Lawmakers join Wawa in saluting federal JOBS Act

    The new federal JOBS Act does a couple of key things. It cuts red tape for businesses wanting to go public. At the same time, it makes it easier for companies who don’t want to go public to stay private.

    Representatives of Wawa Inc., headquartered in Delaware County, lauded the latter provision during a ceremony Tuesday in the parking lot of the Concordville convenience store location. Company officials said the company’s continued growth hinges on remaining under private ownership.

    “Wawa can now invest tens of millions of dollars more into opening new stores in our local communities versus having to reorganize our capital structure just due to outdated, costly regulations,” said company president Chris Gheysens.

    Under the new law, officially known as the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, a company can remain private with up to 2,000 shareholders. The previous limit was 500.

    Opponents of the JOBS Act say that its other provisions go too far in eliminating much-needed regulatory oversight. They fear that the deregulation will lead to increased investment fraud, and ultimately cause a market implosion.

    Those fears were dismissed by U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Congressman Pat Meehan, R-Delaware, who were on hand for the Tuesday gathering.

    “There’s nothing in the legislation, there’s nothing in the world frankly, that prevents investors from requesting whatever information they want — including outside audits and other costly compliance matters if they choose to ask for that,” said Toomey.

    Wawa employs about 17,000 people in the Mid-Atlantic region. About half of those are full time. Since before the Jobs act was signed, Wawa has been planning to build 12 new Pennsylvania locations. Each will hire between 35 and 40 employees.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.