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PA bill ups ante for return-to-work bonuses

The government-paid back-to-work bonus is winning over new fans.
Why is this happening: Business leaders have been complaining for months that extra jobless benefits -- made available during the Covid-19 pandemic -- are essentially encouraging people to stay out of the workforce. The extra benefits last through early September.
  • There are other reasons -- such as lack of affordable child care and difficulty finding comparable work to replace positions eliminated during the pandemic.
  • Nonetheless, for businesses struggling to find workers despite promises of higher pay and sign-on bonuses, the extra jobless benefit of $300 per week has been an irritant. 
  • Some states are just cutting off the extra aid.
How do the bonuses work: Legislation generally requires people who have been unemployed to find a job, hold it for a specified length of time and work a certain number of hours before getting paid.
  • Gordner's bill would authorize bonuses after at least four weeks of working at least 32 hours per week.
  • The program would be covered by $100 million in federal aid, according to Gordner, who represents Columbia, Montour, Northumberland and Snyder counties, as well as a portion of Luzerne.
  • The House legislation, introduced by Rep. Jim Cox of Lancaster and Berks counties, would use $154 million in federal aid to reward people.
  • Job seekers would get $300 after holding a 35-hour-a-week job for four weeks and a second $300 bonus at eight weeks.

Does the idea stand a chance: The office of Gov. Tom Wolf has dismissed the idea that extra jobless pay is keeping people on the unemployment rolls.
  • But with more states offering bonuses -- and federal money to cover the cost -- the idea could gain traction.
  • The downside is that it could stir resentment among people who have hung onto jobs or recently accepted new ones without the promise of a government payout.
  • Other states with bonus programs include Arizona and New Hampshire.
  • Another option in PA is to restore a requirement that unemployed people look for work, which could happen by mid July, according to a report in the Associated Press.

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Quick takes

WHAT SOLD: DynaTech Generators, a family-owned company in Lebanon that sells, maintains and repairs commercial generators and back-up power systems in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey. The company was purchased by GenServe, a larger company in the same sector that is backed by a private equity firm, GenNx360 Capital Partners. The acquisition is the fifth for GenServe, based in Plainview, New York, according to a press release.
  • "The acquisition of DynaTech is a great opportunity to add a new branch to our existing network while expanding our geographic footprint further into eastern Pennsylvania. The company has an attractive mix of commercial maintenance and service business that we are excited to build upon," Fred Smagorinsky, GenServe CEO, said in a statement.
  • DynaTech employed about 15 people, said Michael Vahling, president of Genserve, which employs 120 people. He declined to disclose other details about the transaction.
  • In addition to its New York headquarters, GenServe has branches in Pennsauken and Fairfield, New Jersey.

The backer: New York-based GenNx360 focuses on middle-market and industrial companies.  

WHO'S HIRING: Team Pennsylvania. The public-private economic development agency is casting around for a search firm to help find its next president and CEO. The organization's current leader, Ryan Unger, is leaving next month to take the top job at the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and Capital Region Economic Development Corp
  • According to a five-page request for proposals, Team PA is looking for consultants who understand the nonpartisan nature of its work and can attract a diverse pool of candidates.
  • The engagement will run for six months ending in December, with a budget of up to $40,000, according to the request.
  • Proposals are due by June 7.

WHO'S RETIRING: Harry R. Swift, vice chairman and lead director on the boards of Codorus Valley Bancorp and its subsidiary, PeoplesBank. Swift, an attorney and former general counsel for the York County-based bank, is retiring effective May 31, according to a press release. Swift retired from the bank in 2013 after a 16-year stint.
  • Swift's seat on the board will not be filled but an existing director will be named vice chair and lead director, according to Larry J. Miller, chairman, president and CEO of Codorus Valley. Miller was not able to share the director's name by press time.

WHO'S MOVING: Hardware Resources. The Louisiana-based maker of cabinet and bath hardware is moving its Harrisburg distribution center to larger quarters. The company is relocating from 39,000 square feet at 7253 Grayson Drive in Swatara Township to 60,000 square feet at 151 Bobali Drive, also in Swatara Township, according to Hardware Resources spokesperson Malissa Miller. She declined to share staffing levels at the distribution center, which will serve the Northeast and New England.
  • Jason Grace, CEO of Cumberland County-based Landmark Commercial Realty, represented Hardware Resources in the long-term lease agreement.
  • The landlord, logistics real estate giant Prologis, was represented by Adam Campbell of Cushman & Wakefield

WHAT'S COMING DOWN: The Pinnacle name from UPMC hospitals in the Harrisburg area. The Pittsburgh-based health system said it is renaming three hospitals that it picked up when it bought Harrisburg-based PinnacleHealth in 2017. The Pinnacle name disappeared in 2019 from UPMC hospitals in Lancaster and York counties, as well as in Carlisle, according to UPMC spokesperson Kelly McCall. But until now, it stayed on the marquee at three hospitals in the Harrisburg area: UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg, UPMC Pinnacle Community Osteopathic and UPMC Pinnacle West Shore.
  • The three hospitals are now UPMC Harrisburg, UPMC Community Osteopathic and UPMC West Shore.
  • "The final three hospital name changes were the next step in this transition for the Central Pa. Region," McCall wrote in an email.

The background: PinnacleHealth formed in 1996 from the merger of Capital Health System and the former Polyclinic Hospital in uptown Harrisburg.


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Compiled and written by Joel Berg

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