Gov. Wolf proposes plan to “aggressively” keep jobs in Pennsylvania

03.06.17 | Bob Price

Governor Tom Wolf wants to make sure Pennsylvania companies keep their jobs in the Commonwealth, and he plans on taking an aggressive approach holding them to their promises.

Wolf, entering his third state budget cycle, said in a recent Twitter video that new businesses which use state grants to start their companies must be held accountable if they decide to take that money out of state.

"To ensure the greatest amount of accountability and to protect taxpayer dollars, my budget proposes to make some changes to our job creation grant programs," Wolf said.

The Democratic governor issued a three-points on his job protection plan:

  1. Any company which fails to create jobs it promised must give back the full payment of its grant amount.
  2. Any company which receives grant money and moves operations out of Pennsylvania must give back its grant payment and pay a penalty of 10% of the grant total.
  3. Companies which use state economic development grant money to create new jobs must commit to at least five years of those jobs. Those businesses must keep operations in Pennsylvania for at least eight years.

"What the governor is saying is 'We will track you down if you leave,' and no company wants that," said David Black, President of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber.

The proposal isn't necessarily new, Black says, but the promise to go after companies which leave is.

"This penalty is almost never enforced," admitted J.J. Abbott, Governor Wolf's press secretary. "Going forward, DCED (Department of Community and Economic Development) will be aggressive in imposing the penalty when a company takes state funds and subsequently folds operations in Pennsylvania."

The Pennsylvania Chamber of business is taking a wait-and-see approach.

CEO Gene Barr telling FOX43 in a written statement they want to make sure any language from a new proposal is spelled out directly, with no room for ambiguity and confusion.

"It’s important that any change in requirements for future grantees are presented in a clear and concise manner so that all parties involved understand the terms of the agreement and the business can carry them out," Barr wrote.

FOX43 also reached out to local business owners in the state Senate, Republicans Scott Wagner and John DiSanto. Both were unavailable for comment.