HARRISBURG -- Would you be more likely to buy a product if it were labeled "Made in Pennsylvania?"
A bipartisan group of state lawmakers has introduced a bill to create a "Made in PA" program, complete with a logo and website to encourage consumers to purchase products made close to home.
A similar program, to identify and promote Pennsylvania agricultural products, began in 2004, called the PA Preferred program.
It's not clear if such labeling has led to an increase in sales for Pennsylvania-grown products. A Department of Agriculture spokeswoman was not available for comment.
"Made in PA" would be a low-cost way for Pennsylvanians to know about a product and if it is made in Pennsylvania, said Rep. Eli Evankovich, R-Murrysville, who chairs the House Manufacturing Caucus and supports the bill.
"It's one of those simple concepts that can really make a difference," said Mr. Evankovich, who worked as a financial analyst for U.S. Steel before his election to the House.
Statewide, 568,200 people are employed in manufacturing, making everything from food to furniture, according to statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. Within Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties, 89,100 people work in manufacturing.
The bill appears to have broad, bipartisan support with more than 90 co-sponsors, and backing from both labor and more conservative industry groups.
"Not only do we want people to vote with their dollars if they choose to, but also to increase awareness about the spectacular array of products that are manufactured here in Pennsylvania, from Zippo lighters to Crayola crayons to Hershey's chocolates to Herr's potato chips," said David N. Taylor, executive director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association.
"Some of the previous ideas have been a little more restrictive and protectionist. This is about branding and more information for consumers," he said.
The bill has the support of the state AFL-CIO, said president Rick Bloomingdale.
"If people take the dollars they earn in their jobs, and they support other workers in Pennsylvania, we all do better," he said.
A spokesman for House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, said the House Republican leadership is still developing what issues it will tackle in 2014, but the bill could be considered.
Kate Giammarise: firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-717-787-4254. Twitter: @KateGiammarise.