Friday, January 30, 2009

Good morning everyone! Here is your Chamber news today.

Bon-Ton announced more bad news, as the chain has stated that they will cut more than 1,100 jobs, stop 401(k) contirubtions and cancel bonuses.

According to a report released by Pennsylvania, over one million kids in Pennsylvania do not have health insurance. This equals roughly 1 in 12 kids - in total, it equals 1 in 8 residents.

In national news, President Obama attacked Wall Street bonuses, calling them the "height of irresponsibility." The comments resulted from a report that showed Wall Street executives recieved $18.4 billion in bonuses in 2008. Meanwhile, the coffee giant Starbucks announced yesterday that they will close 300 stores and layoff 6,000 workers. No word yet on how this will affect the Lehigh Valley.

In Illinois, one of the more bizzare saga's in the state's history has come to an end, as Rod Blagoevich was removed from office by a 59-0 vote. The vote came after Blagoevich appeared in front of the State Senate to make his case. Pat Quinn is the new governor of Illinois.

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

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What's in the economic stimulus?

Hi everyone,

As you are likely aware, the House of Representatives passed President Obama's Economic Stimulus package last night. Our intern spent the morning breaking down what is actually in the proposed package. It's pretty interesting. See below for more:

o Poor and Unemployed
 $43 billion to the poor and unemployed to provide extended unemployment benefits until December 31, 2009
• Increased benefits by $25/week
• Job training
 $20 billion for increased food stamp benefits, up 13%
 $4 billion for one-time additional supplemental security income payment
 $2.5 billion to temporary welfare payments
 $1 billion for home heating subsidies
o Healthcare
 $40 billion to subsidize healthcare insurance to the poor and unemployed or provide healthcare through Medicaid
 $87 billion to help states with Medicaid
 $20 billion to help update health information technology systems
 $4 billion to preventative care
 $1.5 billion to community health centers
 $420 million to fight the avian bird flue
 $335 million to fight AIDS, STI’s and tuberculosis (avion bird flu gets more than these three???)
o Infrastructure
 $43 billion for transportation projects
• $30 billion for bridge and highway construction
• $12 billion for mass transit
o $7.5 billion for transit equipment (ex: buses)
 $31 billion to build and repair federal buildings
 $19 billion in water projects
 $10 billion in rail and mass transit projects
o Education
 $41 billion in grants for local school districts
 $79 billion in state fiscal reliefs to cut state aid
 $21 billion for school modernization
 $16 billion to boost the maximum Pell Grant from $500 to $5,350
• Grant given to low-income undergraduate students for secondary education
 $2 billion to Head Start
• Provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low income children and their families
o Energy
 $32 billion to fund a “smart electricity grid” to reduce waste
 $6 billion to weatherize modest-income homes
o Science and Technology
 $10 billion for science facilities
 $6 billion to bring high speed internet to underserviced areas
 $1 billion for the 2010 Census
o Housing
 $13 billion to repair and make more energy efficient public housing projects, allow communities to buy foreclosed homes, help the homeless
o Environment
 $3.2 billion to clean up superfund and waste sites, leaking underground storage tanks, nuclear sites and military bases
 $400 million for habitat restoration projects
 $850 million to prevent forest fires
o Law Enforcement
 $4 billion to hire officers and purchase equipment
• Taxes
o Individuals
 $145 billion to give a 2 year tax cut ($500/worker, $1000/married couple)
• Workers expected to see $20 a week less withheld from their paychecks starting in June
 $18.3 billion to give greater access to the $1,000 per-child child tax credit for the working poor in 2009 and 2010.
• Must receive $8,500 to receive the credit
 $4.7 billion to increase the earned income tax credit, which provides money to the working poor, for families with at least 3 children
 $10.3 billion to provide a $2,500 tax credit for college tuition and related expenses
• This only applies to families making less than $160,000/year
 $2.6 billion to repeal the payback of the tax credit of $7,500 for a first time home buyer who buy from January 1st to July 1st (unless the home is sold within the first 3 years)
• This only applies to families making more than $150,000/year
o Businesses
 $5 billion to extend a provision allowing businesses buying equipment such as computers to speed up the depreciation of that equipment through 2009
 $15 billion to infuse cash into money-losing companies by allowing them to claim tax credits from the past 5 years instead of 2
 Repeal a treasury provision that allowed firms to buy money losing banks to use more of the losses as tax credit to offset the profits from the merged banks. This will increase the taxes on merged banks by $7 billion over 10 years
 $35.5 billion to subsidize locally issued bonds for school construction, teacher training, economic development and infrastructure improvements
 $13 billion to extend tax credit for renewable energy projects
 $4.3 billion to increase tax credits to homeowners who wish to make their homes more energy efficient
• tax credits of up to $1,500 for upgrading furnaces and hot water heaters and making other improvements through 2010

Daily Briefing, 1/29/2008

Good Morning everyone! Here is today's Chamber briefing.

The long-term fate of the Lehigh County zoo has not yet been decided, as the procedural need to have a piece of legislation be read on multiple occasions kept Commissioners from voting on a plan yesterday. County officials say that closing the zoo will ultimately only save $11,000 to keeping it open; accordingly, they argue that the zoo is worth the benefits. However, the County did pass a motion to give the zoo $100,000 to operate at least through March. In Easton, City Council defeated a motion to remove benefits for council members by a vote of 5-2. The benefits cost the city an estimated $30,000 a year. And, proving that regionalization and a consolidation of services can be used by private companies as well, the Morning Call and Express Times have announced a joint distribution agreement that will enable both to save money. We also have some good economic news out of Bethlehem, as the Melting Pot restaurant chain is slated to come to Broad Street in June.

With a budget hole of about $2.3 billion, Governor Rendell announecd that he expects to lay off between 1,000 - 2,000 workers. In National news, President Obama's stimulus plan passed the House of Representatives by a wide margin yesterday, 244-188. However, all 177 House Republicans voted against the measure, which now moves onto the Senate. Meanwhile, the economic downturn is now hitting the post office, which is discussing shifting to mail delivery five days a week as a result of declining volume and revenue. Oil giant Shell took a hit as well, with profits down 28%.

And, we have two Chamber events today: a mixer at the Allentown Symphony Hall and a Board and Officer installation ceremony in Phillipsburg.

And that's it! Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Daily Briefing, 1/27/2008

Hi everyone,

Good morning! Here is your daily briefing for today.

Good news is ahead for the Lehigh Valley job market scene, as the Sands casino will open its employment office next week. Thousands of applicants are expected. Meanwhile, it appears that Lehigh County will give the Lehigh County Zoo $100,000 to keep it open for the next few weeks, giving the County an opportunity to study its finances and determine the next best course of action.

In national news, as expected, President Obama signed an executive order allowing states to set their own emissions standards for cars, even if they are higher than the federal standards. Fourteen states are affected, including Pennsylvania. Banks may need more money to be properly fixed, according to some economists, and that number may rise as high as $3-4 billion. Retail sales are expected to decline this year by .5%. And, yesterday was an awful day for the job market: cuts at a variety of companies were announced, including Home Depot, Caterpillar, Pfizer and Spring. The result is over 71,400 jobs lost.

And, finally, we have two Chamber events today, and one of them is one of our biggest events of the year: our Economic Strategy Luncheon. The other event is a training on branding conducted by Vision Accomplished and Ross Born of Just Born candy.

That's it for now! Have a great day!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Non-profits in danger

Hi everyone,

I found this story available on the Wall Street Journal. It discusses the challenges facing non-profits in this difficult economic climate. The summary: the recession is limiting the ability of the wealthy, corporations and foundations to donate to non-profits, and over 100,000 could shutter as a result. The story deals primarily with one charity and their struggles, but the message here is clear - non-profits are also ins serious danger, and the Madoff scandal created an extra burden for them.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Daily Briefing, 1/26/2008

Hi everyone, hope you had a great weekend! Here is what we have for you this morning.

A couple of local stories today. Area farmers are struggling, now more than ever, as costs rise and profits decline. This puts pressure on local farmers to sell their farms to local developers. In Northampton County, the candidates for County Executive remain unclear, particularly since Executive John Stoffa has yet to declare if he is a candidate for reelection.

In national news, President Obama appears set to reverse a Bush executive order and allow states to set their own car emmission standards, even if they are higher than federal ones. This clears the way for fourteen states, including Pennsylvania, and will likely encourage more states to do the same. In Illinois, the impeachment trial of Governor Rod Blagojevich opens today. Blagojevich has claimed that the trial is fixed. A survey of economists finds much pessimism about the future, as only 22% believe that the recession will get better in 2009. This Friday, the Commerce Department will release its findings on the GDP for the 4th quarter of 2009.

That's it for this Monday! Have a great day, and we'll see you tomorrow at our big Economic Strategy Lunch!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Daily Briefing, 1/23/2008

Happy Friday! Here is your Chamber world today.

The Lehigh Valley Zoo is in danger of closing without aid from Lehigh County, according to County Executive Cunningham and the zoo. Cunningham says that closing the zoo will only cost $11,000 less than keeping it open; Lehigh County Commissioners say they want more information before moving forward.
The Pennsylvania-backed deal to save retailer Boscov's is now in trouble, with two counties refusing to extend Boscov's a loan as required by the deal.

In national news, President Obama has signed an executive order require that Guantanamo Bay, the controversial military prison, be closed within a year.
On Wednesday, the President also retook the oath of office after he and Chief Justice John Roberts botched it the first time. President Obama also has apparently secured a "spy-proof" blackberry in order to stay wired. I feel his pain. Meanwhile, New York Governor David Paterson is expected to name the replacement for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Senate seat at noon today. Right now, the favorite appears to be New York Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand to the seat. Meanwhile, Fortune has released a list of top 100 companies to work for.

We have one Chamber event today: a luncheon on the New Jersey paid family leave act.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Small business issues

Hi everyone,

There is an interesting post over at the other blog operated by the Chamber, Lehigh Valley Main Streets. It discusses the top ten issues facing small businesses, according to a survey done by the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Check it out!

Daily Briefing, 1/22/2008

Morning everyone! Here is what's in store for today.

In Allentown, City Council unanimously adopted the Deferred Retirement Option Program, raising Allentown's pension commitments by a fixed amount (about $74,000) for the next twenty years, thus enabling the city to retain their most experienced officers. City Council also approved an agreement with the Lehigh County Authority to sell water to the LCA. Pennsylvania Blue Cross and Highmark have canceled their merger plans, citing state regulations as being too stringent if the merger were to go through. And in Northampton County, the stand-off between the elections commission and County Executive Stoffa has come to an end, as both agreed upon the appointment of Acting Register Dee Rumsey to be the permanent head of the Elections department.

In national news, President Barack Obama retook the oath of office after he and Supreme Court Justice John Roberts flubbed the first version. Hillary Clinton was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the new Secretary of State. The vote for the confirmation was 94-2, with Senator John McCain lobbying for Senator Clinton with Republicans. And, speaking of the former Senator, the drama concerning the appointment to her now vacant seat took a new turn yesterday, as Carolyn Kennedy Schlossberg has publically withdrawn her name from contention to fill the seat, citing personal reasons. Her Uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy, had a seizure at the inaugural lunch on Tuesday.

We have two Chamber events today: a Puttle tournament and networking event (this sounds really cool) and TRACC/PACC breakfast with the Small Business Development Center.

That's it! Have a great day.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Growth of the Internet

Hi everyone,

I just came from a joint meeting of the Chamber's Public Policy, East Penn and Western Lehigh boards. The presentation was given by Kelly Lewis (Technology Council of Central Pennsylvania) and David Kerr (AT&T). The topic was the increase in data usage of the internet and the coming exaflood caused by an increase in internet usage and data consumption that cannot be supported by existing technological structures. One random but interesting statistics: 7% of internet data consumption is related to YouTube.

One of the interesting items, as far as I am concerned is the massive growth of internet usage over the past fifteen years. Check out this website for more. The summary: 16 million people (or .4% of the world) was on the internet in 1995. As of December 2008, that number was 1.56 billion, or 23.3% of the world.

This is only going to grow more.

Daily Briefing, 1/21/2008

Good morning everyone! Here is your Chamber news.

Of course, President Barack Obama was sworn in yesterday as the 44th President of the United States. Now the real work begins. Pennsylvania's row officers also took the oath of office yesterday. This includes Auditor General Jack Wagner, Attorney General Tom Corbett and the new state Treasurer, Rob McCord.

SUV sales are on the rise again, spurred by lower gas prices and dealer incentives - in fact, the percentage of SUV sales as total car sales was 49.8% in December, the highest since February 2008. In local government news, the Northampton County Election Commission and Northampton County Executive John Stoffa are in conflict over who gets to hire the new chief registrar. And in the Bethlehem area school district, some staff has apparently returned their raises in order to help the district balance its budget.

And, we have three Chamber events today: LeBEAM is having a lunch on nutrition, Western Lehigh and East Penn are having an orientation meeting of the GLV Team 100 and then the same groups are having a joint public policy meeting to discuss changes in technology.

And that's it! Have a great day.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Daily Briefing, 1/20/2008

Good morning everyone! I hope you had a good weekend. Here is the news today.

Of course, today is the day where Barack Obama officially becomes President. The Inauguration will actually take place at 11:30 AM and his inaugural address will follow at 12:00pm. The multiple parades and balls will follow shortly after. President-Elect Obama is expected to attend and speak briefly at ten inaugural balls. Click here to see a more detailed schedule of the plans for the day. CNN also takes a look at the potential first 100 days for Obama.

Sands Bethlehem is formally asking the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for permission to delay the construction of their planned hotel and mall, citing "economic conditions." Meanwhile, the Lehigh Valley Zoo is planning on taking a variety of measures, including enhanced marketing and a new name, to continue to operate. However, large Lehigh County subsidies will be needed to keep the zoo open.

Business Matters aired yesterday, and the topic was Free Trade in America. The show will be available online later today.

And, last, we have two Chamber events today: a joint lunch with the Small Business Council and Women In Business and luncheon with the Northampton Area Chamber of Commerce.

And that's it for today! Have a good one.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Daily Briefing, 1/16/2008

Good morning everyone - and a cold morning at that! Here is your Friday news.

As school districts work to raise more money without raising taxes, the Allentown School District is moving towards creating an Education Improvement Organization that would allow for donors to donate to ASD. Other school districts in the area, such as Saucon Valley, have moved in this direction. Northampton County Council, after ten failed votes, voted to place Bangor Mayor Joe Capozollo (D) to fill the vacancy caused by Wayne Grube's death and his wife Patti's resignation.

In Pennsylvania, the estimated $1.6 billion budget shortfall has now increased to $1.9 billion. The Governor said details on how the state will make up the shortfall will be announced in the future.

President Bush gave his last national address last night. In a 15 minute speech, the outgoing President defended his legacy and admitted that he would have done some things different. Meanwhile, the Senate approved releasing the second half of the $350 billion TARP bailout funds to be used by the incoming Obama administration. In the House, Democrats have offered a $825 billion stimulus bill. The bill reportedly offers $550 in spending and state aid, as well as $275 billion in tax cuts.

We have one Chamber event today: the Small Business Council is holding a breakfast that features a speaker on ethics in the workplace.

That's it, and we hope you have a great weekend - and please keep warm!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chambers Increase Your Business

Hi everyone,

I came across an interesting study that REALLY drives the point home about the importance of Chamber's of Commerce. That report is available here.

The study conducted had regular people judge a business. One group was given a profile of the business that said they were members of their local Chamber, while the other group had no mention made about their Chamber. The group that judged profiles that were members of the Chamber were 44% more likely to rate it favorably and 63% more likely to want to purchase goods or services from that business. This is pretty interesting and really shows one of the many reasons why joining a Chamber is important - it can increase a business' image and sales. What is more important than that?

Daily Briefing, 1/15/2008

Good morning everyone! We are up and running once again. Here is your Chamber world.

In Allentown, Mayor Ed Pawlowski officially kicked off his reelection campaign last night. Pawlowski, a Democrat, is thus far the only candidate seeking the Democratic nomination. The only announced opposition candidate thus far is Allentown City Councilman Tony Phillips (R). In Bethlehem, The Chamber has begun to distribute surveys to determine if the public interest and support is there to created a Business Improvement District in Center City and the South Side of Bethlehem. Also in Bethlehem, the Sands Casino is apparently on track to open one month earlier than previously expected. The early profits could be used to restart construction on the shopping mall, events center and mall. In Easton, Mayor Sal Panto has appointed W. Glenn Steckman as the new City Administrator. Steckman was unanimously approved by City Council last night. And in the Poconos, the other driver involved in the car accident that killed State Senator James Rhoades has been charged with homicide by vehicle while under the influence. The driver, Thomas Senavitis, apparently had a blood-alcohol level that was four times the legal limit. The election to fill Rhoades' seat will be held March 3.

In national news, new reports indicate that foreclosures jumped 81% in 2008. That equated to roughly 3.1 million filings. But, there is some good news, as financial giant JPMorgan Chase reported a profit this quarter despite the difficult economic times.

That's it for today! Have a good one, and stay warm!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

We'll be back!

Hi everyone,

Even bloggers need the day off, so we'll be skipping the daily round-up for today. You can expect us back bright and early tomorrow, and we'll see you then!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Daily Briefing, 1/13/2008

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

Real estate prices have declined in the Lehigh Valley for the second straight year, and further drops are expected. The cutbacks are also affecting the post office, where altered and eliminated mail routes have been unrolled.

In economic news, outgoing Treasury Secretary Bernanke has said that he believes that banks will need additional help from the Government and has endorsed more economic stimulus efforts. Oil dropped to near $36 a barrel, its lowest level in three weeks, as demand continues to fall. President-Elect Obama has requested that the 2nd half of the $350 billion TARP funds be ready for distribution. President Bush, who has seven days left in office, made the request.

In national news, the AP is reporting that Senate Democrats expect to seat Roland Burris a United States Senator from Illinois. The decision comes after Burris was appointed by controversial Governor Rod Blagoevich, who was impeached last week. Meanwhile, President Bush held the final press conference of his presidency and discussed his legacy and mistakes he thought he made, among other things.

Business Matters yesterday aired a show on Abstinence Only Education in our public schools. The show will be available online later today.

And last, we have one Chamber event today: a Greater Northern luncheon.

And that's it! Have a great day.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Daily Briefing, 1/12/2008

Morning everyone, and a happy Monday to you! Here is your Chamber world today.

In regional news, the Lehigh-Northampton joint health board held its first meeting and sifted through a variety of initial issues. In Lehigh County, Democratic gains in voter registration have given them a shot at taking over the Board of Commissioners (currently Republican controlled 5-4) for the first time in the board's history. In Allentown, the city is looking to pay an addition $74,000 in pension benefits to keep their senior command staff.

In economic news, it would seem that there is at least one sector of the economy that continues to rise: lottery sales. The good news is that proceeds from the lottery go towards programs that benefit the elderly. Gas has dropped below $40 a barrel.

Business Matters tonight airs a show on a very controversial topic: Abstinence only education. This show is a very important topic

And, of course: GO EAGLES!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Welcome, December members!

We just wanted to take a minute to welcome our new members from the month of December. Welcome to the Chamber!

Alchemical Research, LLC
79 W. Market Street
Suite O
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 419-4813

Beverly Palms Jeweler
3750 William Penn Highway
Easton, PA 18045
(610) 258-7256
Business Type: JEWELERS

Blue Sky Cafe
22 W. 4th Street
Bethlehem , PA 18015
(610) 867-9390
Business Type: RESTAURANTS

Borenson & Associates
P.O. Box 3328
Allentown, PA 18106
(610) 398-6908

Criterium - Di Sessa Engineers
3 Ridgley Street
Hackettstown, NJ 07840
(908) 979-4966

David A. Gordon MD PC
1493 Wethersfield Drive
Allentown, PA 18104
(610) 390-0260

David Herman, Consulting
8140 Lark Street
Fogelsville, PA 18051
(610) 395-7832
Business Type: CONSULTANTS

East Penn House Calls PC
4315 Shimerville Road
Emmaus, PA 18049
(484) 788-9931

Fluortek, Inc.
12 McFadden Road
Easton, PA 18045
(610) 559-9000

GEICO Insurance
2701 MacArthur Road
Whitehall, PA 18052
(610) 437-7119
Business Type: INSURANCE

Girlfriends Boutique
559 Main Street (Main Street Commons, GL)
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 453-4768

Graphic Action - Pro Sign
296 South Main Street
Phillipsburg, NJ 08865
(908) 213-0055
Business Type: SIGNS

Hamilton Postal Center
915 Hamilton Street
Allentown, PA 18101
(610) 351-9252

Imagevolution Marketing Solutions
265 East Market Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 867-4460

Indicon, Inc.
682 North Brookside Road
Allentown, PA 18106
(610) 398-9139

Intents Manufacturing LLC
331 West Cedar Street
Allentown, PA 18102
(215) 527-6441

Keynetx, Inc.
1144 Bridlepath Drive
Quakertown, PA 18951
(570) 718-5638

LaRose Boutique
85 East Broad Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 882-4400
Business Type: RETAIL SALES

Looper's Grille & Bar Inc.
313 East Third Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015
(610) 882-2424
Business Type: RESTAURANTS

Market Street Management LLC
12 East Market Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(484) 821-0082
Business Type: CONSULTANTS

Masterweld Products
3962 Portland Street, Unit A
Coplay, PA 18037
(610) 261-1000

McDermott Communications
1117 Webster Avenue
Allentown, PA 18103
(484) 860-2289

Micro-Clean, Inc.
177 North Commerce Way
Bethlehem, PA 18017
(610) 867-5302

Money Management Intl./Consumer Credit Counseling Services
3671 Crescent Court East
Whitehall, PA 18052
(866) 515-2227
Business Type: CREDIT REPAIR

Moyer Aviation
3800 Sullivan Trail
Easton, PA 18040
(610) 258-0473

Office Basics Inc.
5100 Tilghman Street
Suite 301
Allentown, PA 18104
(610) 366-0916

The Oil Man, Inc.
518 Main Street
Hellertown, PA 18055
(610) 838-6501

On The Go Retail, LLC
P.O. Box 339
Fogelsville, PA 18051
(610) 703-6761

Pasta alla Rosa
602 West Hamilton Street
Allentown, PA 18101
(610) 774-9500
Business Type: RESTAURANTS

The Paul Green School of Rock Music
15-19 South Bank Street
Easton, PA 18042
(484) 894-2113

Primaxx, Inc.
7377 William Avenue
Allentown, PA 18106
(610) 336-0314

Pulmonary Associates
1210 S. Cedar Crest Blvd.
Suite 2300
Allentown, PA 18103
(610) 439-8856

Red Robin - Center Valley
2845 Center Valley Parkway
Center Valley, PA 18034
(610) 625-3176
Business Type: RESTAURANTS

4711 Salvation Army-Thrift Store
1204 MacArthur Road
Whitehall, PA 18052
(610) 434-9560
Business Type: THRIFT STORES

Semmel Kitchen & Bath
1659 Newport Avenue
Northampton, PA 18067
(610) 261-4465

Slate Home Inspection
406 Cherryville Road
Nazareth, PA 18064
(610) 392-3741

Something Different Home D├ęcor & Gifts
321 Town Center Blvd.
Easton, PA 18040
(610) 515-8006
Business Type: RETAIL SALES

Steven J. Zanders, DO
2551 Forest Drive
Coopersburg, PA 18036
(610) 762-3069

Team Capital Bank-Phillipsburg, Roseberry
190 Roseberry Street
Phillipsburg, NJ 08865
(908) 235-4700

Team Capital Bank-Tilghman Street
4285 West Tilghman Street
Allentown, PA 18104
(610) 391-0350

Third Street Alliance for Women & Children
41 North Third Street
Easton, PA 18042
(610) 258-6271

Tile, Stone & BEYOND Ltd.
1855 Weaversville Road
P.O. Box 90123
Allentown, PA 18109
(610) 264-8453
Business Type:

TMG Consulting Engineers
6616D Ruppsville Road
Allentown, PA 18106
(610) 366-7806

Twin Rivers Spinal Care and Rehabilitation
481 Memorial Parkway, Suite 2
Phillipsburg, NJ 08865
(908) 454-5277

Daily Briefing, 1/9/2009

Good morning everyone, and happy Friday to you all. Here is your Chamber news of the day.

In Easton, Mayor Sal Panto declared 2009 to be "the year of the neighborhoods," that will be devoted to improving Easton's neighborhoods. He announced a series of initiatives at a press conference yesterday. Easton can also expect the installation to surveillance cameras in the future. Additionally, Mayor Sal Panto is recommending the hire of a new city administrator. The position was created with the ratification of the new Easton city charter in 2007. That individual will be announced at the next city council meeting. The Public Utilities Commission held a meeting yesterday to discuss PPL's default service plan. Outside of the hearing, others protested PPL's upcoming rate hike in 2010.

In national news, President-Elect Obama gave a speech yesterday, calling for massive government assistance in an effort to ease the current economic crisis. In the speech, Obama said that "only government" is capable of ending the current recession. Wall Street is also expected to receive a jobs report that will note the loss of 500,000 jobs in December and an increase in the unemployment rate from 6.7% to 7%. This number, though high, is lower than the 533,000 jobs lost in November.

That's all for today! Have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Member Benefits

Hi everyone,

One of the questions we often get at the Chamber is a simple one: "Why? Why is joining the Chamber worth the money?"

It's obviously a very fair question. Especially in these economic times, our members (and prospective members) have to be as cautious as possible with their money. To do otherwise will lead to the end of their business.

That being said, joining the Chamber will ultimately result in our members saving money and gaining customers. We offer about a dozen exclusive member benefits that our members can capitalize on in order to save money and save time. Below are just a few, and there are more to come:

Health Insurance:
Capital BlueCross
This program allows members to capitalize on the buying power of about 5000 company members. The Chamber is the only one in the state with a direct plan with Capital BlueCross. Many participants realize health insurance savings that more than pays for their annual Chamber membership. For more information about the four different health plans, contact Karen Kelly at Caruso Benefits Group, 610-865-0261. The Chamber also offers dental and vision plans.

Business Insurance: Penn National InsuranceThis program offers business insurance to qualified, participating member businesses at competitive prices with specialized coverage, claims and loss control services, plus the potential to earn dividends based on group loss experience. For more information, contact Program Administrators: Hampson Mowrer Kreitz Agency 610-868-8507; Miers Insurance 610-797-7900; Sterner Insurance Associates, Inc. 800-599-2526 or contact the Chamber at 610-841-5836 for a listing of other participating agencies.

Daily Briefing, 1/8/2008

Good morning everyone! Here is the latest in the Chamber world.

A couple of pieces of Allentown news: the City is attempting to proceed with the sale of the former Americus hotel on Hamilton Street. The building's status has been in flux for some time. Meanwhile, after some intrigue, Michael D'Amore and Michael Donovan were elected President and Vice President of Allentown City Council. Congrats to both of them. Meanwhile, as half of Northampton County's Council is considering running for Northampton County Executive, complicating their work. Also in Northampton, Bethlehem's five neighbors (Lower Saucon, Hellertown, Bethlehem Township, Freemansburg and Hanover Township) are still trying to work out a deal to split up an expected $1 million in revenue. There's good news on the local housing market front, as real estate activity jumped 25% in the month of November.

Some news on the political front: Chris Matthews apparently told his staff that he is NOT running for Senate. More on this to come, I'm sure. Meanwhile, a $1.2 trillion deficit is projected for this year for the federal government, and that does not include President-Elect Obama's proposed stimulus package. The President-Elect will also speak later today at George Mason University to discuss the economic condition of the United States and rally support for his stimulus package.

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

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Daily Briefing, 1/7/2009

Good morning everyone! Hope you are all driving carefully today. Here is your morning news.

Locally, Allentown will reorganize its City Council today and expects a in its election for President and Vice President. Lehigh County also reorganized, with Percy Dougherty and Dean Browning (both Republicans) elected as Chair and Vice Chair, respectively. Meanwhile, the United Way has been forced to slash its progarmtic funding by about 10% to all but the most critical programs.

In Pennsylvania news, Representative Keith McCall (D) of Carbon County was sworn in as Speaker of the Pennsylvania House yesterday, along with the rest of the House and Senate that was elecetd in November. Pennsylvania has now 12 Democrats and 7 Republicans - the lowest amount of Republicans since the Great Depression.

Nationally, the federal reserve is now predicting that the economy will decline worse than in earlier forecasts, saying that the GDP will fall in 2009 while unemployeement will rise.

The United States Senate and House of Representatives was also sworn in yesterday. Two were not seated - Roland Burris, who was appointed by embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) to replace President-Elect Obama, and Al Franken (D-MN), whose is still mired in legal challenges after his apparent 225 vote victory over Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN).

And that's it! Drive safe everyone.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Welcome, Colleen!

The Chamber is pleased to welcome Colleen Daniels as the latest member of our staff. Colleen started her position as Special Events Coordinator and part of the Member Relations Team today, Monday, January 5, 2009.

This position is directly accountable to the Vice President of Marketing & Member Relations, and is responsible for leading the planning, promotion and execution of major events that the Chamber hosts. This position also provides support to the Chamber’s Mission and Regional Councils to help with the planning, promotion and execution of those council’s major events. This position assists with the scheduling and planning of workshops, seminars, and professional training initiatives.
Colleen is an expert meeting planner and administrator with a broad range of knowledge in customer service and sales as well.

Daily Briefing, 1/6/2008

Good morning everyone! Hope you are all settling back into your work routines. Here is your Chamber news.

Local municipalities have begun reorganizing with the beginning of the new year, though they are having some trouble in Northampton county, since they only have eight members. Without a 9th member, Council remains deadlocked on many issues, although they have selected a President (Ann McHale, who has served as President) and Mike Dowd as Vice President. Mike is also the Vice President of Phillipsburg Initiatives for The Chamber, so congrats to Mike! And, just when you thought that campaigning was over, get ready, because here it goes again: in the first of these stories that I have seen so far, two Palmer lawyers have declared their candidacy for District Judge. And, across the river in New Jersey, Governor Corzine has announced his plan to fill a $812 million in spending cuts to fill a $2.1 billion budget gap. These cuts include cuts in cancer research, aid to townships, schools, staffing needs and wage freezes.

And, in a sign of the times, the Small Business Administration is reporting a 57% drop in loans for small businesses as opposed to this time period last quarter. Meanwhile consumer bankruptcies have jumped nearly 1/3 in the year 2008.

Yesterday's Business Matters featured a show on tort reform and its affect on the business community. The show will be available online later this morning.

Have a great day!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Daily Briefing, 1/5/2008

And we're back, and a Happy New Year to you all! Here is the Chamber world, now that we are all returning from vacation.

In local news, the affects of the economy are being felt by the Lehigh Valley Zoo, asking Lehigh County for $400,000 to keep the zoo afloat after a failed effort to make the zoo self-sustainable. Lehigh County believes that the zoo had over-estimated its attendance numbers. The Morning Call runs a story on local tax increases: Palmer, Forks, East Allen Townships will see property tax increases (with East Allen's being as high as 62%), while Williams Township will not see a tax increase. In Easton, a problem with the Easton Suburban Water Authority has resulted in residents being urged to boil their water after a filter malfunction. All schools in the Easton Area School District are closed for the day. The Express-Times runs an interesting story on how local service-groups are being forced to close due to a lack of volunteers, mirroring a national trend. If you use the Pennsylvania Turnpike, keep in mind that toll hikes take effect today, with tolls rising by 25%. WFMZ also runs a story on the increasing popularity of remortgaging, given the decline in interest rates.

In national news, Governor Bill Richardson has withdrawn his name from consideration to serve as Secretary of Commerce. This is a result of an ongoing "pay-to-play" election stemming from a state contract in Richardson's home state of New Mexico. Apparently, the Obama team believes that Richardson was less-than-forthcoming about the investigation. In Minnesota, a panel appears ready to declare that Al Franken (D) has defeated incumbent Senator Norm Coleman (R) by 215 votes after a protracted legal battle. Litigation is expected to continue, and it is unclear as to whether or not Franken will be sworn-in and seated tomorrow. President-Elect Obama is expected to meet with Captiol Hill leaders today to discuss his agenda and recovery plan. Obama is set to push for middle class tax cuts, infrastructure development and renewable energy.

Business Matters will air today (Monday, January 5) at 7:30pm. The topic is tort reform.

And, of course, we conclude with this: FLY EAGLES FLY!