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A conversation with John Moran

John Moran’s top concern as a businessman is one shared by many employers: ensuring industry has access to a highly educated and trained workforce.

Team Pennsylvania Foundation sat down to speak with the President & CEO of Moran Industries to discuss his views on issues impacting businesses across the commonwealth. Moran replaced Karen Winner-Sed of Winner International as the Foundation’s private sector board co-chair at the organization’s June meeting.

“We’re having a hard time finding people for a variety of positions,” Moran said. “We probably have 40 open positions right now. My biggest problem going forward is going to be labor.”

Moran said the workforce issue is a multi-layered problem. (Read more on Moran Industries.)

“We offer training to new employees because we just can’t take people off the streets, put them in our warehouses and expect them to operate,” Moran said.

The Corbett administration recently took a huge step in addressing this issue in creating the JOBS First PA program. JOBS First will develop a comprehensive job-matching system, encourage training, and a focus by economic development on helping workers.

Other issues Moran feels need to be addressed include revamping the permitting process and making Pennsylvania a leader in energy, which he says will help make our nation energy independent.

Moran shared instances where barriers and burdensome regulations impeded business owners from expanding their operations.

Moran said he recently talked with a Williamsport-area businessman who wanted to start a hot dog concession stand, but eventually abandoned the idea due to too many burdensome government regulations.

“By the time he had to go through all the regulations just in order to start a hot dog stand, he gave up on it. He said, ‘there’s no way I can go through all of this and make it work’,” Moran related. “If you can’t even open up a hot dog business, how can any small company expect to make it?”

Moran said the state should develop a mechanism so legitimate complaints concerning cumbersome regulations or government inefficiency can find their way to key government officials.

Moran added a regulatory environment that is perceived to be non-friendly can be a disincentive to businesses looking to grow or to those looking to locate to the commonwealth.

Revisiting the regulatory process and establishing our energy independence would help rebuild America as a dominant player in a global economy, Moran added.

First, however, Pennsylvania must find ways to increase demand for the abundant source of natural gas it has in the Marcellus Shale play and other gas fields located within its borders.

Moran credited and thanked Governor Corbett for bringing the Shell cracker plant, a project that was supported by Team PA, to western Pennsylvania because it will increase demand for gas..

“Having the lowest cost and most stable energy source will go a long way to offsetting low-cost labor in other parts of the world,” Moran said, when describing how to level the playing field for industry.

“There is plenty of opportunity in our country today, but we’ve got to get in line. If we could go from a $14 trillion to a $21 trillion gross domestic product economy, we could grow ourselves out of our problems and fix our economy.”

One way to do that is to get the 20 million unemployed individuals back to work. The revenue generated by adding those workers to the tax rolls would generate new wealth for other revenue shortfalls.

“We have a chance right now to rebuild America with our own domestic energy,” Moran said. “We could fix all of our problems with our own energy supply.”

When asked why he decided to invest in Team PA and agreed to become the Foundation’s board co-chair, Moran said it was an easy decision given the community service values instilled in him by his mother and father.

“I was tired of sitting on the sidelines and I want to make a difference and make real changes that help industry in Pennsylvania,” Moran added.

Moran has already contributed greatly to the Foundation’s work and expanded Pennsylvania’s presence in a global economy when he participated in Governor’s Corbett trade mission to France and Germany earlier this year.

Moran gave two presentations to foreign government officials and business owners updating them on the value of Marcellus Shale and the logistical advantages of operating a business in the commonwealth.

“The trip was great,” Moran said. “We had very high-level and productive meetings with CEOs and officials in Germany and France. They really rolled out the red carpet for us and were interested in learning more about Pennsylvania and the opportunities that exist here.”

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