WELCOME TO THE GPCC 2016 YEAR IN REVIEW
2016 was an exciting and successful year for the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, the advocacy arm of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. We advanced a number of priorities at the federal, state and local levels of government in support of the Conference’s agenda to Connect People to Opportunity and mission to improve the economy and quality of life in the 10-county Pittsburgh region.
We achieved a big win in Washington, D.C. with the passage of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN), which authorizes a multi-billion-dollar infrastructure investment to rehabilitate our waterways infrastructure as part of the Upper Ohio River Navigation project. At the state level, we made significant progress in advancing legislation to reform our public pension system and expand the Pennsylvania Neighborhood Assistance Program, a key part of the Allegheny Conference’s Strengthening Communities Partnership. And locally, we worked with the City of Pittsburgh and African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania to launch a program to help retain more of our local talent in the workforce.
These are just a few of the highlights of the progress we made in 2016 by working alongside committed public and private sector partners. I encourage you to scroll down to learn more about our 2016 accomplishments, as well as our First Friday Speakers Series, three signature receptions and elected and public official roundtables. We look forward to working with you in 2017 and beyond to build off of this progress. And, as always, feel free to reach out to us to learn how you can get involved in advancing our region.
The Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce (GPCC), the advocacy arm of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, serves as the 10-county Pittsburgh region’s chief advocate at all levels of government to secure public sector investment and legislative and regulatory improvements to improve the economy and quality of life. The enduring contribution of the GPCC is its ability to bring people and organizations together around issues critical to the region’s competitiveness and, through a unified voice, effectively convey the needs and priorities of the region to local, state and federal decision makers.
HOW THE CHAMBER WORKS
In 2016, Congress passed a multibillion-dollar infrastructure-funding package — the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN) — which will make critical investments to maintain and improve our nation’s ailing waterways infrastructure. The GPCC worked closely with partners, including the Port of Pittsburgh Commission and the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition, to advance this key regional priority.
The WIIN Act authorizes investments of $2.7 billion over 20 years on the Upper Ohio River to repair and maintain the Emsworth, Dashields and Montgomery locks and dams. The Upper Ohio River navigation project will ensure the reliable movement of goods that our region’s economy, including energy and manufacturing industries, depend upon. And the project will help stave off devastating effects to our recreational uses of the river, drinking water and water quality.
Congress also passed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which reforms the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). TSCA reform will help grow the chemical manufacturing industry, which employs more than 43,000 people in the Pittsburgh region. It will also assure consumers and producers that the chemicals in their goods are safe and risk-free.
Pennsylvania’s overall business tax climate improved its ranking from 28th to 24th according to a report from the Tax Foundation that was released in 2016. The Commonwealth now ties Hawaii for the largest leap in the year-over-year ranking. The elimination of the the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax (CSFT) in 2015 was credited for the improved ranking. The GPCC worked with numerous partners across Pennsylvania for more than 15-years to eliminate the CSFT. The Tax Foundation report demonstrates the significance of the phase-out of this uncompetitive tax.
Legislation doubling the cap on the state’s Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) from $18 million to $36 million was approved by the PA House Finance Committee in 2016. The NAP tax credit is a key part of the Allegheny Conference’s Strengthening Communities Partnership, which leverages funds to support revitalization efforts in seven communities across the region. A top priority, the GPCC will continue to work to advance efforts to expand the NAP program.
The Pennsylvania House of Representative Select Subcommittee on Technical Education and Career Readiness released its final report on Career and Technical Education (CTE), which included recommendations for how to improve the CTE system in Pennsylvania. Allegheny Conference staff testified at two hearings of the subcommittee and worked closely with members to shape the recommendations that were included in the final report.
Another major GPCC state priority that saw progress in 2016 was state pension reform. Work, however, remains on this vital issue and the GPCC will continue to advocate for meaningful state and municipal pension reform.
The GPCC helped to convene a partnership between Pittsburgh Councilman Corey O’Connor, the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh Promise to launch a program that incentivizes local hiring of Pittsburgh Promise graduates. The program will help to retain more local talent in the workforce, which will be critical to addressing the region’s workforce pipeline crisis. The GPCC will continue to provide support on public policy that helps link job-seekers with employers in the region.
In 2016, Shell announced its positive final investment decision to build a multi-billion dollar petrochemical complex, including an ethane “cracker,” on the former Horsehead Industries site in Monaca, Beaver County. The plant will be one of the largest of its kind in North America – the largest single “from the ground up” industrial investment in the Pittsburgh region in a generation – and the first major U.S. project of its type to be built outside the Gulf Coast region in 20 years.
The GPCC played an instrumental role in advocating to improve Pennsylvania and our region's competitiveness for petrochemical operations and worked with local officials to ensure ongoing coordination, planning and sharing of information.
The GPCC holds three signature legislative receptions throughout the year with stakeholders and regional policy makers to help strengthen relationships between our region’s business community and elected officials and to celebrate our shared accomplishments.
The receptions, which take place in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg (in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia) and Washington, D.C., are always well attended.
We thank all of our reception sponsors. Without their support, these important events could not take place.
The GPCC’s monthly First Friday Speaker Series invites the region’s public affairs community to engage with elected and other public officials on issues important to the region.
Thank you to all of our 2016 First Friday speakers for joining us:
- Rep. Dave Reed, Majority Leader, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
- Rep. Mike Turzai, Speaker, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
- Dennis Davin, Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development
- Rep. Frank Dermody, Democratic Leader, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
- Salena Zito, National Press Writer
- John Allison, Editorial Page Editor, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- Dr. Anthony Hamlet, Superintendent, Pittsburgh Public Schools
- Diana Irey Vaughan, Commissioner, Washington County
- Sandie Egley, Commissioner, Beaver County
- Leslie Osche, Commissioner, Butler County
GPCC POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (PAC)
The GPCC supports officials who recognize the importance of improving the economy and quality of life in the 10-county Pittsburgh region. The GPCC PAC helps to raise our profile among those officials and allows us to engage in a robust communication on issues crucial to the region.
2016 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Chair – Laura E. Ellsworth
Immediate Past Chair – Richard J. Harshman
Vice Chair – Donna K. Hudson
Chief Executive Officer – Dennis Yablonsky
Secretary/Treasurer – Daniel S. Wilson
President – Matt Smith
K. Scott Baker, UPMC
David E. Barensfeld, Ellwood Group, Inc.
G. Andrew Bonnewell, Federated Investors, Inc.
Todd D. Brice, S&T Bank
William B. Carnahan, Verizon-Pennsylvania
J. Randolph Cheetham, CSX Transportation
Frank Coonelly, Pittsburgh Pirates
Patricia J. Darnley, Gateway Health Plan
Robert E. Dauer, Jr., Meyer, Unkovic & Scott LLP
John R. Denny, Denny Civic Solutions
Mark DeRubeis, Premier Medical Associates
Laura E. Ellsworth, Jones Day
Kevin J. Garber, Babst, Calland, Clements and Zomnir, P.C.
Mark Hager, Williams
Troy Harris, The Weavertown Environmental Group
Donna K. Hudson, BNY Mellon
Tommy Johnson, CONSOL Energy Inc.
Renee Jones, Chevron
Thomas F. Lamb, Jr., The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.
Mark Latterner, Citizens Bank of PA / NY / NJ / DE
Christopher J. Masciantonio, United States Steel Corporation
Terrence J. Murphy, K&L Gates LLP
Daniel Onorato, Highmark Health
Gabe Pellathy, PPG
William Roland, Peoples Natural Gas
Timothy Ryan, Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC
David J. Spigelmyer, Marcellus Shale Coalition
Daniel R. Tropeano, UnitedHealthcare
Alex Urrea, DICK’S Sporting Goods
James N. Williams, III, University of Pittsburgh
Daniel S. Wilson, Eat’n Park Hospitality Group, Inc.
Susan Zemba, Alcoa Corporation
EX OFFICIO VOTING MEMBERS
Richard J. Harshman, ATI
Dennis Yablonsky, Allegheny Conference on Community Development