Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Business Matters E-mail list

Hi everyone,

We're going to start a weekly E-mail to fans of Business Matters. We are trying to build that list, so if you are interested in signing up, please E-mail me at MikeS@lehighvalleychamber.org and say that you want to be on the list.

Don't forget to check out the Business Matters blog and join in the debate!

Daily Briefing, 3/31/2009

Morning everyone! Here is what we have for you today.

Urban communities are not being included in PennDOT's distribution of stimulus funds, according to Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski. The Mayor complained to PennDOT that Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton are being left out of PennDOT's funding distribution yesterday. That funding is badly needed here, as the Valley's unemployment hit 8.1%, according to numbers released yesterday. At least one economist believes that number will reach 10% before it gets better. The current number is the highest since 1986. There was, however, some good news for Easton, as the city was approved for a $2.1 million grant for pedestrian improvements along the waterfront. The grant comes from the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission.

In national news, President Obama travels to Europe for the first foreign tour of his Presidency; the economy is expected to dominate his travels. Good news for the President, as a new poll finds that American's approve of his handling of the economy and overall job performance. However, a report from the World Bank expects the world economy to shrink 1.7% this year, the first such decline since World War II. The world's richer nations will suffer more and trade with decrease as well. Some good news though: starting Wednesday keep an eye on your paycheck - its likely to be a little bigger.

Business Matters aired yesterday - the topic, a repeat, was whether or not light rail should come to the Lehigh Valley. The show will be available on the internet later today - in the meantime, we encourage you to join in the debate at our blog.

That's all for now. Have a great day and we will talk to you all later.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Daily Briefing, 3/30/2009

Good morning everyone! Hope you had a good weekend. Here is today's Daily Briefing.

Locally, there isn't too much to report on today, save for the massive thunderstorm that blew through our area yesterday. The storm included something hail, something we haven't seen here it a bit.

Today is expected to be a big day for U.S. auto makers, as President Obama is set to announce the conditions under which further aid will be awarded to GM and Chrysler. For GM, that includes the resignation of Chief Executive Rick Wagoner. In stimulus related news, Governors that initially said no to portions of the stimulus funding are reconsidering their stance, with many now taking the money. State legislative bodies can potentially override a Governors decision to not accept the money.

Business Matters airs tonight - the topic (a repeat) is whether or not Light Rail should come to the Lehigh Valley. The topic has a whole new sense of urgency now, however, as stimulus funding could potentially push Light Rail forward.

That's it for Monday. Have a great day!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Daily Briefing, 3/27/2009

Good morning! Here is today's Daily Briefing.

Two interesting stories out of Lehigh County. First, Lehigh County Republican Commissioners are seeking to enact campaign finance reform that they say is designed to increase transparency and reduce the possibility of "pay to play" politics. Meanwhile, more potential jurors are claiming that economic hardships are keeping them from serving on a jury, thus making it harder to actually get a jury for a trail.

In national news, President Obama will meet with bank CEOs today. They will discuss the state of the economy, bank regulation and the stimulus, among other topics. Congress, meanwhile, is calling for a new probe of the AIG bonuses. CNN also runs a story on how store closings are affecting cities, noting that urban areas are having a tough time filling vacant storefronts. This, in turn, puts great burdens on local non-profits.

That's it for today - Friday's are always slow. Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Daily Briefing, 3/26/2009

Morning everyone! Here is what we have for you today.

The Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Show is here, displaying 200 car models from 29 manufactures. The show will be here from March 26 - March 29. In small business news, new businesses are still opening and expanding despite the economy, as the Rising Tide Community Loan Pool announced that six businesses will receive loans.

In state-wide news, despite announcing that he will vote against the Employee Free Choice Act, Senator Arlen Specter's 2010 reelection bid is in trouble: Specter is down by double digits to prospective challenger Pat Toomey.

CNNMoney.com runs an interesting story that takes two angles: first, yes, this is the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. But it isn't a depression, and it likely isn't going to be.

We have two Chamber events today: a mixer at the Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Show and a joint breakfast between the TRACC, PACC and Small Business Council boards.

That's it for today! Have a good one.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Be added to our blogroll

Hi everyone,

If you scroll down, you will see that we have added the Corporate Enviornments Blog to our blogroll. If you have a blog that you would like added to our blogroll, and you are a member or partner of the Chamber, please send me an E-mail at MikeS@lehighvalleychamber.org.

Chamber Foundation announces grant opportunities

Please check out the information below on the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Foundation's new grant program. The Chamber is truly dedicated to the Lehigh Valley and is trying to help all governments and non-profits during a real time of need.

For more information, please contact Lorie at lorier@lehighvalleychamber.org.

As part of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s focus on urban revitalization, there will be $40,000 available for a 2nd round of giving to support the Foundation’s goal of strengthening Lehigh Valley’s downtowns and surrounding traditional neighborhoods in our Boroughs and Cities. In keeping with the goal of urban revitalization, these grants will fund a variety of projects intended to positively impact the Lehigh Valley’s downtowns and surrounding traditional neighborhoods.

The following are eligible:

• Local government; including, but not limited to, counties, cities, boroughs, townships, and home rule municipalities.
• Municipal and redevelopment authorities and agencies.
• Industrial development authorities and agencies.
• Non-profit organizations incorporated under the laws of the Commonwealth.
• Community organizations engaged in activities consistent with program guidelines, as determined by the Foundation

Upcoming Business Matters schedule

Hi everyone,

Here is our upcoming Business Matters schedule:

4/6----- "Should your tax dollars fund family planning efforts?"

4/13----- "Should medical marijuana be legalized?"

4/20----"What is the Future of the PA House? 1-on-1 w/Speaker of the House Keith McCall"

4/27---- "Is Obama's new economy robbing the rich?"

The show airs on Monday nights, 8:00pm, on WFMZ-TV.

Daily Briefing, 3/25/2009

Good morning everyone! Here is today's Daily Briefing.

More lay-offs are coming at Mack Trucks, as 25 employees will be let go. This is in addition to three week-long furloughs that will occur in April and May. Bad news for Lehigh Valley International Airport, as traffic was down 17% in February 2009 when compared to February 2008.

In state-wide news that has national implications, Senator Specter announced yesterday (less than 24 hours after speaking with GLVCC board members and other small business owners) that he will oppose the Employee Free Choice Act. The move puts the act's chances of passage in serious jeopardy.

In a prime-time press conference yesterday, President Obama discussed a variety of issues related to the economy, including his budget proposal, the AIG bailouts and continued economic recovery efforts. Meanwhile, a report issued by UCLA notes that economic recovery will begin in 2010, and while the GDP will contract for all of 2009, that rate of decline will improve with each quarter. And, although Pennsylvania certainly has its issues to deal with in terms of economic recovery, we can all be thankful we aren't in New York right now, as the Governor was forced to lay off 8,900 workers after failing to earn concessions from union officials.

The Chamber has quite a busy day today, with four events: another Vision Accomplished leadership series meeting, a meeting of the GLV Team 100, a Western Lehigh/East Penn joint luncheon and a PACC breakfast. Wow. Lots to do today!

And that is it for now. Have a great day and we will see you later!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Daily Briefing

Good morning everyone! Here is today's Daily Briefing.

Senator Arlen Specter and Congressman Charlie Dent addressed The Chamber's Board of Governors yesterday via satellite. The Senator defended his stimulus vote, said he hadn't made a decision yet on his vote for the Employee Free Choice Act and answered questions live. In Allentown, a judge has cleared the way for the City of Allentown to purchase the Americus building in downtown. Meanwhile, the Morning Call runs a story on the earned income tax collection regionalization, which by 2012 will reduce the 560 tax collectors across the state into 69. And in Saucon Valley, the saga of the teachers strike continues, with the Teacher's Union filing an unfair labor practice complaint after the school board withdrew their offer of a 4.7 pay increase.

In state-wide news, the continuing decline in driving has forced an 11% decrease in toll collections (between January 2008 and January 2009). This is despite an increase in toll prices. And speaking of Pennsylvania Roads, the Governor has removed the Chairman of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Mitchell Rubin, for his role in the corruption trial of former Senator Vincent Fumo.

In national news, President Obama will again address America with his second prime-time press conference. Stocks rocketed up nearly 500 points yesterday. This occurred after Treasury Secretary Geithner released the governments plan to buy toxic bank assets, and after a surprising increase in home sales was reported. The AIG bonus story continues, but with some good news, as 15 of the top 20 bonuses (approximately $50 million) have been returned. Meanwhile, the Senate appears to be slowing down a House plan to tax the bonuses at 90%, as they now consider other options.

Business Matters aired last night, and the topic was "Are religion and government too closely intertwined? And is that a bad thing?" The show will be viewable on WFMZ's website later today. You can also check out the blog to join in the debate, and it's an active debate this week!

We have two Chamber events today: the Northampton Area Chamber of Commerce will be holding a "Green Thumb" program, and the Executive Women's Council will be holding an event on Women's History Month.

And that's it for this morning! Wow, busy day. See you later!

Monday, March 23, 2009

The State of Newspapers

Found this article on CNN.com. Newspapers, who weren't doing well when the economy was holding steady, are folding left and right. The most disturbing statistic from the article: Over 120 papers have folded since January 2008, resulting in a loss of over 21,000 jobs.

This issue raises serious questions about the role of media in our current and future society.

Daily Briefing, 3/23/2009

Morning everyone! Here is what we have for you today.

In an attempt to save money, many school districts are paying their elected tax collectors less to do the job. The tax collectors, however, are suing over the changes. The Call also does a story on the Lehigh Valley's homeless, finding that the numbers of homeless are rising (with 62% of the region's homeless being families), jobs are getting more scarce and shelters are almost or completely full. Meanwhile, the Express Times notes that many school districts in Northampton and Warren Counties do not have enough candidates in the upcoming election cycle. Unfortunately, this often results in the superintendent appointing candidates. By the way, Route 33 is open again after a hazmat incident that resulted in Hydrogen Floride spilling from a truck. The accident caused the evacuation of about 5,000 people.

Big financial news is coming later today, as Treasury Secretary Geithner will be unveiling the Obama administration's plan to buy toxic assets. The plan is said to involve incentives for investors, banks and hedge funds to buy assets by offering billions in low interest loans and sharing the risk if the assets value falls further.

Business Matters is airing later today, 8:00pm. The topic is, "Are government and religion too closely intertwined? And is that a bad thing?" Make sure to watch the show or check out the Business Matters blog to join in the debate.

We have one Chamber event today, and its a big one: Participants will get an opportunity to ask Senators Specter and Casey questions, live.

And that's it for the day! Have a good one and we will see you later.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Daily Briefing, 3/20/2009

Good morning! Here is your Friday Daily Briefing.

The population continues to expand in Lehigh and Northampton counties, as well as Warren and Huntington counties in New Jersey. All four counties are among the fastest growing counties in their states. In Easton, their public safety committee has recommended banning anyone under the age of 13 from being present in Centennial and Vanderveer parks (without parents or guardians). Also in Easton, the school board denied extending the Keystone Opportunity Zone to selected properties in the city.

In Pennsylvania news, Governor Rendell has hired a political consultant, using $100,000 in taxpayer money, to help with the Governor's media strategy. The consultant, Ken Snyder, will work at least 30 hours a week and focus specifically on getting out information about the stimulus.

President Obama appeared on the Tonight Show last night and discussed the AIG bonus scandal. Unfortunately, the President also make a joke that compared his bowling ability with that the Special Olympics. Speaking of that bonus, the House of Representatives approved a limited tax to get those bonuses back. Meanwhile, states are fighting with both the federal government and themselves on how to best use and spend the stimulus money, with some states wanting to use it in ways not approved by the federal government.

We have one Chamber event today: the monthly Small Business Council breakfast. The topic of this one is "How to get your story in the media."

And that is it for this morning! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mixed news in the labor market

Well, some mixed news when it comes to unemployment figures. New jobless claims have apparently dropped more than expected, dropping from 658,000 to 646,000, better than most predicted. Unfortunately, continuing claims jumped 185,000 to 5.47 million (seasonally adjusted). Even more unfortunately, among new claims, the top five highest new claims occurred in Indiana, then Pennsylvania. Texas, Florida and Michigan rounded out the top five.

At least there is some good news in there, and these days, any news is good news!

Daily Briefing, 3/19/2009

Good morning! Here is today's Daily Briefing.

An interesting story out of Warren County, New Jersey, as local elected officials met on Wednesday to determine ways to share services and thus cut down on costs. Speaking of cutting down on costs, the Saucon Valley School Board has withdrawn its offer of a 4.7% raise over four years, citing the weak economy. Disputes like this and others forced a teachers strike at the beginning of the school year.

In state-wide news, Republicans in the legislature is set to battle with Governor Rendell, as they are requesting the ability to allocate Pennsylvania's stimulus funding, instead of the Governor. Meanwhile, the AIG bonus scandal appears ready to have political fallout, with Senator Chris Dodd admitting yesterday that he inserted language in the stimulus package that allowed for bonuses that the AIG executives took. Dodd was already facing a difficult reelection bid and is now in even more trouble from a political perspective.

Busy day for The Chamber today, as we have three events: another training session of "Morning with the Maestros" featuring Mike Gausling, the Buy Lehigh Valley Trade Fair and a pre-trade fair mixer.

That's all we have for now. Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Come Network with the Allentown Chamber of Commerce

The Allentown Chamber of Commerce presents a Networking Luncheon and business card exchange starting at 11:30am. This is your opportunity to meet the Allentown Chamber Board members and get involved in the Allentown community! Includes hot lunch buffet.

Members $22; Non-members $44. For sponsorship opportunities please contact Frank Facchiano @ 610-841-5810 or frankf@lehighvalleychamber.org. For reservations contact Lorie Reinert at lorier@lehighvalleychamber.org. We hope to see you there!!! Bring your business cards!

Click here for more information.

Daily Briefing, 3/18/2009

Good morning everyone! Here is what we have for you today.

As the Morning Call had previously reported, the United Way has come up $1 million short in its fundraising efforts. That shortfall is starting to show now, as the South Bethlehem Neighborhood Center is closing its food pantry and making program cuts. The recession is also being felt in Allentown, where the mayor has formed a panel, headed by himself and City Council President Mike D'Amore, to seek ways to mitigate a $5 million deficit.

In national news, AIG executives are taking quite a public beating for taking massive bonuses (with federal bailout money), then leaving the company. Congress is considering a proposal to get the money back and Treasury Secretary Geithner is now entering the fray, saying the executives must return the money. Meanwhile, the company's CEO Edward Lilly will be testifying before Congress today. I'm sure he'll be greeted warmly.

We have one Chamber event today: a Western Lehigh Business Council trip to the Kutztown University Decision Makers forum, featuring an interview with Barbara Walters.

And that's it! Have a great day and we will see you later.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mass transit use up

This article comes to us from Smart Growth online. According to the article, Americans took 1.7 billion trips on mass transit networks last year - a 4% increase since 2007, despite the fact that gas prices dropped nearly 50% from their previous peak. One possible reason is the decline in the economy - using mass transit can save individuals up to $8,000 a year.

Of course, there are many other possible reasons. Check out the article for more.

Daily Briefing, 3/17/2009

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

As we reported yesterday, President Obama mentioned the Blue Monkey in North Catasauqua (and its owner, Brian Conrad) as an example of a thriving small business in his speech yesterday. Conrad was on hand at the announcement. Meanwhile, local hotelier Kostas Kalogeropoulous will run a 24-hour all you can eat buffet at the Sands Bethlehem. The Cobalt Cafe is slated to open on May 22 with the rest of the casino.

In state-wide news, Pennsylvania will spend $3 billion make improvements to bridges and roads. About $1 billion is stimulus funding and $50 million will be in Lehigh and Northampton counties. Extra funding can't come soon enough in places like Philipsburg New Jersey, which may have to eliminate teacher positions if additional funding cannot close a budget gap. In Philadelphia, former State Senator Vincent Fumo was convicted on all 137 counts of corruption and other related charges for defrauding the state and a non-profit. Fumo is now awaiting sentencing.

A very contentious Business Matters aired yesterday, discussing whether or not America was becoming a communist or socialist country and if that was a bad thing. You can watch the show online later this morning and join in on the debate at the Business Matters blog.

We have one Chamber event today: a "going green" luncheon hosted by LeBEAM.

And that's it! Have a great day.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Obama mentions Lehigh Valley restaurant in speech on small business

Earlier today, we told you about President Obama's speech to announce his small business assistance plan. The speech went as expected but had a particularly important local flavor: the President actually mentioned a Lehigh Valley restaurant during his speech! The quote is as follows:

"When Brian Conrad’s corporate employer chose to outsource much of their work to India and eliminate his job, he decided to embark on his dream of starting a restaurant in North Catasauqua, PA. His vision, the Blue Monkey, has been wildly successful. Not only had Brian established a beacon in a neighborhood, he has also become a dedicated employer of 40 people. "

Congrats to Brian and the staff at the Blue Monkey!

The Chamber on YouTube!

Hi everyone,

Well, here's some more news - The Chamber is now on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0en1iOc710

In the future, this is definitely a medium that we will be exploring more and we encourage others to do the same!

Trouble for big box stores?

Thanks to our friends at the Pennsylvania Downtown Center for pointing out this article. To summarize, the article basically notes that big box stores may have finally reached their saturation point. A changing economy and changing democraphics have pushed big box stores to slow openings, or in some cases even close. This is particularly true in the home improvememnt area.

At The Chamber, we always encourage our members to shop locally and use each other for business. This keeps money in the Lehigh Valley community and ensures that we are all helping each other grow.

Daily Briefing, 3/16/2009

Good morning everyone! Here is what we have for you today.

Allentown's 2008 budget came up short in terms of revenue, forcing the city to potentially make some tough decisions in the weeks ahead. The issue has also caused some political infighting between the Mayor and Councilman Michael Donovan. In Easton, City Council will be meeting to discuss whether or not to keep, and possibly extend, a parks ban in certain parks for anyone under the age of 14. Meanwhile, the Express Times has a list of local earmarks from the recent $410 omnibus spending bill signed into law by President Obama.

President Obama and Treasury Secretary Geithner will announce a $375 million plan to assist small businesses today. The plan is designed to guarantee loans, lower fees and revive credit flow. Another $10 billion will also be used to free up credit and increase bank liquidity. Meanwhile, in an interview with 60 minutes, Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke says he believes an economic recovery will begin late this year. There's more good news too, as stocks appear set for a 5th straight day of gains and stocks in Asia hit a one-month high.

Business Matters airs tonight at 8:00pm and the topic is a relevant one - "Is America becoming a socialist country?" Check out the Business Matters blog for more info and to join in the debate.

That's it for today! Have a great day and we will see you later.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Business Matters

We have a GREAT Business Matter show coming up this Monday at 8:00pm on WFMZ - check out the blog for more information! The topic: "Is America becoming a socialist party?"

Friday, March 13, 2009

Check your E-mail

This report from Mailer Mailer sheds some light on how to use E-mail for marketing (yes, even for a small business) and why it is important. It's a 35 page report, but if you get a chance to check it out we promise it is well worth the read. I'll quote one section of the report to show why.

"According to an October 2008 report by the Direct Marketing Association, the return on investment for email was $45.06 for every $1 spent, as opposed to non-email Internet marketing’s $19.94. Email provided more than double the effectiveness compared to other online marketing methods. By the end of 2008, it will have driven $28 billion in sales and is projected to drive $32.6 billion in sales in 2009."

Talk about being worth the investment!

Daily Briefing, 3/13/2009

Good morning everyone! Here is what we have today.

Good news in the stimulus department, as Lehigh Valley schools can expect $61 million to help fill holes in their budget. Urban schools that face the biggest financial challenges can expect more funding. The stimulus will also bring $252.8 million in weatherization funds to the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley. The agency now needs to find licensed contractors to help them complete the various projects. Meanwhile, Ben Franklin Technology Partners are planning a 47,000 square foot expansion on the Lehigh University Campus. As quoted from the article, Ben Franklin Technology Partners "provides start-up businesses with low-cost rent and other resources. It links universities, experts and entrepreneurs to develop technologies and commercialize them into products."

In national news - is a second stimulus possible? Well, maybe, according to some economists and politicians. It will be interesting to watch that in the future.

Ahh, Friday's - they are slow news days! Have a great weekend, and we will see you on Monday.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Daily Briefing, 3/12/2009

Good morning everyone! Here is today's news.

A couple of pieces of Allentown related news. Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski gave gave a city update yesterday at the Allentown Brew Works at a Chamber event. The Mayor continued to espouse his hope for a better Allentown. Later that day, the Mayor announced that Bennett Toyota will move their dealership from the east side of Allentown to Lehigh Street in the city's south side, at the home of the former Exide Battery plant.

According to a Forbes story as reported by the Morning Call, even billionaires are suffering in this economy, with the average billionaire now worth $3 billion ( as compared to $3.9 billion). Of course, they still have $3 billion, so really, how can you complain too hard?

In state-wide news, conservative activist Peg Luksik has announced that she will challenge Senator Arlen Specter in the 2010 primary. Former Lehigh Valley Congressman Pat Toomey is also considering a run for the seat.

In economic news, a group of economists has given President Obama and Treasury Secretary Geithner failing grades for their economic stewardship thus far. Meanwhile, foreclosures jumped 7,000 from January to February, surprising analysts. The 6% spike comes after a 10% decrease in January.

It's a busy day for the Chamber today, as we have three events to note: the grand opening of the Lux salon, a seminar on the Banana Factory's "art of business" programs and The Chamber and Lehigh Valley Style's "Who's Who 2009" Luncheon.

And that's it! Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Daily Briefing, 3/11/2009

Good morning everyone! Here is today's Daily Briefing.

FHA-backed loans have doubled in the Lehigh Valley. The program, used for first-time home buyers, has seen a vast increase in its popularity as home sales have decreased.

In a meeting with the entire Congressional delegation, Governor Rendell urged Pennsylvania's congressional representatives to use the stimulus money to unite behind one project for the entire Commonwealth (possibly including light rail).

In national news, President Obama laid out his vision for education in America. His plan included merit pay for high performing teachers and extra money to states that cut their drop out rates and increase their standards. Meanwhile, after originally failing, the Senate passed an omnibus $410 billion spending bill that will fund the federal government for the remainder of the year.

We have two Chamber events today: a breakfast with Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and a joint Hellertown-Lower Saucon/Southern Lehigh Business Organization breakfast that will feature Mimi Griffin, director of marketing for the Women's Open.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

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For more information, check out our web page.

Residential Development Shfiting to Urban Centers

Check out this article on the Smart Growth Online. The summary is this: it appears, at last, that residential expansion in urban areas are expanding. Residential construction permits are rapidly being taken out in urban areas as development "shift[s] inward," despite the lack of formal policies. The article also notices this relatively stunning fact: the construction of new single units and condos have declined, while the construction of high density housing have increased.

Is the tide towards urban housing at least turning? And what sort of impact will the recession have?

Daily Briefing, 3/10/2009

Good morning everyone! Here is today's Daily Briefing.

As expected, the Lehigh Valley unemployment rate rose again, now reaching 7.5%, the highest the number has been in 16 years. The number was higher than the Pennsylvania unemployment rate (7%) but lower than the national rate (8.1%). Meanwhile, Governor Rendell announced a $31 million program designed to help provide mortgage aid, health insurance and home-heating. Meanwhile, the Governor also will announce his plan to fight the recession later today.

In national news, a new report shows that more than 1.5 million children (or 1 in 50 American children) are homeless. The numbers are expected to rise, given the economy and increase in home foreclosures. Meanwhile, the head of the International Monetary Fund stated that he believes that global growth will sink to "below zero" this year.

We have one Chamber event today: a TRACC/PACC Women In Business luncheon in Easton.

Business Matters aired last night, and the topic was Governor Rendell's proposal to consolidate school districts. Check out the website to watch the show, which will be available later today. You can also visit the Business Matters blog to join in the debate.

That's it for today! Have a great day.

Monday, March 9, 2009

No news is...oh, dang.....

Thanks to John Micek and his Twitter page for pointing us to this link. Time Magazine lists the top ten newspapers likely to go bankrupt or go completely digital. The list, which is published by 24/7 Wall Street, includes the Philadelphia Daily News as its #1 most likely pick. Ouch.

Daily Briefing, 3/9/2009

Good morning everyone! Here is today's Daily Briefing.

Northampton County thought it was ahead of the curve when it developed a homeowners assistance program designed to save homes on the verge of foreclosure. Turns out they were right. The program has been put on hold until it can be determined whether or not the program will interfere with the federal stimulus package. Meanwhile, the Express Times runs a story on the Employee Free Choice Act, which includes a quote from Michelle Griffin Young, Vice President of Public Policy for The Chamber. And, in neighboring New Jersey, the state legislature will soon be debating whether or not to make medical marijuana legal.

In state-wide news, the Mayors of Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton and Reading will travel to Harrisburg to lobby for a 1% increase in the sales-tax.

In Congress, votes along party lines is usually the trend, and this year is proving to be no exception. According to analysis by the Morning Call, Representatives and Senators vote with their party 90% of the time. In other national news, President Obama is expected today to sign legislation overturning President Bush's ban on stem cell research.

Business Matters will air today, and the topic is a very timely one: Should the legislature consolidate school districts? Make sure to check out the Business Matters blog for more. Also, please note that Business Matters will air at a new time, 8:00pm.

And that's it! Have a great day.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

E-mail getting you down?

So E-mail has become a fact of life and has made communication and conducting business infinately easier. It's also something that can drive you absolutely insane. Accordingly, here's an article from the New York Times on how to control and manage your E-mail. Considering how much the average professional uses E-mail, this should be pretty useful.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Macungie Announces Mini-Facade Program

Check out the press release below to read about a great initiative in Macungie. For more information the BBRP, check out its webpage and the webpage of the Facade Program.


Macungie, PA (March 6) – Mike Schlossberg, Macungie Business Revitalization Coordinator, announced today that the Macungie Business Revitalization Program (MBRP) has created a miniature Façade Program designed to further beautify the Borough. This program is funded by a generous donation from an anonymous donor.

“Macungie is a beautiful community. Like many of the smaller urban centers in Pennsylvania, some of its homes need some minor repair work,” said Schlossberg. “With this $1,000 donation, we will be able to fund minor renovations.”

This grant program works similar to the state-funded Façade Program. Applicants can apply for funds to cover the costs of materials to work that they want to complete to their property (which must be located along Main Street). The funds can be used to purchase materials such as paint or landscaping materials. After the work is completed, the applicant will be reimbursed.

“This program is designed to help fund important and inexpensive improvements to the Borough,” said Schlossberg. “It is designed to make a maximum impact with a maximum degree of flexibility.”

Interested applicants can check out the application form and procedures online at Macungie’s website (http://www.macungie.pa.us). They can also contact Mike Schlossberg.

# # #

Daily Briefing, 3/6/2009

Good morning everyone! Here is your Daily Briefing for the day.

The recession isn't affecting everybody: PA casinos have seen an increase in revenue this year. The casino chalks it up to better marketing efforts and increased escapism efforts by the public. Speaking of gaming, the Northampton County Council last night agreed to set up a nine person authority that would decide how to divide up the gaming revenue among its local municipalities. The decision game after a heated debate over who should sit on the authority. Meanwhile, in Lehigh County, In the battle for a hockey arena, Senator Pat Browne is proposing that tax-increment financing be used to fund the arena, in Allentown. This is a process whereby future state and local taxes would be used to pay off loans that funded the project. In stimulus news, local police are unexpectedly receiving stimulus funds. A list of the stations that are receiving these funds is available here.

In political news, former Congressman Pat Toomey (R) is reportedly telling friends that he will seek a rematch against Senator Arlen Specter in the 2010 Republican primary.

In national news, unemployment is forecast to have rose to 7.9%. The economy contracted at 6.2% in the 4th quarter of 2008 and may be worse in the first quarter of 2009. Unfortunately, some predict that the worst is still to come.

We have one Chamber event today: first Friday in Bethlehem. It's a lot of fun, make sure to check it out!

And that's it! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Learn how YOU can use Social Networking (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter & blogs) for your professional and personal gain

The Chamber is pleased to offer this new training as part of our growing effort to help the business community utilize Social Networking. See below for more, or visit our website for more information about the event.

Social Networking Seminar: Learn how you can use it to your advantage!

on Wednesday, April 29 from 2:00pm till 5:00pm at the Best Western Conference Center, 300 Gateway Drive in Bethlehem (at Routes 22 & 512).

Find out how YOU can do some serious business and have fun with Social Networking including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs.

Regardless of your industry, we guarantee that your business and professional career can stand to advance and profit from social networking.

But getting started on these important networks can be intimidating and seem complicated, especially if you are not used to this kind of technology.

The Chamber is pleased to offer the following training as a way of helping our members establish themselves on the internet.

With this training, you will learn how to:

Get started on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter (and Blogging).
Understand why these tools are so important.
Learn how to successfully navigate these social networking sites.
Enhance your connections with new and existing contacts.
Use all three platforms to your maximum benefit.
…and much, much more.

Detailed handouts will be provided so you can get started as soon as you get back to your computer.

Or bring your laptop so you can follow along with the presentation and create or enhance your profile(s) live and online. The Best Western provides free wireless internet access.

We hope you will attend and take advantage of this important training opportunity.

For more information or to register visit www.lehighvalleychamber.org or email Mike Schlossberg at mikes@lehighvalleychamber.org or call Mike at 484-809-1796

Cost of seminar: $39 for members, $78 for non-members.

New February Members

Hi everyone,

We just wanted to welcome all of our new members this month. Welcome to The Chamber!

Advantis Benefits Group
1605 N. Cedar Crest Boulevard, Suite 510
(610) 432-6972
Business Type: INSURANCE

Bausch & Jones Eye Associates
Plaza West
1616 W. Allen Street
(610) 432-0201

BR Consulting
3440 Lehigh Street, #334
(610) 798-9090
Business Type: INSURANCE

Cedar Line Design
214 Berks Street
(610) 509-2504

Charter Partners
545 Browns Drive
(908) 713-4717

Child Advocacy Center of LC
740 Hamilton Street
(610) 770-9644

Comfort & Joy
105 East Third Street
(610) 867-9916

David Dunn Law Offices PC
21 South Ninth Street
(610) 439-1500

DuBois Consulting
3440 Lehigh Street, #178
(610) 739-0104

Eagle Mine Safety
P.O. Box 412
(610) 759-8511

Forgotten Felines & Fidos
P.O. Box 62
(610) 760-9009

Foto Flair
207 March Boulevard
(908) 859-8511

Fraser Advanced Information Systems
Lehigh Valley Industrial Park
2158 Avenue C, Suite 101
(610) 231-9577

GAF Premium Products
440 Katherine Road
(610) 863-4101

Icore, Inc
326 South Second Street
(610) 928-3944
Business Type: CONSULTANTS

JS Marketing International
P.O. Box 1050
(570) 619-4255
Business Type: CONSULTANTS

Karen Trionfo Video Productions
32 South Greet Street
(610) 248-3951

Kelly Temporary Services - Allentown
1605 North Cedar Crest Boulevard, Suite 517
(610) 776-2310

Kome Fine Japanese Restaurant
2880 Center Valley Parkway
(610) 798-9888
Business Type: RESTAURANTS

Lexnet Consulting LLC
103 Mcnair Circle
(484) 347-5481

LIFT Networks
9046 Furnace Road
(610) 657-8429

Main Street Public Relations
561 Main Street, Suite 240
The Main Street Commons
(484) 554-6785

McCann School of Business & Technology - Allentown
2200 North Irving Street
(484) 223-4600

McDonald's - Lehigh Street
3020 Lehigh Street
(610) 797-4948
Business Type: RESTAURANTS

McDonald's - Wyandotte Street
442 Wyandotte Street
(610) 868-2053
Business Type: RESTAURANTS

Michael's Carpentry & Painting
4863 Shimersville Road
(610) 967-5138
Business Type: CARPENTRY

Northeast Drug Test Consultants, LLC
1874 Catasauqua Road

Nuevo Advertising Group
1291 Lieb Road
(610) 762-1327

OK-1 Restaurant Group LLC - Sonic Drive-In Restaurant
4060 Easton-Nazareth Highway
(610) 759-5493
Business Type: RESTAURANTS

PACE Environmental
5240 West Coplay Road
(610) 262-3818

228 Northampton Street
(610) 330-9535
Business Type: GIFT SHOP

Pennsylvania Classical Ballet
1716 Washington Avenue
(610) 440-0958

Prism Engineering, Inc.
1150 Glenlivet Drive, Suite A13
(215) 449-0200

Red Door Early Learning Center
1375 Third Avenue
(610) 838-2267

Rotary Club of Phillipsburg
P.O. Box 15
(908) 454-8588

Sheffield Consulting LLC
2461 Southmoore Drive
(610) 746-1874

Slifer Voice & Shade Veritext
4949 Liberty Lane, Suite 200
(610) 434-8588

Southside Serendipity
127 East Third Street
(610) 419-3900

Swift Kennedy & Associates
609 West Hamilton Street, Suite 21
(484) 629-4717
Business Type: INSURANCE

Transition Group, Inc.
3357 Tolchester Landing
(610) 965-4574

Valley IT Solutions, LLC
795 Roble Road, Suite A
(610) 217-2754

Van Horn Sand & Gravel
18 Harmony Brass Castle Road
P.O. Box 5088
(908) 454-6010
Business Type: HAULING

Walton Consulting, Inc
2702 West Allen Street
(800) 537-4385

Wells, Rodney W.
1924 Alexander Drive
Business Type: CLERGY

White Orchids Thai Cuisine
2985 Center Valley Parkway, Suite 200
(610) 841-7499
Business Type: RESTAURANTS

William R. Koscinski, Jr., CPA
613 North 13th Street
(610) 434-4033

Wings for Life
6710 Weaversville Road
(610) 262-1591

Zellner Welding
2820 Lehigh Street
(610) 264-1656

JOF Mechanical
57 South Commerce Way, Suite 220
(484) 821-0311

Wired Gallery & Frame, LLC
520 Main Street
(610) 317-8010

W2A Design Group
609 Hamilton Street, Suite 200
(610) 437-4450

The Chamber on Twitter!

As we continue to expand into new areas on the internet, The Chamber is proud to announce our latest social networking initiative - Twitter. We are on Twitter and can be found at http://twitter.com/GLVCC

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Twitter (don't fear - you are in good company), Twitter is basically a service that asks you to answer the question "What are you doing?" It is microblogging, so you write about whatever you want (theoretically geared around an answer to that question) in 140 characters or less. The service enables you to follow the lives of your friends and the companies that you are interested in. It is another great example in just how the internet (and specifically social networking) continues to link us all together.

Daily Briefing, 3/5/2009

Good morning everyone! Here is today's daily briefing.

At the Soverign Economic Outlook breakfast yesterday, a Lehigh Valley consumer survey was released. The results showed that more than half of Valley consumers have seen their personal financial situation deteriorate and just 18% expected it to improve over the coming year. In an attempt to help improve the local housing market, the city of Allentown has partnered with the Lehigh Valley Realtors Association to create a "Home Buyer's Supermarket." The event will feature homes for sale, loan programs and information on other special programs. In an attempt to restart projects, developer Louis Pektor is partnering with a union-backed investment fund that will infuse his projects with additional cash, provided he uses union labor.

Meanwhile, in state-wide news, Governor Rendell announced plans to track the $18 billion in federal money that Pennsylvania is set to receive. Pennsylvania will have a website for the stimulus money - http://recovery.pa.gov. This website will enable users to track the stimulus cash. And, in national news, GM's annual report noted that there is "substantial doubt" about its future. The struggling auto giant hopes to get another $7.7 billion in government loans.

We have two Chamber events today: a mixer at HTSS Inc in downtown Emmaus and another President's Roundtable on the Employee Free Choice Act.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Report: Valley business will continue to suffer

Hi everyone,

This story was printed in the Morning Call yesterday and I wanted to share it with everyone. The report basically says that the Lehigh Valley will continue to suffer. The report notes that the Valley is in a "full-fledged recession" and makes other predictions, including:

- Unemployment will reach 10%
- Businesses will curb spending by 5%
- Housing prices will drop to lowest levels in five years

The article also quotes Chamber President & CEO, Tony Iannelli.

Daily Briefing, 3/4/2009

Morning everyone! Here is what we have for you today.

The race to succeed deceased Senator Jim Rhoades is over, and Republican David Argall has beaten Democrat Steve Lukach in a special election yesterday. In Bethlehem, the Sands casino confirmed that they are set to open on May 22 and expressed confidence that they will succeed, despite the difficult economy. Meanwhile, a study of the Lehigh Valley airport made a series of recommendations designed to increase customers and cooperation. The recommendations included a call for a reduced board, the development of a five-year plan and a streamlined management system. And in Easton, the city is set to welcome a brewery near the circle. Victory Square Brewery will open in the Weller Center Building.

In state-wide news, Governor Rendell announced yesterday that, thanks to federal stimulus money, Pennsylvania schools can expect an extra $437 million, while Pennsylvania universities can expect an extra $42 million.

In national news, the Obama administration will today release guidelines designed to determine what homes will be saved from foreclosure. The plan involves $75 billion in loans. The President will also reveal a plan today that will detail $40 billion in savings by modifying "wasteful spending."

And that's it! Have a great day and stay warm.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Twitter - coming to a Senator near you

The Morning Call runs a great story on how government officials are now using twitter. Twitter is an amazing tool that allows for instant messages (no more than 140 characters) to readers. Like the rest of social networking, it gives participants the opportunity to bypass the media and connect directly with the public. Of course, it has its drawbacks...just ask Congressman Peter Hoekstra, who twitted in regards to a secret trip to Iraq and Afghanistan for House Intelligence Committee members.

White House Office of Urban Affairs

The White House has established an office of urban affairs. President Obama created the office two days after signing the stimulus package into law. The President tapped two former New Yorkers to run the office.

If you get a chance, make sure to check out the official White House press release on the subject.

Daily Briefing, 3/3/2009

Morning everyone! Here is what we have for you today.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is offering rebates and low-interest loans to help residents combat rising energy costs and purchase energy efficient items. Check out their website for more information. Meanwhile, Olympus will be cutting jobs in their digital camera division, though the company didn't say how many jobs.

In state-wide news, former Lehigh Valley Congressman Pat Toomey has announced that he is now considering, once again, running against Arlen Specter, after announcing in January that he was more interested in the Gubernatorial race. A recent poll by Susquehanna college shows that Specter could be in real trouble during the 2010 race.

Meanwhile, in national news, stocks dropped below 6,800 yesterday, their lowest point in twelve years.

Business Matters aired last night. The topic was whether or not global warming exists. The show will be available online later today. There is also a pretty active debate going on at our blog, so make sure you check it out.

We have one Chamber event today: a Great Northern Chamber of Commerce lunch that will feature Holly Edinger of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation. Holly will be discussing LVEDC's various economic development programs.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Daily Briefing, 3/2/2009

Good morning everyone! Hope you were able to get into work safely today, its ugly out there. Anyways, here is what we have for today.

Vice President Biden held a meeting on his task force for the middle class this past Friday. The meeting was held in Philadelphia and featured testimony on green jobs and their potential for the economy. The meeting was also attended by the Chamber's own Tony Iannelli, who was quoted in the article. The Morning Call also takes a look at earmarks filed by Congressman Charlie Dent (R) and Senators Arlen Specter (R) and Bob Casey (D). If approved, the region would be given another $13 million in government funding.

In national news, President Obama is expected today to nominate Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D) as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Governor Sebelius will become the administration's point person on health care reform. Meanwhile, AIG suffered a $62 billion loss and will need access to another $30 billion as part of a revised bailout plan. Fortune also released their listing of the 50 most admired companies. Topping the list is the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. Just kidding. It's Apple.

Business Matters will air today, and the topic is a nice and controversial one: is global warming real? Watch tonight at 7:30pm on WFMZ.

And, we have one Chamber event today: a ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly renovated Allentown Holiday Inn.

That's it for now! Have a great day and drive safe.