Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hoeffel on Economic Development

from the inbox:

"The number one issue facing the commonwealth today is jobs," said Democrat Joe Hoeffel, candidate for PA governor. "We need a comprehensive strategy to create jobs, build a strong workforce, help small businesses, revitalize our cities, and rebuild our infrastructure as we move Pennsylvania's economy forward. Many see our situation as a problem to solve, but we also have an opportunity."

Investments to revitalize and rehabilitate older communities and downtowns will bring Pennsylvania's cities economic growth they haven't seen in many years, in turn bringing renewed safety, prosperity, and pride. As Montgomery County Commissioner, Joe Hoeffel launched a bold county economic development plan to spur major urban redevelopment projects, attract and retain businesses, and rejuvenate older commercial complexes. Hoeffel's economic development plan balances attracting large businesses to locate in or invest in Pennsylvania with strong support for small and local businesses in the commonwealth.

"I am also deeply committed to infrastructure projects," said Hoeffel. "We both create jobs and improve safety through projects to repair aging road and rail bridges throughout the state."

By investing in our roads, looking not only at maintenance but also at long-deferred upgrades and expansions, we not only increase highway capacity, but also encourage responsible development which will preserve both urban neighborhoods and suburban communities. "These projects can strengthen the connections between cities and suburbs and help both as they help each other."

Hoeffel also knows that investing in mass transit creates jobs in construction, maintenance, and transportation operations. An important by-product of this investment is that it facilitates and supports jobs throughout our cities and their surroundings. Through improved commuting, we improve quality of life for families. Moreover, we help the environment through reduced energy consumption and air pollution.

Revitalizing our urban centers can provide the economic "pull" to complement the "push" of the open space preservation programs. Coupled with transit-oriented design guiding our development, we can help our cities, suburbs, and rural areas work together as never before.

"Creating jobs right away through urban redevelopment and infrastructure rebuilding is the key to getting our economic recovery moving full steam ahead. But we also need to make sure we are creating a sustainable, long-lasting recovery. Through bolstered education and job training programs, we can build a strong workforce," said Hoeffel.

"And through sound investment in the business sectors which have demonstrated they are going to be the backbone of our 21st century economy, we can create high-paying, skilled jobs for Pennsylvania's workers. These are the two things we need most in order to not only recover from our current recession, but maintain a robust economy in the future."

"It is critical that we increase access to community college programs designed to educate and re-train workers in the skills the 21st century demands for Pennsylvanians of all ages. Those who stand to benefit the most from this are those most likely to be out of work. Increased funding and tuition assistance programs are a must if we are to bring this opportunity within their reach."

Hoeffel already has a track record of success in attracting investments from out-of-state and overseas partners for Pennsylvania businesses, from his days as Pennsylvania's Deputy Secretary for the Office of International Business Development. But when looking at businesses in Pennsylvania, Hoeffel wants us to keep a sense of scale: "Only 2% of Pennsylvania businesses have 100 or more employees. The other 98% of Pennsylvania businesses are small businesses, with 62% being sole proprietorships," Hoeffel explained. "And in a down economy, these are the businesses which are hardest hit. They have fewer resources and less money in the bank to help weather the storm, and less access to the financial capital required to right the ship when the seas calm."

To help small, local businesses across the commonwealth, Hoeffel has outlined a plan calling for investment in local and community banks and credit unions and recognizing the added value of awarding contracts to Pennsylvania businesses. He believes Pennsylvania can build a system where taxpayers, financial institutions, and businesses work together with the common interest of investing in our communities and rebuilding Pennsylvania's economy.

“Unlike J.P. Morgan and Citigroup, Pennsylvania’s community banks and credit unions are tied to the success of our towns, schools, and communities. And many are rated as much safer than the big banks," explained Hoeffel recently. "Community banks have unique knowledge of local economies and familiarities with local business prospects, and they have a vested interest in seeing their communities thrive."

Hoeffel said he would encourage municipalities, agencies, and school districts across the commonwealth to rethink the way we use public assets and invest in the institutions that invest in us. “By shifting public assets out of the banks that have bilked us for millions, and into local institutions that support our taxpayers and grow our small businesses, we can make our money work for us, not the tycoons of Wall Street,” he said.

Hoeffel also pledged to create a fair bidding practice for state business contracts. “When the state buys goods from out-of-state businesses, we send money out of the state and never see it again,” he explained. “But when we buy from in-state businesses, some of that money returns to Pennsylvania in the form of taxes from the companies and workers.” By using a net bidding procedure for state contracts, Pennsylvania can more fairly assess the value of bids -- taking into account the money that will return to the state in business and individual taxes, and also the economic benefits to the state from the employment of Pennsylvania workers that the work will maintain or create.

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