State representatives hear directly from businesses

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State representatives bring Harrisburg to Harborcreek Thursday to hear firsthand the challenges of employers to try and help strengthen the middle class.

The discussion, lasting around two hours, brought to the table many issues – one of the biggest being the workforce available.

Members of Career Concept Staffing said they receive between 15 to 25 job applications a day.They said nearly half the applicants can’t pass the drug screening. Of those that do pass and are offered a job, they said half don’t show up for work.

Colleen Jennings, operational manager for Career Concept Staffing, said, “People are finding ways around the system. There’s just too many loopholes for people to not have to go to work. They’re getting the same benefits, they’re living in the same homes, their kids are going to the same schools.”

That is just one of the issues of the workforce employers say Erie County is facing.

Other issues include the lack of property and facilities available for businesses to move into quickly.

Rick Novotny, executive director of the Erie County Redevelopment Authority, said, “Right now we’re a store with nothing on the shelves. We don’t have any real estate to provide them. We don’t have any buildings. Everything we have is full. So we’re kind of restricted. You can’t really go market what you don’t have.”

Novotny also said many industrial parks in the county are still in bankruptcy. However, he said that should improve next year.

Novotny said, “We are looking right now to acquire some property, put some shell buildings up. Basically boxes that have a dirt floor in them because we don’t know what kind of plumbing they’re going to need.”

These issues were just some of the topics discussed with the seven, republican state representatives from the House Majority Policy Committee at a hearing at the Harborcreek Township building Thursday morning.

Rep. Curt Sonney, 4th district, said, “As a group we’re going to discuss what we’ve learned today and what we’ve learned from the other areas of the state we’ve been visiting through out this tour of the policy committee and formulate our strategy for legislation moving forward.”

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