This week, members of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce (GPCC) and the CEO Council for Growth (CEO Council) travelled to Washington D.C. for a roundtable discussion with officials from the Obama Administration. Members of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development (ACCD), GPCC’s counterpart in the Pittsburgh region, also participated in the meeting.
The roundtable consisted of three panels on energy and climate, transportation and infrastructure, and healthcare. The GPCC and CEO Council representatives engaged in a dialogue with the White House Leaders and communicated our region’s priorities for growth and development in these policy areas.
Our leaders conveyed the importance and impact of the Marcellus Shale on Pennsylvania and the region’s economy, cautioning the Administration about the adverse effects of the current regulatory environment. In response, the Administration officials underscored the need for regulations that ensure safe and responsible practices in the energy and manufacturing sectors.
Reflecting our region’s vision to become an energy hub GPCC and CEO Council leadership also expressed the importance of the Administration’s role in supporting the development of infrastructure, particularly inter- and intra-state pipelines, to fuel future economic activity.
Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of ACCD, emphasized the importance of a national energy grid policy, especially after nearly reaching energy production capacity this past winter. He challenged the Administration to implement a coordinated national grid policy.
TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
GPCC and CEO Council executives communicated the importance of improving our region’s and nation’s infrastructure to ensure a modern, multimodal transportation system. Since Congress has provided a temporary patch to fund the Highway Trust Fund into May 2015, our leadership made clear that we want to work with the Administration and the next Congress to communicate our region’s priorities for the next surface transportation bill. Not only did our leaders communicate the need for a long term reauthorization but also that it should provide state and local governments with innovative financing options to fund infrastructure projects and provide adequate or increased funding for mass transit.
Our leaders shared insights on how the business community played an important role in the passage of Act 89, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s important transportation legislation that was passed last year. Administration representatives were very interested in hearing how different interest groups came together to form a coalition and will be looking to our business community to advise the Administration in moving a long-term transportation bill forward.
In addition, our leaders emphasized the need for sustained or increased funding for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and intercity passenger rail.
Again, our leadership had the opportunity to remind the Administration of Greater Philadelphia’s important health care assets – top-rated academic and clinical research institutions, hospitals and health systems, as well as life sciences and biopharmaceutical clusters. They communicated the critically important role that health care plays in our regional economy and that we support health policies and innovations that increase access to care, improve quality of care delivery, drive down health care costs, and develop an environment that fosters innovation, collaboration, and entrepreneurship to strengthen the region’s position in health care.
Our executives urged the Administration to consider Greater Philadelphia a laboratory for healthcare innovation and emphasized that we have individuals, infrastructure and organizations in place to be one. We hope to continue working with the Administration to identify opportunities for competitive grants or cross agency support for achieving the vision of the region serving as a global attraction and test bed for innovations that provide solutions to health care challenges
Our leaders thanked the Administration for its recent approval of Pennsylvania’s Healthy PA program to help extend coverage to the state’s uninsured population. In conjunction with the ACCD, GPCC supported Governor Corbett’s proposal, and we now look forward to working with the state and federal Administrations to implement the plan.
Obama Administration Panelists:
- Moderator: Nate Jenkins, Deputy Director of Private Sector Engagement for the Office of Public Engagement
- Rich Duke, Deputy Director for Climate Policy, Domestic Policy Council
- Rohan Patel, Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
- Ali Zaidi, Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy, and Science Programs, Office of Management and Budget
- Sylvia Garcia, Assistant Secretary for Budget and CFO, U.S. Department of Transportation
- David Kim, Associate Administrator for Policy, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation
- Carlos Monje, Senior Counselor to the Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation
- Marlon Marshall, Special Assistant to the President and Principle Deputy Director, Office of Public Engagement