Corbett talks business at Northeast Chamber meeting

— As the NE Cham­ber cel­eb­rates its 90th an­niversary, the gov­ernor talks up the value of the private sec­tor.

The Great­er North­east Phil­adelphia Cham­ber of Com­merce cel­eb­rated its 90th an­niversary by hon­or­ing its six longest-serving mem­ber com­pan­ies and in­vit­ing Pennsylvania’s pro-busi­ness gov­ernor to de­liv­er the night’s main mes­sage.

Gov. Tom Corbett used the oc­ca­sion to re­state his strong be­lief in private-sec­tor job growth as the main en­gine to solv­ing to the na­tion’s eco­nom­ic woes. 

“It’s not gov­ern­ment that is go­ing to bring us back. It’s you,” he told the 160 cham­ber mem­bers gathered Nov. 27 in a ban­quet room at Parx East in Ben­s­alem for the An­niversary Ac­col­ades Cel­eb­ra­tion.

Corbett said when he was run­ning for gov­ernor in 2010, the eco­nomy was already shaky, and he pledged to end what he saw as “gov­ern­ment get­ting in the way of busi­ness.”

When he took of­fice in 2011, he said, he took aim at “bur­eau­cracy that ex­ists for the sake of bur­eau­cracy” and reg­u­la­tions that were not con­sist­ently ap­plied.

“We want to change the dir­ec­tion of gov­ern­ment to work with you,” the Re­pub­lic­an gov­ernor said.

Corbett said his ad­min­is­tra­tion has helped to cre­ate a busi­ness cli­mate that has led to 105,000 new jobs in Pennsylvania over the last two years, in­clud­ing jobs in the ex­pand­ing nat­ur­al gas in­dustry. He also poin­ted out his ad­min­is­tra­tion had worked with the private sec­tor to help save the Sun­oco re­finer­ies in Phil­adelphia.

“We’ve worked with the private sec­tor, and not against them,” he said.

The cham­ber honored Corbett with its Crys­tal Vis­ion Award, presen­ted by cham­ber chair­man Kent C. Lufkin and cham­ber pres­id­ent Al Tauben­ber­ger. 

Corbett was chosen, the cham­ber said in a state­ment, for his “pro-busi­ness and pro-growth policies that have led to strong eco­nom­ic de­vel­op­ment strategies.”

Corbett’s re­marks were bookended by a story of his fam­ily’s re­cent Thanks­giv­ing at the Gov­ernor’s Res­id­ence in Har­ris­burg  —  ldquo;We had twenty-eight people and four dogs. It was chaos” — and a his­tory quiz. After point­ing out that he was born in Phil­adelphia, Corbett, the state’s 46th gov­ernor, asked who was the last nat­ive-born Phil­adelphi­an to be­come gov­ernor be­fore him.

He even offered the crowd a little help, telling them that it wasn’t former Gov. Ed Rendell, the city’s former may­or, who was born in New York.

After stump­ing the crowd, Corbett en­joyed provid­ing the an­swer: Thomas Miff­lin, the state’s first gov­ernor, who served from 1790-99.

After the gov­ernor’s re­marks, much of the re­mainder of the night was ded­ic­ated to cel­eb­rat­ing the leg­acy of the cham­ber, which was chartered in 1922 and was headquartered in the Frank­ford sec­tion. The even­ing’s chat­ter quieted briefly for a mo­ment of si­lence in memory of Ed Kelly, the dy­nam­ic former cham­ber ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or who helped the group ac­quire its cur­rent build­ing on Roosevelt Boulevard. Kelly died in Au­gust at age 86.

Tauben­ber­ger in­tro­duced each of the longest-serving mem­bers, who were giv­en Ac­col­ade Awards, by men­tion­ing news items and prices from the year they joined. PECO, then named the Phil­adelphia Elec­tric Com­pany, is the longest-serving act­ive mem­ber at 91 years. It joined the cham­ber in 1921, a year be­fore it of­fi­cially re­ceived its charter. Oth­er honorees were Kings­bury Inc., 89 years; Na­tion­al Air­oil Burn­er (NAO), 78 years; M&T Bank, ori­gin­ally Frank­ford Trust Co., 75 years; 3rd Fed Bank, 61 years, and Be­ne­fi­cial Bank 58 years.

Rose­marie McMe­nam­in, vice pres­id­ent of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment for 3rd Fed Bank, chaired the event. ••

Reach ed­it­or Lil­lian Swan­son at 215-354-3030 or lswan­ 

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