Thursday, June 22, 2017

Culture drives performance in organizations

Charles Everett, Lehigh Valley International Airport, African American Business Leaders Council Chair

What's up at Fox News, United Airlines and Wells Fargo? Is it merely inappropriate behavior and poor treatment of staff and customers or is there a broader issue?

It's the Culture... Culture or unspoken rules of behavior are critical elements of an organization.

Two predominant components of organization culture are people and values. Various examples exist of organizations which have distinctive positive culture. They include companies like Southwest Airlines, Zappos and Google.

When you think of these companies, you think of their people first. People are fundamental to any organization. As a unified team with a common purpose, people bring their unique knowledge, skills, abilities and perspectives to successful performance, problem-solving and interaction. The team embraces the culture. The culture of the organization the guides how the people (staff and customers) are treated and treat each other in the process.

A value is an intrinsically desirable principle. Values guide establishing goals, setting priorities and making decisions. Values are a factor in every action and decision by individuals, teams and organizations. Values govern how individual tasks are accomplished.

Together these components of culture (people and values) define a largely unspoken set of rules or parameters of behavior. Culture drives performance in organizations. When it becomes necessary for an organization to improve the culture through formal or informal change management initiatives, the first step is to determine the values and understand the degree to which the values are embraced by the organization's staff and customers.

To stay abreast of all AABLC activities and events visit the Facebook page at:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

10th Round of Main Street Grant funding to be announced in August

Main Street Initiatives
Laurie G. Hackett, Air Products, Chamber Foundation Chair

Please plan to join us on Wednesday, August 23 at the historic Hotel Bethlehem when we announce the 10th round of Main Street grant funding.

We want to thank the folks who have contributed to the success of this program - giving back to every community in the Lehigh Valley - we could not do this without you.

"Community Development is critical to the vibrancy of our sidewalks and business corridors. We love this event because it celebrates our business members who give back," said Lorie Reinert, executive director of the Chamber Main Street Program. "As our Chamber grows, so does our need to support our partners in Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton and Warren counties. No two communities are the same. We fund projects that visually contribute to each unique sense of place, positively impacting the economy and quality of life for individuals who live and work there."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Chamber Ambassadors CARE (Communicate, Appreciate, Retain, and Engage)

Nate Kline, Infradapt, Ambassadors Council Committee Member

We are more than just a smiling face at your Grand Opening, Ribbon Cutting, networking event, or “Mastering Your Membership” event. Ambassadors serve our members by helping you get the most out of your membership! There are many benefits to being a chamber member, and it is our goal to help you take advantage of those benefits.

Some of the primary recommendations that we give are to become more involved and regularly attend networking events. Relationship building doesn’t happen overnight. These things take time and effort...and as they say, you get out what you put in!

Ambassadors are professional networkers. We know how to "work a room" and understand that networking may not come easy to some. If this sounds like you, please engage us at any event, and we will gladly introduce you to any one of our contacts in our “rolodex!”

Ambassadors CARE! We are your trusted resource and communicate to each other and to our members, and provide Chamber members with useful information. We appreciate your membership and work hard to help you get the full value out of your membership. We will help you formulate, build, and retain lasting relationships. Ambassadors will engage you, along with helping you get engaged.

So, the next time that you see a gold badge at your event, please stop us and say hello!

Monday, June 19, 2017

PJM - Who Are They?

Michael Gibson, K&H Custom Window Treatments, Energy & Environment Committee Member

PJM Interconnection was created 90 years ago. PJM Interconnection is a regional transmission organization (RTO) that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

On April 11, members of the Chamber’s Energy & Environment Committee had the pleasure to visit PJM and learn more about this hidden treasure. PJM operates as the largest RTO in North America to provide reliable, affordable and sustainable electricity to millions of customers.

Here are some of the many oversights of PJM:

  • Acting as a neutral, independent party, PJM operates a competitive wholesale electricity market and manages the high-voltage electricity grid to ensure reliability for more than 65 million people.
  • PJM’s long-term regional planning process provides a broad, interstate perspective that identifies the most effective and cost-efficient improvements to the grid to ensure reliability and economic benefits on a system-wide basis.
PJM embraces innovation and fosters collaboration with our members and other key players in the power industry to explore new and emerging technologies. One of those we observed on our visit is large scale battery storage. This technology may one day help to even the spikes in distribution.

For a full detailed review of the PJM presentation visit the Chamber’s Energy & Environment Committee’s web page and PJM at

Friday, June 16, 2017

Potential shortfalls in the current fiscal year

Dorota Gasienica-Kozak, Esq., King, Spry, Herman, Freund, & Faul, LLC,
Public Policy Committee Chair

As we anticipate the Pennsylvania State budget for 2017-2018, we hear Republicans insisting no tax increases and no new borrowing to support current year expenses, preferring expanded gambling and further liquor sale reforms for new state revenue and reduction in state spending. Meanwhile, Democrats and Governor Wolf are promoting a plan to raise revenue for those and other causes through proposals for about 1 billion in new taxes, including a severance tax on natural gas production in the Marcellus shale region, the elimination of certain sales tax loopholes, and some changes to state business tax structures.

As business leaders, we must reflect on the outcome of the budget for the fiscal year 2016-2017 and its potential shortfall of over $1.2 billion plus. Unfortunately, a shortfall in the current fiscal year will likely be in excess of any projections for the entire fiscal year that ends on June 30, 2017. The areas of the shortfall are projected to result from various revenue sources that did not produce revenues as anticipated. Anticipated revenue shortfall sources include corporate tax revenues, personal income tax collections, sales and use tax, realty transfer tax, inheritance tax, gambling, tobacco, and state liquor code revenues, and non-tax revenue, which includes a larger transfer from the states liquor store fund which couldn’t offset a drop-off in unclaimed property collections. Such projections create a larger burden to find more revenue than anticipated. We will all be watching to see how our legislators propose to solve this question.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Lehigh Valley Economic Outlook - Spring Update

Dr. Kamaran Afshar, Chamber Chief Economist, The Chamber’s Finance Committee

The Kamran Afshar- Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce survey of the Valley Businesses is a quarterly survey that we have been doing since 1997. According to the April Survey, local business sentiment gave back some of its January gains but is still above its last October's level. The drop in April came almost entirely from the employment sector - local employers have reduced their actual as well as planed hiring since January.

The index actual hiring for the last six months dropped below its January level, giving up a lot of its January gains and dropping slightly below the range which is historically associated with faster growing in the Valley. Local employers are not only facing a smaller labor pool, but of more significance, they are facing a thinning of skills and expertise within the remaining labor market. From high-tech to low-tech to no-tech, many positions remain vacant for lack of qualified occupants.

Among those who are hiring, the transportation and warehousing industry has the lead in the number of new employees hired per company in the last six months.

The index of plans for future hiring also dropped in April. It has lost 2.4 percent of its value since last October.

Transportation and warehousing industry is again in the lead among those planning to hire in the next six months.

The index for actual purchasing over the last 6 months rose slightly over its January level; however, it is still 7.9 percent above the last April's level. This index has moved into the expansionary range since January.

 Purchasing plans for the future also recorded a small increase over its January level.

This index has also crossed into the range which is historically associated with faster growth.

Businesses participating in the survey have experienced a slight decline in their revenues over the last couple of years. However, their expected revenues for the next six months rose according to the April survey. This indicator's trend has been relatively flat.

The survey of Lehigh Valley Businesses shows that their general optimism which sprang up in January has lost some of its shine. The expenditure indices moved up in April, which is a sign of enthusiasm. However, the drop in employment indices indicate uncertainty. It appears that the more-enthusiastic January survey was amended in April with a good measure of caution.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Farewell address from Barry Fisher, outgoing Chamber Board of Governors Chair

Barry Fisher, 69-WFMZ-TV &, The Chamber Board of Governors Chair

It has been an honor to serve as your chairperson for two years. Time moves quickly, and it seems like the past two years have moved faster than any before. 

I started volunteering with the Chamber in the 1980's. Back then, Allentown seemed as far from Easton as Harrisburg was from New York.  Since that time, the Lehigh Valley has grown closer together and much stronger as a region. We have seen wonderful economic growth, and entertainment options are now more abundant than before.

A lot of credit to bridging the gap between the communities goes to Tony Iannelli and our Chamber team. Once served by a multitude of disconnected Chambers, the Lehigh Valley has unified to form the 7th largest Chamber in the country! I really cannot stress how important those bragging rights are to influencing the perception of the Lehigh Valley.

Along the way, many former Chamber Board members played a significant role in the growth of our Chamber. A few are no longer with us, but are still remembered for their efforts, including Elmer Gates, Henrietta Frey, Brent Peters, Ron Rucker, and many others. These members volunteered their time and talents to advance the Chamber's mission and serve our businesses. While we have a very capable and motivated staff, it is your willingness to volunteer your time and that continues to move us forward in making the Lehigh Valley a better place to live and do business.

So as I depart, many new faces will move up the ladder in July. Dorota Kozak takes the helm as Chairperson, John Hayes steps into the Vice Chair spot and will head up the Public Policy Committee. I move to the other side of the table to join other former chairpersons, Anne Baum, Buddy Lesavoy, Gregg Feinberg, and Steve Patterson, all of whom I greatly respect for their impact on our Chamber.

Thank you all for the privilege of working with you over many years. I look forward to serving with you in some other capacity as time moves on to further the progress and imprint of our beloved Lehigh Valley.