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Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce
April 2018 

Federal Spending Bill Boosts Investment for Transit and Infrastructure, R&D, Energy and Manufacturing

As always, our team has been focused on the federal budget and appropriations process, with a particular focus on those policies that impact the Pittsburgh region. The recently enacted federal omnibus included a number of key investments related to our agenda.

One specific aspect of the budget with significant local infrastructure and mobility impact is the robust increase for transit funding, namely the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program. The CIG program, which is critical in potentially supporting the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project connecting Downtown, Uptown and Oakland, will receive $2.645 billion, an increase of almost $250 million over current levels and $1.65 billion more than President Trump's request. 

This positive news will help to ensure our region's BRT grant application stays on track. We thank our local leaders, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Mayor Bill Peduto and Port Authority of Allegheny County CEO Katharine Eagan Kelleman for their leadership on this project, and also want to note our great appreciation for the work of Congressman Mike Doyle in this endeavor. 

In addition to transit funding, federal research & development, and downstream petrochemical manufacturing also saw positive momentum in the spending bill. For example, the National Institutes of Health received a $3 billion increase (an 8.3 percent increase to $37 billion) and the Fossil Energy (FE) Research and Development line item, which funds cutting edge research at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), is funded at $727 million (an increase of $59 million over FY17). The National Science Foundation received $7.8 billion in funding (a 3.9 percent or $295 million increase). This funding will help fuel innovation and economic development across our region for years to come.

Lastly, the Department of Energy is also directed to make progress on establishing an ethane storage and distribution hub in central Appalachia and streamline the permitting application and approval process. This will help to advance the Appalachian Ethane Storage Hub project, a priority of the Tri-State Shale Coalition, of which the Allegheny Conference is a founding member. The project aims to store bulk ethane and other byproducts from the Marcellus and Utica Shales in the region for businesses in the petrochemical sector to utilize as feedstock for downstream manufacturing operations.

Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition Fly-In 

On March 14 and 15, the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition (GLMCC), which the GPCC co-leads, held its annual Washington, D.C. fly-in. Coalition members met with more than 25 congressional offices, advancing our agenda on transit & infrastructure investments, immigration reform, workforce development and international trade. The group's strong focus was on transit funding and immigration reform, given the appropriations and spending bill negotiations taken place during the fly-in. Just a week prior, our own Brandon Mendoza, co-director of the coalition, authored a piece in The Hill calling on Congress to support transit funding

NAP: A Critical Tool to Fund Community Revitalziion 

We are closely following legislation making its way through the PA General Assembly that would increase the funding cap on the Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP). The NAP tax credit program revitalizes communities by providing long-term, sustainable support for locally-based organizations working to improve the economic vitality of underserved communities across the state.

Through our Strengthening Communities Partnership program, we have leveraged the NAP to facilitate partnerships between the business community and seven community development corporations across Allegheny, Washington and Fayette counties to help drive revitalization. 

The NAP tax credit was created in 1971. However, the current $18 million cap has never been lifted. In recent years, the PA Department of Community and Economic Development has received at times more than $50 million in requests (and matching corporate commitments of funding) but had to reject more than half of those applicants.

We are advocating to expand the NAP program as a member of the statewide NAP Coalition, a coalition led by our Chamber. The NAP Coalition is made up of more than 75 businesses and organizations from all across the state and is advocating for increasing the cap on the tax credit from $18 million to $36 million. A list of coalition members and more information on the coalition and the tax credit can be found here.

To learn more about the NAP and the importance of expanding the program, watch the video below with Bill Schenck, Vice Chairman of TriState Capital. 

Important Business Tax Competitiveness Bill Advances in PA General Assembly 

A recent tax policy change from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue regarding the depreciation of business assets represents a threat to Pennsylvania's ability to attract businesses investment.

The policy, which reacted to recent changes in the federal tax bill, will not allow a Pennsylvania business to depreciate machinery or equipment until it's sold or disposed. Currently, our state is the only state moving forward with this type of tax policy. Not only will it negatively impact businesses in various sectors already here, but coupled with our state's high corporate tax rate and the cap on Net Operating Loss Carryforwards, the policy encourages other business to not locate in Pennsylvania.

Fixes to this tax depreciation issue can be found in HB 2017 or in SB 1056. HB 2017 moved through the House with a final, strong bi-partisan vote of 183-4 and was also recently approved by the Senate Finance Committee in a bi-partisan manner. We are strongly advocating for a fix as a member of CompetePA, a state-wide coalition of businesses and organizations that advocates for a more competitive business tax climate in Pennsylvania to support jobs and economic development. The Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce has managed the coalition since 2005.  
We express our deepest appreciation to members on both sides of the aisle who have supported this critical legislation.  

PHOTOS: March and April First Fridays with Congressman Keith Rothfus and PA Budget Secretary Randy Albright

Our March and April First Friday events featured a tax reform policy discussion with Congressman Keith Rothfus and a state budget discussion with PA Budget Secretary Randy Albright. We appreciate Congressman Rothfus and Secretary Albright for joining us at these events. We look forward to continuing our strong partnership with them to improve the economy and quality of life in the 10-county Pittsburgh region.
We also thank the participants who participated in the tax reform policy panel discussion: Mary Burke Baker, government affairs counselor at K&L Gates LLP, Jennifer Beer, senior director of government affairs at the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce and Brian Kennedy, VP for operations and government affairs at the Pittsburgh Technology Council.

Check out a photo gallery from the March First Friday with Congressman Rothfus

Check out a photo gallery from the April First Friday with Secretary Albright.

Our First Friday series, presented by Comcast Business, brings together the region's private sector and public affairs community to engage with elected and other public officials on issues that are important to the region's economy and quality of life.

Leveraging Our Innovation Economy: A Roundtable Discussion on How to Grow Community-Driven Innovation

The Allegheny Conference held an event with InnovatePGH on April 6 during the City of Pittsburgh's Inclusive Innovation Week featuring a dynamic discussion on how to grow community-driven innovation in Pittsburgh. The panel, which was moderated by InnovativePGH Executive Director Sean Luther, featured:  We thank all of the panelists for their participation. For a re-cap of the event, view this article in the Pittsburgh Business Times

Forum on Attracting And Retaining Diverse Talent: Local Strategies in a Global World - May 2 

The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh is hosting an event on the confluence of socio-economic and community benefits and challenges that need to be addressed to attract and retain a diverse workforce for Pittsburgh to become truly competitive in the local, national and global economy.

Speakers from different backgrounds will share their expertise on the economic impact of immigration in the region, the value and challenges of establishing minority workforce programs for local businesses, and recommendations for creating a diverse talent pipeline for the region.

Our own Brandon Mendoza and Alison Treaster will be discussing key findings from the recent New American Economy/Great Lakes Metro Chambers report on the the role of immigrants in reviving the Great Lakes region, and the Allegheny Conference‘s Inflection Point 2.0 report.

The forum is taking place on May 2, 2018 from 7:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. at the Energy Innovation Center. For more information, click here.  
Greater Pittsburgh Chamber is an affiliate of the Allegheny Conference |
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