Tom Wolf firmly believes that American workers, working in plants located in the United States, can produce goods that compete on both price and quality with anybody making anything anywhere in the world.
Tom's Turnaround Story
Tom Wolf knows this to be true from his own business experience. When Tom and his wife bought back their kitchen, bath, and home products business, they turned it around by investing in people, innovating, and thinking about the future differently.
They turned the business from a wholesale distributor of other people's products, into a company that sources their own American-made products that compete directly with products made in China. The company headquarters and distribution center are both located in York. And all Wolf products are made in the United States, with several of them manufactured right here in Pennsylvania.
Most importantly, Tom led this turnaround the right way, by treating workers fairly with good wages and benefits. Tom even returns 20 to 30 percent of the company's profits back to its workers – because he knows that their work is what truly makes the company successful.
Tom Wolf knows that American manufacturing has a bright future, but for Pennsylvania to lead the way, it's going to take a leader who knows how to both change Harrisburg and create family-sustaining jobs. Tom Wolf is that leader and this is his plan.
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Rebuild Pennsylvania by Making Things in Pennsylvania
Manufacturing is a key component of Pennsylvania's economy. According to a report by the National Governors Association, the manufacturing industry accounts for more than 10 percent of total employment, making it the third-largest sector in the state.
And these manufacturing jobs are good jobs. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry reports that the average manufacturing wage, $53,976, is higher than the state's average wage, $46,748.
Not only does the manufacturing industry offer solid, middle class jobs to more than 500,000 Pennsylvanians, but it also is a major contributor to the state's economy, accounting for $71 billion of our annual gross state product. And, on average, every manufacturing job supports 2.5 jobs in other sectors.
But, according to data reported by the Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, Pennsylvania's manufacturing sector is projected to lose more than 2,600 jobs by 2020. While slowly recovering from the Great Recession, Pennsylvania cannot afford to lose jobs.
Tom Wolf knows that with different leadership we can turn this around. With an innovative leader who has experience creating jobs and knows what is needed in a 21st century economy, we can rebuild our middle class and strengthen our economy.
Marcellus to Manufacturing
The Marcellus Shale provides a great opportunity to grow and transform Pennsylvania's manufacturing economy. One specific example is a potential Shell ethane cracker plant where natural gas would be broken down to create ethylene. Because ethylene is used in 90 percent of all manufactured goods, there is a huge potential to attract new manufacturing businesses to the state and for those already here to expand.
The American Chemistry Council is already projecting that this new plant will lead to more than 17,500 new jobs. Specifically, it is estimating Pennsylvania will gain 2,400 chemical- industry jobs, 8,500 supply-chain jobs, and 6,900 spin-off jobs. However, Shell has not yet committed to Pennsylvania, in part because the state does not currently have the downstream chemical and manufacturing industries that exist in other states. We need a governor who will invest in manufacturing to ensure that Pennsylvania properly leverages the Marcellus Shale to create jobs.
Creating Middle Class Jobs
To make sure that the Commonwealth is able to take full advantage of opportunities to expand the manufacturing sector, as governor, Tom Wolf will institute a Made In Pennsylvania "cash-back" jobs creation program. This innovative program will reward manufacturing companies that are creating solid middle-class jobs in Pennsylvania.
For manufacturing companies that increase their annual taxable payroll by at least $1 million, the Commonwealth will provide cash payments of up to 5 percent of new taxable payroll the following year.
In order to qualify, these new jobs must be full-time, have an average wage equal to or above the county wage in which the company is locating or expanding, and include competitive health benefits.
To ensure that we are adding strong, sustainable, middle-class jobs, the plan will include a clawback provision. Those manufacturing companies that do not maintain these jobs for five years will have to return the cash payment to the state.
An important element in developing strong, sustainable middle class jobs is building connections between some of the state's most important assets. Pennsylvania is home to more than 130 colleges and universities and more than 8,500 small and emerging manufacturing firms.
As governor, Tom Wolf will promote innovation and job growth by connecting our colleges and universities with our small and emerging manufacturing businesses. Through an innovation grants program, colleges and universities will work in partnership with these manufacturers to move theoretical ideas to the market place.
These projects will help engage college students, lead to job creation and the production of new, innovative products, and drive additional research and development funding to our higher education institutions.
These programs are a great opportunity for the Commonwealth to start shifting its policies from ones that promote special interests and favor political donors to ones that reward manufacturers, small businesses and innovators that create good, sustainable jobs in Pennsylvania.
Building a 21st Century Workforce
In addition to job incentives, we need to make sure that Pennsylvania has a workforce equipped with the skills needed for 21st century, advanced manufacturing.
Currently, the state's manufacturing workforce is aging, and business leaders fear that the next generation is not prepared to fill these soon-to-be vacated positions.
According to a 2012 report released by Team Pennsylvania Foundation, 25 percent of the manufacturing workforce is 55-years-old or older. And unfortunately, 82 percent of manufacturers have reported that there is a serious or moderate skills gap.
Pennsylvania needs a leader who is ready to invest in our future. Governor Corbett is not that leader. In the 2013-2014 budget, the state is actually underfunding these programs by 8 percent.
As governor, not only will Tom Wolf fully fund these programs, but he will also enact innovative reforms to improve student outcomes. Tom's Technical Education Applied to Manufacturing (T.E.A.M.) plan will improve vocational education programs in all high schools by:
- Integrating the academic curriculum with technical training so that students develop a strong foundation. The current advanced manufacturing sector covers such fields as mechatronics, precision machining, and metal fabrication. Because of the technical and innovative nature of this industry, workers need to demonstrate their proficiency in both academics and technical skills.
- Working with local manufacturers to make sure that vocational curriculums are aligned with workforce needs. Because the future of the manufacturing industry in Pennsylvania is dependent on a prepared local workforce, it is incredibly important that this industry has a voice in the education process.
- Encouraging school districts to offer a nationally recognized industry certification. Meeting high standards will ensure that our graduates are prepared to enter the manufacturing workforce or go on to a community college or union training program where they can specialize their skills.
Tom Wolf knows that on-the-job training and internships are invaluable opportunities for students to gain real world experience and further develop their skills and interests. As the president of the York Chamber of Commerce, Wolf created a business-education partnership program in which local business leaders mentored students.
As governor, Tom will make sure that students, specifically those engaged in vocational training, have the opportunity to work directly with local businesses. Through a training-to-career grant initiative, manufacturing businesses will receive funds to help technical programs and community colleges develop new training programs. One component of these programs will be hands-on training through apprenticeship programs, on-the-job training opportunities, and paid internships.