– Rep. Ryan Mackenzie (R-Lehigh/Berks) joined U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Acting Administrator Chris Pilkerton this week to discuss the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and workforce development issues during a visit of the manufacturing company ATAS International, Inc.
Mackenzie is a co-chair of the Council of State Governments Eastern Regional Conference. At their recent annual meeting, a resolution was unanimously passed with bipartisan support encouraging the passage of USMCA, which makes targeted improvements to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It is an agreement that ultimately helps companies like ATAS International, which boasts Canada and Mexico as its largest international markets.
“This was a fantastic opportunity to talk with Acting Administrator Pilkerton and a local business about the challenges facing Pennsylvania in terms of workforce development and international trade issues,” said Mackenzie.
Pennsylvania is home to more than 1 million small businesses that employ approximately 46% of the state’s workforce. Mackenzie said getting feedback from small business owners and making sure they have a seat at the table on issues impacting them is essential.
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has made workforce development a priority with its Good Jobs for PA initiative. Legislation has been developed and passed by the House to increase training opportunities for in-demand jobs and provide students with greater options beyond a typical four-year degree in order to fill needed gaps in the workforce.
“One of the things I hear most often from employers is that they are having trouble finding qualified people to fill the jobs they have available,” said Mackenzie. “These are often good-paying positions that are going unfulfilled simply due to a lack of skills training, and that’s something I know we can remedy.
“I want to thank the acting administrator for making a trip to the Lehigh Valley and getting input from our local employers,” continued Mackenzie. “The more people we can have employed, the better off our families and economy will be.”
Rep. Gary Day (R-Lehigh) was also present for the meeting and joined Mackenzie in presenting a certificate from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to ATAS International for being a leader in manufacturing. ATAS is a family-owned business that opened its doors in Allentown in 1984 and has earned a Lehigh Valley Top Workplaces Award for the past four consecutive years.
The U.S. SBA is the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government. The SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow, or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit sba.gov
Representative Ryan Mackenzie
| Following a meeting with U.S. Small Business Administration Acting Administrator Chris Pilkerton (far right), Rep. Ryan Mackenzie (second from left) joined Rep. Gary Day (far left) in presenting a certificate from the House of Representatives to Jim Bus (center), executive vice president of ATAS in recognition of the company being a leader in manufacturing.
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tricia Lehman