Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Daily Briefing, 6/30/2009

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

The May unemployment numbers are out and they are bad news for us - the Valley has an unemployment rate of 8.8%. Pennsylvania's unemployment is 8.2% and the U.S. currently is at 9.4%. PennDOT officials are saying that they will start to spend more money on road repairs, something that is apparently needed, as PennDOT's local district is falling behind in its obligation towards road repairs. Not all the news is bad though - tickets for the U.S. Women's Open are starting to really fly, with roughly half the tickets having sold so far.

Oh, and just in case you forgot, tomorrow is the deadline for the state budget to be passed. There is clearly not a chance that will happen.

In national/international news, its a sign of the times - U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq cities yesterday, handing control of those cities over to local police and soldiers. And, here's a unique way to solve a state budget problem - give Michigan prisoners. With California's prison population exploding, they have sent a letter to California, asking for prisoners to avoid laying off correctional workers.

Business Matters aired yesterday, and the topic was voter apathy in America. You can watch the show on WFMZ's website (it will be available later today) and join in the discussion over at the Business Matters blog.

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

Monday, June 29, 2009

Daily Briefing, 6/29/2009

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

The Morning Call runs a story on the water restrictions that have been placed this year by the Lehigh County Authority, with the blame for the lack of water falling on the population explosion and other factors dating back to the mid-90s. Meanwhile, multiple Lehigh Valley communities are developing guidelines for a sudden expansion in solar projects that are becoming more and more popular.

Meanwhile, a historic energy bill passed the House of Representatives last week. The bill dramatically reduce carbon emissions in the U.S. by 2050, although many business advocates argue that the bill would hurt the U.S. economy. The bill now moves onto the Senate. And, here's some good news - gas prices haven't changed in two weeks - they have remained steady at $2.66 a gallon.

Business Matters airs tonight, and the topic is a discussion panel on a look at American voter apathy. The show airs at 8:00pm on WFMZ - meanwhile, check out the Business Matters blog for more information and to discuss the topic with others.

That's it! Have a great Monday and we'll see you later.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Daily Briefing, 6/26/2009

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

In a story that has huge state-wide and and local implications, Don Cunningham yesterday announced that he will not be running for Governor, citing concerns about his family and leaving the county for a campaign during such a difficult time. In Allentown, superintendent Karen Angello has announced that she will leave the district at the end of her contract on June 30, 2010. Board members in the district passed the third straight budget with no tax hike. Meanwhile, the Easton Area School District also passed their budget last night, raising taxes about 2.7% for Northampton County residents and cutting taxes 2.6% for Bucks residents. And here's some good news for Easton - severe crimes are apparently at a 39 year low.

Local news is the biggest part of the day, aside, of course, from the deaths yesterday of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. Anyway, have a great weekend and we will catch you later.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Daily Briefing, 6/25/2009

Good morning! Here is today's Daily Briefing.

In Allentown, the Mayor is asking the Service Employees International Union (the union for municipal workers) to defer their pay raises or face potential layoffs, as the city tries to close a budget gap. In Williams township, the Board of Supervisors voted 2-1 to approve a controversial expansion of the Chrin garbage landfill. And we have two school board tax increase stories for you. In Northwestern Lehigh, the school district will raise taxes 4.2%, while in Parkland, taxes will increase 1.4%.

In state-wide news, the Morning Call has a story on a very weird situation - if the budget is not approved and stop-gap measures are not put into place, state prison guards will not be paid - but inmates will. Huh? In other news that at least makes sense, a bill to legalize table games has been introduced in Harrisburg. The bill has some local support, including Rep. Joe Brennan. Meanwhile, polling data shows that Senator Arlen Specter has his work cut out for him heading into the 2010 election - only 28% of those surveyed believe Specter definitely deserves reelection.

In national news, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, after being missing for a few days, admitted that he had been unfaithful to his wife with a woman from Argentina. On ABC yesterday, President Obama spoke of the need for national health care, and stressed that compromise should occur to make the legislation work. And, here's an interesting (and depressing) interactive map that shows an economic breakdown of every state's fiscal situation. At least 19 states still have to pass their budgets and have only days to do it.

We have two Chamber events today: a Speed Networking event and the Phillipsburg Easton Golf Classic.

And that's it! Have a great day.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Search Engine Optimization

Hi everyone,

We wanted to take a few minutes to discuss a relatively important internet-related issues, particularly as it relates to small businesses. That is the concept of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Search Engine Optimization is "process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via "natural" ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results." In other words, making sure that your website pops up in internet searches. This is particularly important - according to a study by Cornell University, 71% of people don't go past the first three results of a Google search.

SEO is a very complicated field, but we wanted to try and give a few basic pointers to you on how you can make your website better for search engines. To that end, here are a few websites that provide some basic information on doing just that:


These are four of the many articles that are available on the topic. That being said, here are some basic pointers:
- Link to other websites and ask other websites to link to you.
- Update frequently - there is a reason that blogs often rank high in search results. For example, if you Google "Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce," this blog ranks third.
- Use important keywords in the title of your website.
- Submit your website to a search engine - it helps.

Hope this is useful!

Daily Briefing, 6/24/2009

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

In a story that could have state-wide implications, Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan is apparently considering running for Congress. Callahan has considered running before but never this strongly, and has commissioned a poll on the possibility. In other news, the East Penn School District adopted a budget on Monday, raising taxes 3.2% and cutting $1.5 million.

In state-wide news, a coalition of Mayors from five Pennsylvania cities (including Bethlehem and Easton) have commissioned a study that would examine the fiscal health of Pennsylvania cities. All five say that the structure of cities in Pennsylvania does not allow for fiscal stability.

We have two Chamber events today: a seminar on "Business Killers" sponsored by the Phillipsburg Area Chamber of Commerce and Merchants Bank and Iron Pigs night with the Northampton Area Chamber of Commerce.

Well, not too much going on today. That's all we got, so have a great day and we'll see you later.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Don't cut tourism dollars - expand table games

Mike Stershic, President of the Lehigh Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, has an interesting argument - instead of cutting the tourism dollars that help generate so much revenue and jobs, PA should legalize table games.

Hmm. What do you think?

Daily Briefing, 6/23/2009

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

LANTA unveiled its 12-year plan for the future at a public meeting yesterday. The plan makes recommendation for future LANTA bus routes and satellite locations, among other items. In Bethlehem, the school district raised taxes 5.1% after rejecting a 6.3% increase. Uncertainty over state funding was one of the most problematic items for the budget. And, in Easton, the Morning Call appears to have left their bureau in Northampton County.

In state-wide news, Speaker of the House McCall has come out in favor of the Governor's tax increase and has said he is now open to expanding gambling to table games. And so the saga continues.

Business Matters aired yesterday, featuring a one-on-one interview with Congressman Joe Sestak. The show will be available online later today, and you can join in the debate over at the Business Matters blog.

We have three Chamber events today: the Business and Energy summit, a SOLEBO mixer at PuttU and a meeting of the Executive Women's Council to discuss Domestic Abuse in the workplace.

Well, that's it for this morning. Have a great day and we will catch you later.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Hi everyone,

In my capacity as Borough Business Revitalization Coordinator for The Chamber, I came across this website - EBizITPA. From their mission statement:

Assists Pennsylvania businesses and organizations with understanding, using and developing information technologies to grow the economy by:

* Providing resources to enable company formation and growth
* Developing technology talent and expertise
* Facilitating collaborative efforts to stimulate innovation

There are two things in particular that may be useful for Small Businesses. First, EBizITPA runs a reimbursable grant program designed to assist Small Businesses in being able to move forward on IT/technology related projects. The program is closed until August 1, but you can sign up for updates - I certainly did. Second, EBizITPA runs a series of training programs about a variety of topics, including E-mail marketing, starting an online store and Search Engine Optimization. These are incredibly important topics that are becoming even more and more necessary for small businesses to be able to master.

I hope this information is useful!

Daily Briefing, 6/22/2009

Good morning everyone! Here is what we have for you on this Monday.

In the way of local news, there isn't a whole lot to talk about today. WFMZ runs a story on the struggles that community pools are facing as they try to stay open this year. And, Bethlehem Sands must be doing something right, because Atlantic City Casinos are now specifically targeting Lehigh Valley residents in advertising campaigns, with some billboards going as far as to attack the Sands directly. Meanwhile, in Bethlehem, the controversial hot dog vendor story continues, with Bethlehem looking to craft legislation to deal with the vendor as quickly as possible.

Some good news for all of us on the national front, as gas prices have finally stopped increasing (and dipped every so slightly) for the first time in 54 days. And then there's bad news for all of us - a recent survey showed that 25% of all employers have cut back on their to 401(k) programs.

Business Matters airs today, featuring a one-on-one interview with Congressman Joe Sestak. The show is on at 8:00pm, and you can debate the show live at the Business Matters blog.

We have one Chamber event today: a seminar on how to increase your company's sales and margins. Now there's something everyone needs these days!

Anyway, that's all we have today. Have a great day, and we'll catch you later!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Small Business Stories - Ritz Life Coaching

Hi everyone,

As promised, here is the first in an installment of Small Business Stories. Like I said before, this is just an opportunity for our member businesses to discuss stories that are of interest to them. This comes to us courtesy of Ritz Life Coaching.


Coaching is relatively new on the East Coast so a lot of what I do is educate people about the benefits of coaching. That's why I invite people to come to my educational seminal July 7th.

Human nature is such that when people are facing difficulty they have more incentive to change and step out of their "normal" way of doing things. Many times it is not the change itself that scares people, but their beliefs about making the change. So the change that is taking place in people's life today moves people to call me about coaching.

For clarity, I don't tell people what to do, that's for the consultant. Clients don't analyze their behavior, that's for the psychologist. I don't have answers for the clients because they have their own answers.

What I do, however, is to support my clients individually and in groups to see their creativity and tap into their wisdom in order to create goals that have meaning and relevance to them. I provide tools that assist people in moving past their personal stopping point so they can reach those goals. My training as a coach is to show people how they can change with clarity, focus, and ease. Here is a question for those reading this blog, “Would it be ok if your life got easier?” And might I add, how about having a little fun in the process? Any questions? Give me a call at 610-797-3919. See you on July 7th.

Rachel Sue Ritz, B.A., ACC (Certified by the International Coach Federation)
Ritz Life Coaching

Daily Briefing, 6/19/2009

Good morning everyone, and a happy Friday to you! Here is today's Daily Briefing.

We've all been complaining about the deluge of rain that we've had lately, but for some of us its more than just an annoyance - local farmers are worried that the rain will ruin their crops. Meanwhile, in Bethlehem, county officials have yet to get an accurate assessment on the Sands casino, meaning there will be a delay in determining how much the property should be taxed. Local libraries are trying to determine how they will continue to operate after an expected decrease in funding from the state - the only question is how much their funding will be lowered. And we have two stories today related to Northampton County politics - first, in the Executive's race, Republican J.C. Kelleher dropped out of the race, citing family matters - and local Republicans have said they won't go looking for another candidate. Meanwhile, County Council is now looking to fill the vacancy caused by Diane Neiper's resignation.

In state-wide news, the Legislature is apparently now considering legalizing table games at Pennsylvania casinos. That being said, the revenue generated won't be all that much, and not nearly enough to close the budget gap. A new poll has come out in the Pennsylvania Senate race that shows former Congressman Pat Toomey losing to both Arlen Specter (50-39%) and Joe Sestak (41-35%).

We have one Chamber event today, and its a big one - the Excellence in Business awards. Congrats to the winners, Jack's Glass and Vistacom.

And that's it! Have a great day.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Daily Briefing, 6/18/2009

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

In local news, Allentown faces a cash-shortage problem, with a shortage that could reach as high as $9 million out of an expected $80 million. In Northampton County, there has still been no action by county council about who will distribute casino money to the five surrounding municipalities - this means that no one will get the money, at least for a little while. In Allentown, CareerLink Lehigh Valley held its "Here to Help Day" - designed to help the unemployed find good jobs.

In state-wide news, Governor Rendell announced $500 million in cuts yesterday as he attempts to make a budget that will be passed by the legislature. The proposed cuts did not have any specific details except for what departments they would fall in. Meanwhile, more than half of the state's transportation stimulus funding has been allocated.

In national news, President Obama's push for health care reform suffered a serious set-back yesterday, as the Senate Finance Committee was unable to put together a package that would have passed and was forced to delay the bill. Has driving gotten more expensive for you? Probably. Gas prices have risen 50 days in a row, with prices nation-wide at about $2.68.

We have three Chamber events today: a mixer at the Allentown Municipal Golf Course's Brewworks eatery, a Speed Networking luncheon from the Two River's Area Chamber of Commerce and a SOLEBO mixer at PuttU on Route 309.

And that's it! Have a great day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Daily Briefing, 6/17/2009

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

The biggest story of yesterday was Governor Rendell's announcement that he will seek a half point increase in the Personal Income Tax for three years. The current budget deficit is projected to be $3.2 billion, and the tax hike would raise an estimated $1.5 billion. House and Senate Republicans have declared their opposition to the tax and said that they now believe an on-time budget (June 30) to be a lost cause.

In local news, revenues at the Sands dipped to $4.97 million, although Sands officials are preparing for an increase in future revenues. The Sands remains the busiest casino in Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, the bi-county health board had its $291,000 budget approved yesterday. Speaking of county council, Northampton Councilwoman Diane Neiper resigned over the weekend, as she is leaving the county to be closer to family. And, speaking with reporters yesterday, PPL Chief Jim Miller said that clean coal and nuclear power are how the majority of America's future energy needs will be fulfilled - not green energy.

And here's an interesting piece of state-wide news - showing that he is dead serious about entering the race, Congressman Joe Sestak has begun to assemble a campaign team to run against Arlen Specter in 2010.

In national news, President Obama will sign an executive order tomorrow that offers federal employees health care and other benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.

We have three Chamber events today: a meeting of the GLV Team 100, a grand opening at Sterling Autobody Centers and a joint lunch between East Penn and Western Lehigh Business Councils.

And that's it for today! Have a great day and we'll catch you later.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Upcoming Business Matters Schedule

We have the latest schedule for Business Matters - check out the Business Matters blog to learn more!

Chamber Energy Summit

Whether your business is small or large, you need to find out how to reduce the electricity increase looming in your future!

Rising energy costs and growing carbon footprints have become a hot topic in the Lehigh Valley and the Chamber is here to help you navigate the ever-expanding world of going green. This program provides take-home tools and ideas on a few simple changes that will make your business more energy efficient. This translates into substantial cost savings and more money for your bottom line!

Our half-day agenda includes the following topics:

"How did we get here?"
"What will the future hold for businesses?"
See a cost/benefit analysis of "Going Green" (is it for you?)
See if you are eligible for some of the $650 million in state legislation passed last year.

PLUS: Don't miss our special VIP guest, The Honorable James Creedon, Secretary of the PA Department of General Services. Secretary Creedon has been named PA's Chief Stimulus Funds Spending Officer and will share how to take advantage of those funds!
This event is $79 per member and $149 for non-members.

To register, contact Melody at melodyg@lehighvalleychamber.org

Daily Briefing, 6/16/2009

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

In state-wide news, former Congressman Pat Toomey has raised more than one million in his raise for Arlen Specter's (D-PA) Senate seat.

In national news, President Obama yesterday made a major speech in which he stumped for his health care plan. Obama's plan could cost $1 trillion over ten years, according to an estimate by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. The President is also set to speak tomorrow about the need for a new financial watchdog agency. Oh, and for all of our budget troubles in Pennsylvania, let's be thankful we don't have California's problems: the state has a $24.3 billion budget gap and, according to one study, won't start to grow again until 2010.

The Chamber is in the news today for our trip to China. Check out our website for more information about the trip.

Business Matters aired yesterday, and the topic was the future of the Republican party. The show will be available online later today - in the meantime, check out the Business Matters blog for more information on the show and to join in the debate.

We have one Chamber event today: the Hellertown-Lower Saucon Scholarship Award dinner.

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

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tell us your story

Hi everyone,

At The Chamber, we are constantly looking to assist small businesses (and their employees) in their efforts to succeed and thrive in what is unquestionably a very difficult economy. Small businesses need all the help they can get, and we are here to provide that assistance.

To that end, we are looking to launch a new series of blog entries called "Small business stories." We want to hear from you about how you and your business is surviving in the economy. This is a free opportunity for you to tell personalize your business and share information, anecdotes or advice on how you and your business are getting through these tough times. After all, that's the real beauty of the blog - it gives us the ability to share stories and information with each other.

If you are interested, please send an E-mail to MikeS@lehighvalleychamber.org. Hope to hear from you soon!

Daily Briefing, 6/15/2009

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

In local news, Saucon Valley teachers and the school board continue to talk to resolve a second potential strike. The talks have produced no results as of yet.

In state-wide news, Twitter is the latest weapon in the war between state Democrats and Republicans in the PA budget battle! Aides from both caucuses are fighting with each other, in a very public manor, via their Twitter feeds. Meanwhile, an issue being talked about at the local level now is the expansion of gaming laws into table games, such as blackjack or poker. One study says these games would create 10,000 jobs and generate $164 million in revenue. However, local officials (at least those interviewed by the E-T) don't appear to be very supportive of table games.

The Roast of Tony Iannelli was held on Friday - check out the WFMZ coverage of this great event. And speaking of WFMZ, Business Matters airs today. The topic is the future of the Republican Party. Check out the Business Matters blog to participate in the debate on the show.

That's it for today - hmm, slow news day! Anyway, we'll catch you later!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Stats about GLVCC membership

Just got these from our member relations department. Check this out:

Members with 1-100 employees – 95%
Members with 1-10 employees – 67%
Members with 1-5 employees – 52%

Sands Bethlehem is much more than slots!

Hi everyone - this post was authored by Frank Facchiano of The Chamber.

I've been in and out of the Sands Casino Bethlehem a few times since it opened. For an event or a meeting or for dinner. The last time was on Tuesday for a grand opening event that was just a really spectacular party.

What struck me on that night is that there were hundreds and hundreds of folks just like me who had come and gone, soaked in the excitement, did some networking, had something to eat (and drink), maybe listened to the band for a while, without playing the slot machines.

It's just a really cool gathering place!

I know there is a dark side to gaming! It's gotten plenty of publicity and attention for sure.

I'm just saying that the positives of having a place like the Sands outweigh any negatives by a ton.

Daily Briefing, 6/12/2009

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

Lehigh and Northampton county's will try to meet again on Tuesday to ratify a budget for the proposed Lehigh/Northampton county health agency. Their previous attempt at an agency failed when Northampton county was unable to come up with a quorum for the meeting. In Easton, PA Secretary of Education Zahorchak held a press conference to rally against proposed state funding cuts to education. Meanwhile, the PA Agricultural Board yesterday preserved 4,225 acres in Pennsylvania, including properties in Lehigh and Northampton. And some good news for Easton, as the City was awarded $1 million in grants for improvement programs in the West Ward and South Side of the city. And a reminder: TV's switch from analog to digital today. Get rid of those bunny ears!

We have one Chamber event today - and its gonna be one for the ages. We are proud to present The Roast of Tony Iannelli. This should be GOOD!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Internet Users - yes, it's that important

One of the things small businesses are still struggling with, to some extent, is the need to be on the internet and use it properly. Here is some information that will hopefully increase your understanding of its importance. This information comes from an article by Cathy von Birgelen that appeared to us courtesy of EBizITPA.

- 92% of people go online to research information about a product, service, etc. The internet is now the platform of choice for product pre-evaluation.

When it comes to activities that internet users are involved in on at least a weekly basis:
- E-mail: 96%
- Internet surfing without a specific destination: 71%
- Looking for news online: 60%
- Conducting online banking or other financial services: 38%
- Instant messaging: 37%
- Playing online games: 35%
- Searching for humorous content: 25%

New Business Matters - The Future of the Republican Party

Hi everyone,

We have a new Business Matters coming up on Monday that is sure to generate a lot of discussion and we wanted to make sure you were all aware of it. For more information, check out the Business Matters blog.

The show will air on Monday, 6/15, 8:00pm on WFMZ-TV.

Daily Briefing, 6/11/2009

Good morning everyone! We are back and ready to blog once again. Here is your Daily Briefing today.

Local health officials made a public plea yesterday: if you have flu-like symptoms, stay home. Lehigh County has 40 cases of the H1N1 influenza virus, the third highest in Pennsylvania. Also in Lehigh County, County Executive Don Cunningham has asked that proposed Republican campaign finance legislation be strengthened so that all potential candidates are subjected to its reach. Meanwhile, a group of Lehigh County Republicans met yesterday in an attempt to unite the local party around a series of core principles.

Some good economic news, as May foreclosures dropped 6% from April\ - but were still the third highest month on record. Meanwhile, President Obama and Congress appear set to battle over how to best reign in executive pay.

We have three Chamber events today: a Grand Opening for a new facility at Westminster Village, a mixer at the Lehigh County Senior Center and a new Lunch with the Leaders event, featuring Kim Snuder, President & CEO of Eastern Industries.

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

Monday, June 8, 2009

Will return shortly!

Hi everyone,

Your resident blogger is at a conference until Wednesday and will be back on Thursday. We know it will be touch, but you'll just have to find a way to live without us till Thursday. :)

See you then!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Daily Briefing, 6/5/2009

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

The bad economy is forcing everyone to make tough choices - one such example is the Quakertown School District, in which teachers unveiled about $700,000 in salary concessions to keep staffing and program cuts to a minimum. In Lehigh County, overtime hours are down 5%, yet the cost of that overtime remains about the same from last year. In Northampton, County Council agreed on how $2.8 million from the casino will be divided in Northampton County. The authority will have representatives from Bethlehem and the five neighboring municipalities. Ron Angle is apparently considering suing over a lack of representation for the Slate Belt and Nazareth area. The County also approved a $16 million bond for a juvenile center, parking deck repairs and bridge repairs. And, who says your vote doesn't matter? In Northampton County, four races from the May 19 primary ended in ties - this means that ping pong balls will be used to determine a winner.

In national news, unemployment numbers are still rising but the pace of that increase is slowing, with 520,000 jobs lost in May - the lowest number since October and the 2nd straight month that unemployment claims slowed. And the last formal effort by a Governor to not accept stimulus funding was stopped yesterday, as the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the state is required to accept stimulus funding.

We have one Chamber event today, and it's a big one: our annual Celebrating Women conference.

And that's it! Have a great weekend and we'll see you Monday.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Could this loan program help you?

About two weeks ago, the Small Business Administration announced a 100% guaranteed loan program designed to help businesses get through difficult economic times. These loans, up to $35,000, are deferred payment and designed to help get a business' cash flow moving again. It was part of the economic stimulus and recovery packaged passed earlier in the year.

This could be huge for small businesses in need.

Daily Briefing, 6/4/2009

Good morning everyone! Here is what we have today:

Here we go again: Saucon Valley teachers have reauthorized a strike, though they have not yet set a time frame for when they would walk off the job. In Allentown, City Council voted to extend Keystone Opportunity Zone tax breaks to certain properties in downtown. In Lehigh County, the administration and county commissioners have begun to discuss the 2010 budget, with both acknowledging that cuts will have to be made and a tax cut is a possibility.

In state-wide news, Senate Democrats unveiled a business tax cut proposal yesterday. The proposal would reduce the corporate net income tax by 2% and phase out the corporate stock & franchise tax on a business' physical assets.

In national and world news, President Obama is in Cairo, giving a speech to the Muslim world - the speech is being given right as I type this. In America, New Hampshire's Governor signed a law yesterday that legalized gay marriage, making it the 6th state to do so. And, at least one company is adding new jobs this year, about 22,000 of them: Walmart.

We have one Chamber event today: the Phillipsburg Area Chamber of Commerce scholarship luncheon.

And that's it! Have a great day - we'll have another entry for you later today.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

2010 Senate Race

Hi everyone,

We wanted to do a quick round-up of the 2010 Senate Race. This is obviously not an endorsement, but just a summary of the announced/potential candidates.

Here is who we have so far:

Senator Arlen Specter: Senator Specter just joined the Democratic party and will be looking for his fifth term in the Senate.
Congressman Joe Sestak (D-7): Congressman Sestak is at this point a likely challenger to Senator Specter. Sestak was looking to enter the race before Specter switched parties and has thus far ignored overtures from state and national leaders to get out of the race in favor of Specter. A former Navy Admiral, Sestak unseated a Republican incumbent in 2006 to win his seat. Sestak has thus far said that he "intends" to run for the seat but hasn't necessarily made his announcement official.

Former Congressman Pat Toomey: Congressman Toomey represented the 15th Congressional district until 2004, when he came within two points of beating Arlen Specter in the Republican primary. Toomey was beating Specter in polls this year heading into the 2010 Republican primary, and once Specter switched parties, he became the Republican front-runner.
Peg Luksik: Luksik is a conservative activist who has previously run for Governor (1994, 1998) as a Constitutional Party candidate. Luksik was originally thought to be a spoiler, pulling votes from Toomey against Specter. Luksik was actually the first announced Republican to declare her intentions to run for the seat, before Toomey.

This is just what we have so far...we are sure that there is MUCH more to come.

Daily Briefing, 6/3/2009

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

The Bethlehem Sands netted nearly $6 million in its first full week of operations, ranking ahead of Pennsylvania casinos not located in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia. Bethlehem also got more good news in the form of formal letters of commitment for $18.7 million in state redevelopment funding for a variety of projects. In Allentown, City Council is considering extending Keystone Opportunity Zones for a variety of downtown projects in an attempt to continue redevelopment efforts there. In an interesting story, the Express Times notes that local libraries are seeing increased use as the economy continues its recession - and at the same time, libraries are seeing significant funding cuts.

In state-wide news, albiet a different state, New Jersey held its primary yesterday. Governor Jim Corzine (D) will face off against former prosecutor Chris Christine (R). Christie has been leading in most recent polls. Back in PA, a new poll from the Susquehanna Polling and Research Center finds that Senator Specter holds a nine point lead on Pat Toomey - but it also finds that Democrats, by a 63-28 margin, want to see the Senator face a competitive primary.

We have one Chamber event today: the grand opening of a Geico office in Whitehall.

That's i for now! Have a great day.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Members

Welcome to the New Members of the month!

Be Well Chiropractics Health & Wellness
2299 Brodhead Road
(610) 317-9355

Berks Products
5050-A Crackersport Road
(484) 256-0767
Business Type: CONCRETE

Bethlehem Masonic Temple
202 Wyandotte Street
(610) 867-3041

Billys Downtown Diner
10 East Broad Street
(610) 867-0105
Business Type: RESTAURANTS

Blanco Rosa Search Exec.
P.O. Box 531
(610) 966-1060

Boyles Plumbing and Water Conditioning LLC
2740 King's View Avenue
(484) 223-7736

Brubacher Excavating, Inc.
P.O. Box 528, 825 Reading Road
(717) 445-4571

Connective Intervention Services
5985 Paula Court
(610) 909-4051

Cops 'n' Kids Children's Literacy Program
P.O. Box 1906
(610) 861-7561

DME Alliance, Inc.
7540 Windsor Drive, Suite 311
(610) 366-1744

Footlights & Company, Inc.
3712 Easton - Nazareth Highway
(610) 559-6100
Business Type: CLOTHING

FSR Collections
2 Windsor Plaza, 7540 Windsor Drive, Suite 107
(610) 395-0100

Gaetano's Italian Restaurant
235 Moorestown Drive
(610) 837-8322
Business Type: RESTAURANTS

Gilroy Family Chiropractic Center
107 East Main Street, Suite 201
(610) 837-1041

2 West Third Street
(610) 691-3121
Business Type: RESTAURANTS

H & R Block - Schnecksville
5350 Route 873, Suite F
(610) 799-4545
Business Type: TAX SERVICE

Jaindl's Farms
3150 Coffeetown Road
(610) 395-3333

Jake Kaligis Enterprises
2825 Andrea Drive
(610) 432-3952; (610) 295-9349

JENA Engineering Corp.
2358 Sunshine Road
(610) 797-4200

Lee Myles Transmissions and Auto Care
2115 Union Boulevard
(610) 437-3040

Lehigh Valley BrandWorks, LLC
2430 Butler Street, Suite 154
(888) 396-2111

Meixner's Awards & More
21 North Main Street, Suite # 9
(610) 662-5525

Mid-Atlantic Wholesale Properties
3440 Lehigh Street, Suite 240
(610) 360-2416
Business Type: INVESTORS

Nancy Killackey Psy.D
495 Christine Ann Lane
(610) 759-5880

Ovation Lawn & Landscape
2420 South Lumber Street
(610) 442-0600

Phillipsburg Frame & Hardware
405 South Main Street
(908) 454-5431
Business Type: HARDWARE

Pragnesh Desai D.O.
6083 Hamilton Boulevard
(610) 366-2112

State Farm - Christine Moscaritolo Agent
3438 Hamilton Boulevard
(484) 661-4747
Business Type: INSURANCE

Teams, Inc.
100 Stoke Park Road
(610) 392-5966

The Tennis Zone
451 California Road
(215) 536-7600

The Kipp Group LLC
1246 Divot Drive
Shepherd Hills
(610) 398-9733
Business Type: CONSULTANTS

Trifecta Technologies
5012 Medical Center Circle
(610) 530-7200

Walmart Store #2145
2601 MacArthur Road
(610) 266-9645
Business Type: RETAIL SALES

Warner's Central Garage, Inc.
8 Hudsondale Street
(570) 427-8441

Wellspring Restorations
149 Kingsbury Court
(484) 896-8610

Daily Briefing, 6/2/2009

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

There was some big news in local politics, as Senator Rob Wonderling (R-24) announced he would resign his Senate seat on August 1 to become the new President of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Locally, State Representative Bob Freeman (D-136) and Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce Castor are possible candidates to replace Wonderling. The seat includes portion of Lehigh and Northampton counties. Local dealers are reacting to GM's bankruptcy by saying that it won't drastically change their operations. In fact, the biggest concern for GM and related brands seems to be the resale value of the cars. There is some good local news, as the Lehigh Valley unemployment rate held steady at 8.3%, higher than the PA average (7.8%) but lower than the U.S. average (8.9%).

In state-wide news, four potential candidates for Governor (including Lehigh County's Don Cunningham) spoke at a forum yesterday in Harrisburg. All stressed their opposition to a tax hike.

Business Matters aired yesterday - the topic was the possible 1% sales tax increase designed to reduce the property tax burden and increase regional efforts. The show will be online later today, and you can also catch up on the debate over at the Business Matters blog.

We have three Chamber events today - the TRACC annual dinner, a Greater Northern Chamber of Commerce lunch and a Dale Carnegie workshop on creating new business opportunities.

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

Monday, June 1, 2009

Daily Briefing, 6/1/2009

Morning everyone! We hope you had a great weekend. Here is today's Daily Briefing.

Some interesting job news locally. First the good news - the Tree of Life food distribution company will be moving to Upper Macungie in August, a move that will bring up to 140 new jobs to the area. Now for the strange news: the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board is offering job opportunities to disadvantaged youths between 18-24 - but can't find enough people in that age group. The price of gas is on the rise as summer nears and demand increases, now reaching around $2.50 a gallon.

In state-wide news, WFMZ reports on one of the many potential causalities of the current budget negotiations - state parks, numerous of which could close under one version of the Pennsylvania budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

In a move that comes as no surprise, GM will formally file for bankruptcy this morning. The company will restructure and the U.S. government is expected to take a 60% ownership stake in the company.

Business Matters airs tonight, and the topic is a 1% optional sales tax for the Lehigh Valley - could it help to reform the current tax system, or will it just be another burden to businesses? The show airs tonight, 8:00pm on WFMZ, and when you watch makes sure to check out the Business Matters blog and debate the show live with others!

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