– Rep. Tim Twardzik (R-Schuylkill) hosted a public hearing of the House Majority Policy Committee Thursday in Pottsville to discuss issues related to the ongoing barriers to starting and growing a business in today’s economy.
“This is an important conversation to have on a nationwide issue. With the Commonwealth’s unemployment and inflation rate, it is harder now than ever to start, let alone keep, a business,” said Twardzik. “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and we need to support them in any way that we can.”
“Small business owners like the ones we heard from are so vital to our communities and the future of our state’s economy,” said Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter), chairman of the committee. “We need to continue adopting policies that will facilitate worker training, reduce regulatory burdens and invest in infrastructure. Then, government needs to get out of the way and let these business owners do what they do best.”
Thursday’s hearing was aimed at taking a deeper look at how current and prospective business owners are coping with the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, and regulatory and workforce challenges.
“My family bakery has survived the great depression, the Spanish flu, World War I, World War II, and every recession, but I do not know if it will be able to survive the policies of the democrats in Harrisburg and D.C. I fear in this current climate that to be an entrepreneur is quickly being snuffed out,” said Larry Padora, owner of Padora’s Italian Bakery.
Testifiers shared how overreaching and harmful government policies, such as Gov. Tom Wolf’s unilateral COVID shutdowns and President Joe Biden’s war on domestic energy, have made it nearly impossible to make ends meet. Additionally, testifiers advocated for increasing technical and workforce training opportunities.
“Today’s workers are not conditioned to make sacrifices and earn advancement,” said Mike Hammer, senior director of operations at Industrial Hydro. “If they are willing to put in the effort, we will teach and train them the skills needed to learn and advance their career and improve their standard of living.”
Possible policy suggested by the testifiers included more training to prepare students for real life experiences (soft skills), as well as more high-tech and vo-tech education. John Powers, CEO of Ash/Tec Inc. added, “The end game must be a top notch, educated, skilled workforce that can keep Pennsylvania thriving.”
Other aspects of discussion included business expansion efforts, wage pressure, energy costs, pipeline infrastructure and looking for companies to invest in Schuylkill County.
Other testifiers at the hearing included Dave Crouse, owner of 3Cs Family Restaurant; Julie E. Masser Ballay, CFO/vice president of Sterman Masser Potato Farms; and Savas Logothetides, owner of Wheel Restaurant and Charlie’s Pizza and Subs.
“Elements from this year’s state budget will help with unemployment and reduce taxes for small businesses, but there is more work to do to facilitate new and growing businesses in today’s economy,” Twardzik concluded.
To view the hearing or read submitted testimony, visit pagoppolicy.com.