Impediments to small business growth and ways to remove them was the topic of a Senate hearing hosted by state Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24) at DeSales University on Oct. 4.
The Senate Majority Policy Committee, chaired by Sen. Ted Erickson (R-29), discussed the issue with small business operators from across the region. You can view video of the October 4 hearing, along with written testimony and agenda, on the committee website.
“How is the state impeding you and how do we remove that impediment?” Mensch asked the business operators at the start of the hearing. “If you look at the state budget, we have to generate more revenue, but we’re already a highly taxed state. My idea is to bring more jobs into the state, more taxable revenue, and we need small business for that.”
The panel heard from six testifiers, representing a broad range of small businesses.
Erik Nadeau, president of Secant Medical, said he has a hard time finding skilled workers to fill positions at his biomedical textile company. He said his company spends $500,000 on training, adding that government training grants are limited in scope, with a time-consuming application process.
Stein Seal Company Manufacturing Manager Gary Schuler called for more support of vocational schools and community colleges, and implementation of a trades curriculum in local schools. He said the state should provide tax relief for companies that expand in Pennsylvania rather than relocate, and make Pennsylvania a Right-to-Work state.
David G. Harris, CFO of Penn Stainless Products in Quakertown, said small businesses that export products need training on the state and federal requirements to achieve compliance in export business. He also urged lawmakers to streamline Sales Tax reporting and consider repealing the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax.
Christian T. Lampe of Weyerbacher Brewing Company in Easton testified that the excise tax rate was a drag on his company’s ability to grow in the early years. Weyerbacher Brewing used to benefit from a state excise tax relief program offered to small breweries based on how much they invested in additional equipment, but the program was eliminated two years ago.
Susan Wolper of Wolper Information Services in Easton urged the commonwealth to make capital more easily available for small business owners who want to create more jobs, and increase competition among the health insurance providers to contain costs. She also said the state must provide relief for skyrocketing municipal pensions, whose cost is passed on to businesses, and set higher standards for schools.
Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association Executive Director David Taylor said the state must improve workforce readiness, open new markets by utilizing energy and rebuilding infrastructure, and reform the commonwealth’s business tax structure.
“Clearly, one of the challenges is to ensure that small businesses have access to skilled workers needed to fill available jobs and business expansion,” said Mensch. “I’ve heard from additional industry sectors – not only small business manufacturing, but also construction, road building, housing, education – asking ‘How can we better prepare people for the marketplace?’ So, we may be having more of these discussions down the road.”