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The LVEDC Interview: Congressman Charlie Dent

By LVEDC Staff on September 10, 2013

Editor’s Note: U.S. Congressman Charles Dent’s fifth term representing a now reconfigured 15th Congressional District began in Janaury 2013. The 53-year-old Republican spent 14 years in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate before acquiring his current position in November 2004.

LVEDC: One the top priorities of your career in Washington has been to attract good-paying, family sustaining jobs to the 15th Congressional District. As a longtime member of Congress, what have you done to accomplish that?

Congressman Dent: During my time in Congress I have been a strong advocate for pro-growth policies that encourage domestic energy production, facilitate innovation, reduce unnecessary federal regulatory red tape, and ensure small businesses and entrepreneurs have the tools they need to succeed. I have supported investment in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which enables medical research into new lifesaving treatments and cures for the diseases of our time. I have advocated for research and development (R&D) tax incentives for manufacturers.  I have voted to streamline the regulatory process, require congressional review and approval of major regulatory actions, and ensure agencies take into account the impact on jobs when considering a regulation.

Unfortunately, this Administration continues to put forth policies that stifle innovation and impede job growth. Companies in the Lehigh Valley are being forced to deal with the negative impacts. For example, the medical device tax included in Obamacare is having profound impact on device manufacturers in the 15th District ranging from small businesses to B. Braun. Recent news reports have detailed how these companies are decreasing their R&D budgets, freezing salaries, and reconsidering plans for hiring additional workers. For these reasons, I voted against Obamacare and have supported the repeal of the medical device tax.

I will continue to oppose policies put forth by this administration that will hinder economic growth and I will support policies that allow businesses to grow and create jobs.

LVEDC: Most economists indicate our country has been out of a recession for at least two years, but a sustained economic recovery remains elusive. Why?

Congressman Dent: Many of the policies of the Obama administration are stifling job creation, creating uncertainty for many businesses, and slowing our nation’s economic recovery.  Key issues, such as the impact of Obamacare, the lack of a coherent national energy policy and the need for a significant reform of the tax code to accelerate economic growth, continue to impede a full economic recovery.

LVEDC: What role does an economic development agency play in facilitating long-term economic growth?

Congressman Dent: Local economic development agencies recognize the conditions, needs and resources in the communities and regions in which they serve. The strong relationship LVEDC, for example, has with small business owners, and those looking to support new start-up businesses, is invaluable. Understanding the needs of a region and being able to leverage the healthy components of a local economy to lay the foundation for sustainable job growth. Additionally, I believe economic development agencies are in a unique position to communicate the challenges, as well as potential solutions to those challenges, small business owners are facing in the current environment to policymakers.

LVEDC: What are the top development opportunities in your district in Lehigh and Northampton counties?

Congressman Dent: The rumors of American manufacturing’s demise have been grossly overstated. We still build things better in this country than the rest of the world does. Our technology is second to none. Locally, we’ve seen the transformation from the belching smokestacks of heavy industrial process businesses to the business park settings of companies that are changing the world with their technology. The unique attributes of the Lehigh Valley – our nearness to the New York City and Philadelphia regions, our pool of skilled workers and the significant number of premier colleges and universities in the region – all make the Valley a magnet for advanced technology companies. 

LVEDC:  Beyond offering incentives, how does the 15th Congressional District compete to attract companies from other regions and states to come here?

See above. It’s a matter of marketing our attractive attributes to businesses. Fortunately, we have the talented individuals working at the Lehigh Economic Development Corporation to do just that.

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