“Placemaking inspires people to collectively re-imagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community,” from the Nature Based Placemaking Handbook, published by the Pennsylvania Downtown Center in Harrisburg.
You know it when you see it.
That elusive it so compelling, so rich, it draws you to itself.
Maybe it’s a natural place lush with forest or woodlands, crystal clear springs, or sparkling water trails.
What about an experience? An annual festival, pumpkin patch picking as a child, or with one, a root beer float with foam on top or a shopping trip with your mother. Maybe it is a spectacular al fresco breakfast with a dear friend.
Nature-Based Placemaking is coming to the Quakertown area, and it’s meant to make us irresistible.
Along with municipal and community leaders, Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce and Quakertown Alive! are working together to ensure our businesses are poised to take full advantage of these economic opportunities. When residents and visitors enjoy our active recreational across the region, everyone benefits.
“We are excited to be the bridge between commerce and community, which leads to a better quality of life in Upper Bucks,” said Danielle Bodnar, UBCC executive director.
The pilot program through Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Pennsylvania Downtown Center is an initiative to showcase elements of a location while tying in commerce and the area’s community and civic culture.
Other Pennsylvania downtowns in the pilot program include Connellsville in Fayette County and Clearfield in Clearfield County, said Julie Fitzpatrick, executive director of PA Downtown Center, a state-wide non-profit organization.
“Revitalization is never done,” Fitzpatrick said.
She noted for communities to continue to thrive and remain relevant as business centers they must continue to advance their quality of life features and protect and promote their regional natural assets.
From taking stock and highlighting natural assets (nature) to showcasing civic and community culture (place) and ramping up business and economic activity (profit), the model aims to have tourism development combine with civic stewardship and business opportunity in concert with the community’s growth.
“Local leadership will work to reinforce the value of these assets and cultivate cottage industries to help them flourish and grow,” Fitzpatrick explained.
Leadership training and resources will guide the pilot communities toward bringing in needed services to support recreation and appropriate direction to gather up and establish a unique sense of place.
Asset and gap components will be identified. Plans to shore up retail or service gaps may be created to shape a unique destination where people want to live, work and visit, often.
Naomi Naylor, executive director of Quakertown Alive! said funding and planning resources of roughly $16,500 were already committed through the Harrisburg initiative, while a timeline was being prepared with plans to resource and apply for additional grants and funding sources.
She said the program extended beyond the borough’s two-square miles to include its near municipal neighbors, Richland, Milford and Haycock townships, also rich with cultural heritage and rich natural resources.
Discovering how to draw people to the larger region is among the top priorities of a leadership team assembled for Quakertown’s Nature-Based Placemaking program.
From attractive signage, street lighting and green spaces to functional additions to the downtown like secure bike racks and repair stations to attract cycling enthusiasts, the goal is to become “visitor ready,” Naylor said.
Developing prominence could mean promoting a moment in history, or a distinguishing trait. Maybe it’s the richness of precious resources, longevity, stewardship or devotion to a place – things ordinary and extraordinary; irresistible components.
“How do you draw people, that’s what we’re [tasked] with,” Naylor said.
Log onto https://padowntown.org/programs/nature-based-placemaking-program for more information on Nature-Based Placemaking.
Seasoned pros getting the job done – that’s the motto at VoiceMatters, LLC
Michelle Kane knows how to make lemonade out of lemons.
Her business, VoiceMatters, LLC in Souderton, offers small business owners a way to parlay their message with the expertise of a public relations and marketing pro with more than 20 years in the business.
Born out of the Great Recession of 2008, Kane started her company in 2009 as a response to being an underemployed communications manager with two different non-profits.
“One of them began having financial problems shortly before the recession. I found myself half employed in a market that was bleeding jobs. My business is a ‘recession baby,’” she explained.
With a decade of agency experience as an account executive in Philadelphia Kane was armed with a solid network of creative professional connections. With this savvy combination of contacts and skills she felt prepared to strike out on her own.
Kane loves guiding clients through the creative process and helping her clients amp up awareness about their product or services.
The Juice:“I’ve always been an information junkie. I’m wired to connect people with one another, and that’s how I look at my clients. It excites me to make clients lives better, by helping them get the word out about how great they are,” Kane said.
She admits keeping pace with trends, tech and emerging parlance (language shifts and usage changes – think sick as something great) is a job in itself. Kane said while no one can possibly know everything, savvy professionals know how to build and maintain relationships to provide a whole package of services. “I don’t have to know everything about everything but I do build the relationships to have the resources.” It’s a best practices strategy keeping her business aligned with client interests. Marketing campaigns are fresh, fun and relevant.
“One of my favorite client activities is to do an audit,” she said. Taking stock of what clients are doing, what works and what doesn’t, helps refine client goals and create doable actions steps to move their business forward.
“The scariest time in your business is if you’re looking at your bank account going down. That is not the time to drop your marketing,” Kane said.
“You have to spend the money. Invest in a $50 Facebook ad to promote a business page. Do whatever you can that works within your budget; don’t do nothing,” she said.
On the horizon: A newly launched podcast, titled “That Solo Life,” which explores solo- practicing public relations alongside the broader business world. The new program features Kane and Karen Swim APR, founder of Words for Hire LLC, and an owner or Solo PR Pro.
Checkout the podcast link at http://soloprpro.com/podcast/
“For those who already run a business it’s hard to do the marketing as well- I tell people ‘you already have a job,’ that’s why you should hand it off to someone else.”
Should “that keeps” be in here? It’s a best practices strategy that keeps her business…
Back to fighting the cheapskates – could we change this to something around what it’s like to work with me? Like:
“It’s so important to have a strategy. One of my favorite client activities is to do an audit, to see what a client has been doing, what worked and what didn’t, determine their current goals and create an actionable strategy to move them forward.”
For more information on VoiceMatters call 267.236.3607 or log onto www.voicemattersllc.com.
Volunteering makes you feel good!!
There’s science behind it. Doing something for someone else triggers oxytocin, the ‘feel good’ chemical in the brain essential to bonding and dopamine, the ‘motivational’ brain chemical that gives us that ‘get up and go’ feeling.
Did you know UBCC relies on its volunteers to further its mission of support to the business community we serve?
Without them, we would not have the Foodie. Or our annual Golf Classic in June and fall Clay Shoot outings. Our networking events wouldn’t be possible without businesses willing to host members for mix and mingle evenings.
“Member volunteers are critical to service – they are ambassadors who offer face-to-face networking,” said Joseph G. “Joe” Wingert, UBCC board president and publisher of Bucks County Herald.
Real time interactions – and those ‘feel good’ feelings are “…something the Internet cannot duplicate,” Wingert added.
Who doesn’t want to join a group that’s doing great work?
Members, whether they volunteer or not for a specific committee like Membership or Government Affairs and Public Policy can still be active by sharing the word about the UBCC to others.
Share the good work, too UBCC does during your lunch break, at business meetings or with colleagues around the office and around town.
Invite a future member – someone you’d love to see involved, to the next chamber mixer, the first time is on the house.
“UBCC committee members are our chamber champions! They serve…as our enthusiastic leaders who assist the chamber in the mission and vision for the Upper Bucks region,” said Danielle Bodnar, UBCC executive director.
Committees like Membership meet monthly.
Others are seasonal, like Foodie, Golf and Clay Shoot.
“The volunteers on the Foodie Committee work hard to make the event not only successful but fun. Without the volunteers we could not hold the event,” said Leanna Knight, vice president at Warren Weiss Agency.
She said the committee’s diverse make-up brings essentials skills to the table to make the Foodie Upper Bucks County’s premiere food and drink tasting event.
What’s more, Foodie proceeds benefit Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW), a summer entrepreneurial camp for high school juniors and seniors.
That’s something to feel really good about.
“I love PFEW’s approach to giving them experience on what running a business is really like. The Foodie helps send local kids to get the experience,” Knight said.
Bodnar said chamber volunteering causes a ripple effect of goodwill that’s hard to replicate any other way.
“Our members are thinkers and doers, out in the business community. They’re helping the chamber make the connections or ‘bridges’ so vital to the supportive and positive business climate here,” Bodnar said.
For those of us who have received so very much, giving back is the right thing to do.
“As a community member and a parent I think it is important, to not only give back, but show my kids the importance of giving back,” Knight said.
For more information on UBCC Committees email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at 215.536.3211.
Consider being Big to someone Little
“I'll come to him and tell him this really weird thing happened, and he'll say something like that happened to him, too. He's more helpful than most other people and gives me ideas I never thought of doing. If he doesn't know the answer to the question, he's always asking around for me,” said Cameron, a Little Brother about his big Brother Dave through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bucks County.
It’s the little things, they mean an awful lot.
Teaching a skill or listening to a problem. Helping with homework or riding bikes. Taking a walk at a local park and going out for ice cream afterward, regular consistent visits only twice a month can make an enormous difference to a child or growing teen that needs a caring adult role model.
Knowing someone is rooting for the team – and for you - on the sidelines, at a baseball or soccer game.
The little things can bring the most joy into the life of a child, which is why Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bucks County works to pair willing adults with youngsters who need a helping hand.
Children throughout Bucks County benefit from having role models and mentors through the Jamison- based program.
“There are far too many children right here in our own county who are in need of a sympathetic ear; a stabilizing influence in their lives when they are at their most vulnerable. I know, because I was one of those children,” said John Wilson.
Wilson grew up to become a successful businessman and is president of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bucks County Board of Directors.
He benefited from having a Big Brother through the program, and he’s passionate about the difference those twice monthly outings made to his youth formation and successful adulthood.
At five years of age Wilson lost his father, a U.S. Army first sergeant. His European mother and four older sisters found themselves in America without any family support – Wilson’s dad was orphaned at a young age.
Wilson credits BBBS for finding him an anchor and a strong male role model, which he said “helped save my life.”
“What we did together in some ways wasn’t really remarkable, he simply included me in his hobbies of wood working and the outdoors,” Wilson said.
Bike riding, small craft projects, repairing old furniture or running errands. “We spent just a few hours a month together, but those moments were incredibly meaningful to me,” he explained.
Sharing your life with a youngster who needs a positive role model is what BBBS of Bucks County is all about, said Sharon McCoy, customer and community relations coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bucks County.
“Children at risk need extra support,” she said.
The enrollment age for boys and girls is 7 to 14 years, or Grades K-10 “from Bristol to Quakertown and everywhere in between,” she explained.
McCoy said recent grants are provided through Pennsylvania Department of Health.
This new grant does not have an income qualification and aims to help families from a health perspective rather than income, while addressing the family impact of the opioid epidemic.
“While 60% of our "Littles" qualify for free or reduced lunches, our most recent grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Health is not based upon the Title 1 provision,” said Erin Simmons, BBBS of Bucks County director of programs.
Wilson’s Big Brother came at a time when he needed guidance and a strong helping hand.
What everyone – everyone needs is someone like John Wilson’s Big Brother, a steady, positive influence. For Wilson, his “Big” remains a part of his life and is godfather to Wilson’s son.
Wilson said they continue to visit and speak often over the phone, now more than 40 years after they first met.
From youth sports to high school and college graduations, marrying and starting a family and building a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry, Wilson said his Big “…remains an active influence in my life to this very day.”
“I can’t think of a major event or decision in my life that he hasn’t somehow been a part of. He saved my life,” he said.
For more information, to donate or explore beginning a journey to becoming “Big” visit the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Bucks County website at www.bbbsbc.org.
U.S. Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick put audience participation first at the recent Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce hosted “State of the Nation” the third in its annual legislative breakfast series.
From capping congressional term limits and bi-partisan cooperation to solutions for transportation, infrastructure, opioid addiction and career pathways for young people, Fitzpatrick yielded the floor to give those attending a chance to ask questions about Washington policies, politics and the impact decisions make on the grassroots level.
After a brief issues recap, audience members had a Q&A format to put their thoughts, questions and concerns directly to Fitzpatrick.
David W. Freeman, QNB president and CEO, said the “shorter presentation with a longer Q&A session was in keeping with the audience’s interests.”
The switch allowed not only for questions but discoveries, too.
John Olson, vice president for wealth management at Janney Montgomery Scott in Allentown said he learned the opioid crisis was more layered and complex than it might seem on the surface.
Fitzpatrick said today’s crisis had long roots - going back decades to the 1970s, in which patient satisfaction surveys were tied to pain management standards in the pharmaceutical industry.
“Brian Fitzpatrick argued the root cause of the issue was a change in [those] reimbursement rates due to patient satisfaction surveys [from] decades ago,” Olson said.
Fitzpatrick said a change in perception was needed to help get those who need it most find and receive treatment.
“This is a colossal problem we’re dealing with. It’s a medical condition, not a moral failing,” Fitzpatrick said of opioid use disorder.
According to a recent report released by the American Medical Association, doctors are writing fewer opioid prescriptions to patients, a trend downward, which has continued over the past five years.
The report said one of the tools doctors are increasingly using is the state Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) database.
According to the report, between 2017 and 2018, roughly 20 million fewer prescriptions were written - a reduction of about 12.4 percent, the report said.
Fitzpatrick said synthetic illegal drugs such as Fentanyl and Carfentanil are infiltrating street drugs and pose a dire threat to emergency medical, first responders and law enforcement through accidental exposure when treating overdose victims.
Most commonly used as an elephant tranquilizer, Carfentanil is roughly 10,000 times stronger than morphine and 100 times stronger than Fentanyl, and it’s escalating at an alarming rate.
Extremely small amounts of it – even through skin contact – can be lethal, Fitzpatrick said.
He noted opioid addition is now “…the leading cause of accidental death.”
Fitzpatrick has made working across party lines a signature of his time in Washington D.C. where he serves District 1 including all of Bucks County, a small portion of Philadelphia and a slice of Montgomery County.
"He's working on legislation without focusing on partisan politics but rather sound solutions for our communities," said Danielle Bodnar, executive director of Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce.
Fitzpatrick is leading a bi-partisan committee whose primary goal is to adopt congressional term limits. “If it’s the only bill I get passed,” Fitzpatrick said.
"Brian Fitzpatrick isn't afraid to reach across the aisle to encourage bi-partisan legislation and roll up his sleeves to accomplish committee work to benefit everyone," Bodnar said.
About 50 area business and community members attended the event Friday, May 31 held at McCoole’s Arts & Events Place in Quakertown.
“State of the Nation” is the third in a three-part series hosted by UBCC at McCoole’s Arts & Events Place in Quakertown.
The series brings in local state and federal lawmakers to give the Upper Bucks Community an opportunity to listen and question elected officials regarding issues and policies.
Will you be there Wednesday, June 5??
Excitement and expectations are high for the region’s first ever joint chambers of commerce Young Professionals Networking mixer hosted at Free Will Brewing Company in Perkasie.
They’ll meet, greet, mix and mingle, make new connections and learn something new.
Look for ongoing fresh YP Networking events at different chamber locations about four times throughout the year.
“As a high school or college grad entering the workforce for the first time, it is sometimes difficult or intimidating to get out and meet new people,” said Tyler Stalletti, a credit analyst at QNB in Quakertown.
Joining forces and resources for the YP Networking mixer are: Indian Valley, Pennridge, Upper Bucks and Upper Perkiomen Valley Chambers of Commerce. They’re taking the guesswork out of connecting while providing young pros a gathering place along with an easy opportunity for purpose driven service.
As the next generation of private and public sector leaders – in business, politics, education, government and in non-profit agencies, young professionals are faced with different challenges than those who’ve gone before them.
Their needs are different, too.
“[Our] Rolodexes and experiences are not as developed as seasonal professionals, so we need opportunities to develop those skill sets,” said Michael T. McGuire, account executive for Johnson, Kendall & Johnson based in Newtown. McGuire represents Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce in Souderton.
While joining a chamber of commerce might seem “old-school” to some, it makes sense for young professionals to innovate using well respected and long established organizations.
Chambers of Commerce have longstanding histories – along with abundant professional resources geared toward helping serve their local communities.
“Chambers are great at many things but most specifically they are good at getting businesses known in the local area,” Stalletti said.
He noted training and education “you might not find somewhere else” along with social mixers and opportunities to make new contacts are reasons to join and become active in a local chamber of commerce.
Creating a young professional’s group, which draws from across four chambers offers a unique opportunity to get to know others in similar or complimentary businesses while exploring areas outside a business home base.
“We put a committee together which includes two members from each chamber (a total of eight members)…. Our goal is to host quarterly events in each of the four chambers’ areas,” said Alex Lipyanik, vice president commercial lending at QNB in Quakertown.
“The YP Networking [group] hopes to establish a way to take the fear out of getting out and talking to new people, as we are all in the same boat,” Lipyanik said.
What’s more, it aims to “create an atmosphere where you can actually get to know each other and build real relationships,” said Corey Armideo, chief operating officer of PBR Productions in Perkasie.
Armideo said those under 40 keenly understand job security is no longer a given, nor is the idea of working for and retiring from a single firm for an entire working career.
Among the keys to enjoying a successful business – either as an employee or a small business owner, are growth and strong professional relationships.
Morgan Sweeney of Lechner & Stauffer Inc., in Pennsburg said she’s looking forward to making new connections with other local businesses.
“I work in a traditionally ‘older’ industry and most of the people I meet at networking events are more seasoned in their jobs,” Sweeney said. She noted meeting “more people that are at similar stages in their careers” would give her and others a cohort with which to grow in their careers together.
Armideo said the idea for a young professionals networking group had been “brewing for some time” and coming together for a mission-driven purpose was among the joint chambers’ signature efforts, too.
“We are branding this as networking with a cause, [and] all unused proceeds go to a charity of the hosting chamber’s choice. Of course by being a joint chamber venture we all want to be able to collectively grow and expand the ability to let people know who we are,” Armideo said.
Housing, commercial, and industrial growth in Milford and Richland townships has ramped up over the past decade and brought with it more cars, more trucks and overall, more traffic.
From road widening to roundabouts, turning lanes, more travel lanes and synchronized traffic signals, travel was the hot topic at a recent Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce transportation forum.
The event was held at The Proper Brewing Company in Quakertown.
Several new developments underway will need road improvements and traffic signals that work in tandem to manage travel peaks and keep traffic moving safely.
“With new construction we keep it simple,” said Jeff Vey, Milford Township manager.
The St. Luke’s University Health Network’s new Quakertown Hospital construction project brings road improvements and turning lanes to Route 663 and Portzer Road.
Dennis Pfleiger, St. Luke’s Quakertown Campus president, said the new hospital reflected St. Luke’s continuing commitment to the community. Private rooms and comfortable accommodations for families, including with sleeper sofas in patient rooms, are part of its patient first approach.
“An integrated lobby so people don’t get lost” aims to soften the entrance transition experience. Fireplaces and comfortable surroundings create a more relaxed environment to help visitors and patients feel more at ease, he explained.
“We’re excited about this new building,” Pfleiger said.
Future phases of Milford Village, a massive mixed-use residential/retail/and assisted living development will trigger more road improvements, and the construction of a new Mill Hill Road is currently underway. Milford Village is fronted along Route 663.
“Over the last 18 years, we have been putting together a [master] plan,” said Del Markward, co- developer of Milford Village.
On the books for decades, the Route 663 road widening project began in earnest as these projects driving new turning lanes and synchronized traffic signals.
“You’ll see Route 663 fully improved,” once the roughly 261-acre Milford Village project is completed, Markward said.
Vey said completing Route 663 “in small digestible bites” was the best way to ensure the heavily traveled east/west artery would receive the improvements it needed.
Efforts to preserve earlier road improvement investments to Route 663, as well as the long-awaited relocation of Mill Hill Road were priorities.
And improvements to the Quakertown Interchange of Route 476 – the Pennsylvania Turnpike Northeast Extension are also in development.
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation traffic engineers and township officials are looking at how to improve snarls at New Road, and at traffic lights on Route 663 toward Wawa are also being explored with.
“The idea is to get [the trucks] off the arterial highway,” Vey said.
In Richland Township a second roundabout at Old Bethlehem Pike and Tollgate Road is under construction about a half mile from the existing one at Station Avenue and Old Bethlehem Pike – again with the intention to keep traffic moving.
Currently in development a third roundabout is proposed for the intersection of Portzer Road and Old Bethlehem Pike. It is a joint project with Milford Township.
Amy Kaminski, transportation engineering department manager at Gilmore & Associates in Doylestown said 11 traffic signals on Route 309 would have fiber optic upgrades for smoother operations. They’d also be able to report data back to the Region 6 office hub.
Six other area traffic signals, including a new signal at East Pumping Station and California Road, would be on a “closed loop system” to better respond to traffic flows.
Fiber optic signals will be able to synchronize traffic stops and starts during peak travel times. Signals in Quakertown, Milford and Richland will be able to report problems electronically to the PennDOT Region 6 offices in King of Prussia.
Once logged in Region 6 adjustments to signals would be made electronically, eliminating the need for delays to send staff to the site to correct the problem, PennDOT officials said.
Empowering youngsters is the juice PPL Foundation generates to help build thriving communities.
The community and philanthropic arm of PPL Corporation in Allentown provides grant money to schools and non-profit organizations across Bucks County and beyond to support 21st century science, engineering, technology and math programs (STEM).
“They [PPL] are engaged and understand the need to [support] young people,” said Marissa Christie, president and CEO of United Way of Bucks County.
The programs and funding are aimed at providing the tools to meet challenges and kindle interest in current and emerging careers among the youngest learners.
“We support education as a way of building a strong foundation for the success of today’s students,” said PPL Electric Utilities Regional Affairs Director for the Southeastern Region Carol Obando-Derstine.
Obando-Derstine said PPL Foundation provides grants to various community programs with a particular emphasis on STEM learning and innovation.
From summer literacy programs to the unveiling of Deibler Elementary School’s “Fab Lab Incubator” classroom in Pennridge School District. A $1,000 PPL Foundation Empowering Educators Grant contributed to the Fab Lab Incubator funding.
During the year, PPL Foundation gave $25,000 in $1,000 grants across several programs to help support STEM classroom learning.
And while STEM programs are familiar to most the next generation of STEM - called iSTEAMM, is trailblazing those core subjects while adding arts and manufacturing to the mix.
“The iSTEAMM [program] is the next level of STEM, by incorporating these elements, the arts and manufacturing, we see them as economic drivers,” Christie said.
Through partnerships with non-profit organizations like United Way of Bucks County in Fairless Hills, preschool aged children through primary and secondary grades benefit from PPL’s commitment to the communities it serves.
Christie said adding art elements including design and creative thinking, as well as high tech manufacturing to core STEM curricula, even broader educational innovation is available to young learners.
“Applying creativity and design thinking with high tech manufacturing…is good for the entire community,” she said.
PPL Electric Utilities also helps fund local nonprofits through the Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credits (EITC) program. By contributing to educational improvement organizations and Pre-K organizations, PPL continues to help children succeed.
EITC donations are open to any business with more than $10,000 in state income tax liability, Christie said.
Administered through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, EITC offers business tax credits that may be applied against the tax liability for the year in which the contribution was made.
PPL Electric Utilities EITC contributions directly support youngsters in Upper Bucks, according to Christie.
“Research shows about 90 percent of the [human] brain is developed by the age of five. Partial scholarships help parents afford high quality programs and benefit children,” Christie explained.
EITC Tax Credits help offset preschool programs, which Christie said can cost up to $12,000 per year.
Learn something new at the UBCC.
In September PPL will host a “Partnering with Energy Efficiency Program” Lunch and Learn program at UBCC’s offices located at 21 N. Main Street in Quakertown.
Free admission to Lunch and Learn programs for members is one of the many benefits of being a valued UBCC member.
The informational “Partnering with Energy Efficiency Program” will offer no cost tips businesses can use to be more aware of energy consumption patterns, as well as the process to access available energy rebates.
It’s budget time in Harrisburg.
Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce set the table for a state budget and services update to area business and community members in its second of three legislative breakfasts held April 12 at McCoole’s Arts & Events Place in Quakertown.
Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed $34.2 billion spending plan does not increase the Personal Income Tax (PIT) or state sales tax. The budget is about 2.8 percent, or roughly $927 million over last year’s, said state Rep. Craig Staats (R-Bucks).
Staats was joined by State Senators Bob Mensch (R-24th district) and Steve Santarsiero (D-10th district).
Spurring economic growth is a “hot topic” not just in local gathering spots, business meetings or around dinner tables, but in the Harrisburg Rotunda, too.
Staats said reducing Pennsylvania’s corporate income tax was a top priority “if we want to be competitive,” Staats said.
Pennsylvania’s 9.99 percent tax levy is among the highest state corporate income tax rates in the nation, Staats said. The proposed reduction to 8.99 percent, with incremental decreases to the tax in future budgets, is a start.
Staats believes reducing the corporate income tax is a key to attracting new and retaining existing businesses and investment.
Another impact to the commonwealth’s growth is a proposal to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $12 per hour, with incremental increases to $15 per hour over time.
So far the hourly increase doesn’t seem popular with tip workers, who currently earn about $2.83 per hour and make up the difference in tips, earned either table-side or from bartending, he said.
Santarsiero said he supported increasing the minimum wage, but it shouldn’t be seen as a policy to spur economic growth.
“From the state level there needs to be investment” in public education and greater tuition relief to attend college along with a fresh approach to funding it. Funding schools with property taxes is a burden on property owners… [and it] hurts economic growth,” Santarsiero said.
He said the state could take an active role in supporting career paths other than four-year college educations, which often leave students saddled with heavy debt.
“We have to get past this idea that every kid has to go to college,” Santarsiero said.
Pennsylvania spends about 80 percent of its budget on education and human services, Staats said.
Legislators are also considering a proposal for a sliding fee scale to help fund municipal state police coverage to those without local police departments.
A drop off of emergency medical services or EMS volunteers, which include ambulance and fire departments, are a state-wide concern amid a declining trend of fewer recruits.
Mensch said state and local government as well as the business community needed to explore ways to make volunteering with EMS and fire departments attractive once more.
“In 1970 there were 300,000 firefighters, and today there are [about] 38,000,” Mensch said.
The third and final legislative breakfast series concludes May 31 with Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick offering the “State of the Nation”. Fitzpatrick is a Republican Congressman serving Pennsylvania’s 8th congressional district. For information visit www.ubcc.org/events.
Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce
An economic development agency for Upper Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
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