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Senator Wayne D. Fontana

 

As Co-Chair of the Senate’s Manufacturing Caucus, Senator Fontana participated in a meeting on September 12th at Hamill Manufacturing Company in Trafford, PA. 

As Co-Chair of the Senate’s Manufacturing Caucus, Senator Fontana participated in a meeting on September 12th at Hamill Manufacturing Company in Trafford, PA.  Senator Fontana is pictured here (right to left) with Co-Chair, Senator Kim Ward, John Dalrymple – President, Hamill Manufacturing, and Petra Mitchell – President/CEO, Catalyst Connection in Pittsburgh.

Senate Manufacturing Caucus  

As Co-Chairs of the Senate Manufacturing Caucus, Senator Kim Ward and I recently hosted a meeting at Hamill Manufacturing Company in Trafford. The purpose of the meeting was to bring members of the caucus together with representatives from the manufacturing sector to highlight the economic importance of the industry to our state and to discuss the challenges confronting the industry.

Manufacturing is the third largest industry in Southwestern Pennsylvania at $12.6 billion and the second fastest growing industry in the region. The Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) experienced a 10.3% increase in its Manufacturing GDP from 2010 to 2011, which is significantly higher than throughout the state (2.3%) and the country (6.2%). Gross regional product per employee is one important measure of productivity and the encouraging news is that our region experienced an increase of 8.5% last year, outpacing Pennsylvania overall which was at 1.5%.

Among all the promising reports we heard during our discussions, the one collective message that resonated most with me was the issue of workforce and job training. Speaker after speaker stressed how workforce development is always their greatest focus and toughest challenge. Although manufacturing employment numbers are going up slowly, much work needs to be done toward increasing the numbers of skilled workers. The jobs are there – the issue is a trained workforce. Hiring would be greater if there were a larger pool of employees.

ManufacturingIn working toward a solution to this problem, I believe we must look first at our education system. We need to integrate a curriculum that includes a better focus on STEM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). Making STEM a more integral part of educational and workforce development systems, will create a quality workforce that meets the new standards of today and tomorrow’s manufacturers. The removal of many technical education programs such as metal class, shop and auto class, has caused long term damage to the manufacturing industry. Focus needs to be placed on improving and expanding quality workforce development programs and replacing those that no longer meet the needs of today’s manufacturers.

Ultimately, this could create an environment where manufacturing is viewed as a desirable career and one given equal consideration by parents, students and school systems, including guidance counselors, when determining a child’s future role in the workforce. Today, most students are steered to only consider a four-year college education or beyond. While this is important, we must not ignore the importance of technical careers and the opportunities they provide. The concept of manufacturing is different than what it was several years ago. We need to address the image and shortcomings in the educational process to enable manufacturers to attract the talent needed to grow their business.

The manufacturing sector provides good, sustainable wages with good benefits for employees. The average annual compensation in manufacturing is $64,913. The average wage in manufacturing represents a steady annual growth, with a total of 7.3% increase in the last five years. Manufacturing wages are still 17.4% higher than the overall average wage. A strong manufacturing sector helps grow and sustain our middle class.

Manufacturing Jobs by the Numbers

  • 7,600 number of manufacturing positions open in Pennsylvania
  • 25% of manufacturing labor force is 55 years of age or older
  • 82% of manufacturers report a serious or moderate skills gap in employees
  • 74% of manufacturers report that the skills gap has negatively impacted their company’s ability to expand

Did You Know…

Did you know that 574,000 Pennsylvanians are employed in the manufacturing industry, accounting for 10% of the total workforce?

Flu/Pneumonia Shots & Senior Clinic

Flu ShotI am hosting a Flu/Pneumonia Shot & Senior Clinic this Friday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. in Quinn Hall at the Church of the Resurrection in Brookline.  American HealthCare Group will be providing the free vaccinations to any senior with the Medicare Part B health insurance card.  Make sure you bring your card with you.

All attendees can also receive a free blood pressure screening and have their blood sugar tested compliments of Primary Care Health Services and will have an opportunity to speak with a pharmacist from Duquesne University’s Mylan School of Pharmacy and “Ask the Pharmacist” questions about medications.  Several other organizations will be in attendance including:  Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh; PA APPRISE; PA Office of the Consumer Advocate; LifeSpan; AARP; and the Allegheny County Department of Human Services – all providing seniors with important information on available services and resources.  Light refreshments will be also provided.  I look forward to seeing you there!

ShreddingShredding Event

Together with Representatives Dan Miller and Dan Deasy, we are hosting a Shredding Event this Saturday from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Green Tree Park’s upper parking lot, located at 895 Greentree Road.  With consumer fraud and identity theft becoming an epidemic in our communities, we are hosting this event not only to raise awareness and promote prevention but also to provide individuals the opportunity to have unneeded, confidential documents destroyed, free of charge.  You may bring documents that contain personal information such as social security numbers, credit card numbers and bank account numbers.  We will also accept CD’s, credit cards, video tapes and floppy disks.

Table Games Revenue

According to the PA Gaming Control Board, revenue from table games play at the state’s 12 casinos was $63.5 million during the month of August.  That figure represents a 6.1% increase compared to August 2012.  During the month, $9.1 million in tax revenue was generated from table games play.  To read the monthly report in its entirety, please visit the Gaming Control Board’s website at www.gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov.

Gun Safety Forum

League of Women VotersThe League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh (LWVGP) is sponsoring a community forum on October 6th, Gun Safety in a Free Society: An Allegheny County Conversation, to promote dialogue and collaboration among Allegheny County residents with diverse perspectives and experiences.  The goal for these informed discussions is identifying policies and actions that could promote gun safety and public health in a free society.  At the conclusion of the discussion, the LWVGP will present a public report in March 2014 and honor selected individuals or groups who exemplify efforts to reduce gun violence and improve gun safety.

The community forum is scheduled from 1 – 5 p.m. at the Radef Shalom Temple, located at 4905 Fifth Avenue in Oakland.  For more information, please visit http://pittsburgh.palwv.org/ where you will be able to register online.  The LWVGP is a nonpartisan organization that encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

RADical Days Underway

Many of our region’s treasured cultural assets are opening their doors at no charge to the public as part of the 12th Annual RADical Days sponsored by the Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD).  RADical Days started on September 21st and runs through November 10th and is designed as a way to thank the public for the sales tax funds that support the region’s parks, libraries, sports and civic facilities, and arts and cultural organizations.  This year, there will be 54 free admission events and more than a dozen arts organizations offering music, dance, visual arts and theater experiences.  For more information on RADical Days and for a schedule of events, please visit www.radworkshere.org.

Heinz History Center Honored

Heinz History CenterThe Heinz History Center and their newest long-term exhibit, From Slavery to Freedom, was recently honored with two prestigious national awards.  The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) selected the exhibition as a 2013 Award of Merit winner, the organization’s highest honor.  The AASLH Leadership in History Awards is the nation’s most celebrated competition for recognition of achievement in state and local history.  The From Slavery to Freedom exhibit was also honored with a 2013 African Diaspora World Tourism Flame Keeper in Cultural Arts Culture Exhibit Award for showcasing an aspect of the African diaspora heritage and history. 

From Slavery to Freedom highlights the history of the anti-slavery movement, the Underground Railroad, and the impact of 19th century activism on the modern quest for civil and human rights in Pittsburgh using artifacts, interactive museum settings, rare documents, and audio-video components.

The History Center was also recently selected by readers of Pittsburgh Magazine as the “Best Museum” in the city of Pittsburgh.

Congratulations to the History Center on these achievements!  For more information on the Heinz History Center please visit their website at www.heinzhistorycenter.org.

7th Annual NAMI Walk

NAMI Walk

Join the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Southwestern Pennsylvania for the 7th Annual NAMI Walk on Sunday, October 13th at SouthSide Works.  This family-friendly event features complimentary refreshments, music, activities for children, entertainment, and a 5K walk along the scenic Three Rivers Heritage Trail. 

Festivities begin at 9 a.m. and the walk starts promptly at 10 a.m.  There is no fee to register but fundraising is encouraged.  All funds raised support NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania in its mission to improve the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness through recovery focused support, education, and advocacy.  For more information or to register, please visit www.namiwalks.org/SouthwesternPennsylvania or call 412-366-3788.

Meals on Wheels

Meals on WheelsThe Lutheran Service Society’s Meals on Wheels Program is available to adults of any age or income.  A meal is delivered directly to your door every Monday through Friday.  If you, or a family member or neighbor is interested in enrolling in the Meals On Wheels program please contact the following numbers for more information:

  • Crafton Kitchen – 412-922-0909 (serving areas including Crafton, Elliott, Robinson, Sheraden, and Thornburg)
  • StoKen Rox Kitchen – 412-771-4304 (serving areas including McKees Rocks, Stowe, and Kennedy)
  • West Hills Kitchen – 412-262-5973 (serving areas including Coraopolis and Neville)

Brookline Business Feature

South Hills PrintingThis week’s featured Brookline business is South Hills Printing, located at 704 Brookline Boulevard.  South Hills Printing has been operating for 22 years and provides customers with a full-range of printing services including envelopes, fliers, business cards, invitations and more.  They also offer fax and copy services for walk-ins.  South Hills Printing is open Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.  For more information on their services, you may call South Hills Printing at 412-343-6899 or email them at melabboud@yahoo.com.  Please continue to support local merchants during the Brookline Boulevard Streetscape Project and remember:

Brookline is open for business!

Fontana Fact

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) Since 2011 the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has increased its total operating hours in the system’s 18 branches from 748.5 hours per week to 945.5 hours per week.  First established in 1895 by Andrew Carnegie, the Carnegie Library is visited by over 2 million people each year and contains more than 3.5 million borrowed items each year.

Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana

  Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Phone: 412-344-2551
Fax: 412-344-3400
Harrisburg
543 Main Capitol
Box 203042
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Phone: 717-787-5300
Fax: 717-772-5484
Kennedy Township
Kenmawr Plz.
524 Pine Hollow Rd
Kennedy Twp, PA 15136
Phone: 412-331-1208
Fax: 412-331-2079
Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
Phone: 412-343-2080
Fax: 412-343-2418
RAD works Here Heinz History Center NAMI Walks League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh (LWVGP)