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Wolf Administration Highlights How Back to Work Plan Addresses Need for Additional Investments in Manufacturing Industry

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Deputy Secretary Steve D’Ettorre was joined by Ruth McClellan, director of engineering at Whirley-DrinkWorks! and Susan Hileman, COVID-19 Recovery Program (CRP) manager at the Northwest Industrial Resource Center to highlight how Governor Tom Wolf’s Back to Work PA plan would address the need for increased investments into Pennsylvania’s manufacturing industry as the state moves forward in COVID-19 recovery.

“Pennsylvania’s manufacturing industry has historically answered the call during challenging times—from the 2008 recession to the COVID-19 pandemic today,” said D’Ettorre. “Supply chain issues have been presented across the country as a result of the coronavirus, but we know our state’s manufacturing sector is poised to compete nationally and globally to address supply chain needs. Consequently, the industry needs a skilled workforce that can support its increased production. There has never been a more critical time to support manufacturing in the state and boost its capabilities as we continue to move forward in pandemic recovery.”

Back to Work PA would invest in Pennsylvania’s manufacturing workforce by expanding on registered apprenticeship programs and education/training opportunities that support middle-skill jobs and the skilled-trades, connecting workers with education and training opportunities that result in family-sustaining wages. Additionally, Back to Work PA supports the manufacturing industry through a strong reshoring initiative with prioritization and recapitalization of existing programs, allowing for flexible resources to meet businesses at their needs. Major investments would be made into resources like:

“Whirley-DrinkWorks! is committed to successfully marketing our products and services to customers,” said McClellan. “The support we have received through state and NWIRC resources is greatly appreciated and crucial as we continue to serve our consumers—and for the industry as a whole moving forward from the pandemic.”

Back to Work PA builds on recommendations from the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center’s annual report, published in January 2020 and would be funded by a commonsense extraction tax on the natural gas industry, which would allow for an injection of $3 billion to enhance existing initiatives and create new, innovative programs to address barriers that are holding back our workforce.

“Manufacturing is the backbone of our communities, especially in our more rural areas. While most companies were not completely shut down during the pandemic, the vast majority were significantly affected with lost sales, changes in production due to employee impacts, technology issues or supply chain disruptions. Those who were struggling prior to COVID-19 have been the most impacted,” said Hileman. “A critical aspect in recovery will be to find new customers or markets, as well as to upgrade technology including cybersecurity, increase process efficiencies and address skillsets of employees to be more competitive.”

The administration is calling for funding for this $3 billion investment to come from a commonsense severance tax on natural gas extraction. Pennsylvania remains the only gas-producing state without a severance tax and trails only Texas in natural gas production. The proposed severance tax would align with other major natural gas-producing states and prop the commonwealth up with the successes of these other states have seen, like infrastructure improvements, improved educational systems, and lower taxes.

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