Central PA Industrial Development Forum – Expert Panelists

Expert Infrastructure, Development, Manufacturing and Talent Leaders Provided AnswersLeaders from various public and private industries that are critical to supporting and driving smart economic industrial growth answer questions:

                                                     

                                                    

                                                                               

                                                                                  

 

 

Amanda Morrison, Key Accounts Manager, PPL Electric

Q: Do you only work with existing facilities or are you contacted by companies in the preliminary “site search” phase?

A: The Key Account Management function at PPL is responsible for existing large power customers as well as economic development in our communities. We work with potential companies to provide them with costs and timeline for electric service. We partner with our economic development teams in the regions to present the benefits of locating their facility in the PPL footprint.

 Q: Have you seen an increase in lead time for materials?

A: Like all other industries, we have seen an increase in lead time for items such as custom poles, cable and transformers. We work with our suppliers to ensure we have available resources to serve our customers and plan for our equipment needs.

 Q: Please tell us about how you are going to prepare the regional workforce for the next year

A: PPL continues to review their plans with regard to health and safety of our employees. As guidelines change, employees are updated and provided with resources and information.

 Q: How can we recruit a more diverse workforce?

A: PPL has made commitments to increase our workforce diversity and inclusion. This may work for others in the community too. We have commitments to attract, develop and retain a high performing, diverse workforce. Increase diverse representation in leadership roles. Maintain a workplace culture of equity and inclusion. We are fostering partnerships that support growth and vitality of the communities we serve. We develop and sustain relationships with diverse suppliers, vendors and service providers.

 

Don Brominski, Business Development Director, UGI Utilities

Q: In light of the surplus of natural gas due to Marcellus shale, why do connection costs to natural gas in commercial and residential development remain high

A: We have seen a significant increase in labor costs to install facilities.  There is also a long lead time on certain equipment and materials.

Q: Tell us how your rates compare to the rest of the country

A: For our largest customers, our delivery rates are negotiable.  With some of the lowest cost supply in the country, we can craft offers that can be some of the lowest gas costs across the United States.

Dominic O’Brien, Senior Marketing Manager, PhilaPort

Q: What rail lines provide services to PhilaPort?

A: We have service from CSX, Norfolk Southern, and CN (Canadian National). A great intermodal rail yard directly across the street from our container facility.

Q: What opportunities do you see for rail collaboration with the Port of Philadelphia outside of what’s already existing? At Norfolk Southern, we have an increasing amount of requests from businesses looking to locate to the region that are majorly interested in using rail to leverage international traffic through Philaport. Emphasis on not using the existing intermodal relationship, but rather providing direct rail service from the port to an individual rail served customer. Plenty of challenges on the railroad side to get over with offering a new service, but am curious to hear how you think that could work, or if you think there are any other opportunities to work with the railroad towards growth.

A: Hello Tyler, rail is very important to PhilaPort now, and it is imperative to our future growth.  We have a good relationship with NS, but we can always do more.  We are receiving domestic automobiles to the NS Mustin Yard in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, and we hope that develops more for international cargoes.   We also do breakbulk cargoes with NS (forest products, steel products, etc.).  We would really like to do intermodal. We had the best container growth of any port in the USA last year, and we need to get more containers onto intermodal rail for inland transportation.  We are happy to receive cargoes directly from customers, and I would like to speak to you more about that.

Justin H. Ross, P.E., Principal, LIVIC Civil

Sandra Tosca, P.E., District Executive, PennDOT District 3-0

Q: Is PennDOT doing P3 projects to accomplish infrastructure goals?

A: As an agency we manage a state network equivalent to NY, NJ, and the New England states combined.  74% of funds for maintaining and building state highway infrastructure is funded by state and federal gas tax.  This has become a more unreliable source with more alternative vehicles and saw during COVID how fragile travel patterns can impact state transportation revenue. P3 options provide opportunity to address immediate needs and utilize private financing or tolling.  PennDOT has $8.1 B funding gap with a large portion on the interstate system.

Q: How do you see the opening of the northern end of CSVT impacting development?

A: Highway infrastructure is only one component for development; zoning, the dynamics of the economy, available workforce, and other attributes in the area will impact development.

Robert Grayston, Owner, Grayston Enterprises
Erica Mulberger, Executive Director, Advance Central PA

Shannon Munro, Vice President for Workforce Development, Pennsylvania College of Technology

Q: Are there funds available to help companies start apprenticeship programs?

A: Yes! We have worked with several funders to engage companies and get them started in apprenticeship with the intent that they see the tremendous value and will invest in the future. We are the recipient of a US Department of Labor grant – $8M – focused on advanced manufacturing. We also receive support from the Departments of Labor and Industry and Community and Economic Development in Pennsylvania. WEDnet funds can also be used to support apprenticeship training.

Q: What types of training do you think are most effective for different skill levels? Hands-on, self-guided, etc

A: It depends on how the individual learns best, but we find (speaking for Penn College) that most folks appreciate hands on learning – whether it be at the college or on location with their employer.  Self-guided does work for some people, but a person must possess a discipline and structure that allows them to complete the training on their own. We find that the structured setting works best for completion and that live (in person OR remove) training is most effective.

Rob Bargo, Vice President of Operations, Videon Central

Q: Why is Videon located in Central Pennsylvania?

A: The founders Todd Erdley, Paul Brown, Joan Potter and myself are all from the Central PA area. The work ethic and talent of the pool of people in Central PA is fantastic for our Manufacturing needs and the local colleges such as Penn State, Penn College, Lock Haven, Juniata etc have provided a supply of technical engineers for our innovation in the streaming media market. We also have a very wide National workforce to augment the local talent

 

Q: How should companies better approach cybersecurity, especially with offsite employees?

A: Cybersecurity is one area of the business that I believe is essential to seek 3rd party assistance who are the experts in this arena. Assessments and audits to ensure that your infrastructure and processes are sound and secure.