All blogs filed under Philadelphia
Federal agencies provide approximately $400 billion in contracts each year that are small business eligible. There are over 275,000 small businesses in Pennsylvania that employ over 3.2 million people, and I want to ensure that they have the tools they need to grow. That is precisely why I hosted a Small Business Procurement Workshop at Lehigh University in Bethlehem. I want to make sure that federal procurement becomes easier for Pennsylvania businesses.
By partnering with the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Development Centers, and Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, we were able to bring together about 75 businesses from across the region to learn how to do business with the government. The summit provided the informational toolkit these professionals will need to navigate the procurement process and strengthen their businesses. The Government Services Administrator David Ehrenwerth, along with leading experts in federal procurement, met with Lehigh Valley businesses to assist them with the process.
In these tough economic times, businesses need to find new customers and markets, and I believe this summit will help them do just that. For more information and a complete list of federal resources, please visit the procurement section of my website.
On Monday I was honored to announce a new partnership to connect kids and teens to health insurance coverage in Philadelphia. Joining me at the event, which was held before an auditorium full of students and faculty from Furness High School, were U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Congressman Chaka Fattah (PA-02), Deputy Superintendent Leroy Nunnery from the School District of Philadelphia and Sarah Martinez-Helfman, Executive Director of the Eagles Youth Partnership, and Furness Principal Timothy McKenna.
Health is fundamental to a child’s ability to succeed inside and outside the classroom, yet eight million children in the United States are uninsured – 222,000 of whom live in Pennsylvania. More than half these children could be helped by available public health insurance programs – if their parents signed them up. Up to five million children, and 129,000 of the children in Pennsylvania, are eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), but are not enrolled. While the percentage of eligible children enrolled in public health programs in Pennsylvania is higher than the national average, more must be done to ensure every eligible child is enrolled.
Secretary Sebelius has issued a challenge to the Nation called “Connecting Kids to Coverage,” which asks groups to commit to taking on new efforts to enroll children and teenagers in health insurance programs. I was proud to announce at the event yesterday that Philadelphia is the first school district in the Nation, and the Eagles are the first professional sports team, to “step up” to Secretary Sebelius’s Connecting Kids to Coverage Challenge. The school district and the Eagles Youth Partnership are partnering with Public Citizens for Children and Youth, a group with a longstanding commitment and experience in enrolling children and youth in Philadelphia in health insurance.
These Philadelphia-based organizations have demonstrated great leadership on behalf of children, and I would like to echo the Secretary’s Challenge to all of Pennsylvania: I ask that more community organizations and entities across Pennsylvania “step up!” and accept Secretary Sebelius’s challenge so that we can be sure every child and teen in the state has the coverage he or she needs to succeed in school, athletics and beyond.
Last Friday I had the pleasure of touring the Sheet Metal Workers Local 19 Training Center in Philadelphia. Local 19, along with the Sheet Metal Contractors Association of Philadelphia and Vicinity (SMCA) have partnered to train skilled sheet metal apprentices and journeypersons.
The tour was a great opportunity to see, first-hand, the kind of comprehensive training these workers are receiving. I had the opportunity to meet several of the trainees, get an overview of how the training process works and speak with several contractors and employers who utilize these trainees after they have completed all of the necessary requirements. I learned to find out that over 75,000 man-hours are devoted to training each year and that approximately 700 members pass through the training center in that time. Those statistics speak to the necessity of these programs in our educational system. In order for Pennsylvania, and the nation, to maintain a manufacturing base we need an educated workforce that cannot only compete with, but surpass the abilities of cheap labor that gives incentives to outsource jobs.
At the event, I was also able to learn more about Local 19 and the SMCA’s efforts to retrofit fume hoods in science laboratories to make them safer and more energy efficient. Aside from members of Local 19 and the SMCA, a number of attendees were from pharmaceutical, biotechnical and energy companies in southeastern Pennsylvania who hope to utilize this new technology.
Unfortunately, like the rest of our workforce, Local 19 has seen an increase in the number of its members that are unemployed. However, in this instance, the Union is proving the importance and ingenuity of an organized workforce by leading their own advances with this innovative technology that improves workplace safety, decreases energy consumption and creates good, sustainable jobs.
I recently had the pleasure of joining Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Governor Rendell and Mayor Nutter in Philadelphia to highlight the launch of the American Revolution Center. Located in the heart of Philadelphia within Independence National Historic Park, the American Revolution Center will focus on the country’s history spanning 1750 to 1800. The American Revolution Center will add another great cultural, historical, and educational institution to the Philadelphia region. I applaud the efforts that have brought us this far and look forward to the continued development of this exciting project.
Yesterday, I heard the story of Ms. Adena Holder, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. She owns a home with her son, but nearly lost it after her son lost his job. Fortunately, she was able to take advantage of a program in Pennsylvania called the Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP). Ms. Holder’s story of nearly losing her home is one that has become far too common in Pennsylvania and across America. Thankfully, Congressman Chaka Fattah and I were able to announce that we secured $1 billion for the Emergency Homeowners Relief Fund through the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. The Emergency Homeowners Relief Fund was established to help homeowners stay in their homes if they are unable to pay their full mortgage due to unforeseen circumstances such as an illness or unemployment.
The Philadelphia Unemployment Project (PUP) hosted the event and John Dodds, its Executive Director as well as Brian Hudson, the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA), both spoke about the importance of this legislation. PUP has been and continues to be a strong advocate for HEMAP, which is administered by the PHFA here in Pennsylvania. In fact, Congressman Fattah as a state legislator was one of the original architects of HEMAP in Pennsylvania in 1983. Since its inception, HEMAP has saved over 41,000 homes in Pennsylvania from foreclosure and that is just one of the reasons I advocated so strongly for this program in the Senate and why Congressman Fattah did the same in the House. I look forward to swift and effective enactment of this program, so we can ensure that families are able to remain in their homes as we move out of this difficult economic period.