SHAWNEE – Local business owners and leaders told the House Majority Policy Committee that high state and local taxes, lack of infrastructure, overregulation, health care and energy costs, and the permitting process are all hampering the creation of new jobs in the region, said Rep. Rosemary M. Brown (R-Monroe/Pike), who welcomed the group to Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort on Monday for a public hearing.
The hearing was part of a discussion about job creation efforts in the Pocono region and across Pennsylvania, and was one of several the committee is holding statewide to look for additional ways the Commonwealth can attract and retain jobs to help strengthen the regional and state economies.
“There is no doubt that economic recovery is one of the biggest challenges facing our state and the nation, especially here in the Monroe and Pike county area,” Brown said. “A combination of factors has led to this situation, and I want to thank all of the local business owners and leaders who took time out of their schedules to honestly share with us the obstacles they and their fellow business owners have encountered in trying to create jobs.”
Specifically, those who offered testimony talked about the forthcoming requirements under the Affordable Care Act from the federal government, high school property taxes, and high rates in both the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax and the Corporate Net Income Tax as impediments, especially to small businesses, which create the bulk of jobs in the Pocono region. Experts told the committee that additional investments must also be made to ensure reliable and accessible infrastructure – including highways, water service and sewer systems. Another focus was on the cost of energy and ways to generate alternative fuels and alternative fuel vehicles.
Leading the hearing was House Majority Policy Chairman Rep. Dave Reed (R-Indiana).
“We are continuing to look for ways to make Pennsylvania more competitive with other states and nations,” Reed said. “We have made some progress by improving Pennsylvania’s business climate in the past year and a half, but more needs to be done. We need to take additional steps to implement policies that encourage private-sector job creation among Pennsylvania employers.”
Among those offering testimony were: Charles Leonard, executive director, Pocono Mountains Economic Development Corporation; Mike Sullivan, executive director, Pike County Economic Development and Pike County Chamber of Commerce; Robert Phillips, president/CEO, Greater Pocono Chamber of Commerce; a representative from Strauser’s Natures Helpers; Matthew VanBuskirk, owner/president, Alpha International Movers Inc.; Jim Ertle, general manager, Ertle Subaru, and restaurant owner, investor and developer; Stephen Somers, owner/president, Vigon International Inc; Andrew Worthington, president/CEO, Bushkill Group; and Don Hannig, vice president/associate broker, Spread Eagle Realty.