December 18th, 2012
hcbihighlights

Why Transportation Matters

Why Transportation Matters

A quick search on any search engine will give you a multitude of reports on the direct effect of transportation in relation to economic activityTransportation infrastructure impacts all of our wallets through the cost of goods or services, job creation and retention, commuting costs, vehicle fees and maintenance.   One study showed that the average cost of driving on rough roads can cost the average American motorist approximately $335 a year in extra vehicle operating costs (The Road Information Program, Rough Roads Ahead: Fix Them Now or Pay For It Later).

Transportation’s impact on businesses

The lack of reliable transportation options impact a business’s bottom line the same way that a household is impacted.  Higher transportation costs and higher inventory carrying costs – partially attributable to an unreliable, unpredictable transportation system directly impact the price we as consumer pay for goods and services.  Location plays a significant impact on the costs associated with supply chain and distribution.   One recent study in Site Selection Magazine showed that “up to 80% of supply chain related costs are locked in by choice of location”.  Costs are not only fuel related.  Time lost to a company while drivers sit in congestion, accidents, behind farm tractors, also impact the cost of product distribution. 

When it comes to attraction of new large businesses to Huntingdon County, our lack of solid transportation options put us at a significant disadvantage.  Increasingly communities like ours are discounted as good options from the beginning of a site selection search even though the county has many positives like a solid workforce and available sites.  Area Development’s 26th Annual Corporate Executive study (2012) once again showed that highway accessibility and labor costs are the top two factors when selecting a location for their facilities.  94% said highway accessibility is very important/somewhat important and 88% labor costs.  In fact, proximity to major markets showed the greatest jump in importance — 16.6 percentage points — moving from 17th place in the 2010 Corporate Survey rankings, with a 66.4 importance rating, to ninth place for 2011, considered “very important” or “important” by 83 percent of the 2011 Corporate Survey respondents. 

Sliding Backwards

For the at least past five years, PennDot has been in “maintenance mode”, attempting to keep pace with the aging infrastructure of Pennsylvania.  Nearly all capacity-add projects have been set aside as there is not enough money to maintain let alone add new.  Additionally it is estimated that the funding gap between what is available for road/bridge maintenance and repair is about $3.5 billion short.  Additionally, the main funding source for transportation is expected to fall by $57 billion (federally) over the next eleven years due to the scheduled increase in federal fuel economy standard (The Wall Street Journal, 09.17.2012). In Pennsylvania the fuel tax revenue is expected to be $470M less per year than it is today (Decade of Investment Report, 2011). 

Spending continues to outweigh revenue and many previously incurred debts are coming due.  In 2010, federal lawmakers transferred $14.7 billion dollars from the general fund to cover the deficit of the Highway Trust Fund (funded by the gas tax).   On the state level, debt payments rose by 18.8% over the last four years.  

Inefficient and ineffective Uses of Funding

In 2007, only 60% of the federal highway trust dollars were spent on roads and bridges.    On a state level, PennDot only spends 75% of its funding on roads and bridges.  Also on the state level, a total of 13% of PennDot’s annual budget goes to debt reduction and other programs including the Pennsylvania State Police whose costs have increased by 66% over the last ten years. 

The cost of maintaining, repairing and building the transportation system continues to climb each year as well.  Factors like inflation and increased costs (wages, materials) make the buying power of limited funding even less effective.  It is critically important to make improvements in the time that is takes to build roads.  Congressman Shuster during a press conference in September cited an Oklahoma interstate project that took fifteen years from announcement to completion.  Now take in to consideration that buying power decreases by 3% annually based on the average inflation rate.  Therefore 20 years from now, 33% more funding will be required to complete the same amount of road work. 

The Fix?

Congress has made minor progress in improving the financial crisis by adopting a new two years federal transportation bill call Moving Ahead for Progress or MAP 21.  While the bill is a good temporary fix, much more work is required to put the highway trust fund back on a sustainable path.  In 2011, Governor Corbett assembled a task force of transportation related specialists around the Commonwealth to brainstorm ways to increase transportation funding without significant tax increases.  The plan called for changes to vehicle registrations, inspections and licensing, the use of modern technology to decrease long term reinvestment needs, and increase efficiency in delivery of services by PennDot.  The impact to the average Pennsylvania driver for year one of the proposed changes would be approximately $0.70 per week, $36.40 annually; by the fifth year it would cost the average driver $2.54 per week, $132 annually.  The income generation would be $2.5 billion to the state transportation system. 

Economic Impact of Transportation Construction in Huntingdon County

Transportation alone cannot provide a community with economic prosperity.  Numerous other factors must exist for a community to be deemed suitable to a business – workforce, taxes, land availability, proximity to markets and much more play a role.  In communities where these other factors exist (like those of Huntingdon County), transportation enhancements and expansions can act as the catalyst for economic activity.  Analysis of the latest U.S. Census Bureau data shows the design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure supports the equivalent of 122 full‐time jobs in Huntingdon County.  This employment includes the equivalent of 61 jobs directly involved in transportation infrastructure construction and 61 jobs that are sustained by those employees and companies spending throughout the region’s economy.   Additionally, the existence of more than 5,234 full‐time jobs in Huntingdon County in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing are dependent on the county’s transportation infrastructure network.   According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are at least 139 firms in Huntingdon County that are in some way directly involved in transportation construction related work.  

(Source: huntingdondailynews.com)

August 23rd, 2012
hcbihighlights

HCBI and HCCC Join to Fight the “Fiscal Cliff”

The Chamber & HCBI Board of Directors voted to sign the US Chamber of Commerce letter urging Congress and the President to immediately enact legislation that averts America’s impending fiscal cliff.   

 

The year- end tax increases would yield the largest tax increases in American history at the same time that spending cuts are being imposed.  Economists warn that these spending cuts and tax increases will have a devastating effect on the economy, possibly returning it to a recession.  The letter requests that action be taken now. The looming year-end fiscal cliff has increased uncertainty, which has already begun to deter consumer spending and hamper business investment. 

 

Businesses cannot plan for the future and are delaying hiring, ordering and are canceling new investments.  As frightened manufacturers delay investment, the rate of economic growth is slowing from a rate of 4.1% at the end of last year to 1.5%.   

 

 The letter urges congress and the president to

  • Extend all of the 2001 and 2003 tax rates (including current marginal rates, dividend and capital gains rates, and estate tax relief) for all taxpayers;
  • Extend vital expired and expiring business tax provisions;
  • Provide alternative minimum tax (AMT) relief; and
  • Find spending cuts to replace a sequestration never intended to go into effect.

Short term action is not a substitute for long term fundamental fiscal reform. In addition to immediate action on the fiscal cliff, the letter also urges that legislators

  • Firmly commit to tackling comprehensive tax reform in the next Congress; and
  • Agree to develop a long term plan to address America’s excessive spending, particularly entitlement spending.

The Chamber & HCBI believe legislation needs to be enacted to avoid automatic tax increases at a time of economic uncertainty. We support thoughtful and responsible actions addressing longer term essential tax reform that will impact positively on economic growth and job creation

August 10th, 2012
hcbihighlights

The Economic Development Corporation and The Chamber of Commerce

Huntingdon County is fortunate to have several agencies that work together for the betterment of the local economy.  The Huntingdon County Commissioners, Huntingdon County Planning Department, Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce, Huntingdon County Business and Industry, Huntingdon County Visitor’s Bureau, and the Huntingdon County Careerlink all play a role in helping the private sector grow.  The focus of this article is to highlight the differences between a chamber of commerce and an economic development corporation. 

A chamber of commerce’s primary focus is to grow business profits through providing services.  One of the functions offered by a chamber is to provide cost containment options like ChamberChoice Insurance, OnDemand Energy, member-to-member discount programs, and cost sharing opportunities like bulk mail assistance.  For new businesses in the community, they provide welcome bags and coordinate events like ribbon cuttings.   Additionally a chamber provides businesses with opportunities to grow revenues through networking events like the Chamber After-Hours and the Business Connection as well as hosts informative events like coffee connections which help businesses stay on top of local issues.  Advocacy is a major function of a chamber as they work to be the collective voice for the business community on legislative issues that directly impact the business community.

Economic development corporations can be categorized as project driven.  The intended end result of projects undertaken by economic development groups is to make the county a business friendly place.  Examples of the types of projects undertaken by these agencies include transportation enhancements (rail, road, air, and water), improvement of and lobbying for telecom and utility services, development of land for business parks, ande facilitation of public/private partnerships.    Business services provided include entrepreneurial start up assistance, referrals to specialty agencies, financial assistance (tax credits and abatements, low interest loans), expansion projects and lastly attraction of new business.  Economic development groups serve as the connector between the business community and the network of service providers for workforce development, export assistance, business planning, new product development, and more. 

Partnership between chambers and economic development groups are essential for communities to maintain their assets and for growth. In Huntingdon County, both the Chamber and HCBI work jointly on legislative and lobbying actions.  Both organizations handle workforce development through hosting seminars and workshops and gathering data to address workforce needs.  Both agencies work to promote the county as a good place to live, work and play.  A unified voice provides many opportunities for development and progress. 

As mentioned earlier in the article, there are numerous agencies in Huntingdon County that play a role in the economic climate of the county.  Each agency has varying responsibilities and areas of expertise.  The most important part for the business community to know is that no matter what your business need is, all of the partners listed above should be able to assist you in determining which agency is best suited to assist.  There is no wrong door of entry when your business is looking for assistance.

July 12th, 2012
hcbihighlights

Economic Development Corporations and Chambers of Commerce - What’s the difference?

Huntingdon County is fortunate to have several agencies that work together for the betterment of the local economy.  The Huntingdon County Commissioners, Huntingdon County Planning Department, Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce, Huntingdon County Business and Industry, Huntingdon County Visitor’s Bureau, and the Huntingdon County Careerlink all play a role in helping the private sector grow.  The focus of this article is to highlight the differences between a chamber of commerce and an economic development corporation. 

A chamber of commerce’s primary focus is to grow business profits through providing services.  One of the functions offered by a chamber is to provide cost containment options like ChamberChoice Insurance, OnDemand Energy, member-to-member discount programs, and cost sharing opportunities like bulk mail assistance.  For new businesses in the community, they provide welcome bags and coordinate events like ribbon cuttings.   Additionally a chamber provides businesses with opportunities to grow revenues through networking events like the Chamber After-Hours and the Business Connection as well as hosts informative events like coffee connections which help businesses stay on top of local issues.  Advocacy is a major function of a chamber as they work to be the collective voice for the business community on legislative issues that directly impact the business community.

Economic development corporations can be categorized as project driven.  The intended end result of projects undertaken by economic development groups is to make the county a business friendly place.  Examples of the types of projects undertaken by these agencies include transportation enhancements (rail, road, air, and water), improvement of and lobbying for telecom and utility services, development of land for business parks, ande facilitation of public/private partnerships.    Business services provided include entrepreneurial start up assistance, referrals to specialty agencies, financial assistance (tax credits and abatements, low interest loans), expansion projects and lastly attraction of new business.  Economic development groups serve as the connector between the business community and the network of service providers for workforce development, export assistance, business planning, new product development, and more. 

Partnership between chambers and economic development groups are essential for communities to maintain their assets and for growth. In Huntingdon County, both the Chamber and HCBI work jointly on legislative and lobbying actions.  Both organizations handle workforce development through hosting seminars and workshops and gathering data to address workforce needs.  Both agencies work to promote the county as a good place to live, work and play.  A unified voice provides many opportunities for development and progress. 

As mentioned earlier in the article, there are numerous agencies in Huntingdon County that play a role in the economic climate of the county.  Each agency has varying responsibilities and areas of expertise.  The most important part for the business community to know is that no matter what your business need is, all of the partners listed above should be able to assist you in determining which agency is best suited to assist.  There is no wrong door of entry when your business is looking for assistance.

(Source: http)

March 5th, 2012
hcbihighlights

Ideas worth spreading.

fastcompany:

What would happen if every city created an edible forest that was open to the public? 

Coming To Seattle: The Country’s Biggest Public Food Forest

What’s a food forest, you ask? Just what it sounds like: a nature preserve full of edible plants, to help feed the city.

Eat it->

Reblogged from Fast Company
March 5th, 2012
hcbihighlights
February 7th, 2012
hcbihighlights
Jobs First PA
Today, during his Budget Address to the General Assembly, Governor Corbett introduced a program that he believes will create a robust employment market and a vital economy. He calls it Jobs First PA.
The Governor did not go into great detail about this new program, but he did release the following information.


In his words:

Pennsylvania competes with every other state in the union for factories, offices and corporate headquarters. The shorter we make the journey from the drawing board to the ribbon-cutting, the better our chances of growing jobs.
So, I am bringing before you a new and innovative program to create a robust employment market and a vital economy. We call it Jobs First PA. It comprises four programs:
Pennsylvania Inc., The Comprehensive Job Matching System, Keystone Works, and The Targeted Industry Certificate Program.
We will roll out full details soon.
Briefly, Pennsylvania Inc. provides a single point of access between job creators and state government to speed the time between an idea and a business. Keystone Works would allow unemployed workers to continue their benefits while being trained by companies with available jobs.
The idea is to get the recently unemployed back to work as quickly as possible. The Targeted Industry Certificate program provides increased grants for college and trade school students who are training for high-demand occupations.
In short, we are targeting our workforce toward the jobs. The goal is simple: if there’s a job to fill in a new or existing industry, we are determined to put that career opportunity into the hands of a Pennsylvanian.
And, yes, this budget continues the phase out of the capital stock and franchise tax.
At the Department of Community and Economic Development, we are at work finalizing a program I proposed last year, the Liberty Financing Authority. It will merge several programs under a single umbrella. The Liberty Financing Authority will provide the flexibility to direct loans to expanding businesses.
I want to be clear about this. The Liberty Financing Authority is not a series of grants. These are loans, money that will be repaid and rolled back into the nest egg from which we can help the next job-creator.
This line of underwriting might be the small difference in helping a job creator setup shop or to expand an existing one. This is the time to invest in the future. These programs can get us there.


We’ll continue to keep you informed as we learn more about Jobs First PA and the impact it could have on the Huntingdon County business community.
[photo via]

Jobs First PA

Today, during his Budget Address to the General Assembly, Governor Corbett introduced a program that he believes will create a robust employment market and a vital economy. He calls it Jobs First PA.

The Governor did not go into great detail about this new program, but he did release the following information.

In his words:

Pennsylvania competes with every other state in the union for factories, offices and corporate headquarters. The shorter we make the journey from the drawing board to the ribbon-cutting, the better our chances of growing jobs.

So, I am bringing before you a new and innovative program to create a robust employment market and a vital economy. We call it Jobs First PA. It comprises four programs:

Pennsylvania Inc., The Comprehensive Job Matching System, Keystone Works, and The Targeted Industry Certificate Program.

We will roll out full details soon.

Briefly, Pennsylvania Inc. provides a single point of access between job creators and state government to speed the time between an idea and a business. Keystone Works would allow unemployed workers to continue their benefits while being trained by companies with available jobs.

The idea is to get the recently unemployed back to work as quickly as possible. The Targeted Industry Certificate program provides increased grants for college and trade school students who are training for high-demand occupations.

In short, we are targeting our workforce toward the jobs. The goal is simple: if there’s a job to fill in a new or existing industry, we are determined to put that career opportunity into the hands of a Pennsylvanian.

And, yes, this budget continues the phase out of the capital stock and franchise tax.

At the Department of Community and Economic Development, we are at work finalizing a program I proposed last year, the Liberty Financing Authority. It will merge several programs under a single umbrella. The Liberty Financing Authority will provide the flexibility to direct loans to expanding businesses.

I want to be clear about this. The Liberty Financing Authority is not a series of grants. These are loans, money that will be repaid and rolled back into the nest egg from which we can help the next job-creator.

This line of underwriting might be the small difference in helping a job creator setup shop or to expand an existing one. This is the time to invest in the future. These programs can get us there.

We’ll continue to keep you informed as we learn more about Jobs First PA and the impact it could have on the Huntingdon County business community.

[photo via]

December 13th, 2011
hcbihighlights
Reblogged from How They Did It
December 8th, 2011
hcbihighlights

businessclimate:

Secret to a Manufacturing Resurgence: Innovation

What is the future of manufacturing the U.S.?

That’s the question on the minds of everyone right now, from business leaders and investors to politicians and economic development professionals. Despite the millions of jobs shed in the sector during the Recession, the small but significant number of manufacturers reshoring, or bringing production back to the U.S. from lower-cost markets overseas, is giving many hope that a manufacturing resurgence is imminent. But is it? READ THE FULL ARTICLE…

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Huntingdon County Business & Industry (HCBI) is the leading economic development agency for Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.

HCBI has been assisting entrepreneurs since 1912.

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