The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 10, 2012

Imploring leaders to complete study

Gauges heartbeat of the region

The Tribune-Democrat

— Business and industry leaders who have procrastinated on filling out this year’s all-important and confidential Economic Climate Study have been given a few extra days to respond.

If you haven’t already done so, we urge you to do so by Friday, the extended deadline.

In its 19th annual year, the study is sponsored by the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Chamber of Commerce, whose website describes it as a way “to give local business leaders a forecast of the coming year as well as discuss strategic issues facing the community.”

We agree with the chamber and others that it’s important to look at our region’s economy in 2012 while putting together a road map on what could or should happen in 2013 and beyond.

Who better to look into the crystal ball than our corporate leaders?

“Our main focus this year is health care,” said John McGrath, associate professor at Pitt-Johnstown. He and now-retired associate professor Ron Vickroy are once again heading the research and tabulating the data.

“We’re especially asking small businesses what they think about ‘health insurance exchanges’ – what they would do about them, whether they would use them. Our hunch is they don’t even know about them,” McGrath said, noting that they are scheduled to start in 2014 as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

With our region’s aging population and the current political debate on Obama-care, we can’t imagine a more appropriate focus than health care. Although McGrath assured that “we’re trying to avoid politics.”

Last year’s focus was on Marcellus Shale and its expected economic impact on our region, McGrath noted.

As in the past, all Chamber of Commerce members have been asked to participate in the Economic Climate Study, but non-chamber members, too, may get involved, and we urge you to do so.  

Last year, 23 percent of those sent questionnaires responded. We hope many more this year realize how important their feedback is to making this study pertinent.

The results will be outlined during a breakfast-meeting on Nov. 9 at the Pasquerilla Conference Center in downtown Johnstown.

U.S. Rep. Mark Critz will kick off the session, with the keynote presentation coming from Carolyn Scanlon, president and CEO of the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.

In addition, the chamber plans to recognize companies with Economic Summit Awards, given annually to organizations that demonstrate excellence in job creation and/or retention, corporate citizenship and innovation and improvements in the workplace.

Good stuff. Is our region headed in the right direction? Hopefully, the survey will give us all a good indication.

We thank the survey respondents in advance, as well as the people at the Chamber of Commerce and at Pitt-Johnstown.

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