Thursday, April 30, 2009

Daily Briefing, 4/30/2009

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

The fallout from Senator Specter's switch to the Democratic Party continues. The newest Democrat in the Senate held a press conference yesterday with President Obama and Vice President Biden, reaffirming his support for his new party but saying that he will not be anyone's rubber stamp. The Morning Call runs a story on former Lehigh Valley Congressman Toomey, who now appears to be the favorite for the Republican nomination for Senate. So far, it appears to be Specter vs. Toomey in the 2010 election in what is sure to be one of the most energetic races in the country. In other local news, Sands Bethlehem will hold a test-run of its slots on May 18 and May 20. The money collected that day will benefit numerous local charities. The Sands will open May 22.

Yesterday, The Chamber held a training seminar on how businesses can take advantage of Social Networking to make money and gain exposure. Specifically, the seminar showed the basics of Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and Blogging. The event was sold out and over 100 people attended. WFMZ ran a story on the event as well. We will be holding another one in the near future.

In swine flu news, it appears that Pennsylvania has seen its first case, located in Hunterdon County. Nothing has come close to the Valley yet. Worldwide, more cases are being reported in new locations and the World Health Organization has increased the threat level for the disease.

In national news, President Obama held the third prime-time press conference of his Presidency, marking his 100th day as President. Chrysler appears ready to declare bankruptcy, possibly within the next few weeks. Good news for stocks though, as they are at four month highs.

We have two Chamber events today: a ribbon cutting at the newly renovated Holiday Inn in downtown Allentown and a member orientation for new members, showing how you can best use your member benefits.

That's it today! Hmm, busy news day. Have a good one!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Daily Briefing, 4/28/2009

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

The Mayor's of Allentown, Pittsburgh and Reading met with legislators and their aides yesterday to discuss a plan to consolidate the state's 3,100 pension plans. Local governments are facing massive pension obligations after the economy declined over the past year. But there is some good news in terms of local money, as an extra $5 million may be available for Valley-wide road projects. However, unemployment in the Valley rose to 8.3%, rising for the 6th straight month - however, this is the smallest increase in five months. There was also some mixed news for the Morning Call: print readership is down, but online readership was significantly up, resulting in an overall rise of 9.2%. The Bethlehem Area School Board has accepted the resignation of superintendent Dr. Joseph Lewis.

The World Health Organization has raised the threat level in regards to swine flu, with over 150 deaths from the flu now reported. The Valley is preparing for swine flu, just in case it comes to Pennsylvania, something that emergency response officials say they expect to occur. Cases have been reported in Ohio and possibly New York as well. GM will cut 21,000 jobs and end their Pontiac line. The U.S. House and Senate have agreed on a budget resolution for the 2010 budget - this means that both will vote on the budget once more, possibly as soon as Tuesday, before it proceeds to a full vote. And, just in case you were wondering, about $75 billion of the stimulus funding has been spent, mostly on Medicaid costs.

Business Matters aired yesterday, and this show featured an interview with all four Lehigh Valley Senators. The show should be available online later today, and you can check out the Business Matters blog to join in the debate.

And that's it! Have a great day and we'll talk to you soon.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Small Businesses & Energy Efficency

Pennsylvania is now offering (free) workshops for small- to medium-sized businesses that will show these businesses how to become more energy efficent (and save money in the process!). This should be a great tool for local small businesses. For more information, check out their website.

Daily Briefing, 4/27/2009

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

A fire in Bethlehem yesterday destroyed four homes after a propane tank from a grill exploded.

The swine flew epidemic has now reached the U.S., Mexico, Spain and Canada and governments around the world are trying to limit its reach. Meanwhile, a new report by the World Bank has noted that poor countries are in more danger than more developed countries and could face major humanitarian and economic difficulties. That being said, Larry Summers (economic adviser to President Obama) says that the "unremitting freefall" of the economy has ended. Also, Chrysler and the UAW have negotiated modifications to their collective bargaining agreement, without with Chrysler would have had to declare bankruptcy.

Business Matters airs today, and the topic is a good one - an interview with all four Lehigh Valley Senators. Check out the Business Matters blog for more information.

And, of congrats, congrats to Phillipsburg, who beat Easton 27-12 in the 1993 replay game that was held yesterday. This was a great event for both cities - really everyone won.

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

Friday, April 24, 2009

Daily Briefing, 4/24/2009

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

In state-wide news, the Morning Call runs a story on the political implications of the stimulus, noting that at least two gubernatorial candidates are getting involved and calling for more oversight of the funding.

In national news, President Obama's approval rating remains at 63% according to a survey released by the Pew Research Center. Obama's 100th day in office will be this Wednesday, and the President will acknowledge this milestone with the third prime-time press conference of his Presidency. The Treasury Department is apparently telling Chrysler to prepare for bankruptcy, possibly as soon as next week. Terms of the Chapter 11 declaration are still being worked out.

We have one Chamber event today: a mixer in College Hill for the Easton-Phillipsburg replay game.

Well, that's all for now. Have a great weekend and we'll catch you on Monday!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Daily Briefing, 4/23/2009

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

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives rejected a bill that would have banned using cell phones will driving. The bill failed 95-100. Incidentally, Bethlehem is considering passing that very same measure. Some good news for Bethlehem, as federal stimulus money will allow the cash-strapped school district to maintain many of its programs and reduce the size of its tax increase. In business news, TH Properties, a major home builder in the Valley, has suddenly ceased operations, prompting complaints from many customers and an investigation from the state. In state news, Governor Rendell's proposed budget is cutting tourism allocation by 40%, prompting tourism officials to visit the Capitol and lobby against the cuts.

In national news, Democrats in the House and the Senate are considering using a procedural slight-of-hand to fast-track health care legislation that may not pass otherwise. In economic news, President Obama is set to meet with credit card company executives. He is expected to lobby for consumer protections on credit cards.

We have a busy day at The Chamber today, with three events: a Phillipsburg, Easton and Small Business Council joint breakfast, a luncheon with all four Lehigh Valley Senators and a Grand Opening at the Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VII.

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Daily Briefing, 4/22/09

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

Crayola in Easton welcomed their four millionth visitor yesterday, and the Call runs a story on Easton's attempts to revive their downtown with Crayola in mind. Meanwhile, there is some interesting state-wide political news today. The Morning Call runs a story on the Specter-Toomey rematch, noting that it may force Pennsylvania Republicans into a choice between ideological agreement and electability in the general elections. In Harrisburg, gun activists held a rally at the Capitol. The rally is inspired by recent attempts by Pennsylvania Mayors and Governor Rendell to enact new gun control measures.

We have two Chamber events today: a Hellertown-Lower Saucon monthly breakfast and the Administrative Excellence Awards.

Hmm...slow news day. Well, that's it for now! Have a great day.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Daily Briefing, 4/21/2009

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

Some interesting stories today that are related to urban revitalization. In Bethlehem, a bicycle commuter facility will be closing next week, as its lease has expired. A new facility is in the works. In Slatington, municipal officials and community leaders are hoping that a trailhead by the Lehigh River will help draw people and businesses to the borough. In Allentown, the city has been awarded $200,000 to combat gang violence. In other news, two local companies have moved up on the Fortune 500 list, with Air Products jumping 10 spots to $248 and PPL moving up 32 spots to 314.

In state-wide news, none of Pennsylvania's nine Republican House of Representative members are endorsing Senator Specter or former Congressman Toomey in their upcoming primary battle.

In national news, the top government watchdog of the TARP money reports that twenty criminal investigations and six audits have been initiated to track TARP money and make sure that taxpayer funding isn't being wasted. Meanwhile, the Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve says that the recession is starting to ease and could end later this year.

Business Matters aired yesterday, and the topic was President Obama's economic policies. The show should be online later today, and you can join in the debate at the Business Matters blog.

We have three Chamber events today: an informational meeting about a Chamber trip to China, a Northampton Area Chamber of Commerce lunch meeting and a Lunch with the Leaders event.

That's it! Have a great day.

Daily Briefing, 4/20/2009

Good morning everyone! We hope you had a great weekend. Here is your Monday morning Daily Briefing.

Muhlenberg, Lafayette and Moravian have announced that they will offer discounted tuition to veterans who have served at least three months in the military.

In state-wide news, the Express Times runs a stork on Peg Luksik, Senator Specter's other challenger. Luksik has the potential to pull votes from Toomey - and potentially pull enough to give Specter a close victory. Meanwhile, that race has already gone negative, with Specter calling Toomey unelectable and accusing him of favoring deregulation.

In national news, President Obama has will gather his cabinet Monday and order them to cut $100 million in spending. The President and his cabinet are also apparently seeking to address credit card abuse in the United States. The new Fortune 500 rankings are out, and the news is grim as you would expect - profits of the top 500 dropped 85%. Exxon is now on top of the list, beating Walmart. But there is some good news - the National Association of Business Economics found that the recession slowed in the first quarter.

Business Matters airs tonight. The topic is "Is Obama's New Economy Robbing the Rich?", and with Obama's 100th day in office coming up, this topic couldn't be more timely. The show will air today (Monday, 4/20) at 8:00pm on WFMZ. Check out the blog to join in the debate.

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

Friday, April 17, 2009

Daily Briefing

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

Media was given a tour yesterday of the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem. 1,000 jobs were created during construction and another 1,000 will be needed to operate the casino. In Allentown, the city approved and signed a 10-year deal with Verizon to lay cable FIOS service. The service will be a competition to cable providers already in the area. In Easton, the school board rejected, for a third time, a Keystone Opportunity Zone (tax abatement) for selected city properties, likely dooming the plan.

In Pennsylvania news, Governor Rendell's Political Action Comittee was fined for bad bookkeeping and delayed reports. The Governor's PAC used a separate PAC to donate to political candidates in the 2007 Philadelphia elections.

In national news, President Obama yesterday unveiled plans to create a high speed rail network. One of the potential net networks is in Pennsylvania. The President will spend the next two days at the Summit of Americas, where the focus is expected to be on Cuba. Some mixed economic news, as new housing construction fell about 11% last month, although first-time jobless claims fell to their lowest levels in three months. Meanwhile, GE earnings were down 35% in the first quarter - however, they still beat analysis' expectations.

We have one Chamber event today: a joint Public Policy and Small Business Council breakfast, featuring Senator Pat Browne (R-16), who will discuss the Pennsylvania budget.

And that's it! Have a great day!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Daily Briefing, 4/16/2009

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

Yesterday was tax day, and across the nation a series of "tea parties" were held to protest the current direction of the government - specifically high taxes and the fear of the U.S. becoming a socialist country. Speaking of politics, Pat Toomey has made it official and announced that he will be running against Arlen Specter for the United States Senate in 2010. This time, Toomey goes into the race as the favorite, as low approval ratings among Republicans and the loss of thousands of moderate Republicans to the Democratic party have put Specter on the defensive. On the other side of the asile, a recent spate of shootings has promoted another push from Governor Rendell for gun control laws. On the topic of affordable housing, half of the renters in Pennsylvania cannot afford a two bedroom apartment, according to the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania.

In national news, President Obama travels to Mexico today, his first trip to the country since his inauguration. Some positive economic items in the news today: JPMorgan profits beat analysts expectations, as the bank reported a $2.1 billion profit in the first quarter. But there's bad news to: foreclosures jumped 24% from this time last year and 9% from the previous quarter. The good news is that bank repossessions did fall 3%.

Another busy day for The Chamber, as we have three events today: a LeBEAM luncheon, a Dale Carnegie training for Executives and Management Professionals and a legislative mixer with Easton Area elected officials.

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

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Greenhouse gas empissions are lower, per capita, in cities

Cities are often thought to be one of the chief sources of air pollution in the world. Well, that may be true in some respects, but when it comes to greenhouse gases, a new study shows that isn't the case. The study noted that the national American average is 23.92 tons of CO2 a year - yet, in New York City, residents averaged a mere 7.1 tons per person. In London, the national British average is 11.9 tons per person - yet London residents averged only 6.18 tons per person.

You can't make a complete generalization based on one study, but it is interesting to note that urban areas appear to be more enviornmentally friendly than other parts of the world.

Daily Briefing, 4/15/2009

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

Perjury charges against Louis DeNaples were dropped yesterday. DeNaples agreed to give up ownership of the Mount Airy Casino Restor and pay the cost of the prosecution in return. In Allentown, a gym that relocated to the city's downtown has apparently left over the holiday weekend. Representatives of the gym told city officials that members would get their dues refunded. Three Lehigh Valley residents have won Ben Franklin Technology Partners Innovation Awards. The awards go to "companies or individuals who have achieved business success through the business development group's funding and assistance, have helped others to achieve success, or have improved their business through innovation." Meanwhile, the Lehigh Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, in conjunction with Trans-Bridge Lines, has rolled out a new marketing campaign. The goal of the campaign is to get attention for the Lehigh Valley and promote the region as a whole.

In state-wide news, Senator John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, endorsed Arlen Specter yesterday, citing Specter's loyalty to the Republican party and ability to win in Pennsylvania.

Busy day today for The Chamber, as we have three events: an East Penn/Western Lehigh joint lunch, a meeting of the GLV Team 100 and the SBC Spring Golf League.

That's all for today. Have a great day - even if it is tax day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pedestrian streets = more money

Check out this blog entry. It reviews street fairs held in New York City and goes over the data gathered from those fairs. The results are very interesting.

The results are straight from the blog entry:
* Before Summer Space, only 42% of respondents said they would visit Montague Street more often if it were closed to auto traffic; during the closure this number jumped to 72%.
* The percentage of respondents who rated the pedestrian experience of Montague Street as “Good” or “Very Good” increased from 79% before the closure to 97% during the events.
* 100% of those surveyed at the 78th Street Play Street felt that the event “enhanced the park and farmers’ market.”
* Pedestrian streets encourage walking: during the Williamsburg Walks event, 47% of those surveyed said that they had walked to the event, a 14% improvement over normal levels.
* Montague Street retailers experienced 26% higher sales during Summer Space than on comparable days in 2007, on average.

Hmm...maybe this is something for our local downtowns to consider trying more often?

Internships available at the Chamber!

One of the things we pride ourselves on at The Chamber is community involvement and helping to train a new generation of leaders. Accordingly, we are pleased to offer internships to high school or college students, as well as anyone else interested in learning more about The Chamber and the Lehigh Valley community. Below is a description of one internship. If you would like more information on this, or any other possible internship, please contact me at
Internship – Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce
Mike Schlossberg – Borough Business Revitalization Coordinator

Thank you for your interest in this internship! Below are the three areas that I work in within The Chamber. The bullet points include potential projects that an intern can expect to work in – that being said, please note that this list is not, by any means, all inclusive. We like to allow the internship to develop around the strengths and interests of the intern – accordingly, we are very flexible in what an intern actually works on.

Borough Business Revitalization Program: The BBRP provides economic development services to the Lehigh Valley’s small towns by using proven models to strengthen their economic climates. The BBRP mobilizes volunteers and partners in the public and private sectors to target investment and development into the Lehigh Valley’s smaller urban cores and central business districts. Potential projects include:
• Creating new programs and modifying existing programs that can assist small business owners.
• Assisting in the operation and maintenance of our Fa├žade Program.
• Researching grant opportunities that may be available to small businesses/local governments.
• Determining new ways to recruit volunteers.
• Creating promotional and marketing brochures designed to bring new customers into our downtowns.

Social Networking Initiatives: The Chamber has become increasing active in the realm of social networking. Specifically, The Chamber now has a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and its own blog. We are also attempting to assist our 5,000 members in becoming more active in this area. We are now operating training sessions designed to assist small businesses in taking advantage of the five social networks described above. Potential projects include:
• Writing/editing blog entries.
• Assisting to maintain these websites.
• Research projects designed to expand our existing content/provide new content.
• Determining additional ways to bring social networking to our small businesses.

Business Matters: Business Matters is a public policy debate/panel program that airs weekly on WFMZ. It is hosted by the Chamber President & CEO, Tony Iannelli. The program is usually in a “cross-fire” setup – it typically features two panelists arguing in favor of an issue and two panelists arguing against it. Potential projects include:
• Researching information on a topic for producers/host.
• Assisting on taping days (helping guests, producers, production staff, etc).

Time Commitment: Approximately 8-10 hours a week. This position is unpaid but college credit is available.

Contact Person: Michael Schlossberg, Borough Business Revitalization Coordinator (484-809-1796 OR Please send resume (or other similar document) and cover letter.

Daily Briefing, 4/14/2009

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

Good news for Bethlehem Sands, as they have announced that Emeril's steakhouse will open on May 22. Good news for Easton as well, as the city it currently ahead of schedule to meet its budget in terms of real estate taxes. And, some very good news for Pennsylvania taxpayers, as the tax rebates from slots have reached $770 million, meaning that property owners will receive roughly a $200 rebate. In more local news, WFMZ runs on story on local car dealers who are starting to feel "cautiously optimistic" about the market. Lehigh Valley officials have formed a "Recession Response and Recovery Task Force" to deal with the recession and help funnel funding to local non-profits. They can use all the help they can get in New Jersey, as New Jersey counties are in danger of losing millions of funding due to cuts in state aid.

A panel of Minnesota judge's has unanimously ruled that Al Franken beat Norm Coleman for a U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota. Franken won by 312 votes. Coleman is expected to appeal the ruling. Meanwhile, President Obama is set today to give a major speech on the economy. A new poll shows that 71% of Americans trust Obama to fix the economy.

Business Matters aired last night, and the topic stirred some of the most passionate arguments we've ever had on the show: Should Medical Marijuana be legalized? The show should be viewable online later today. You can also join in the debate at the Business Matters blog.

We have one Chamber event today: a joint lunch with the Executive Women's Council and Two Rivers Area Chamber of Commerce.

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

Monday, April 13, 2009

New bill would link transportation, growth policies

Hi everyone,

I found this story courtesy of the Smart Growth Network. It describes a bill that has been authored by Energy and Commerce Chairman, Congressman Henry Waxman, and the Subcommittee Chairman of the Energy and Enviornment Committee, Congressman Ed Markley. The bill would, according to the story, required that "ll states, assisted by U.S. EPA, would have three years to assess their transportation and land use, and set 10- and 20-year targets for related greenhouse gas emission cuts both throughout a state and in any metro area of at least 200,000 residents, while EPA, working with the Department of Transportation, would create a competitive grant program to help finance projects designed to meet the reduction targets." It would also encourage the expansion of public transportation systems and reexamine land use planning.

The federal government, it appears, is getting more involved in land use and planning efforts.

Daily Briefing, 4/13/2009

Good morning everyone! We hope you had a great holiday weekend. Here is what we have for you this morning.

Leadership Lehigh Valley will be hosting its third annual Summit for Success, a conference for non-profits. This one is especially important, given the extreme difficulties that many non-profits are facing in this economy. The Express Times runs a story that notes that urban areas are getting more stimulus aid then suburban or rural municipalities. Meanwhile, WFMZ runs a story on the Lehigh Valley Zoo, describing what happens now that the zoo has received increased financial support.

Here's something you almost never hear from the Government: the Transportation portion of the stimulus project is actually ahead of schedule and under budget. 2,000 DOT projects have been implemented thus far. But, its getting more expensive to use the roads, with gas prices increasing 5% in three weeks, or about $.10. The increase is likely a result of seasonal demand. And, good news for all of us, as "Tax Freedom Day" (the day that we have to work until to pay off our taxes) comes earlier this year than since 1967 - today! The early date is due to a combination of the recession and tax cuts from the stimulus package.

In international news, the U.S. captain held by pirates was freed after U.S. snipers took out the three pirates. President Obama twice gave the order to use force to free the captain.

Business Matters airs tonight, and the topic is an incredibly controversial one: should medical marijuana be legalized? Watch on WFMZ, 8:00pm today, and make sure to check out the debate over at the Business Matters blog.

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

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Stimulus information

Hi everyone,

We have some basic information on the economic stimulus that we wanted to share with you. Thanks to our friends at the Pennsylvania Downtown Center for summarizing the info.

Stimulus Summary - National
- Tax relief: $288 billion
- State and Local Relief: $144 billion
- Infrastructure and Science: $111 billion
- Protecting the Vulnerable: $81 billion
- Education and Training: $53 billion
- Energy: $43 billion
- Other: $8 billion
TOTAL: $787 billion

Stimulus Summary - Pennsylvania
- Health Care: $4 billion
- Education: $2.56 billion
- Transportation & Infrastructure: $1.4 billion
- Job Training & Relief: $1.1 billion
- Energy Independence: $.472 billion
- Other Infrastructure & Housing: $.361 billion
TOTAL: $9.893 billion

Job Training & Relief Details
- Job Training & Unemployment Services: $425 million
- State Budget Relief: $347 million
- Crime Fighting/Victims Services: $120 million
- Targeted Assistance to Families: $116 million
- Child Care and Head Start: $82 million
TOTAL: $1.090 billion

Stimulus Websites
- Federal Government Stimulus Website
- Pennsylvania Stimulus Website
- Submitted Projects Website

Daily Briefing, 4/9/2009

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

Allentown property owners can rest a little easier: the infamous "NERD" graffiti tagger has been caught. The vandal, whose tag appeared over 1,000 times in the city, is apparently an artist who wanted to increase the value of his works. Apparently having talent wasn't enough for him. Meanwhile, in Bethlehem, the Sands is set for a dry-run of their slot machines, with proceeds going to local charities. In Lehigh County, Commissioners approved a an ordinance requiring that campaign finance reports be posted online. The ordinance was approved unanimously. And, some good news for Lehigh Valley International Airport, as the airport welcomed a new airline, AirTran.

In international news, other countries are now getting into the stimulus act, as Japan yesterday unveiled a $154 billion stimulus.

Hmm, slow news day today! That's all for now. We also won't have a briefing tomorrow in observance of the holiday. So have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The next business matters...

...will debate Medical Marijuana.

And believe me, this was NOT a mellow show!

Check out the blog for more.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Daily Briefing, 4/8/2009

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

Good news in Lehigh County, as conservative budgeting helped the county accumulate a $10 million surplus during 2008. That money will be used to plug the 2009 budget. In Whitehall Township, members of the government are attempting to change the title of Executive to Mayor, saying that the name change makes sense and will result in increased respect and prestige for the Township. And in the Saucon Valley School District, the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board has rejected an unfair labor practices grievance filed by the teachers union after the school board withdrew their offer of a 4.7% yearly salary increased. Meanwhile, the Express Times runs a story on how the economy is making it harder for service agencies to fulfill their missions.

In national news, President Obama made a surprise visit to Iraq yesterday, visiting the country on his way back from his European visit. The financial services sector is preparing for a series of new rules designed to regulate default credit swaps, a section of the economy that was previously relatively unregulated. General Motors is still attempting to meet government deadlines, although the company is apparently preparing for bankruptcy.

It's a busy day for The Chamber, as we have three events today: a Wellness Lunch and Learn with Capitol Blue Cross, a SOLEBO panel discussion on face to face and social networking, and a ribbon cutting at the new Office Quarters building.

That's it! Have a great day.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Daily Briefing, 4/7/2009

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

Let's start with some good news today: the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs are set to open their season! Opening day is Thursday. Meanwhile, the Sands Bethlehem announced yesterday that when the stalled projects on that facility restart, the hotel will come before the mall. This is because the demand is for rooms, not retail. The restart date is still unknown. Unfortunately, there is some bad news for Bethlehem, as the Celtic Classic was forced to fire its staff and launch a new fundraising effort to make up for budget shortfalls.

It may still be a year away, but Senator Arlen Specter and former Lehigh Valley Congressman Pat Toomey are already attacking each other like the election is tomorrow. The two are expected to run against each other in the April 2010 primary.

More bad news for the Employee Free Choice Act, as the first Democratic Senator has come out in opposition to the bill. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) has said that she cannot support the bill in its current form. And, here is some REALLY good news: economists are increasingly saying that the economy could begin to recover by this summer. This is based on the belief that a growing number of economic indicators have bottomed out.

Business Matters aired yesterday, and the topic was whether or not abortions should be funded by taxpayer dollars. We had four outstanding guests and a very lively debate. The show will be available online later today, and in the meanwhile you can debate at the Business Matters blog.

We have one Chamber event today, and it will be a popular one: an Allentown Networking Event that is being attended by about 100 people.

And that's it! Have a great day!

Tax credits for energy efficency

It's been in the news quite a bit lately so we thought it was worth discussing. Energy efficiency has always been a popular buzz word, and thanks in large part to the stimulus, it is a word that can get you money!

If you have a second, check out the Department of Energy website - the link will take you right to the section on tax breaks. Items you can receive tax credits for include:

- Home Energy Efficiency items, including energy-efficient windows, insulation, doors, roofs, and heating and cooling equipment.
- Solar energy systems on your home.
- Purchasing or leasing a hybrid vehicle.

These credits can go for businesses, residences, governments or utilities.

Going green and saving green...hmm, not bad....

Daily Briefing, 4/6/2009

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

In Northampton County, a new board that will control how gaming money is distributed has nine representatives - but eight are from the Bethlehem area. This has lead to concerns that the money will not be distributed outside of the Bethlehem area.

In national/international news, North Korea tested a rocket/missile this past weekend. Unfortunately, the UN is currently deadlocked as to how to deal with the situation. President Obama blasted the North Korean action. also runs a story on an often forgotten infrastructure problem: dams. Apparently 1,800 potentially pose a threat to human life.

Business Matters airs today at 8:00pm on WFMZ, and the topic is a truly controversial one: should abortions be funded by taxpayer dollars? Tune in to catch the show and don't forget to join in the debate on our blog.

We have one Chamber event today: Greatern Northern is having their 15th Annual Spirit Award dinner.

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

Friday, April 3, 2009

How to Cold Call - A Great Way of Gaining New Customers!

Check out the details below about this event, or learn more about it at our website.



Who should attendSales people, account executives, appointment setters, inside sales representatives and sales managers – everyone who wants to develop new business through successful cold calling.

Participants learn how to:

• Employ 7 ways to charge yourself up to make cold calls

• Use 10 proven strategies to get past the gatekeeper

• Leave voice mail messages that create callbacks

• Understand what buyers want and how to get them excited

• Ensure that prospects will want to take your call and ask power questions

• Write and deliver a 45 second cold-call presentation

• Develop creative ways to position your product or service

• Understand how cold-call ratios work

• Anticipate objections and turn around

• Revive dead accounts

Special Offer! Priced at $199
We also offer a special group discount of 10% off 5 or more participants in the same program.

When: Thursday, May 14, 2009
Where: Best Western
300 Gateway Drive
Routes 22 & 512
Bethlehem PA 18017
Time: 9AM-5PM (check-in at 8:30AM)
**continental breakfast & mid afternoon break provided(lunch not included)**

For more information contact:
Anna Wickel
610.783.6500 ext. 307

Daily Briefing, 4/3/2009

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

At a hearing at Northampton Community College, legislators heard about the struggles that schools in third class cities (including Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton) are facing. As you can expect, budget problems were near the top of the list. In Bethlehem, developer Lou Pektor has sold his interest in the Martin Towers project.

In state-wide news, Senator Arlen Specter has ALREADY begun negative ads against unofficial primary challenger Pat Toomey. The ads reference Toomey's life prior to politics as a wall-street banker and attack his stance on deregulation.

In national news, President Obama's budget outline passed the Senate last night and now needs to be reconciled by the House and Senate. No Republican voted for the budget. Former Illinois Governor Red Blagojevich was formally indicted yesterday of 16 felonies, including "racketeering, wire fraud, extortion conspiracy, attempted extortion and making false statements to federal agents." Small business lending through the Small Business Administration is down 57%. But, the good news is that measures passed in the stimulus to help increase SBA loans seem to be taking effect, as the number of loans have increased in the past two weeks. But, more bad news may come today, as a jobs report is expected to show a rise in unemployment.

We have two Chamber events today, and both are in Bethlehem: today is First Friday and the Grand Opening of the new SHUZE shoe store on the South Side.

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

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Daily Briefing, 4/2/2009

Morning everyone! Here is today's Daily Briefing.

Be careful in Coopersburg - construction on Route 309 is making life difficult. That being said, businesses (already having their share of problems) are having even more issues - make sure you still shop there! In Bethlehem, the city is considering adding angled parking and a 4-5 level parking deck to help ease the downtown parking problem and bring more customers to the area. Allentown City Council had an interesting meeting yesterday, with financial and economic development issues dominating the agenda. The city voted to expand their Keystone Opportunity Zone, take out a loan to purchase new public safety equipment and apply for a grant for TC Salon on 19th Street. And, an interesting story here: Embassy Bank, which refused to accept bailout funds, is using that decision as part of an advertising campaign.

Some good economic news nationally. Auto sales fell 37% - and yes, that's good news, because its better than expected and better than the previous month. World stock markets rallied, possibly under the belief that things are starting to get better, or at least the rate at which they are getting worse is slowing. Oil prices even rose to above $50 a barrel for the first time in months. That being said, 63% of Americans say they are spending less than before as a result of the recession.

We have one Chamber event today: a mixer at the Pig Pen Sports and Grill Bar & Boulevard Lanes.

And that's it! Have a great day.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Great Lehigh County Clean-Up!

The Great Lehigh County Clean-Up!
Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lehigh County is participating in the Great PA Cleanup, a statewide effort to remove litter and trash from Pennsylvania's downtowns, neighborhoods, roadways, parks, forests, riverbanks and open spaces.

If you would like to volunteer in your community or in one of many participating communities, contact:

Virginia Savage
Manager of Main Street Initiatives
County of Lehigh

As a token of our appreciation, all volunteers will receive a T-Shirt and Goodie Bag.

For more information, visit the PA Clean-Up website.

New Members

We had a great month for new memberships at the Chamber, and we'd like to welcome them all! It looks like quite a few local businesses are seeing why they should join the Chamber.

Here are the new members of March:

Hugo Studios
737 Third Street
(610) 264-1331

A Classic Look
6007C West Main Boulevard
(610) 837-8775

Aaron J. Newman Insurance
25 East Center Street, Suite 3
(610) 614-1600
Business Type: INSURANCE

AJ Antiques & Collectibles
3060 Salisbury Drive
(610) 797-8119
Business Type: ANTIQUES

Bike USA
2811 Brodhead Road
(610) 868-7652

Bittone Tire & Service Center
474 Center Street
(908) 213-9900;

bluestem studio
P.O. Box 3256
(610) 776-1462
Business Type: ECOMMERCE

BSI Exhibits
404 Industrial Park Drive
(610) 622-2100

Bullet Exterminating Company
172 Riding Circle
(610) 967-9086

Cobalt Computers
5583 Roosevelt Street
(610) 395-3771

Community Focus Online
3710 Indian River Road
(800) 669-6801

Constellation NewEnergy
160 Kirk Lane
(410) 470-2042
Business Type: ENERGY

Creative Memories - Christy VanNatta
401 Maxwell Drive
(908) 454-2644

3949 Schelden Circle
(610) 691-8811

ECTB, Inc.
1008 Howard Street
(610) 842-8333
Business Type: BASEBALL TEAM

P.O. Box 396
(917) 355-0563

GG Graphics
3726 Brader Street
(610) 462-6272
Business Type: GRAPHIC ARTS

Golden Pepper Productions
(610) 217-3838

Green Impact Solutions, Inc.
P.O. Box 751
(610) 360-8859

Identity Group, LLC
18 Seventh Street
(610) 767-4700
Business Type: GRAPHIC ARTS

IL Gaetano Ristorante
665 Columbus Avenue
(908) 213-2132
Business Type: RESTAURANTS

JFMagic, LLC
210 East Broad Street
(610) 814-0488

Mr. Bob Kaczynski
2263 Chardonnay Drive
Business Type: INDIVIDUAL

Law Office of Brian Akelaitis PE Esquire
9067 Danner Road
(484) 274-2721

Lawn Envy Landscaping
129 W. Lafayette Street
(484) 707-2533

Legacy Christian Church
P.O. Box 250
(610) 928-7224
Business Type: CHURCHES

Luigi's Pizzeria
516 West Broad Street
(610) 954-9099
Business Type: PIZZERIA

Mallinckrodt Baker, Inc.
222 Red School Lane
(908) 859-2151

Marmaras & Smith LLC
961 Marcon Boulevard, Suite 422
(610) 465-1188

Metmod Metropolitan Modification Agency
410 South 16th Street
(610) 438-9101

3235 Hamilton Boulevard
(610) 841-4932

PergolaWest, Inc.
P.O. Box 314
(610) 282-9975
Business Type: CONSULTANTS

PHI LIFE dba "everyday LIFE"
2045 Westgate Drive, Suite 100
(610) 954-5433

Priority Express Courier - Lehigh Valley
1510 Valley Center Parkway, #160
(866) 972-2290

Salon Evolution
128 Hudson Street
(908) 454-8270

Shuban Enterprise LLC DBA Pantry 1 Food Mart
822 Race Street
(610) 264-9700
Business Type:

Supernatural Synthesis, Inc
2418 Emrick Boulevard
(610) 814-0391

Telerx Marketing, Inc.
954 Marcon Boulevard
(610) 231-8500

Vanguard Printing, LLC
361 Biondo Court
(610) 504-1775

VAPCO dba Valley Aluminum Products Co.
1212 South 5th Street
(610) 820-3855
Business Type: WHOLESALERS

Walmart Supercenter
1091 Mill Creek Road
(610) 530-1400
Business Type: RETAIL SALES

3926 Linden Street
(610) 867-1300

AAMCO Transmissions, Inc.
3320 Hamilton Blvd
(610) 437-6707

Afflerbach Consulting
421 South 7th Street
(610) 966-7000

Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar - Allentown
1510 Cedar Crest Blvd.
(610) 530-2450
Business Type: RESTAURANTS

Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar - Bethlehem
2109 Motel Drive
(610) 867-7332
Business Type: RESTAURANTS

Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar - Easton
3702 Easton-Nazareth Hwy
(610) 923-7611
Business Type: RESTAURANTS

Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar - Trexlertown
7150 Hamilton Blvd.
(610) 366-8200
Business Type: RESTAURANTS

Corner Bakery Cafe
837 Lehigh Lifestyle Center
(610) 266-1274
Business Type: RESTAURANTS

Daily Briefing, 4/1/2009

Morning everyone! Here is today's Daily Briefing.

Some good news for our region, which will be featured in U.S. Airways Magazine. The magazine is apparently read by more than three million people worldwide. And bad news out there, at least for smokers, as the price of smoking will increase $.62 with an increase in the federal cigarette tax.

An interesting story out of New Jersey, where a state commission will, within the year, come up with recommendations on regionalizing government services combining municipalities. It's results may be interesting for Pennsylvania's municipalities as well. Meanwhile, Governor Rendell has announced the formulation of a stimulus oversight panel in Pennsylvania. The panel will have members of the state House of Representatives, Senate, Congress and private agencies.

In national news, President Obama is in London on his first foreign trip since becoming President. He was joined by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and called for world leaders to act in the face of the current economic troubles.

The political scene got a little more complicated yesterday. The outcome of a special election in New York to fill a Congressional seat is too close to call, with Democrat Scott Murphy holding an incredibly narrow 65 vote lead over Republican James Tedisco. Thousand of absentee ballots must still be counted. The seat was thought to be a chance for a Republican pick-up, but Murphy was gaining momentum in recent polls. President Obama is having more trouble with cabinet nominees, as Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS), Health & Human Services Secretary-designate, apparently owes more than $7,000 in back taxes.

Only one Chamber event today: join us for the Grand Opening of Luigi's Pizzateria in Bethlehem.

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