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White House hosts local business leaders

Business representatives affiliated with the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce met with White House officials

January 19, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce board member Patricia E. Young of First United Bank and Trust, left, John Williams of Jamison Door Co., center, and Dan Phiel of Cinetic Landis Group participate Wednesday in a forum hosted by the White House Business Council.
Photo by Photography by Dale

A lack of skilled workers, uncertainties in new laws affecting business and ensuring that the federal government takes a lead in addressing infrastructure needs were among the issues that a group of local business people discussed with White House officials this week.

Sixteen local business leaders met Wednesday with the White House Business Council in a daylong forum in Washington, D.C. The forum followed a series of nationwide meetings in which the administration asked business leaders how their companies were doing and how government could help, according to a news release from the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

The local business leaders, who are affiliated with the chamber, expressed concerns about health care costs and the uncertainty businesses face in new federal regulations, chamber President Brien Poffenberger said.

The business leaders also talked about access to capital and expressed frustration over banks being unable to make "common sense" decisions due to newly passed laws regulating the financing industry, Poffenberger said.

The two groups also discussed sending jobs to troubled parts of the United States, where costs are low and unemployment rates up to 10 percent, rather than outsourcing them to foreign countries, Poffenberger said.

"This was a good opportunity to talk to them, and them an opportunity to talk to us," Poffenberger said Thursday.

Dan Pheil of Cinetic Landis Group said he talked about the inability of employers to find enough skilled workers.

Cinetic Landis, a French-owned global manufacturer of precision grinding systems, has been successful hiring engineers, but there is a need for blue-collar workers like machinists, Pheil said.

"The administration seemed pretty well aligned (on) promoting manufacturing in this country. I took that as a positive sign," he said.

Other local business people participating included: William F. Fritts II, Smith Elliott Kearns & Co., LLC; Neal R. Glessner, Glessner Alarm & Communications; Liz Thompson, The Herald-Mail Co.; Patricia E. Young, First United Bank and Trust; Clarence E. Horst, Coldwell Banker Innovations; James F. Kercheval, Greater Hagerstown Committee Inc.; Shelby H. Penn, Edward Jones — City Center office; Timothy R. Troxell, Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission; Belinda M. Vinson, Volvo Powertrain; Tim Henry, BlueRidge Bank; Mary Pat Kelley, Photography by Dale; Jeanne Singer, law offices of Jeanne Singer; Clayton Wilcox, superintendent of Washington County Public Schools; and John Williams, Jamison Door Co.

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