Harrisburg – The bipartisan Pennsylvania Senate Manufacturing Caucus, chaired by Sen. Kim Ward (R-39) and Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-42), held its first meeting today, bringing together manufacturers, legislators and experts to discuss ideas for boosting growth in this vital sector of the economy.
“Pennsylvania has been an industrial leader throughout its history, and although it remains a major manufacturing center, today’s economic realities bring many challenges, ranging from global competition to shifts in demand and resources,” Senator Ward said. “In order to ensure Pennsylvania’s manufacturing sector remains viable and competitive, it must continue to promote an atmosphere that supports existing manufacturing sectors, while also promoting growth into new areas of manufacturing. I view this caucus as another tool in the ongoing effort to encourage and promote Pennsylvania manufacturing.”
“I am hopeful this caucus will help provide research, policy and legislation aimed at assisting Pennsylvania’s manufacturing community,” said Senator Fontana. “We hope to make this forum a very active and aggressive tool in working to bolster our manufacturing sector.”
Taking part in the meeting were manufacturers from throughout the commonwealth, directors of the Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Centers (IRCs) and representatives of various workforce training programs.
Senator Ward and Senator Fontana said the purpose of this caucus includes the following:
- Provide research and policy development related to manufacturing.
- Support efforts to draft and enact legislation beneficial to the manufacturing industry.
- Provide periodic briefings on pertinent issues confronting manufacturing.
- Assist in raising the profile of the Pennsylvania manufacturing industry.
- Advocate for manufacturing workforce training programs (i.e., STEM initiatives).
“A trained workforce and business friendly environment throughout Pennsylvania will ultimately ensure a strong manufacturing sector and lead to job growth,” Senator Ward noted.
The senators said manufacturing is a vital component of Pennsylvania’s economy. The most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows that manufacturing is Pennsylvania’s largest industry sector in terms of gross state product, contributing $71 billion to the economy and employing over 564,000 people with average wages of $55,000.
“The importance of encouraging a strong manufacturing base in Pennsylvania cannot be overestimated,” Senator Fontana said. “Ultimately, we want to strengthen our manufacturing base, encourage expansion, spur new investment, and partner state government and its resources with the industry in pursuit of its goals.”