Sunday, November 30, 2008

Where we are

One of the greatest strengths of the Chamber is our regional outlook. In fact, one of the four principles of the Chamber is to, "Unify the business community to leverage regional resources and strengthen our collective voice."

To that end, the Chamber has four regional offices, located in Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton and Phillipsburg, NJ. We have regional council's in all four cities, as well as seven other regions in the Valley:
- Greater Northern (Northern Lehigh Valley)
- SOLEBO (Southern Lehigh County)
- Western Lehigh (Western Lehigh County)
- HLS (Hellertown-Lower Saucon)
- East Penn (East Penn Lehigh County)
- Northampton Area (Northampton Area, Northampton County)
- LeBEAM (Lehigh Township, Bath, East Allen and Moore Township)

Click here for more information, and we will have more info on our regional councils for you soon.

Daily Briefing, 12/1/2008

Morning everyone! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving Vacation. Now that the turkey has been consumed and we have all begun our holiday shopping, let's get back to work. Here is your world.

Black Friday has come and gone, and, much to the pleasent surprise of many, spending increased by 3% this year, higher than expected. Today is also cyber Monday, the first Monday after Thanksgiving, during which online sellers historically see a spike in sales.

For those of you who travel to New Jersey, here's some bad news: tolls on the Garden State Parkway are increasing from $.35 to $.50. The increase is being used to replay bonds and cover the cost of new road construction.

President-elect Barack Obama is set to name is national security team today. The event will take place at 10:40am. Expected to be announed are Obama's nominees for Secretary of State (Senator Hillary Clinton), Secretary of Defense (current Secretary Robert Gates), Secretary of Homeland Security (Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano), Attorney General (Eric Holder), National Security Advisor (General Jim Jones) and Ambassador to the United Nations (Susan Rice).

In local politics, MSNBC anchor Jim Matthews, a Philadelphia native, is considering running against Senator Arlen Specter for the United States Senate. Matthews, a Democrat, repotedly met with local Democratic officials to discuss a run, although Matthews has denied that this meeting took place.

Business Matters is airing tonight on Business Matters. The topic is the Employee Free Trade Act. I was present for the filming and this might just have been the most entertaining show we have ever produced. If you only watch one Business Matters, check this one out! Again, that's today (Monday, 12/1), 7:30pm.

Today's event: A Lunch and Learn, sponsored by Capitol Blue Cross. Have lunch (for free!) and learn about Stress Management. RSVP required.

That's it for now! See you tomorrow.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

On behalf of the entire staff of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, Happy Thanksgiving! We are all incredibly thankful for all of you as our members and look forward to working with you in the future.

See you on Monday!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Web 2.0

A lot of attention has been given lately to the so-called "Web 2.0." The Web 2.0 that we are constantly talking about is the increased use of blogs and social networking sites (like MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn). These websites, among other things, enhance interactivity among its users and increase the two-way flow of information.

Here is some interesting information on the importance of blogs, social networking and the new internet:

- A 2002 survey by AT&T found that customers who used AT&T’s social network stayed customers 50% longer than those who didn’t become users of their network.
- 59 of the nation’s top 100 realtors have active Facebook communities, including Target, Verizon, Dell, GM and Walmart.
- 69% of the United States population uses a social networking site at least once a month. 70% of that (48.3% of the entire U.S. population) uses social networking primarily for business.

One of the best metrics of how good a website is is how much time a person spends on it when they visit. The average website gets 1-2 minutes per visit; a great one will usually get 5 minutes. However, people spend an average of 10.5 minutes on LinkedIn, 21 minutes on Facebook and 30 pages on MySpace.

Social networks are growing too large, too fast to be ignored. And they are not just for teenagers. Facebook has over 120 million users. 41% are over 35 and 53% are over 24. MySpace has over 110 million users, 85% of which are over 18. And LinkedIn (a social network that is more professionally oriented) has over 27 million users, average age 41 and average income $110,000.

Don't forget to find the Chamber on Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Daily Briefing, 11/25/2008

Morning everyone! Here is your Chamber world.

In the local news, the Morning Call has a very interesting story about how the economic crisis is affecting Lehigh Valley Hospitals - thankfully, not much, at least yet. Nationally, however, hospitals are suffering, delaying maintenance and the purchase of new equipment. More good news, as Northampton County is considering a program that would encourage a meditation process for homes in danger of foreclosure. A disturbing trend: "In the first 10 months of 2008, lenders filed 960 foreclosure suits, compared to last year's 874, the former record and far higher than the mid-500s seen in more prosperous years." On the local tax front, Upper Mount Bethel (Northampton County) is holding steady on their taxes. I'm looking forward to doing a report at the end of the year that summarizes tax increases on a local level. It will be interesting to see where everyone stands.

Now for some not so good news: Lehigh Valley International Airport suffered a traffic decline of 15% compared to October 2007. The economic crisis has reached the skies. Meanwhile, the City of Reading will likely see an income or property tax increase.

In national news, President-elect Barack Obama yesterday named much of his economic team. The head of the New York Federal Reserve, Timothy Geithner, has been tapped as Treasury Secretary. Lawrence Summers, former President of Harvard, will head the National Economic Council. More picks are expected today. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce came out with a strong statement of support of the President-elect's picks thus far.

For two great stories on the Borough Business Revitalization Program in the news, make sure to check our Lehigh Valley Main Streets.

You can also check out yesterday's Business Matters on Education at the Business Matters website on WFMZ.

And we leave you today with this: Who the heck knew that Tony Iannelli could run so fast? Scroll down to Nov. 28 for the info, and make sure you give Tony a football next time you see him.

Have a great day!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Did you know...

Stolen straight from Lanita's signature:

American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) recently reported that consumers expect chamber members to be better-than-average companies. They found that consumers are 63 percent more likely to buy from companies that are chamber members. Along the same lines, ACCE also found of Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Places to Work For” in the United States and Canada this year, 94 are members of their local chamber, including all of the top 24.

Food for thought for potential new members...

Daily Briefing, 11/24/2008

Happy Monday everyone! Thanksgiving (and hopefully the days off that come with it) are only a few brief days away. Here's your Chamber world.

In Allentown, an arbitration panel has hopefully resolved the current police pension dispute. The original pension, as you may remember, led to the loss of about eighty officers. The new pension caps overtime benefits and will hopefully prevent the retirement of the current command staff. Meanwhile, over in Bethlehem, the City will use a combination of grants from the Treevitalize program and Representative Steve Samuelson to plant fifty new street trees.

More local bad news on the tax hike front, as East Allen Township faces a 62% tax increase. This would be to plug a $284,000 hole in their budget. Meanwhile, Palmer Township also looks at a tax increase, this one of 14%. The economic conditions are clearly hitting our local governments hard. Meanwhile, a Morning Call story notes that car dealers are having a particularly hard time in the economy, as some sales have dropped by as much as 40%. There is good news for consumers though, as prices have dropped.

Two interesting pieces of news in terms of economic development. Bethlehem is debating the construction of a municipal miniature golf course. Proponents argue that the course would spur economic development and make money for the city in a few years, while opponents argue that this is not a good time to spend municipal money on any extraneous projects. Meanwhile, Saucon Valley School Board is set to vote on staying in a LERTA zone. LERTA zones are tax abatement programs designed to encourage the development of brown- or gray-fields by abating a portion of the property taxes on any new development that occurs in these areas.

Two pieces of interesting information on the national front. First, President-elect Obama's team is working on an economic stimulus package that is waiting for a President Obama on the day that he is innagurated. The price tag of this package: $700 billion. Also, the government today announced that it will guarentee losses on more than $300 of Citigroup's assets while injecting the company with $20 billion.

Business Matters airs with a new show this week. The topic: Education. Check out the Business Matters website, and their blog, for more information.

That's all for today! Have a good one!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Daily Briefing, 11/20/2008

Good morning everyone! Here's what's happening in your world.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is apparently considering a bailout to the retail chain Boscov's, with Governor Rendell offering $35 million in loans to save the 5,000 Pennsylvania jobs. Some lawmakers and experts are questioning the move.

Congrats to Bethlehem, as the city recieves a $400,000 grant for the Southside Greenway project. This money will go towards paying for a park on the southside of Bethlehem.

Some bad news on the government and economic side. First, stocks were down badly - again - dropping 444 points. The S&P 500 dropped as well, reaching an 11 year low. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania is facing a budget shortfall, and Governor Rendell will not rule out the possibility of a tax hike for next year.

Not all local governments are having financial problems this year, as Carbon County's budget calls for the eighth straight year with no tax increase.

Careful driving today! Depending on where you are, slippery roads are expected and some areas may see up to an inch of snow.

Nationally, the average gas price has now fallen below $2.00. Wow.

Two Chamber events today to speak of: The Small Business Council's monthly meeting & breakfast and a grand opening celebration at the new QNB Bank in Wescoesville.

That's all for this week! Make sure to check us out on Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn. Have a great weekend, and we'll see you on Monday!

Daily Briefing, 11/20/2008

Good morning everyone! Here is what's happening in the world today.

Nationally, the hopes for an auto bailout bill appear to be dimming. Matters weren't helped by the fact that CEOs fly to Washington to ask for money on a private jet. Yipes. CNN is now reporting that unemployement numbers claims rose to 542,000 last week; the highest in 16 years. Yesterday, the stock market closed below 8,000 for the first time in five years.

Some positive news on the municipal front; Allentown is seeking public input on plans for a park at the location of a former PPL parking lot. Meanwhle, local beer lovers can celebrate the rebirth of the Neuweiler Brewery thanks to the Allentown Brew Works. Bethlehem also had some good news, as their municipal ice rink opens Friday. In Lehigh, congrats to County Executive Don Cunningham, who won a "Housing Chamption" award from the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, thanks to his efforts to create over one million dollars of affordable housing last year. In Northampton, County Council cut $1 million from their budget. County officials also attacked a $115,000 personnel study.

In the political world, Democrats now control the U.S. Senate by a 58-40 margin, as Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) defeated Ted Stevens (R) in Alaska's Senate election. Stevens is the longest serving Republican Senator.

Today's Chamber events include a mixer at Sam's Club in Easton, a mixer at the Association of the Blind & Visually impared and a TRACC breakfast that includes an update on the latest initatives of the Easton Main Street Program. For other events, check out our calendar.

And that's your Chamber world for the day!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


A story from June 18, 2008 in USA Today sheds light on a very depressing problem: in a troubled economy, shoplifting increases. Among some of the more depressing features of the article:
  • One survey indicated that 76% of retailers felt shoplifting had increased since 2006.
  • Retail theft costs $40.5 billion per year.
As the economy stutters, the need for shoplifting grows. So, what can realtors do to try to mitigate this trend? According to Specialty Retail Report, there are quite a few options, including:
  • Staying alert at all times.
  • Greeting all customers.
  • Asking lingering customers if they need help.
  • Knowing where shoplifting is most likely to occur in the location.
  • Using a log to share suspicions about shoplifters among employees.
  • Displaying signs that "Shoplifters will be prosecuted."
The article had much more to it and its worth a visit.

Daily Briefing, 11/19/2008

Good morning everyone!

In state-wide news, congrats to State Representative Jennifer Mann (D-132), who was elected to the Democratic House Leadership yesterday. Representative Mann is the first woman to serve in Democratic Leadership since 1964. Keith McCall (D-122) of is poised to be elected as Speaker of the House. Rounding out the Democratic Leadership is Todd Eachus (D-116) as Majority Leader, Bill DeWeese (D-50) as Majority Whip and Dwight Evans (D-203) as Appropriations Chair. On the other side of the aisle, Republicans elected Sam Smith (R-66) as Minority Leader, Mike Turzai (R-28) as Whip, Mario Civera (R-164) as Appropriations Chairman and Jerry Stern (R-80) as Caucus Secretary.

Locally, Senator Pat Browne is in the running to become majority chair of the Senate Appropriations. That vote is tomorrow, so best of luck to the Senator!

In other news, Northampton County debates their buidget, informing County Executive Stoffa that they will not approve his budget. Lehigh County and Allentown are also continuing to debate an issue over water usage, one that could have significant implications for future development in the Valley.

Local governments continue to face difficult choices across the Valley, as Palmer Township will raise taxes 14%, the Borough of Coplay examines a 15.8% increase and Lower Mount Bethal will decrease spending by about $120,000.

A new Business Matters aired on Monday; this show debated bringing light rail to the Valley. Participants were Paul Marin, Kim Snyder, Ron Angle and Mike Schlossberg. You can check it out at the Business Matters website. For more info, check out the blog.

Also, be sure to check out Lehigh Valley Main Streets for info regarding a recent press conference help by the BBRP (in conjunction with Lehigh County) and an update on Easton's Main Street Initiative.

And last, welcome to our new members of the day:

  • ASTD - American Society for Trainers & Developers, Eastern PA Chapter (1874 Catasauqua Road, #382, Allentown, PA 18109, 610-266-9131)
  • Tri Outdoor (1749 Red Hawk Way, Bethlehem, PA 18105, 610-838-8870)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Your daily briefing, 11/18/2008

Good morning everyone! Here's what's in the news today.

First and foremost, some good news, as gas prices have now decreased below $2.00 in the Lehigh Valley, for the first time since March of 2005. According to economists, the biggest reason for this price drop is likely the slow-down of the global economy.

On a sadder note, we say goodbye to Wayne Grube, a Northampton County Councilman since 1990. By all accounts, Wayne was an outstanding public official and a great man, and the entire Chamber sends its condolences to his family and the people of Northampton County that he so proudly served.

On the public policy front, Emmaus and Bethlehem Township are reported to be struggling with financial issues; local governments are very much feeling the hurt of the recent troubles. The story is the same almost everywhere - revenues (chiefly the real estate transfer tax) are shrinking, while the costs of materials and personnel continue to sky-rocket.

Locally, the Chamber was on-hand to discuss decorating Bethlehem for Chrismas.

Nationally, CitiGroup plans to cut 50,000 jobs of its current 352,000 workforce. And, in some good news for consumers, according to a Breaking News alter on CNN, wholesale prices fell 2.8% in October.

In terms of Chamber events this week, we are packed!

11/19/2008 Western Lehigh & East Penn Joint Luncheon "What the Heck Just Happened?"

11/19/2008 LeBEAM Annual Murder Mystery Event

11/19/2008 GLV Team 100

11/19/2008 Small Business Council

11/20/2008 Sam's Club Mixer -Easton

11/20/2008 Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired

11/20/2008 TRACC SBC Breakfast

11/20/2008 Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired Mixer

11/21/2008 Small Business Council Monthly Meeting & Breakfast

11/21/2008 QNB Bank-Wescosville Grand Opening

11/22/2008 Southside Open House

Check out our calendar for more info!

And a big welcome to our newest members:

  • H.I.M. on Call, Inc. (610-435-5724, 1033 W. Hamilton Street, Allentown)

  • Advanced Hard Surface Cleaning, LLC, in Cherryville

  • ODS Funding Used Cars (610-758-8289, 2550 Brodhead Road, Suite 100, Bethlehem)

  • Pharma-Med, (610-882-0106, 1995 Highland Avenue, Suite 200, Bethlehem)

  • Pure Sprouts Organic Delivery (267-421-2629, 1051 Sparrow Way, Brienigsville)

  • Renae Mendall & Company (610-250-9797, 2468 Butler Street, Easton)

  • The Safegard Group (610-892-7688, 100 Granite Drive, Suite 100, Media)

  • United Credit Education Services (908-397-6823, 39 S. Main Street, Suite B1, Phillipsburg, NJ)

  • Advanced Breast Care Imaging (610-366-0444, 250 Cetronia Road, Suite 102, Allentown)

  • Eagle Solar Energy, in Bethlehem

  • AmeriHealth Administrators (1-800-492-2385, 720 Blair Mill Road, Horsham)
That's all we got so far! Have a great day!!

Welcome to our blog!

Hi everyone,

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the official blog of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce.

To quote Tony Iannelli, "This isn't your father's Chamber anymore." He's right. This blog is the start of a series of initiatives designed to give the GLVCC more presence on the internet. The Chamber has come to the realization that cyber-space is the future of business, and while it will never replace having a physical downtown location, it is absolutely vital that all businesses (and groups that want to serve businesses, for that matter!) have a presence on the internet if they want to survive.

Some interesting facts for you:
- 215 million Americans use the internet on a regular basis
- 163 million Americans have made a purchase on the internet
- Depending on the product, 40-60% of Americans first use the internet to do research, seeking information on pricing, availability, etc. Not having an internet pretense means losing access to those customers.

In addition to our website, the Chamber is launching pages on Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn. We are literally in the process of updating those pages now, so please be patient with us while we get them up and running. Consider this part of the "soft opening" of our new internet initiatives.

We will give you a daily entry, summarizing the news of note to Chamber members and partners, our upcoming events, a welcome to our new members of the day and any other pieces of note. We will also strive to give you other entries dedicated to a variety of other subjects, including public policy, member benefits, our regional/mission councils, urban revitalization efforts, event promotions and guest bloggers. This blog is absolutely for more than just Chamber members, and while we will certainly use it to discuss Chamber activities, we want to raise awareness and provide information about the issues that are of serious concern to us.

So for now, welcome to our blog! We'll see you soon.