Business leaders explore Lebanon's advantages

Written by Lee Dussinger, Lebanon Daily News | May 7, 2015 12:15 PM
Lebanon leaders 600x340.jpg

Photo by Lee Dussinger, Lebanon Daily News

Serving on a panel at the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce economic summit Wednesday are, from left, Audrey King, Bell & Evans; Jeff Steckbeck, Steckbeck Engineering & Surveying; Kristen Watts, Fulton Bank; Tom Richey, LMS Commercial Realty; and Kim Feeman, Good Samaritan Health System.

(Annville) -- Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello excited the crowd gathered for the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce 2015 Economic Summit by announcing that private businesses invested $17 million over the past two years in Lebanon.

Held Wednesday in the Mund building at Lebanon Valley College, the summit attracted about 75 people. Presenters included keynote speaker state Secretary of the Budget Randy Albright, Capello, and panel discussions by business leaders. The summit's prevailing theme was Lebanon's economic advantages.

Capello recognized Snitz Creek Brewery for establishing itself as a destination in downtown Lebanon as well as for its initial investment of $250,000 and its recent partnership with Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.

She listed ongoing renovation projects in the City of Lebanon, including The Mann Building; Brasenhill mansion, an event venue; Kreider Commons, a housing development of 50 units for the elderly; Hidden Still Spirits, a craft distillery, and the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire Lebanon Warehouse.

She also listed forthcoming Lebanon real estate projects that will occur on new build sites, includng the Ed and Jeanne Arnold Learning Center, Battery Warehouse, Northwest Elementary School and Dollar General.

"Lebanon is a place to grow," she said.

In his address, Albright discussed the state of Pennsylvania's economy and Gov. Wolf's changes to be implemented. He also noted several challenges facing Pennsylvania but conversely mentioned several distinct advantages. Specifically, he noted that Pennsylvania has nationally placed last in job creation.

"Pennsylvania has been underperforming for the last couple of decades," Albright said. "We have rich resources in multiple energy sectors. We have the ability to become one of the world's leaders."

Albright discussed education, saying that the (former Gov.) Corbett public education budget cuts would be repealed. Concerning higher education, he praised the Corbett Ready to Succeed Scholarship program and indicated plans to expand it.

He also elaborated on primary education funding.

"We have the most inequitable local funding of any state," Albright said. "The plan is to have the most tax relief for the districts that need it most."

Albright also delineated the governor's proposed plans to raise taxes. The earned income tax would be raised from 3.07 percent to 3.7 percent, which would still be the third lowest nationally, he reported. The sales tax would be raised from 6 percent to 6.6 percent and would extend to cover what were previously untaxed purchases.

Albright then shared his impression of the governor's perspective.

"Having a governor who is a successful businessman is fundamental," Albright said. "He knows how to make decisions, and he is someone who knows what government can and can't do."

Greg Buckler, president of the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce, was satisfied with the turnout and feedback throughout the event.

"The whole day is about trying to begin conversations about what Lebanon does well and doesn't do well, meaning where do we lead and where do we lag," Buckler said. "We are a trusted community leader for business and because of that, we felt a responsibility to begin the conversation."

Pinnacle Health, Bell & Evans, Buzgon Davis Law Office and First National Bank of Fredericksburg sponsored the event.

This article comes to us through a partnership between Lebanon Daily News and WITF. 

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