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Influencing Legislation with IMPLAN Cloud: How the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association Uses Economic Impact Analysis for Lobbying

March 30, 2023 by Chandler West

As a driver of informed decision making, IMPLAN Cloud is used at all levels of government to drive policy changes and sound legislation. Many associations and organizations across the country use IMPLAN Cloud in their lobbying efforts. One such organization is the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association (PMA), the lobbying efforts of which are headed up by Executive Director Carl A. Marrara.

Marrara came to his role at the PMA after completing a bachelor’s degree in political science from Elizabethtown College and a master’s degree in public policy from New England College. He once thought he would pursue a law degree, but discovered that his passion was more in “the selling of ideas” than the nitty gritty “writing of the actual legislation.” This passion led him to the PMA, where he has been one of a small team of four executives for over a decade.

In his work at the PMA, Marrara focuses on legislative advocacy, bill tracking, and grassroots activation. He focuses on building coalitions with allied stakeholders such as regional manufacturing associations, trade groups, and national think tanks. He oversees government affairs, external communications, and political strategy. He also acts as a writer, producer, and reporter for the PMA Perspective, a weekly half-hour news program on Pennsylvania business, government, and politics. Meanwhile, he serves as an editor of the PMA Bulletin, a premier in-depth analysis of issues facing Pennsylvania businesses. As the chief lobbyist for the association, he focuses on legislative advocacy, bill tracking, and grassroots activation. To better advocate for pro-growth policies, he focuses on building coalitions with allied stakeholders such as regional manufacturing associations, trade groups, and national think tanks.

Even with all these responsibilities, Marrara was recently able to sit down with the IMPLAN team to discuss his experiences using IMPLAN Cloud in his role lobbying for the PMA.

From Hershey’s Chocolate Bars to Boeing’s Chinook Helicopters

Manufacturing is the engine that drives the Pennsylvania economy. In 2021, 18% of the output for Pennsylvania was based in manufacturing. 

“We have a ton of industry,” Marrara says. ”It’s very, very diverse. I joke that it’s everything from the chocolate bars that everyone is familiar with – Hershey’s is one of our best members – to Zippo lighters to Chinook helicopters, right? All made in Pennsylvania.”

Through his work at the PMA, Marrara aims to support the manufacturing industry as a whole, not engaging in corporate welfare or what’s best for a particular business, but rather for the industry at large.

“Our entire mission at the PMA is advocacy,” Marrara says. “We don’t do the kind of typical business organization activities. You know, meet and greets, business card exchanges.”

Instead, he says, “Our sights are set on the green dome across the street from us. We’re located right on State Street in Harrisburg, directly across from the Capitol and that’s where our sights are set.”

The PMA aims to “[raise] awareness about issues that manufacturers face in the public policy arena,” Marrara says. He wants lawmakers to make decisions that encourage companies to choose Pennsylvania for their operations.

“We think that Pennsylvania has a lot to offer. It’s our goal to make it the smart business decision to locate, hire, and expand facilities here in our commonwealth rather than one of our competitor states,” he says.

Missing What They Never Had

When Marrara and his colleagues at the PMA discovered IMPLAN Cloud, they had recently experienced a major loss. Braskem USA, a biotechnology company with headquarters in Philadelphia, had recently chosen to build a large new facility in Texas instead of at a proposed site in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania.

“The reason they chose La Porte, Texas was because the regulatory environment in Pennsylvania was, and unfortunately still kind of is, so slow for energy, especially pipeline development,” Marrara explains. “The facility would have been constructed and ready to function well before the regulatory agencies would have been able to approve all the pipeline infrastructure needed to actually make that facility work.”

This was a great loss for the state of Pennsylvania and for the PMA, but the general feeling was that the PMA would struggle to fully express to lawmakers what a loss it truly was.

“So many times, policymakers, especially maybe at the state level, have this idea of ‘Well, okay, we missed out on 300 construction jobs and 100 manufacturing jobs. Yeah, those are big numbers, but ultimately what does that mean in the grand scheme of the economy?’” Marrara says.

In a moment of frustration, Marrara’s boss, the President and CEO of the PMA, lamented, “You can’t miss what you never had,” Marrara recalls.

Then, in a burst of serendipity, the PMA offices received a cold call from IMPLAN at just the right moment.

“It really might be one of the only products that we bought on the spot from a cold call. Timing is everything, right?” Marrara says. “Watching the presentation from IMPLAN, I kind of thought, ‘Maybe there is a way we could miss what we never had. Maybe this is a tool we could use to show policy makers.’”

Marrara knew exactly how many construction jobs the missed opportunity would have brought to Pennsylvania. He also knew exactly how many full-time chemical engineering jobs would have been created in perpetuity. He plugged those numbers, and others, in for Delaware County and was able to show lawmakers “Here’s what we missed out on.”

Marrara says, “With IMPLAN we can say ‘No, it’s not just those direct jobs. It’s these indirect jobs, and these induced jobs.’ And this is how whole economies are made and sustained.”

Major Success: Act 66

After getting this initial taste of the power economic impact analysis could bring to his lobbying efforts, Marrara decided to use IMPLAN Cloud to tackle another big issue on his radar: tax credit legislation.

The PMA has supported two tax credits in its century-long existence, both in the past ten years. The first came about when Shell was looking to build an enormous petrochemical plant. Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia were in the running for site selection.

“Given our current regulatory and current tax structure at the time, there was no way that we could compete with Ohio and West Virginia,” Marrara says, “thus the tax credit was necessary.”

The success of this initiative led to a production-based tax credit on the value chain of ethane. Thanks to that legislation, the 386-acre plant, Shell Polymers Monaca, was constructed in Potter Township, approximately 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. It was completed in 2022 after nearly a decade of planning, including more than four years of construction activity involving approximately 9,500 workers at peak construction.

“They’re doing it extremely cleanly. It is a state of the art facility. Best in the world,” Marrara says.

Next, Marrara, the PMA team, and other thinkers in the Pennsylvania Capitol pushed for another production-based tax credit, this time on the value chain of methane.

“The problem is that the value chain of methane is not nearly as valuable as the value chain of ethane,” Marrara says. “Nonetheless, it was a way for us to keep the energy industry here afloat and to use a very necessary product in order to secure those supply chains and distribution networks.”

Marrara explains: “One of the main things that is used with methane is in the field of fertilizers. Being that agriculture is so important to Pennsylvania and all of the feedstock right now is coming in from Saudi Arabia, from Russia, and we had the opportunity to actually do that here in Pennsylvania where it would be cleaner, safer. We would reap the economic benefits and also secure our supply chain distribution networks for our agricultural community, which is so important.”

When these ideas first surfaced, there were two investors interested in bringing business to Pennsylvania if production-based tax credits on the value chain of methane were enacted.

“They gave us the specs for what they anticipated the construction to be, the full-time employment to be,” Marrara says. “It made it really easy to plug it into those two counties [in IMPLAN Cloud] ... and then churn out the results.”

The legislation took a great deal of time and adjustment before it was passed as part of Act 66, but Marrara’s economic impact analysis was a key part of the discussion at every step along the way.

“Every single time that this bill or these issues were debated, on the floor of either our House or our Senate, our study that was completed using IMPLAN was by far the most cited study," Marrara says. “It was definitely the spine of the argument for those in favor of this and that really was the difference maker in getting this passed.”

The positive results don’t end there. In fact, the outcome of Marrara’s efforts surrounding Act 66 and production-based tax credits on the value chain of methane would be greater than he could have ever imagined.

“The whole time this is happening, there’s this company in Texas called Nacero, who we had never even heard of. They were sitting on the sidelines, sitting back watching what was happening. Then, they made an announcement probably two or three months after Act 66 had passed.”

Nacero, a company on a mission to meaningfully decarbonize the U.S. aviation industry, announced that they intended to invest $6B into a plant in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. The project will support 4,000 construction jobs over six years, and up to 800 full-time manufacturing jobs afterwards.

“It almost sounds like science fiction,” Marrara says. “They’re going to take that natural gas and turn it into motor vehicle fuel that is interchangeable with traditional gasoline. It’s going to burn cleaner than traditional gasoline. The refining process to do it will be incredibly environmentally friendly compared to traditional methods. It’s truly groundbreaking.”

“It was mind blowing,” Marrara says of the enormous amount of money and jobs Nacero’s plant would bring to Pennsylvania. He credits his IMPLAN Cloud analysis with laying the groundwork to make this huge win happen.

Find Out How You Can Follow in the PMA's Footsteps

Are you interested in following in the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association’s footsteps and using IMPLAN Cloud for lobbying efforts? Our team is here to help.

To learn more about Carl A. Marrara’s studies using IMPLAN Cloud, check out our webinar recording. To discuss your own goals, schedule a demo with our team today!

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Topics: Economics, Advocacy, Government


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