Senators Address Small Business Needs and Community College Education

Harrisburg – The bipartisan state Senate Economy, Business and Jobs Caucus, Manufacturing Caucus and Community College caucus held a joint roundtable discussion on the role that community colleges and their programs play in addressing small business needs.  Senators Bob Mensch (R-Berks/Bucks/Montgomery) and Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton/Lehigh/ Monroe) co-chair both the Economy Business and Jobs and the Community College Caucuses. The co-chairs of the Manufacturing Caucus, Senator Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland County) and Senator Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny County) also participated in the discussion.

The caucuses invited a panel of experts to participate in the roundtable discussion. The panel consisted of:

  • Mr. Jim Linksz, Interim Director

Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges

  • Mr. Robert Keaton, Legislative Director

National Federation of Independent Businesses

  • Mr. Dan Fogarty, Manager of Human Resources

Schroeder Industries

  • Dr. Mark Erickson, President

Northampton County Community College

  • Ms. Alicia Booker, Vice President – Workforce Development

Community College of Allegheny County

  • Mr. Joseph Houldin, CEO

Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center

  • Dr. John “Ski” Sygielski, President

Harrisburg Area Community College

  • Mr. Phil Needles, Dean – Business and Entrepreneurial Initiatives

Montgomery County Community College

“Community colleges play a fundamental role in providing the education and training that is needed in order to help fill the job gaps in small businesses and manufacturing,” said Mensch.  “Today we heard from experts throughout Pennsylvania and they underlined many different components that we can do as legislators to help bridge this gap.  It is apparent that we need to highlight the importance of manufacturing jobs to the public and promote partnerships between community colleges and small businesses as they create programs to attract students.”

The panelists discussed different programs that currently exist between community colleges and small businesses that have demonstrated a high success rate of attracting students to specialized programs that will enable them to learn a new skill set.  Panelists also discussed the negative stigma of manufacturing jobs and the need to reinvent how the public perceives entering the manufacturing industry.

“Today’s discussion demonstrates how critical the partnerships between community colleges and businesses are for job training here in the Commonwealth,” stated Boscola. “We have a real opportunity to help fill employment needs by supporting these programs and I am committed to working on this issue with my colleagues here in the legislature.”

The Economy Business and Jobs Caucus meets quarterly to better understand of what shapes Pennsylvania’s economic climate, what encourages investment and which factors enable continued workforce development.##


Sarah Stroman
(215) 541-2388