Chamber Minute

June 2017

Hi, I’m Gene Barr, president of the Pennsylvania Chamber.

Welcome to this month’s Pennsylvania Chamber Minute.

The 2016-17 Fiscal Year winds to a close this month. While lawmakers work to coalesce around a spending plan that will close a $3 billion structural deficit, they recently were able to take a good first step toward necessary public pension reform. We applaud them for enacting a measure which will move new state and public school employees into a hybrid defined contribution, defined benefit retirement plan, with an opt-in provision for current employees. This new law will rein in the unsustainable growth of the systems’ unfunded liability and shift the risk away from tax payers – a move that the Pew Charitable Trusts has identified as being among the most comprehensive and impactful reform any state has implemented.

Our Government Affairs team advocated for years to enact this important measure. However, our most recent efforts to build an economically stronger Pennsylvania haven’t been singularly limited to public policy. We’re taking into account the fact that many businesses want to take part in the ever-evolving global marketplace and are proud to announce that we’ve embarked on a new partnership with Stevens & Lee Griffin International LLC to offer the International Trade Assistance Partnership program. iTAPP will give companies ongoing trade support in several key, growing export markets; and PA Chamber member companies will benefit from a free initial interview and a 20 percent monthly fee discount. You can learn more about this fruitful new affinity partnership on our website.

In other international business news, I was pleased to recently travel with 16 fellow chamber executives from across the nation to Israel, where we helped to launch the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Business Israel initiative. This multi-year program brings executives from leading business organizations across the U.S. to Israel to encourage international collaboration between private companies within the two nations and boost economic growth. We look forward to fostering a mutually beneficial relationship between Israel, individual states and the United States as a whole.

Our organization was also pleased to recently host Canadian Consul General Phyllis Yaffe at a recent Canada-Pennsylvania Trade Partnership Breakfast, where I moderated a conversation with the Consul General about the economic partnership between Pennsylvania and Canada and discussed opportunities to work even more closely together to enhance prosperity on both sides of the border. We look forward to continuing more of these important conversations with the international business community for a long time to come.

Thanks for spending a minute of your time with the Pennsylvania Chamber, the Statewide Voice of Business.