28th Annual Economic Survey Shows Boost in Employer Optimism, While Workforce Needs, Healthcare and Taxes Continue to Burden Employers

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

The PA Chamber unveiled the results of its 28th Annual Economic Survey last week, which showed record high optimism among employers in terms of their confidence with the direction of Pennsylvania’s economy and their willingness to invest in their facilities and workers.  However, a jobs skills gap was listed for the first time as the biggest hurdle facing their businesses.  Also, ongoing concerns about the state’s tax structure and rising healthcare costs were among the leading issues they cited as barriers to economic opportunity.

According to the survey of 650 employers, job creators listed difficulties finding skilled and qualified employees to fill open positions as the biggest problem facing their companies.  This represents a stark increase over last year and has officially reached an historic high as business owners’ “top of mind” issue.  Given this rising concern and the increased attention to this problem, the PA Chamber is proud to include as part of its mission the “Start the Conversation HERE” initiative that is aimed at closing the skills gap in Pennsylvania by educating students, their families, educators and workers about family-sustaining jobs in the skilled trades and other employment trends in the Commonwealth. Visit StartTheConversationHere.com to learn more about this dynamic program and the PA Chamber’s ongoing efforts to tackle the skills gap in Pennsylvania.

As to other leading employer concerns in the survey, the PA Chamber remains committed to working with lawmakers to reduce tax burdens and address rising healthcare costs, which continue to increase despite efforts from the Trump administration to expand healthcare access. “We’re working to combat rising healthcare costs, which employers have cited as a major hurdle over the last ten years of economic surveys,” PA Chamber President Gene Barr said in a press release announcing the survey results. “Expanding access to affordable healthcare coverage should be a universal goal, which is why it’s so unfortunate that the state Insurance Department is resisting allowing many small businesses to take advantage of the new federal rule on Association Health Plans.  The goal of these plans is to achieve savings within the health care system and provide Pennsylvania employers with solutions to meet the needs of their workforce.”

Standing out as a positive takeaway from this year’s survey was the considerable improvement in employers’ perception of Pennsylvania’s business climate.  A record high 40 percent of employers now say the economy has gotten better during the last 12 months, up sharply from 25 percent last year.  Moreover, 26 percent of employers rate Pennsylvania as “very” business friendly, up from 15 percent last year and also a record high.  However, when asked to cite the top issues that should top business advocates and lawmakers’ “to-do” lists, they overwhelmingly cited controlling healthcare costs (at 66 percent) and cutting business taxes (at 50 percent) as the top two priorities.

The 28th Annual Economic Survey was conducted in August 2018 by Susquehanna Polling and Research, a Harrisburg-based public opinion polling company. To review the survey, visit the PA Chamber’s website.  

Public Meeting Scheduled to Discuss Routes 54 & 642 Safety Improvements in Danville

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is advancing a safety improvement project at the intersections of Route 54 and 642 in Valley Township, Montour County that began in 2015. Following several public meetings, a study was conducted with a community advisory committee to identify and evaluate alternative improvements to the Route 54 corridor between the Route 642 east and west intersections. A recommended alternative will be presented at public meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. at Danville Middle School, located at 252 Northumberland Rd. (Rt. 11) in Danville.  

The alternative removes a proposed roundabout along Jerseytown Road. The plan is available on PennDOT’s website. Included in the public meeting will be explanations of the design, benefits of this plan over previous configuations, as well as a simulation of traffic flow. The project is expected to begin in 2021 and take two years to complete at a cost of $16 million.

Member News – October 10, 2018

Member News

  • Following a weekend of Homecoming activities, Bloomsburg University will be welcoming parents and family members of BU students this weekend for Parents and Family Weekend. Activities begin on Friday and continue through the weekend, including a football game against East Stroudsburg beginning at 2 p.m. A full schedule of events is available online

 

  • The Bloomsburg Area YMCA will host a pair of free upcoming events for the community. Next Wednesday, Oct. 17, from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. will be its Fall Fest, which will feature a potluck-style meal along with Wii bowling. Then, on Friday, Oct. 26 is its annual Trunk or Treat from 5:30-8 p.m. Join the Y and other local organizations for a night of spooky family fun featuring fun activities, a haunted walk-through and plenty of Halloween candy. If your organization would like to take part in this event, call 570-784-0188 or email by Oct. 15 to reserve your spot. 

 

  • NEPIRC, DRIVE and SEDA-COG will team up to host a Lunch and Learn titled “Cybersecurity Trends & Safeguards for Manufacturers on Tuesday, Oct. 23,  from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Monty’s on the Bloomsburg University campus. This free seminar is specifically intended for manufacturers and helping them respond to current threats and trends in the cybersecurity world. Topics covered will include ransomware, hacking, breaches and disasters, and safeguards will also be presented including best practices for prevention, mitigation and incident response. See the flyer for more information, and register online, by email, or call 570-704-0018. 

 

  • The Press Enterprise will host a Career Expo on Wednesday, Oct. 24, from 2-6 p.m. at Berwick Golf Club. There is no cost to attend, and PA CareerLink Columbia/Montour Counties will also be on hand for some free job search workshops. There will also be door prizes every hour. Businesses interested in being a vendor are asked to register by Oct. 11. For more information or to register, call 570-387-1234 or visit the Facebook event page

 

  • MePush will be hosting a series of study sessions throughout the fall at its conference room at 130 Buffalo Rd., Lewisburg, for information technology professionals that are taking and interested in getting together to study for the Cisco CCNA exam. This major certification in the IT industry is a big undertaking for some, so MePush would like to offer a forum to help other IT pros in the area improve their skills and certifications. If interested, please email Art so MePush can have a headcount. 

Chamber on Hand for Ribbon Cutting at Danville Area High School’s New Performing Arts Center

The Chamber had the opportunity to take part in the Danville Area School District’s Homecoming festivities on Friday, Oct. 5, specifically by helping cut the ribbon on the high school’s new performing arts center. The ribbon cutting for the new facility, which opened in August, was held in between the Homecoming parade and the football game. 

Prior to the ribbon cutting, district superintendent Dr. Jason Bendle, as well as high school principal Jeremy Winn and director of student activities and services Chris Johns delivered brief remarks and acknowledgements, while noting that this project had been discussed and planned for years before finally being set in motion. Overall, from concept to completion, the project spanned several superintendents, administrators and school board members. The event was also attended by representatives from Montour County and the Borough of Danville, as well as several members of the public. Following the ribbon cutting, attendees were able to take a tour of the facility and check out the spacious new auditorium. 

Welcome George Automotive Services

More than 400 businesses and organizations belong to the Chamber to receive benefits and support efforts to strengthen their businesses and our region. Increased membership allows us to offer additional programs and benefits, have a stronger voice in advocacy and be involved in more activities and initiatives in our communities. The Chamber welcomes its newest member, George Automotive Services, to help us fulfill our mission.

George Automotive is a locally, family-owned automotive repair shop that offers highly skilled technicians, computer diagnostics and a great shop experience. While it specializes in European automobile repair, it repairs all makes and models. Founded in 2006 in Bloomsburg, it moved into its current location at 533 Jacobs Alley in Danville in 2017. It is open Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and can be reached at 570-275-2610. For more information, visit its website, Facebook page, or email