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Made in PA: Lawmaker pushes bill touting local products

The Christmas shopping season is over, but next year state Rep. Neal Goodman wants people to buy Pennsylvanian.

The Christmas shopping season is over, but next year state Rep. Neal Goodman wants people to buy Pennsylvanian.

Goodman has introduced popular legislation that would create a "Made in PA" program to encourage Pennsylvanian's to buy products made in their own state. Goods that meet the legislation's qualifications would receive a trademarked "Made in PA" logo.

Goodman, D-Schuylkill, introduced his legislation in the middle of the holiday shopping season, saying he was "convinced" it could help boost the Keystone State economy. If the legislator had to choose between two products, and one was made in Pennsylvania, he would buy locally, he said.

"And I'm sure a lot of consumers would feel the same way," he said.

The thought struck Goodman when he noticed products made in Pennsylvania while shopping at home-improvement giant Lowe's. People may recognize that Hershey and Crayola products are made in the state, but they might not know about something more obscure, he said.

Goodman hopes that changes with his legislation. There's a spinoff, he said, thanks to the prescribed creation of a database of Pennsylvania-made products.

To state Rep. Eli Evankovich, co-chairman of the House Manufacturing Caucus, that data would offer a networking portal for businesses across the state. Companies could search the list and might be surprised to learn they need not look far to find the products they need, he said.

"You may not know that there's somebody two counties over that you can buy the same product from," said Evankovich, R-Westmoreland.

Available on the Department of Community and Economic Development's website, the list would be updated every three months.

Goodman's legislation would expand upon the PA Preferred program that began in 2004 and promotes food and agricultural products grown, produced or processed in Pennsylvania.

"It's really taken off," Goodman said.

Federal trademark laws would not allow the state to simply place the blue-and-gold PA Preferred logo on other products, leading Goodman to seek a separate designation.

The legislation has already gained 90 sponsors.

It also has gotten support from Darlene Robbins, president of the Northeast Pennsylvania Manufacturers and Employers Association. She said it would give the state a "sense of pride" and even came up with her own version of "Twas The Night Before Christmas" that featured Pennsylvania-made products including chocolates, bird seed and even her own pillow.

"People don't realize … that you can purchase competitively priced products that are manufactured in Pennsylvania," she said.

Rick Bloomingdale, president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, sees the "Made in PA" program as more than just a badge of honor.

"Like 'PA Preferred' has helped Pennsylvania farmers, this program will give our manufacturers a boost in sales and in new jobs," he said.

Now that the bill has been introduced, Goodman hopes to have a hearing when lawmakers return after the holidays, he said.

Andrew Staub is a reporter for PA Independent and can be reached at  Follow @PAIndependent on Twitter for more.

The Pennsylvania Independent is a public interest journalism project dedicated to promoting open, transparent, and accountable state government by reporting on the activities of agencies, bureaucracies, and politicians in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is funded by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a libertarian nonprofit organization.