I ran for office based largely on my more than 25 years of business experience. During that time, I not only led one of York County’s finest companies but served as a consultant to many of the largest and most respected companies in the world. That experience, combined with the extensive travel it involved, led me to the realization that American capitalism is one of the greatest sources of good in the world.
I saw firsthand the quality of life it creates and sustains, from life-saving drugs and medical devices in the U.S. to affordable toothpaste, laundry detergent and chocolate in places like China, Mexico and Brazil, to American music, baseball and blue jeans in Japan, and ice cold soda in the sweltering heat of Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Life is better with toothpaste and chocolate. With good jobs in safe work environments. It’s better when people are valued, and hard work is rewarded. It’s American business that brings those things and more to our country and the world.
Here in York, business, including agriculture, sustains our way of life. That sustenance comes from our farmers, service providers, distributors, builders, innovators and entrepreneurs and especially our manufacturers. In York County, 20% of our jobs are found in the manufacturing sector. That’s more than double the state average. It is manufacturing more than any other sector that sustains families and underpins our way of life.
Ask yourself what would happen to the pizza shops, dress shops, and antique shops in Shrewsbury if we didn’t have Johnson Controls. What would happen to our restaurants and hotels if we didn’t have Harley Davidson, Dentsply and Graham Architectural? Who would support our car dealers, retailers and contractors if we didn’t first build tanks in Stoverstown, make paper in Spring Grove, cast iron in Wrightsville, mold plastic in Winterstown, and produce chips and pretzels in Thomasville and Hanover? These companies and so many more create wealth and provide for the high standard of living we enjoy.
Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is consistently viewed as one of the most business-unfriendly states in the country. We are tax happy, regulation heavy, litigious, inflexible, and inefficient. I know firsthand that many companies don’t even look at Pennsylvania when considering where to locate or expand. It is inexcusable, sad, and costly, as evidenced by the fact that our population, job growth and tax revenues have not kept pace with the rest of the country. It’s no surprise U.S. News ranks Pennsylvania 44th in economic climate.
This comes with serious consequence for all of us. Because when businesses choose not to invest here, we get older and poorer. Our tax base shrinks, our children leave, and our quality of life deteriorates. We are beginning to see this. Pennsylvania’s population is now shrinking and, with a median age 7% above the national average, we are now the sixth oldest state in the country. Everyday 10,000 people reach retirement age in the U.S. With the baby boomers (those born from 1946 to 1964) leaving the workforce, we must become more economically competitive.
In an attempt to address this crisis, Rep. Mike Tobash, a fellow businessman from Schuylkill County, and I formed the Economic Growth Caucus early last year. Our motto is “Business Legislators Promoting Pennsylvania’s Economy” and we are comprised of 20 members of the State House, each of whom have owned businesses or held senior management positions. Between us we represent all regions of the state and have more than 500 years of combined experience. Our focus is on what we’ve identified as the four pillars of economic growth: workforce, regulatory, energy, and tax policy.
I am pleased to share that the members chose me to be chairman of the caucus. We try to run the group like a business. We meet every week of session, conduct workshops over the summer, and invite outside experts to address the group. It is our stated objective to work collaboratively with leadership to vet, support and propose economically sound legislation. In addition to defining our mission and setting priorities, we focused heavily on tax policy this past year. In 2020, we plan to broaden our focus, grow our membership to include members of the Senate, and proactively engage the business community. We recognize we must compete with surrounding states and are intent on improving the economic standing of our Commonwealth.
Business is often vilified. Occasionally that criticism is justified. But it’s hard to imagine where York County would be without our beloved businesses, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists.
Pennsylvania remains a great place to live, work and raise a family. However, we face real challenges going forward, especially with regard to our aging demographic. I am grateful to have a voice in taking on those challenges.
Representative Mike Jones
93rd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Scott Little