ERIE – Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin invited the Manufacturer & Business Association (MBA) to participate in a virtual meeting on Wednesday, April 29, to provide feedback from the business community on COVID-19 recovery measures. Following the meeting, MBA President and CEO John Krahe issued the following statement:
“We are grateful the DCED has agreed to open lines of communication with the business community as it takes steps to allow businesses to reopen. Our long-standing advocacy efforts give our members a voice for business, and we are pleased with the reception Secretary Davin gave our proposals.
MBA member Jon DeArment, president and chief operating officer of Meadville-based hand tool manufacturer Channellock, explained how closed shops without public interaction are capable and willing to abide by Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to maintain worker safety to continue their operations. He recommended all companies capable of safely reopening under these guidelines be given the opportunity to do so as soon as possible.
The MBA additionally recommended the following to Secretary Davin:
• Consistency to bring Pennsylvania up to speed to follow Department of Homeland Security guidelines for manufacturers and essential business. Most supply chains are not limited to Pennsylvania and, without a level playing field, Pennsylvania businesses will remain at a competitive disadvantage. This needs to happen as soon as possible before “yellow” and “green” phase determinations are made from the present “red” phase.
• DCED should increase transparency in its COVID-19 recovery efforts. If public health metrics are used to determine business reopening, this should be communicated.
• Regional concerns for commerce must be considered.
• An appeal process for waiver denials must be implemented. Due to human error, many companies were incorrectly denied a waiver without an opportunity for explanation. This will provide some relief to closed businesses particularly in areas not expected to reopen soon.
• The governor’s office should issue a correction. At an April 20 press conference, the governor encouraged individuals to choose to collect unemployment rather than return to work. This remark is contradictory to the Department of Labor’s instructions for employers to report safe and suitable work refusals.”