2023-2024 GRCA Pro-Business Policy Agenda
The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA) serves as the front-line advocate for business and community. We provide a bridge between business, community and government – helping our federal, state and local officials to acknowledge the challenges businesses face, while providing business-friendly solutions to regulatory, legislative and workforce issues. Through lobbying, testifying, developing key relationships, grassroots activities, tracking bills and regulation, we promote a Local, State, and Federal Pro-Business Policy Agenda. GRCA will continue to work with our members and community to keep everyone engaged in the process to build our healthy, competitive business community.
Our interactive Action Center provides information on the latest advocacy news, hot topic issues, legislation, policies, and information on elections, voting, and elected officials and much more.
GRCA serves as the voice for business at all levels of government. We represent business and community interests and viewpoints on current issues facing the Greater Reading Region utilizing our established Policy and Position Process. We build effective relationships with our elected officials to be part of the process and promote our pro-business policy agenda focused on our economic vibrancy. Our engaged Business & Community Advocacy Council meets regularly to identify evolving policy/issues and promote our member driven pro-business policy agenda. While our Partners in Advocacy & Community Leadership support the transformational work including the Advocacy & Community Leadership Event series. With these priorities in place, we continue to lead, advocate, educate and inform members on the various issues that will affect them.
PROVIDING, ATTRACTING, & SUPPORTING A SKILLED WORKFORCE
Economic viability and long-term prosperity for Greater Reading – Berks County depends upon a well-educated and skilled workforce, paired with a healthy talent pipeline that addresses the growing skills gap identified by our companies. State programs should prioritize existing jobs, retention efforts, skills shortages such as English language programs, and talent retraining for jobs of the future. Funding for educational institutions should be tied to the employment of graduates in the local community. State and federal policy needs to focus on pivoting Pennsylvania to becoming a destination, not a place to be from. This starts with expanding the opportunities for businesses to grow as well as promoting programs that encourage the next generation to stay such as expanding access to affordable, quality child and elder care programs and reducing regulatory restrictions to opening and expanding these businesses. Our members also support improving and streamlining the immigration system so that individuals who want to move here or work here temporarily are able to do so freely and legally.
MODERN, SAFE, EFFICIENT AND RELIABLE INFRASTRUCTURE
Ensure our infrastructure is adequately funded to enable construction and maintenance of our aging transportation and utility systems along with other infrastructure. We support finding a modern solution to funding infrastructure that moves past outdated taxing programs and incorporates transportation innovations. Transportation systems and utility infrastructure is vital to attract and retain quality businesses to grow the economy, increase regional and PA competitiveness, and retain/create jobs. This includes Transit/Mobility, Energy, Broadband and Water/Wastewater. Our members also support efforts of the Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority to restore intercity passenger rail service from Reading to Philadelphia and beyond.
BALANCING LAND USE & RESPONSIBLE DEVELOPMENT
Identifying the best strategy for responsible land use and development that maximizes economic development opportunity while retaining Berks County’s rich agricultural tradition benefits everyone. It is imperative that all government entities, businesses, and community organizations within Berks County work together for a shared vision of our future to ensure opportunities are shared equally across the county. Our members support smart growth efforts to increase all types of housing across the county and addressing blight through urban renewal, helping to maintain the local workforce base and attract new residents.
REGULATORY REFORM + GOVERNMENT COLLABORATION
The business community needs continued regulatory reform from processes that impede infrastructure and business improvements and exacerbate costs. Permitting reform through increased transparency, consistent decision making, and continued reduction in the time needed to make permit decisions, coupled with limiting costs to businesses through regulatory and permit requirements is key to increasing economic development. Our members support working collaboratively with county and local entities to increase economic development while being environmental stewards and oppose the practice of regulatory changes through executive action that seeks to circumvent a collaborative process with the PA legislature.
We support the responsible development of all US energy, fossil and renewable. We oppose policies that lead to the sourcing of energy from non-domestic sources, forcing our nation to rely on enemy governments to supply energy that could be produced here and the exporting of energy resources to hostile nations. We support policies that seek to achieve net energy independence, reducing energy market volatility which negatively impacts all Berks County businesses.
BALANCED LABOR + EMPLOYMENT LAWS
Changes to labor relations and employment policies are necessary to facilitate a fair work environment and address abuse. Our members support reforms, including modernization, to the unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation and welfare systems that focuses on returning injured employees to full health and function. Employers oppose excessive mandates that unnecessarily increase the cost of doing business including efforts to move the minimum wage to $15 without solving other systemic wage restrictions like federal healthcare reimbursements and expanding criteria to qualify for unemployment while the job market is so robust. Employers oppose excessive mandates that unnecessarily increase the cost of doing business and efforts that seek to disrupt functioning employer/employee relationships through the PRO-Act or other regulatory overreach.
INVESTING IN ECONOMIC GROWTH/ RESPONSIBLE BUDGET + GOVERNMENT SPENDING
Renewed and increased support for funding of economic development programs that have positive social and economic impact in Berks County. We encourage the local, state, and federal governments to work collaboratively towards a performance-based, on-time budget process, without reducing the effectiveness of essential government programs. We support identifying all opportunities for cost-savings and efficient spending before new or higher taxes are considered to cover increasing program costs. We also support fiscal conservancy and preservation of the “Rainy Day Fund” in light of looming budget constraints. We support renewed and increased funding of economic development programs that have positive social and economic impact in cities and municipalities across Berks County. We support the local and county comprehensive planning efforts that support the retention and growth of Berks County businesses and increases housing resources. We encourage all local governments to work collaboratively towards responsible and balanced budgets while understanding that all opportunities for cost-savings and efficient spending should be exhausted before new or higher taxes are considered to cover increasing program costs. We also encourage collaboration between governments to produce economies of scale and efficient delivery of services.
IMPROVING THE BUSINESS TAX STRUCTURE
Pennsylvania’s corporate tax rates are on a path to improvement, but the overall tax climate remains prohibitive to growth. Comprehensive reform of Pennsylvania’s overall tax structure continues to be necessary to help stimulate economic development to retain and grow our population.
AFFORDABLE + ACCESSIBLE BENEFITS
Berks County employers want to be able to offer workers quality, affordable health care options. We will continue to advocate for reforms to the heath care, insurance and medical liability that will improve the system, providing flexibility to encourage (rather than mandate) and promote competition.