jobs and the number of people who are looking for work.”
The GMAC panel, co-chaired by Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary C. Alan Walker and Carlos Cardoso, chairman, president and CEO of Kennametal Inc., gathered information about challenges facing the industry from a variety of experts and manufacturers. The council conducted meetings over a six-month period starting in January.
“Gov. Corbett tasked the council with tackling the issues manufacturers know hinder their ability to grow and pose the biggest threat to a strong manufacturing sector,” said Cardoso. “The group employed a common-sense approach to address manufacturing challenges in a fair and practical way.”
The council consisted of 23 members from a cross-section of manufacturing interests, including heavy machinery, minerals, pharmaceuticals, plastics, steel and textiles. The council also includes three members of manufacturing trade associations and one from the Industrial Resource Center. Team Pennsylvania Foundation funded the council and no taxpayer dollars were used to support this initiative.
Gov. Corbett announced the findings during a visit to Westport Axle, a manufacturer of sub-assemblies for the automotive industry. Westport opened its 516,800-square-foot Lehigh Valley plant earlier this year, becoming the company’s first facility in Pennsylvania. Westport will invest more than $5 million and will create 518 new jobs within three years.
“My goal is straightforward; a healthy economy and a job for every Pennsylvanian that wants one,” Corbett said. “This report provides a solid roadmap for us to work together to achieve that goal in the manufacturing sector.”
The major recommendations in the report include--
Talent & Workforce--
-- Develop an “Adopt a School” Program led by the manufacturing community
-- Industry-led standardization of skill needs and curriculum
-- Better connect job seekers with job openings in manufacturing sector
-- Expand and better support career and technical education in Pennsylvania
-- Support proven strategies to increase workforce pipeline for manufacturers
-- Create measures and support systems for educators and school districts
Opening New Markets--
-- Develop a Statewide Pennsylvania Energy Plan
-- Increase use of existing state services in export & technical assistance
through improved marketing and private sector engagement
-- Invest in infrastructure improvements to ensure cost-effective market
access for manufacturers
Making Government Work Better--
-- Use tax reform to encourage investment, innovation, and job creation
-- Improve Commonwealth communication and processes to maximize
regulatory compliance while reducing cost burden
    -- State regulations should closely mirror and not exceed Federal policy.  The added
costs of compliance due to lack of coordination of these two standards hinder
investment and growth.
    -- Simplify and standardize permitting and regulatory processes to both maximize
compliance while lessening the cost of compliance.
    -- Increase use and marketing of pollution prevention and compliance assistance 012 |
services through DEP and their partners, which provide valuable technical assistance
to many manufacturers as they sought to comply with environmental regulations.
    -- Implement regulatory review and include sunset provisions on all new regulations to ensure periodic review and evaluation for performance.
    -- Support for House Bill 1349 (Pickett-R-Susquehanna) requiring an impact statement on small business and House Bill 2022 (Peifer-R-Monroe) creating a Business Permitting Portal.
-- Develop a Pennsylvania Innovation Marketplace
-- Improve collaboration between business, government, and trade
organizations focused on business innovation and growth
Access To Capital--
-- Provide greater access to information, tools, and training on capital types,
access, and use tailored to unique needs of manufacturers.

The full report is available online.