Mark Smith: Twin Tiers Perspective: Using local workers the right thing to do
We need more jobs and economic growth in Pennsylvania, so we can't sit on the sidelines when over 1,000 good Pennsylvania jobs could be lost to out of state workers. It's time to stand up and take action.
Nearly three years ago Moxie Energy proposed to build two natural gas power plants, one each in Bradford and Lycoming counties. Each power plant is expected to take 30 months to build. These construction projects are expected to employ a peak workforce of approximately 500 people per plant.
Overall, the plants represent a combined $1.6 billion investment in Pennsylvania.
Diligent efforts have been made by local, state and federal officials of both political parties to ensure these plants could be built in Northern Pennsylvania. Those efforts were made with the understanding that these jobs would be filled by skilled Pennsylvania workers. The loss of over 1,000 Pennsylvania jobs would cost the commonwealth taxpayers over $15 million in unemployment compensation alone, not to mention the loss of the positive economic impact our own taxpayers would have on the Pennsylvania economy.
Elected officials, representatives from economic development agencies and chambers of commerce have been working to get a serious commitment from Moxie Energy to use a Pennsylvania labor force to build these plants. Unfortunately, as of yet, no solid or binding commitments have been made by Moxie.
We also have an enormous obligation to ensure a quality power plant is built. These will be the first natural gas power plants in Bradford and Lycoming counties, so we need to make sure the job is done right. Pennsylvania workers, such as highly trained union boilermakers, electricians, carpenters and many other skilled trades will be required to build this plant to the highest standards and with the greatest of care. Local workers, like them are committed to quality and to our local communities. Local workers who are building the plant in their own backyards are the ones I trust most to get this job done right.
When companies look to invest in our commonwealth they often make big promises. It's our responsibility to make sure those promises to our communities and families are made and kept in good faith.
Moxie representatives have quoted a June 2013 start date. Now it's time for Moxie Energy to convert rhetoric about creating good jobs into hiring of skilled Pennsylvania workers.
Mark Smith is the Democrat minority commissioner for Bradford County.