Pa. Labor & Industry Secretary Visits Montgomery County Community College, Learns About Job Opportunities Created Through Education

PHOTO: Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry Secretary Kathy Manderino (center) is pictured with Montgomery County Community College Biotechnology students (left) during her visit to the institution’s Central Campus in Blue Bell on Aug. 17. Also pictured from MCCC are Assistant Professor of Biotechnology Dr. Margaret Bryans and Interim President Dr. James Linksz, along with Dr. Karin Abarca Heidemann (far right), director of research and development at Rockland Immunochemical, Inc., which is one of the College’s industry partners.

PHOTO: Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry Secretary Kathy Manderino (center) is pictured with Montgomery County Community College Biotechnology students (left) during her visit to the institution’s Central Campus in Blue Bell on Aug. 17. Also pictured from MCCC are Assistant Professor of Biotechnology Dr. Margaret Bryans and Interim President Dr. James Linksz, along with Dr. Karin Abarca Heidemann (far right), director of research and development at Rockland Immunochemical, Inc., which is one of the College’s industry partners.

Blue Bell/Lansdale, Pa.— Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry Secretary Kathy Manderino met with students and faculty at Montgomery County Community College’s (MCCC) Central Campus in Blue Bell and Culinary Arts Institute (CAI) in Lansdale on Aug. 17 as part of Governor Tom Wolf’s “Jobs That Pay” tour.

At the Central Campus, Secretary Manderino toured MCCC’s Biotechnology, Dental Hygiene and Nursing laboratories to learn about how the state’s investment in those programs and students benefits workforce and economic development in the Commonwealth. At the CAI, she met with students and faculty chefs before engaging in a round table discussion with MCCC leaders.

“The associate’s degree is a valuable credential for community college graduates in Pennsylvania. In fact, most of our students in career-track programs like Dental Hygiene, Biotechnology and Culinary Arts have jobs lined up before they graduate,” explained Dr. James Linksz, interim president, MCCC. “Our graduates also provide much-needed human resources to the region. According to a recent graduate survey, 68 percent of alumni are employed in Montgomery County and 97 percent are employed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

During her visit to MCCC, Secretary Manderino had the opportunity to talk with some of the college’s industry partners who benefit from student interns and graduates. For example, while touring the Biotechnology lab, she met Dr. Karin Abarca Heidemann, director of research and development from Rockland Immunochemical, Inc. in Limerick, Pa., which employs three recent MCCC graduates and offers internship opportunities to current students.

She also met Dr. Mark Schafer, president and COO of PhotoSonix Medical, Inc., a start-up company that rents a workstation in MCCC’s Biotech lab and provides the program’s students with valuable internship experience.

“Biopharmaceuticals is the fastest growing segment of the pharmaceutical industry, and there is a growing need for trained technicians to manufacture these drugs, especially as generic versions start to be produced,” explained Dr. Margaret Bryans, assistant professor of Biotechnology at MCCC. “In addition to the four major pharmaceutical companies in Southeastern Pennsylvania, there are more than 100 small biotechnology companies in the Greater Philadelphia Region, offering exceptional career opportunities to our graduates.”

MCCC offers a two-year Associate in Applied Science degree in Biotechnology, as well as a 16-credit Certificate of Completion, designed to provide hands-on, industry-relevant training to students who already hold associate’s or bachelor’s degrees and who wish to retrain for careers in the biotech field.

Before arriving at MCCC for the day, Secretary Manderino and her team toured VideoRay, a Pottstown-based manufacturer of underwater remotely operated vehicles, which is another of the College’s key industry partners.

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How Would You Like To See Your State Tax Dollars Spent?

Randall ForteArts advocacy requires an ongoing conversation with both our elected and appointed government officials. Since negotiations for the state budget have stalled, it’s time for citizens to help to set priorities. Let the Commonwealth’s current budget impasse prompt you to contact them and remind them with a personal story of how much the arts mean to you and your family.

A father wrote to me about the sensory-friendly performance of a children’s play attended by his child with autism. They thanked Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre for their effort to understand the daily challenges faced by families like theirs. “Our son may not have the chance to do so many things in life that others do,” they said. “It was a very special day.”

A thriving arts community does not exist in isolation. While engagement in the arts affects people in deeply quiet ways, the arts experience can unite us around shared values:

  • We believe that everyone in the Lehigh Valley deserves access to our rich diverse arts culture.
  • We take pride in locally produced arts experiences; they are integral to the region’s cultural infrastructure.
  • We realize that the arts are essential to our economic vitality and quality of life.

The Lehigh Valley is the third largest region in the state; it deserves recognition and its equal share of reallocated state tax dollars. An individual story sends a powerful message. Many stories command attention.

Randall Forte
Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Arts Council

Marcellus Shale Fees Total $627,795 For Lehigh, Northampton Counties In 2014

Northampton and Lehigh counties stand to receive a combined $627,795 in 2014 impact fees from natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale geological formation.

State Rep. Justin Simmons announced the checks will be distributed by July 1 from fees imposed last calendar year on drilling companies under Pennsylvania’s Act 13.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission distributes the Marcellus Legacy Fund money from 40 percent of collected impact fees, said Simmons, a Republican whose 131st District covers parts of Lehigh and Northampton counties.

Read more:  http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2015/06/marcellus_shale_fees_total_627.html

Gov. Tom Wolf Powers Up Conveyors At Opening Of New Urban Outfitters Fulfillment In Gap

If Gov. Tom Wolf wanted to see his campaign promises in action, he came to the right place Thursday morning, said Urban Outfitters CEO Richard Hayne.

Jobs that pay? “You’re looking at them,” Hayne said at the grand opening for Urban Outfitters’ massive 1 million square foot e-commerce fulfillment center in Salisbury Township just outside Gap on Route 30.

The site will ramp up from the existing staffing of 150 people to 500 as the year progresses, and could reach 1,000 to 1,500. Standard starting pay is $11.50 per hour, director of fulfillment Carl Carbonell said.

It also exemplifies “schools that teach” and “government that works,” Wolf’s other two priorities, Hayne said.

Read more:

http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/watch-gov-tom-wolf-powers-up-conveyors-at-opening-of/article_a09c1d32-0ad2-11e5-b006-43c0ef88a8ae.html

Judge: UPMC Must Provide In-Network Access To Highmark Medicare Members

DSC01842More than 180,000 seniors who rely on Highmark Inc. for Medicare Advantage will keep in-network access to UPMC at least until 2019, Commonwealth Court President Judge Dan Pellegrini ordered Friday.

His three-page decision commands the Downtown-based rivals into binding arbitration to resolve other disagreements they cannot settle on their own — a move that delighted Gov. Tom Wolf and Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

UPMC vowed to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

“The feud between these two companies must end — the people of Western Pennsylvania have had enough,” Wolf said in a statement.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/8465390-74/upmc-access-network#ixzz3bd7KLBrW
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Arena, Boscov’s Among Suitors For State Redevelopment Funds

More than 300 groups from across the state are lining up to get a piece of the $125 million available for Pennsylvania redevelopment projects.

Those requesting funding include the Luzerne County Convention Center Authority, which wants to upgrade Mohegan Sun Arena.

The competition is stiff in this recently streamlined state program — called the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program — with funding requests totaling 10 times the available grant money.

Gov. Tom Wolf will decide which projects receive grants in the fall.

Read more:

http://citizensvoice.com/news/arena-boscov-s-among-suitors-for-state-redevelopment-funds-1.1890479

Indicators Report: Economic Recovery In Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Region Isn’t Stable

PLAINS TOWNSHIP, PA — Wages remain relatively low in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties and both need to work on more consistent long-term job creation and growth, said Teri Ooms, executive director of the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development at Wilkes University.

Economic recovery in the two counties has been uneven since the recession hit in late 2007 and lasted until 2009. While the unemployment rate in the area has been dropping over the last few years, that was because those participating in the labor force decreased, Ooms said.

“The good news is labor force participation has finally begun to increase, more so within the past couple months,” Ooms said. “It is now at pre-recession levels, but the challenge we’ve had is post-recession. There have been too many peaks and valleys. We’re not stable.”

The region’s unemployment rate was among many issues Ooms and Andrew Chew, research analyst, discussed as they presented the institute’s 90-page Indicators Report for Luzerne and Lackawanna counties Thursday at Mohegan Sun Pocono’s convention center.

Read more:

http://citizensvoice.com/news/indicators-report-economic-recovery-in-region-isn-t-stable-1.1886047

Columbia Hopes To Land Downsized State Call Center, With 129 Jobs

A year after tabling a plan for a call center here, the state Department of Human Services now says it wants to put a smaller version of the call center somewhere in Lancaster County.

And even though the proposed call center has been shrunk by more than half, Columbia Borough is in hot pursuit of the venture, which would create 129 jobs.

Its Borough Council voted this week to spend $835,000 to support the effort of developer Bill Roberts to put the call center in a fire station at 137 S. Front St.

“Every now and then, when a municipality embarks on an economic development project, they need to be willing to put some skin in game,” said Mayor Leo Lutz.

Read more:

http://lancasteronline.com/columbia/news/columbia-hopes-to-land-downsized-state-call-center-with-jobs/article_cf7669f8-ffdf-11e4-ac60-370a1a706522.html

All Pennsylvanians To Pay More, GOP Gleans From Report On Wolf’s Tax Plan

HARRISBURG, PA — Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s tax plan would hit all income classes and amount to a “huge tax grab,” said a leading Republican lawmaker.

But John Hanger, Wolf’s policy director, on Friday disputed the Independent Fiscal Office report’s main conclusions. Wolf’s plan “would benefit most Pennsylvania homeowners making up to $100,000 and renters up to $50,000,” Hanger said.

The report released this week makes a key observation when it says all groups would pay more — including a small net increase for the lowest income group, those making $25,000 or less annually, said House Appropriations Chairman Bill Adolph, R-Delaware County.

That “directly contradicts” claims by Wolf and testimony of top staffers at appropriations meetings, Adolph said.

Read more: http://triblive.com/state/pennsylvania/8239869-74/tax-wolf-budget#ixzz3YKajHAhL
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Bethlehem’s CRIZ Not Living Up To ‘Shovel-Ready’ Billing; Officials Explain Why

Bethlehem received a coveted City Revitalization and Improvement Zone because its application for the state economic development tool was chock-full of shovel-ready projects.

The incentive was expected to allow for plans for a Bass Pro Shops, convention center and second hotel at Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem to be approved by the middle of last year. Plans for the long-stalled redevelopment of Martin Tower also were supposed to be completed by mid-2014.

But now 16 months after Bethlehem’z CRIZ designation was awarded, most of the projects the incentive was supposed to springboard are still stalled.

Officials say anticipated redevelopment has been slowed by having to start a new city authority, getting answers from the state and by the fact that the CRIZ economic development benefits pale compared to Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone.

Read more:

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2015/04/bethlehems_criz_so_far_not_liv.html

Gov. Tom Wolf Preaches ‘Gospel Of Manufacturing’ During Lehigh Valley Visit (Video)

Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday that students educated at Lehigh Career & Technical Institute and Lehigh Carbon Community College will power Pennsylvania’s economic engine.

“If we’re going to have a future in manufacturing in Pennsylvania, what you learn here is really, really important,” Wolf told students after touring LCCC and LCTI, which sit on neighboring campuses in North Whitehall Township.

“I’m preaching the gospel of manufacturing,” he said.  “Manufacturing is making a comeback…Part of the reason manufacturing has a great future in Pennsylvania is because we have really good workers.”

Read more/watch video:

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/lehigh-county/index.ssf/2015/04/gov_tom_wolf_preaches_gospel_o.html

Research On Vaping Starts To Clear Smoke On Possible Health Effects

Chelsey Bowles said she doesn’t stink anymore.

“Not smelling like an ashtray is nice, definitely,” the Hanover resident said.

Bowles said she no longer coughs in the mornings, her taste buds are back, she can smell again, and walking up stairs is no big deal.

That’s the difference, she said, between smoking cigarettes and vaping.

Read more:

http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_27902921/research-vaping-starts-clear-smoke-possible-health-effects

Accepting Leadership Award, Gov. Wolf Says Hill School Prepared Him

POTTSTOWN, PA – Gov. Tom Wolf may not have learned everything there is to know about “Beowulf” when he was a student at The Hill School, “but I did learn how to ask questions; I did learn how to think and I did learn how to live.”

Those were among the short lessons Wolf had for the students and guests Thursday night when he accepted the school’s 17th Annual Sixth Form Leadership Award.

“I came to Hill in the fifth form, so I was only here a brief time, but it made a big difference in my life. I came away from this place a much better person that I was when I came in,” said Wolf, who attended the school from 1965 to 1967.

During those years, he was on the swimming and soccer teams, was assistant editor at The Dial and played the sousaphone.

Read more:

http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20150409/accepting-leadership-award-gov-wolf-says-hill-school-prepared-him

Restoring Aging Lancaster County-Owned Bridges Tied To Natural Gas Impact Fee

On sparsely traveled back roads across Lancaster County, more than two dozen narrow, unassuming bridges built in a simpler era are showing their age.

Concrete is weathered and cracking. The decks are no longer safe for even moderate loads.

The Lancaster County commissioners are addressing the problem by turning to impact fee revenue from natural gas drillers. As of February, the county had $2.2 million available, said county engineer Scott Russell of Rettew Associates.

The commissioners are counting on continuing impact fee revenue to help fund the replacement or repair of nearly all 44 county-owned concrete or steel bridges over the next five years.

Read more:

http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/restoring-aging-county-owned-bridges-tied-to-natural-gas-impact/article_8d404a12-3caa-5308-a5f6-14cb6f4abaae.html

Gov. Wolf Says Manufacturing Tax Credit Could Boost Pennsylvania Jobs, Industry

Pittsburgh may not be the steel town it once was, with the economy of the state’s second largest city these days tied more to hospitals and higher education than smoke stacks. But manufacturing is still a huge part of Pennsylvania’s economy.

The sector employs more than 571,000 people in the commonwealth — including more than 30,000 in the York-Hanover area alone.

The average compensation for someone who works in manufacturing, not just assembly line workers but plant managers and other executives, is more than $69,000. That’s well above Pennsylvania’s median household income, which was $52,548 in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

With manufacturing’s above-average wages, new Gov. Tom Wolf has identified increasing the number of manufacturing jobs as one of his top economic priorities.

Read more:

http://www.ydr.com/business/ci_27743500/gov-wolf-says-manufacturing-tax-credit-could-boost

Total Cost Of Pennsylvania’s Proposed Budget: $78.6 Billion

HARRISBURG, PA – Pennsylvania could own a bunch of professional sports team if it wanted.

OK, maybe we’re taking some liberty with that, but there is some math to back it up. If Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget is enacted exactly as he presented it earlier this month, the state’s total operating budget would soar to $78.6 billion, the highest level ever.

To put that in perspective, it’s enough to buy all 32 teams in the National Football League, based on average team values compiled by Forbes.com. And then for fun, the state still could buy all 30 teams in Major League Baseball and have enough left to build a few state-of-the-art stadiums.

Of course, that’s assuming the state would spend nothing on its actual responsibilities, like public education and roads and bridges. But for our purposes, it helps illustrate the sheer volume of state spending that’s on the table.

Read more:

http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20150319/total-cost-of-pennsylvanias-proposed-budget-786-billion

Wolf’s Sales Tax Proposal To Include More Goods, Services

HARRISBURG, PA — The Wolf administration this morning released estimates of the new revenue the state expects to bring in by expanding the 6 percent sales tax to include more items and services.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal, which is the subject of ongoing hearings by the House and Senate appropriations committees, also would raise the rates of the sales and personal income taxes, while cutting corporate income taxes and providing homeowners with relief from school property taxes.

Applying a proposed 6.6 percent sales tax to a host of new purchases would bring the state approximately $1.16 billion in the fiscal year beginning July 1 and $2.97 billion in the following year, according to a memo released this morning by the Department of Revenue.

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/state/2015/03/18/Wolf-s-sales-tax-proposal-to-include-more-goods-services-pennsylvania/stories/201503180188

Solar Looks For A Sunny Outlook In Pennsylvania

SolarCity Corp., the nation’s largest rooftop photovoltaic developer, is hoping a new day is dawning for solar in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

The San Mateo, Calif., company announced Thursday a bundle of new financing options aimed at customers in the Peco Energy Co. service territory. SolarCity and its competitors typically install their systems on customers’ roofs for no money down.

The campaign is aimed at reversing the shrinkage in the Pennsylvania solar market, which went into hibernation after 2011, when federal and state incentives dwindled.

“We have a few hundred customers in Pennsylvania, but it’s been slow to develop over time,” said Leon Keshishian, SolarCity’s regional vice president.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150313_Solar_looks_for_a_sunny_outlook_in_Pa_.html#lSQXTxsBwMKzL3DW.99

Wolf’s State Store Plan An Ambitious Cocktail

Gov. Wolf’s budget proposal Tuesday called for a modernization of State Stores to generate $185 million in additional annual profit by fiscal 2018.

The dramatically increased profits would be used to make payments on a $3 billion bond issue designed to help close the $30 billion gap in the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System, according to Wolf’s plan.

Under it, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, endangered by Republican talk of privatizing the system, instead would have a monumental task – assuming it gains General Assembly approval.

Based on the system’s profitability in the year ended June 30, gross revenue from the state’s 600-plus wine and spirits outlets would have to soar to $5.7 billion in fiscal 2018 from $2.3 billion in fiscal 2014 to generate an additional $185 million in profits.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150307_Wolf_s_state_store_plan_an_ambitious_cocktail.html#rm8GTPsAek3O34kS.99

Pennsylvania House Votes In Favor Of Selling Off State Liquor System

HARRISBURG — The effort to change Pennsylvania’s state liquor monopoly is on a familiar path filled with many obstacles.

The state House voted Thursday to approve turning the wine and liquor retail and wholesale business over to the private sector, but the proposal faces a rough road in the Senate, which failed to take action on a similar proposal in the last session. And Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf favors improving the service in the existing stores to generate more money for the state rather than licensing them to the private sector.

Thursday’s House vote was 114-87 for the proposal, with every Democrat and a few Republicans opposed.

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/state/2015/02/26/House-to-vote-on-Pennsylvania-liquor-privatization-bill/stories/201502260159