OP-ED: The politics of 'no' is not effective in democracies

Patrick G. O’Brien and Jeff M. Kotula
Observer Reporter

Recently, the Observer-Reporter published an important story on the health of our local economy. The article, “Officials bullish on county economy,” (March 29) highlighted events from the seventh annual State of the Economy presentation. As hosts of that event, Community Bank and Washington County Chamber of Commerce were once again proud to be joined by an audience of 300 regional business leaders to celebrate the success of the county, learn of new opportunities and look forward to achieving continued economic growth in the future. We were fortunate to have leaders such as the Washington County Board of Commissioners, Nathan Snyder of Janney Montgomery Scott as well as Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission CEO Mark Compton and Chief Engineer Brad Heigel to share their insights and initiatives for our county and region.

Our organizations, like nearly every business, mirror the regional economy. When people have confidence in the future and invest in their businesses, it brings good things for all of us. This confidence was on full display during the event when Commissioners Larry Maggi, Diana Irey Vaughan and Harlan Shober announced nearly $600 million in new business investment in our county last year. These investments, coupled with an additional $19.1 million in Washington County Local Share Account projects, will further drive the county’s growth in 2019. We believe that this positive outlook, along with ongoing confidence in our nation’s economic future, will certainly continue to create economic growth locally.

It is encouraging to contemplate a year in which several factors are combining to give us a basis for this optimism. The national economy is expanding, and the international economy is following our lead. Business regulations are relaxing and local businesses are investing. In fact, we are seeing this confidence and growth manifest in one of the county’s traditional industrial areas – the Mon Valley – where several manufacturers have already announced major expansions and new jobs.

Washington County and the Greater Pittsburgh Region are prepared to take advantage of this positive outlook. Our area has built a diverse economy featuring energy, financial services, education, health care, technology and manufacturing. Our reputation is attracting young workers, our work ethic is underpinning a dynamic workforce that is creating new innovations and our internationally recognized quality of life is second to none.

In Washington County, we have demonstrated that a favorable business environment and low county taxes, combined with a county government and business community that prioritizes working together, creates the foundation for a vibrant county economy. The growth opportunities for our businesses and increased employment opportunities for our residents have combined to result in one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state.

Washington County works because we work together. Let’s keep that momentum moving forward.

Patrick G. O’Brien is CEO and president of Community Bank. Jeff M. Kotula is president of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce.