Gov. Wolf’s Pennsylvania Budget Prioritizes Education, Income

Gov. Wolf’s Pennsylvania Budget Prioritizes Education, Income

By: Sara Warden

2 min read February 2020 — Democrat Gov. Tom focused his 2020-21 budget on education and income, proposing an increase in spending of almost 6% to $34 billion over the fiscal year, including $600 million to cover cost overruns. Republicans criticized the heavy reliance of the budget on the assumption that revenue would grow by 4.5% ($1.6 billion) over the period. The proposals also require borrowing funds. “It’s easy to put things on a credit card and then ask other people in the future to pay for it,” said Republican State Representative Stan Saylor. “That is not the solution for Pennsylvania.”

 1. There will be no major tax increases

Instead of tax increases for citizens, several novel approaches were proposed in the budget to fund services, one of which was a state police fee based on number of incidents and coverage area. Wolf estimates the initiative will bring in $136 million to fund police services. Another way taxes could stay flat is by imposing a tax on the Marcellus Shale natural gas field to be placed in a $4.5 billion infrastructure fund. Based on 2019 production, Wolf believes the tax would generate more than $600 million per year.

Sweeping changes will be made to charter school funding

Wolf proposed a reduction in the obligatory payments school districts must make when one of their students decides to attend a charter school, which would save districts $280 million annually, according to the governor. “Our charter school system is in desperate need of reform,” Wolf said in a sharp rebuke of the charter school system. “It’s time to close the loopholes. It’s time to establish real standards, and it’s time to level the playing field.”

2. Revisiting previous proposals.

The Wolf administration wants the state to increase basic education spending by $100 million and special education by $25 million. He wants all school districts to offer full-day kindergarten, shifting 22,000 students who attend half-day programs into full days. He wants budgets on the whole for Pre-K to be increased by $30 million, most of which will be allocated to the state-run Pre-K Counts program. Finally, he proposed an increase in the state’s minimum teaching salary from $18,500 to $45,000, impacting 3,000 teachers. 

3. Higher minimum wage is high on the agenda

Wolf’s government has always championed higher minimum wages but has been met with stiff resistance. The governor wants to increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $15 per hour on a gradual basis. The current minimum wage is $7.25, which he proposes should be increased to $12 this July and every consecutive year by $0.50 until reaching $15 in 2026.

Another issue the governor addressed was gun reform, which is unusual for a budget speech. Gov. Wolf made an impassioned plea for the state to take gun laws more seriously. “The steps I’m proposing are supported by the evidence and supported by the vast majority of Pennsylvanians,” Wolf said. “To let another session go by without action would be a failure of imagination that will cost lives.”


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Spotlight On: Christopher Lam, Partner, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

Spotlight On: Christopher Lam, Partner, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read February 2020 — Charlotte’s growth continues to attract a gamut of industries and talent into the region. As a result, the legal needs of businesses are evolving along with the diversification of the local economy, expanding the opportunities for legal professionals in the Queen City. Charlotte’s cost of living and sophisticated legal services rival the likes of New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings Partner Christopher Lam told Invest: Charlotte. The business diversity is driving the need for expertise in compliance and data privacy. Additionally, there is a great emphasis to provide access to justice to all residents via pro bono legal services or by committing financial resources to community agencies in the region, Lam said. 

Q: How has the legal landscape changed with so much economic growth in the region?

A: From a legal perspective, a lot of firms from outside North Carolina decided to set up an office here, and not all of those have remained. According to American Lawyer, however, there are 59 law firms with a Charlotte office that are not headquartered here. This remains a very popular place to be for lawyers and that’s because of the way our business community has diversified.

We are known as a banking and financial services hub, and while this is still a key part of our economy, we are so much more than that, with energy, manufacturing, fintech and other sectors emerging. That diversification is good for us as lawyers too, as it better equips us to weather a potential downturn. For example, our firm has experts in multiple practice areas and industries, which allows us to serve clients with those needs and protects us against a downturn in one or two particular sectors.

Q: How have the legal needs of companies evolved as new technologies and developments emerge?

A: The core legal needs for businesses have largely remained the same – corporate, employment, litigation, real estate. But with new regulations, there is a greater need for expertise in compliance, specifically in data privacy, and particularly with new regulations such as GDPR and CCPA going into effect. That impacts almost every company. At Bradley, we have two of only a handful of lawyers in the country who are board-certified privacy lawyers, and we have an additional deep bench of lawyers who are CIPP-US certified. We have been well-positioned to help companies navigate these new regulations. 

Q: How do you think the private sector and public officials must work together to keep growth sustainable?

A: Charlotte has a proud legacy of business leadership in issues of community development and public policy. Our business leaders have long been champions of these initiatives and we certainly think we at Bradley are a part of that effort. It is important as corporate citizens that we recognize that the better we make our community as a whole, the better it is for everyone.

Q: How does the Charlotte legal market compare with other markets such as Chicago or New York?

A: Those cities are larger and more diverse and sometimes those legal markets can seem more attractive, whether it be a higher salary or more opportunities. In Charlotte, however, because of the diversity of the business community, we have sophisticated legal services here to rival the likes of New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. We also have a cost of living that is more advantageous, meaning lawyers can have great opportunities with a lower cost of living. That’s the best of both worlds.

Q: What are the main challenges facing the Charlotte market today?

A: Most of the 5,500 lawyers in Mecklenburg County are not working in big firms or representing large companies. And there are thousands of residents in the broader Charlotte community who have legal needs but cannot afford legal services. As current president of the Mecklenburg County Bar, my time spent working with groups like the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy has emphasized that the greatest challenge for lawyers here is our responsibility to ensure there is access to justice for all. We have a professional obligation to do so. We can do this in a couple primary ways – providing pro bono legal services ourselves or committing our financial resources to the agencies doing the heavy lifting every day. That issue is not unique to Charlotte, but as lawyers we have a particular responsibility to help ensure there is access to justice. I am very proud to say our lawyers at Bradley live into that. As but one example, we have a partnership with the Bank of America legal department through which we work with Safe Alliance to represent clients who need domestic violence protective orders. 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Spotlight On: Les Vail, CEO & President, Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce

Spotlight On: Les Vail, CEO & President, Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read January 2020— The Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce’s focus on business development and education has positioned it as the fifth-largest chamber in the state of New Jersey. The chamber’s partnerships with local county colleges and universities have been key for businesses and the local workforce. Les Vail, president and CEO of the chamber, discussed with Invest: the different ways the chamber is promoting Gloucester County as an economic engine in the region.


 What have been some of the highlights for the Gloucester Chamber of Commerce over the past 12 months?


We have been making a concerted effort over the past year to improve branding and marketing to ensure that our message reaches as many people as possible. We initiated a partnership with Rowan College of South Jersey that provides around 30 percent discounts on degree tuition fees for any of our employees and members. We are already seeing that initiative bearing fruit, with over 12,000 unique visits per week across our social media platforms and a significant uptick in returns on our email blasts.


How is the chamber working to promote South Jersey as a catalyst for economic development in the tri-state area?


We have grown to become the fifth-largest chamber in the state with almost 1,000 members, and a big reason for that success is our focus on business development. We act as the middleman to help companies and executives connect with each other. Our efforts on education are also vital. We firmly believe that economic development starts with educating the workforce, as this is what attracts new businesses to the region. 


Manufacturing, for example, has a great need for employment. Gloucester County is the fifth-largest region in the country for food manufacturing. The sector offers competitive wages, but it is struggling to find sufficient numbers of skilled workers, not only for now but for the future. The industry does not necessarily require a college degree, but usually requires some form of certification. That’s where our partnerships with local county colleges can have an important impact. We listen to the business community and we support them in their efforts to increase the number of qualified workers for this industry.


What kinds of businesses are you trying to attract to the Gloucester County region?


We are not known as a technology hub, but we have a research institution and two medical schools that are contributing in this area. So we are looking to attract technology-based industries that can offer competitive wages. We have the land capacity and infrastructure in place to attract these businesses.


What are the main challenges facing businesses in the county?


Workforce is still the main issue. We need more plumbers, electricians and carpenters. Manufacturing businesses and refineries, despite offering attractive salaries, are struggling to find their future workforce. It is important to change the mindset of young people today and to let them know that not every career requires a college degree. We need to find people without college degrees and include them in the workforce by giving them valuable skills that contribute to the economy. This process starts in high school, so it is encouraging to see institutions like Gateway Regional High School offering guidance and advice on potential career paths to students from an early age.


To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce:


Georgia Wraps Up Decade as Top State for business

Georgia Wraps Up Decade as Top State for business

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read January 2020Development and growth in Atlanta remain strong as the decade comes to an end, and the economic activity and favorable business climate characteristic of Atlanta looks just as peachy for the entire state of Georgia. In November, Georgia was recognized by Site Selection Magazine as the top state for business for a record-breaking seventh year in a row. Similarly, Area Development Magazine also named Georgia as the top state for business for the sixth-consecutive year. 

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said continuing to foster a thriving business climate has been a major part of his vision for the state since assuming office in January 2019. “From Day One of my administration, we have been laser-focused on creating opportunities for hardworking Georgians in every corner of the state,” Kemp  announced at the Georgia Cyber Center in Augusta, Georgia in November . “Our efforts to cut burdensome regulations, continue developing a world-class workforce, and market all regions of the Peach State through the formation of a Rural Strike Team have not gone unnoticed, and this announcement affirms that.” 


The state’s workforce training program, Georgia Quick Start, was also recognized as one of the best in the nation. The state reported around 29,000 new jobs were created for fiscal year 2019. According to the Atlanta Regional Commission, 2.5 million residents are expected to move to the region by the year 2040, bringing the total population to 8 million. 


Heading into the new decade, technology will be a key area of growth for the region and state. The Metro Atlanta Chamber identified bioscience, financial technology, supply chain and Internet of Things as economic segments poised for growth. Additionally, Georgia’s logistics hub legacy is one of the state’s main competitive advantages. Logistics hubs like the Port of Savannah and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport connect businesses to their customers with ease. The workforce training programs, and logistic hubs, coupled with the state’s pro-business policies make Georgia a frontrunner for companies looking to relocate. 

“The nation’s leading site consultants see opportunity for growth across our state. Our top-ranked workforce development initiatives – combined with a conservative, pro-business policy approach, world-class higher education system, and a logistics network that puts the global economy within arm’s reach – make Georgia a top competitor for investment from businesses large and small – across the country and around the world,” Kemp said. 


To learn more, visit:

Spotlight On: John McDonald, Charlotte Office Managing Partner, McGuireWoods

Spotlight On: John McDonald, Charlotte Office Managing Partner, McGuireWoods

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read December 2019 — The economy and legal services go hand in hand. As a result, Charlotte, well-known for its banking and financial services industry, is attracting top legal talent. With the rise of the region’s healthcare and technology sectors, the legal needs of the business community are evolving with the diversification of the economy. In an interview with Invest: Charlotte, McGuireWoods Charlotte Office Managing Partner John McDonald talks about the factors that influence the region’s legal market, the large talent pool available, and outlooks for the legal market heading into 2020. 

How have the legal needs of the business community evolved with the growth of the region?

The majority of the lawyers in our Charlotte office are involved in the financial services sector in some fashion, whether that is through securities, debt finance, or litigation practices. Charlotte’s large banking community influences the work we do. We also have one of the largest healthcare practices in Charlotte. We are nationally known for our healthcare practice and Charlotte is our second-largest hub for that practice. We also have a very strong energy practice and work with a number of energy clients in the region, as well as nationally. The legal needs of the Charlotte community are very sophisticated. Major national and global companies, such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Duke Energy, bring sophistication to the business world, which translates to the legal market. Firms in the Charlotte market have to provide high-end legal services because of the sophistication of the work that is demanded by our clients. 


What do law firms need to do differently in today’s technological era to attract and retain clients?

Generally, lawyers by nature are behind the curve because we are cautious and skeptical, especially when it comes to new technologies. Part of McGuireWoods’ strategic plan is to identify and embrace technology that will help us better serve our clients. Whether through artificial intelligence or data analytics, we are always looking for ways to leverage technology to help us drive the results our clients are looking for. Technology can help us identify legal factors and anticipate issues to accomplish the desired results in the most cost-effective way. If firms do not embrace the use of technology, they will fall behind.


What is the state of the region’s legal talent pool? 

We recruit from the regional law schools. Charlotte draws lawyers from across the country. In a dynamic market like this, it can be challenging to both attract and retain qualified talent. There is a lot of competition. In addition, the in-house market for lawyers is really impressive in Charlotte. Between the banks and other major corporations in the area, there are a lot of sophisticated in-house legal teams that are an attractive option for some of our lawyers. We acknowledge this, and frankly, it can be a great opportunity for us. When our lawyers leave, they almost always end up going to an in-house team. That is a great way for us to build relationships with clients. At McGuireWoods, our lawyers are always looking for ways to help their community, which they do through pro-bono work or by serving on nonprofit boards. Over 90 percent of our lawyers provide pro-bono services on an annual basis. We take great pride in this and are always looking for ways to do more. I find that law students today have a great sense of wanting to give back. 


What is the outlook for Charlotte’s legal sector heading into 2020?

The national and international economies impact the work in the financial services sector. There are signs that some sectors of the national economy might be slowing. That is a concern and we need to prepare for that. At the same time, in the legal market, there is always work to do regardless of the economy. We have to be able to adjust and recognize our clients’ needs and how they are impacted by the broader economy. Overall, we are excited about what 2020 has in store. I know our clients are trying to put together some amazing deals and there is a lot of optimism that it will be a great 2020.


To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Spotlight On: Donald Borden, President, Camden County College

Spotlight On: Donald Borden, President, Camden County College

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read December 2019 — Beyond typical degree programs, South New Jersey’s Camden County College is challenged to keep up with demand for certifying students like automobile technicians and machinists. The school is attracting increased involvement from local business and the industrial community to tailor its courses to the market’s demands. The Invest: team recently spoke with Camden County College President Donald Borden, who highlighted the areas of growth for the college and the region’s workforce.

Which of the college’s programs are experiencing more demand?


We have the most certification programs in southern New Jersey. In terms of what is in demand, we can’t keep our machinists on the floor. Companies come to hire them as soon as they become proficient. Students trained in robotics, automobile tech and optometry all find work after graduating. We offer some of those programs that are not traditionally seen as higher ed, but they have been in very high demand. We also continue to graduate students in the areas of business and education, as well as criminal justice, to name a few. The important factor is to have the connections that provide students with opportunities, such as the police academy, which we oversee here in Camden County.


As the college’s 2017-2020 strategic plan winds down, what factors will be central to the next plan?


We are already working on our next strategic plan. What is encouraging is that much of the focus in our town halls or when talking to our stakeholders is making sure our strategic plan includes partnering with business and industry. We have really increased the number of businesses and industries on our advisory boards, and my view is that we have to be servants to those individuals. It used to be that higher education was a “take it or leave it” proposition, but now we need to understand what the business community needs from our graduates. They have an opportunity to weigh in on our curricula and program development. As a result, when our graduates enter the local business community it helps them, it helps the business community and industry, and it helps the community in general.

What impact is technology having on education?


It is not just instructional. When you talk about automobile techs, I don’t think they can be called mechanics anymore. They are technicians who are very involved in the computer technology business. I think that is true in almost any area. How does that affect us? Instructionally, we need to be meeting the needs of those businesses and industries, which is where the advisory boards and partnerships come in.  We need to know what kind of equipment our students need to be trained on. That is true of both certification programs and degree programs.


In addition, sometimes we need to rely on those partners to help us with equipment, because of financial issues. But even beyond that, our students live in that world on a day-to-day basis, so we try to help them. More students are simply living their education through technology. We are also expanding our online programs, which is an area of focus as we work to have more degree options available online.


What main challenges is the college and the education sector in South Jersey dealing with?


One of the main challenges for all of us is fewer traditional students graduating from high school. That population is diminishing and that makes it more competitive for all the institutions that serve those students. 


Another challenge that we face, and which is very typical in public institutions, is state and federal funding. Our county has been extremely generous. Most recently, the community college opportunity grant has had an influence on how we do business. It provides every student making $65,000 or less in combined yearly family income with free tuition at local community colleges.


To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Camden County College: 

Public and Private Collaboration Key to Camden’s Eds and Meds Corridor

Public and Private Collaboration Key to Camden’s Eds and Meds Corridor

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read December 2019 — The life sciences industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in New Jersey, with the largest concentration of scientists and engineers per square mile in the world. The southern New Jersey region is no exception, with Camden’s “eds and meds” corridor boasting numerous healthcare, educational and research institutions.

The city’s eds and meds corridor has been experiencing steady growth over the last few years, thanks to the commitment of anchor institutions and the city’s leadership. According to Cooper’s Ferry Partnership statistics, the corridor employs almost 40% of the Camden workforce and over $1 billion has been invested in the “eds and meds” sector, with an additional $175 million planned. 

Created in 2012 by the New Jersey Medical and Health Sciences Education Restructuring Act, the Rowan University / Rutgers – Camden Board of Governors has been a catalyst in the corridor’s extension and economic development. In October, the board reached a milestone with the opening of the new Joint Health and Sciences Center, which provides lab and training spaces for Rowan University, Rutgers-Camden and Camden County College. 

“By leveraging the power of these institutions, the Center is poised to become the research and innovation hub of South Jersey. This campus will be the beating heart of Camden’s eds and meds corridor, injecting opportunity, growth, and innovation throughout the entire region,” said  Joint Board CEO Dana Redd in a press release. 

The center houses research laboratory spaces for both Rowan and Rutgers-Camden, simulation rooms for medical students at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, instructional space and additional simulation labs for Camden County College, and office space for the Joint Board, according to the press release. The center will help expand the city’s transformation into a hub for medical research and innovation and attract top talent into the region. 

Camden’s “eds and meds” corridor growth is also due to the numerous partnerships between healthcare and education organizations in the area. These community collaborations and initiatives have helped combat social determinants and support local residents. For example, Camden residents now have expanded access to care as a result of efforts by institutions such as Cooper University Health Care, Virtua Health System, CAMcare Health Corporation and Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers.  

The Coriell Institute for Medical Research, an independent, nonprofit biomedical research center, has been a leader in Camden’s health sciences sector. The institute hosts one of the world’s leading biobanks, distributing biological samples and offering research and biobanking services to scientists in 85 countries around the globe. By conducting groundbreaking research in biobanking, personalized medicine and stem cell biology, the Coriell Institute has been and continues to be a main driver of the corridor’s growth.

Another example is the MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper, which has also significantly contributed to Camden’s eds and meds corridor since its opening in 2013. The center not only brought a new option for cancer patients across the region, but its innovative clinical trials and research has helped Camden’s reputation as a hub for groundbreaking healthcare research and education.


To learn more, visit:

Cooper’s Ferry Partnership:  

Rowan University / Rutgers – Camden Board of Governors: 

Coriell Institute for Medical Research: 

MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper: 

Spotlight on: James Michael Burkett, President, Florida Technical College

Spotlight on: James Michael Burkett, President, Florida Technical College

By: Yolanda Rivas

Since 1982, Florida Technical College (FTC) has been meeting the needs of students and the job marketplace. At times of low unemployment rates across the nation, educational institutions like FTC play a significant role in providing students the necessary skills businesses are looking for. In an interview with Invest: Orlando, FTC’s President James Michael Burkett discussed the most in-demand programs and how they support the local workforce.

What differentiates Florida Technical College from other educational institutions in the area?


We support people who want to acquire technical job skills that can get them into the job market more quickly. That is one of our main advantages. Our locations in Central Florida have seen unprecedented growth, particularly in our hospitality program because many of the positions in these fields require the technical skills we help students acquire, rather than a traditional four-year degree. Another big advantage for the school is our Spanish language vocational and technical programs. These programs have allowed us to assist the Spanish-speaking population that has migrated to Central Florida over the last few years.

What are some of your efforts to attract and retain talent in Orlando?

We partner with several chambers to make sure that employers in the area understand what we have to offer. That has been a great advantage to both students and employers. We are seeing unprecedentedly low unemployment rates and one of the main challenges employers are facing is finding qualified talent. We communicate with local businesses from different industries to ensure our students have the skills they need. 

Which Florida Technical College programs are seeing the most growth?

Electrical has been one of the fastest-growing programs at Florida Technical College. We have been able to scale that program quickly to meet demand and by the beginning of next year it will be available at most of our campuses. Construction trades and the Spanish language vocational programs also have been areas of growth for us and we expect that to continue in 2020. There is also a big need for culinary skills and we are expanding our capacity for that program as well. With numerous restaurants and hotels opening in the region, we are looking to provide the talent pipeline they need.

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Florida Technical College:

Invest: Philadelphia 2020 Launch highlights region’s education, healthcare and key economic sectors

Invest: Philadelphia 2020 Launch highlights region’s education, healthcare and key economic sectors

December 6, 2019

Invest: Philadelphia 2020 Launch highlights region’s education, healthcare and key economic sectors 

Jerry Sweeney, President & CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust, gave the keynote address at the launch of Capital Analytics’ second publication focusing on Greater Philadelphia.

Philadelphia, PA – Greater Philadelphia’s robust education industry, healthcare, transit and development sectors were the focal points in Capital Analytics’ second launch event for Invest: Philadelphia. The 2020 edition highlights the five-county region of Greater Philadelphia, including Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware and Chester counties, with a special focus chapter on Montgomery County. 

The event was attended by over 350 high-level guests and officials from some of Philadelphia’s key industries and economic institutions. 

The official launch of the publication took place on Dec. 5, 2019, at The Westin Philadelphia. Following a short networking breakfast, Jerry Sweeney, President & CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust, gave a keynote address that underscored some of the major achievements of Philadelphia’s real estate sector and economy over the past 12 months. The keynote address was followed by three robust panel discussions.

The panels addressed major themes dominating Philadelphia’s economy: education, healthcare and transportation-oriented development. Chris Fiorentino of West Chester University, Dr. Guy Generals of Community College of Philadelphia, Dr. Chris Domes of Neumann University, and Damian Fernandez of Penn State Abington participated in the panel, “Thinking outside the box: Educating today for the jobs of tomorrow.” Jack Miller of Capital Analytics was the moderator. “Healthcare hub: A look at the driving force behind Philly’s economy” featured Ron Dreskin of EisnerAmper, Ellen Rosenberg of Amicus, Barry Eckert of Salus University and R. Carter Caldwell of the University of Pennsylvania Health System, guided by moderator Lauren Murdza of DLA Piper. The panel, “Philly on the move: A city taking new form with transit-oriented development,” featured moderator Susanne Svizeny of OceanFirst Bank and panelists Tricia Marts of Veolia, Ed Reitmeyer of Marcum and Liam Brickley of Bryn Mawr Trust.

“Philadelphia has a thriving and diverse economy that in 2019 solidified its position as a formidable local force and continued to be a major player in the global market,” said Abby Melone, president of Capital Analytics. “Philadelphia has proven that not only is it resilient, it knows how to adapt and transform. Our second edition of Invest: Philadelphia touches on this transformation, depicting a city that is embracing change and innovation to ensure a modern future. ”  

The Invest: Philadelphia publication from Capital Analytics is a 208-page economic analysis that highlights business opportunities for investors, entrepreneurs and innovators in the Philadelphia area. These include Philadelphia’s housing market that remains one of the hottest in the country, and the region’s real estate industry that is attracting increased interest from investors both domestically and abroad, particularly in the multifamily space. Utilities and infrastructure are covered in detail as the city looks to alternative sources of energy to sustainably grow and develop. Transportation is another leading topic, with the Philadelphia International Airport continuing to expand its reach and SEPTA making improvements to help keep counties connected via extensive bus and train routes.