Friday, May 29, 2009

Daily Briefing, 5/29/2009

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

In the Saucon Valley, the dispute between teachers and the school board has made little progress. Teachers are asking for 4.6% annual raises over four years, while the board is offering 3.35% over four years. In New Jersey, things are far worse for local schools, as a state supreme court decision has ruled that the state's school funding formula is legal. This means that urban schools will no longer receive special assistance.

In state-wide news, the political scene got a bit more interesting yesterday, as Arlen Specter's lead over Pat Toomey shrunk to 9%, down from 20% a month ago. Pittsburgh also got a huge boost yesterday, as the White House announced that the G-20 economic summit will be held in the city in late September.

In national news, President Obama will be announcing the position of a "cyber czar." The goal of the position will be to coordinate administration efforts to increase computer security and deal with cyber threats. And some good news for the economy, as numbers that will be released today show that the economy shrank in the 1st quarter at a rate of 5.5% - less than the 6.1% originally expected. Meanwhile, a report released by the U.N. finds that 300,000 people are dying each year as a result of global warming, and that number will only continue to increase.

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

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Zip Code Survey

The Borough Business Revitalization Program is a regional Main Street Program that is run through The Chamber. Its mission is to revitalize the urban cores of the eight participating Borough's: Alburtis, Bangor, Bath, Catasauqua, Coopersburg, Hellertown, Macungie and Wilson. One of the main things that the BBRP does is work to enhance economic development by assisting already existing businesses and recruiting new ones.

To that end, the BBRP conducted a Zip Code Survey within each community. What we did was ask local merchants to track the zip codes of anyone who made a purchase at their establishment. We merged all the data (within each community only) and gave it to the Pennsylvania Downtown Center. The PDC then put the information into a series of databases for us, which we turned into a report. The report had the trade area of each community, as well as the demographics of each community and what the customers are looking for. It has a MASS of data that really can be very helpful to anyone who owns a business in the area, or anyone who is looking to start a business in this area.

This is a great tool and a way that Main Street/Elm Street and economic development programs can really assist small businesses.

For more information on the results from Alburtis, Coopersburg, Hellertown and Macungie, contact Mike Schlossberg ( For Bath, Bangor, Catasauqua and Wilson, contact Sharon Davis (

The Latest Business Matters schedule

Hi everyone,

The latest Business Matter schedule is now available. To check it out and to hear more about the upcoming topics, head over to our Business Matters blog.

Daily Briefing, 5/28/2009

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

Some green stories in the news today - PennDOT is funding eleven green projects, involving items like bicycle lanes and greenways. In Easton, Lafayette College will be hosting a green energy conference from July 27 to August 1. The conference will include a seminar on green jobs. And while we are in Easton, City Council awarded $15,000 in funding to special events yesterday - nine events received grants, including $5,000 for Easton's Heritage Day. And there is big news for Catholic's in Allentown, as a new Bishop has been appointed. John O. Barres comes to the area from Wilmington, Delaware.

The 2010 elections may have gotten more interesting - apparently, Congressman Joe Sestak is privately telling supporters that he is planning on challenging Senator Arlen in a primary for the 2010 election. State and national Democrats will likely try to pressure Sestak to get out of the race.

In national news, it appears that more regulation may be coming - President Obama is apparently considering a plan to create a single agency to regulate the banking industry. Health care reform may also happen by the end of the year. Elements of the plan include coverage for the 47 million uninsured Americans and will also create a government funded option as a health care plan.

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

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Daily Briefing, 5/27/2009

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

Bethlehem Sands' had the best opening weekend for any casino in Pennsylvania, raking in $18.4 million and making $1.62 million in revenue. The Loop, a shuttle which takes people from the Sands to various locations in Bethlehem, was also a hit. In Allentown, the city is holding the line on expenses but still not getting enough revenue, leaving the potential for an $8 million year-end deficit.

There is some interesting drama at the state-wide level, as President Obama and the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee are both trying to muscle Congressman Sestak out of a primary challenge to Arlen Specter.

In national news, President Obama nominated Federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the vacancy on the Supreme Court caused by Judge Souter's retirement. If confirmed, Sotomayor would be the third woman on the court and first Hispanic. Local Hispanic's praised the nomination. The other big piece of local news was that the California Supreme Court upheld a challenge to Proposition 8, passed in 2008, which banned gay marriage in the state after being approved by the voters. The Court did, however, decide that all prior marriages entered before the passage of Proposition 8 were legal.

On the economic front, there is some very good news. A report from the National Association of Business Economics found that economic growth will rebound before the end of 2009, although the 2nd quarter will still show a decline. Consumer confidence also shot up to its highest levels in eight months, the biggest one-month jump since 2003. The news wasn't all good, however, as home prices dropped 20% during the first three months of 2009.

We have two Chamber events today: a forum on the proposed optional 1% sales tax increase and a ribbon cutting for a Walmart in Whitehall.

And that's it for today! Have a great day.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Daily Briefing, 5/26/2009

Good morning everyone! After a brief vacation (your resident blogger was out of the office) we are back and ready to blog once again! Here is what we have for you today.

Aside from a few relatively minor problems, Bethlehem Sands' seemed to have a very good first weekend, with as many as 70,000 visiting the casino on Sunday. A study is also in the works to determine the impact of the casino traffic on Bethlehem and surrounding municipalities. Meanwhile, Mayfair in Allentown appears to have had a successful four days - so successful that it is looking to expand. WFMZ notes that Veteran's Organizations are struggling this memorial weekend, as their finances take hits over the recession.

In national news, President Obama appears to have narrowed his potential Supreme Court nominees down to four individuals - judges Sonia Sotomayor and Diane Wood, Solicitor General Elena Kagan and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. Meanwhile, GM has until June 1 to complete restructuring and still has a long way to go before it gets there.

It's a slow news day as we come off of the Memorial Day weekend, so that is all that we have for you today! Have a good one and we'll see you later.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Daily Briefing, 5/13/2009

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

Nearly 3,000 people attended a job fair yesterday that was sponsored by The Morning Call and CareerBuilder. 46 vendors were in attendance, seeking job applicants. The attendance of the applicants were up, while vendors were down. Meanwhile, in Bethlehem, LANTA approved a daily shuttle to run between the Sands Bethlehem and the city.

In national news, the hope that the economy is recovering was dented yesterday by the announcement that home foreclosures shot up 32% in April, although this is possibly due to more aggressive behavior by banks. Bad news for Social Security and Medicare, as a reported published yesterday noted that the recession has taken a hit on each, with the Social Security trust fund potentially being depleted by 2037. There is some good news for GM, as the company is apparently making money - outside of the U.S. Alright. And, in Europe, Intel has been fined $1.45 billion by the EU for antitrust violations.

We have one Chamber event today: the Shining Star award from SOLEBO.

And that's it! Have a great day.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Daily Briefing, 5/12/2009

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

In local news, the Women's Golf Championship at Saucon Valley Country Club is now less than two months away (to be held from July 6 - 12). The LPGA and Saucon Valley Country Club says that they are ready for the event. And there is some more good news, as it appears that the stimulus cash is going to the counties in PA that need it most, based on unemployment figures. This is not the case in many other areas of the country, however. There is bad news across the river in New Jersey, as the Phillipsburg School Board voted to cut nine tenured and sixteen non-tenured staff. The decision could be reversed if the district is awarded additional funding.

In state-wide news, Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) now says that he is open to a government-sponsored health care plan, a reversal of his earlier position.

It seems that gas prices are rising again, up about 9% in two weeks. The spike is attributed to an increase in demand as the U.S. enters peak driving season.

Business Matters aired last night, and the show featured an interview with the Speaker of the PA House of Representatives, Keith McCall. You can watch the show online later today.

We have two Chamber events today: an Executive Women's Council/Women in Business scholarship luncheon and the annual Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce dinner.

And that's it! Have a great day.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Back by Popular Demand...Social Networking Training!

Two weeks ago, The Chamber held a Social Networking Strategies and Tactics Seminar. The event was sold our and covered by WFMZ. Participants learned how to utilize Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Blogging for business and professional gain.

Well, since the event was so popular, we are bringing it back! The same seminar we be held on July 7. You can find out more info and register at The Chamber's website, call our office at 610-841-5800 or E-mail Mike Schlossberg ( for more information.

Hope to see you there!

Daily Briefing

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

A study released by a consultant to Bethlehem has shown that major crime will not spike once the Sands Bethlehem opens in less than two weeks. The study also has given the police advice on how to deal with the casino when it does open. More good news for the Valley, as millions of dollars in a variety of construction projects are ready to be spent in the area. Meanwhile, a second case of the H1N1 virus has been reported in Lehigh County, although the victim has made a fully recovery.

There are two interesting pieces of news on the national scene today. First, President Obama will announce that he has come to a voluntary agreement with the heads of various health care agencies, as $2 trillion will be pledged to reducing health care costs. Next, the Justice Department will announce today that they will be reversing the former administration's policy on antitrust laws and will more aggressively enforce existing antitrust laws.

Business Matters airs tonight, and the topic is a one on one interview with the Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Keith McCall (D-122). The show will air tonight at 8:00pm, and you can discuss the show live over at the Business Matters blog.

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

Friday, May 8, 2009


Hi everyone,

We wanted to give you some information on SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives. This is an outstanding organization that can be veyr helpful to small businesses. Here is the information, straight from SCORE:

Lehigh Valley SCORE is a community resource for small business and those interested in starting a small business. Lehigh Valley SCORE is one of approximately 400 Score chapters throughout the United States. The national organization is a resource partner with U.S. Small Business Administration. Our main service is to be “Counselors to America’s Small Business”. The Lehigh Valley Chapter offers services to the community in two areas. (1) Individual-free-counseling and mentoring to small business and start up ventures, both face to face and by email. (2) Training workshops and seminars. Interested people can access our local website at to request counseling, review up-coming workshops, and utilize links to business information and websites.

Daily Briefing, 5/8/2009

Good morning everyone, and a happy Friday to you. Here is what we have in the news today.

In Northampton County, County Executive Stoffa eliminated $6 million from a $22 million bond proposal in an attempt to gain votes for the proposed bond issue. The bond covers a juvenile detention center and repairs to multiple county structures.

Big political news yesterday, as former Governor Ridge announced that he would not seek the Republican nomination for the Senate seat currently occupied by Arlen Specter. Polls had showed Ridge beating former Congressman Pat Toomey for the nomination and very close to or beating Senator Specter.

In national news, the results of bank stress tests were released yesterday. Of the 19 banks, ten were told to raise another $75 million, while the rest were given the all-clear. President Obama announced yesterday that his proposed budget will eliminate 121 federal programs. There was also good news yesterday, as the most recent labor jobs report showed that only 600,000 jobs were cut last month, compared to 663,000 in March.

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

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Daily Briefing, 5/7/2009

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

In Allentown, it appears that a woman returning from Mexico had the H1N1 virus - she has recovered and is just fine now. This is the first Lehigh Valley case of the disease.

Pennsylvania and Arlen Specter got bad news yesterday, as the Senate Democrats stripped the new Democrat of his seniority yesterday, effectively making him the most junior Senator in that body.

In national news, President Obama will seek $17 billion in budget savings by eliminating 121 programs from the federal budget. This amounts to 1/2 of 1% of the federal budget. And, results from the bank stress tests will be fully released today - some of the leaks about this information have shown that some banks still need to raise more capital - but are unlikely to get it from the federal government.

In Chamber news, the Allentown Chamber of Commerce held its annual dinner yesterday, honoring former Mayor Joe Dadonna and handing out scholarships.

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

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Financing options for Lehigh Valley small businesses

We all know that times are tough and it is very difficult for many small businesses to get financing. Well, here is a listing of some outside agencies that may be able to help you find what you are looking for. This list comes to us from SCORE (service core of retired executives), a non-profit group helping small businesses. They can be reached directly at 610-758-4496.

Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce: 610-841-5800
Allentown Economic Development Corporation: 610-435-8890
Angel Network: 610-758-5030
Ben Franklin Incubator: 610-758-5421
Bethlehem Department of Community & Economic Development: 610-865-7056
Bridgeworks Enterprise Center: 610-770-1015
Private Industry Council: 610-437-5627
Community Action Development Corporation of Bethlehem: 610-807-8337
Community Action Development Corporation of Allentown: 610-433-5703
Lehigh County Department of Economic Development: 610-782-3001
Easton Area Industrial Land Development Corporation: 610-250-6781
Greater Lehigh Valley Advertising Club: 610-289-2070
Hamilton Business Center: 610-871-5050
LCC Workforce Training: 610-799-1961
Lehigh Valley Builders Association: 610-4313-4101
Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation: 610-266-0887
Lehigh Valley Industrial Park: 610-866-4600
Lehigh Valley Professionals: 610-437-5627
Manufactures Resource Center: 610-758-5599
NCC Center for Business: 610-861-5590
Northampton County Department of Economic Development: 610-559-3200
Rising Tide Loan Fund: 610-691-5620
Sales and Marketing Executives of the Greater Lehigh Valley: 610-253-0726
Small Business Development Center: 610-758-3980
Team Pennsylvania: 610-266-7619

Daily Briefing, 5/6/2009

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

The Trexler Trust, one of the most prominent non-profits in the area, has seen a 6.3% decline in giving, as a result of the recession. Another bizzare result of the economy: criminals are having a harder time paying fines, forcing judges to be more lenient with their sentencing. WFMZ also runs a story on how seasonal jobs are getting harder to find. In local politics, Northampton County Executive John Stoffa and challenger Ann McHale, a Councilwoman, debated at a League of Women Voters forum yesterday.

In state-wide news, two polls have now shown that former Governor Ridge is within striking distance or beating Senator Arlen Specter (D). Whether or not Ridge will run for the Senate is being described as a coin toss. Meanwhile, the Democratic Senator might have gotten himself into some trouble with his new party yesterday after stating that he hoped Norm Coleman (R) prevailed over Al Franken (D) in the disputed Minnesota Senate race that is currently winding its way through the courts. Specter backed off of those comments later, with an apology.

In national news, some bad news for homeowners, as a study showed that 20% of homes are worth less than what their owners owe on the property. However, there is some very good news: the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, told Congress that he believes that the worst of the recession is over and that the economy will begin to grow again by the end of the year. Meanwhile, Fortune runs a story on eight reasons why the economy may be starting to pick up again.

We have two Chamber events today: the annual Allentown Awards Dinner at The Palace and a mixer at Allegra Print & Imaging.

And that's it for today! Have a great day.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

New Members - April

Welcome to April's new members of The Chamber!

Abe's Wholesale TR
145 Hamilton Street
(610) 770-7737
Business Type: WHOLESALERS

Allentown Women's Center
1409 Union Boulevard
(610) 770-9077

Alliance Media Group
505 Helen Circle
(484) 224-1877

AMG Solutions LLC
8 Centre Square
(610) 253-6632

Automatic Data Processing - ADP
7535 Windsor Drive
(484) 201-2950

Tilghman Square Shopping Center
4624 Broadway Street
(610) 395-0070

Blue Knight Protective Services
231 S. 21st Street
(610) 433-1005

Bolo Engineering, LLC
3514 Courtney Drive
(610) 297-2868

Carbaugh & Company
1275 Glenlivit Drive, Suite 100
(484) 224-3006

College Hill Tavern
420 Cattell Street
(610) 252-9456

Commerce Construction Co., L.P.
3001 Commerce Center Boulevard
(610) 867-7676

Equinox Advantage Real Estate, LLC
301 Broadway, Suite 101 F
(610) 882-5900

Esoterik, Inc.
213 Northampton Street
(610) 250-7627

European Body Concepts
P.O. Box 367
5620 East Texas Road
(610) 398-7556
Business Type: DAY SPA

Financial Products, Inc.
1717 Hamilton Street
(610) 432-4215

Foundation 58
P.O. Box 382
(570) 233-7825

The Gem Shop
518 Main Street
(610) 691-6066
Business Type: RETAIL SALES

Gray Connective
1350 Tatamy Road
(610) 253-3081

Harley Advisory Group LLC
3604 Route 378
(610) 972-2038

Innovative Technology & Security LLC
824 West Walnut Street
(610) 770-7380

La Petite Provence
458 Main Street
(610) 849-0374
Business Type: RETAIL SALES

Lehigh Valley Yoga
1701 Union Boulevard, Suite 115
(610) 776-2676

LV PC 911
215 Highlands Boulevard
(888) 587-2911

Maid to Order Residential & Commerical Cleaning LLC
411 Gabribaldi Avenue
(610) 295-9227

Marketing Works On-Hold
P.O.Box 247
(800) 210-3366

Mixed Bag on Main
450 Main Street
(610) 865-0545
Business Type: RETAIL SALES

Norwegian Medical Spa
1000 Northampton Street
(610) 515-9832
Business Type: MEDICAL SPA

Olesen Capital Management LLC
701 West Broad Street, Suite 209
(610) 866-6200

Priority Care of Emerick
2151 Emrick Boulevard, Suite 102
(610) 867-3606

Quoit Factory
4045 Newburg Road
(610) 762-7335

Rapid Refile, LLC
6324 Winside Drive
(610) 837-4344
Business Type: RESTORATION

Roberson Butz Architect
840 Hamilton Street, Suite 210
(610) 391-0160

A. Sheftel & Sons, Inc.
2121 31st Street, S.W.
(610) 797-9420

Slate Belt Safety
352 Blue Valley Drive
P.O. Box 157
(888) 642-0001

Strayer University
3800 Sierra Circle
(484) 809-7801

Summit Door LLC
155 Summit Avenue
(908) 454-9217
Business Type: GARAGE DOORS

The Entrepreneurs Source
1451 Morning Star Drive
(610) 366-7515

Timothy Haahs & Associates, Inc.
550 Township Line Road, Suite 100
(484) 342-0200

Towne Place Suites by Marriott
3800 Easton Nazareth Highway
(610) 829-2000

Toy Magic
565 Main Street

Zoup! Fresh Soup Company
1830 Airport Road
(570) 579-4308
Business Type: RESTAURANTS

Daily Briefing, 5/5/2009

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

Good news in the local economy - Lehigh Valley Housing prices appear to be leveling off. However, it will still take a few years for prices to start rising again, largely due to an overabundance of available housing. The Morning Call has debuted a new layout - this comes on the heels of a 50 person layoff. With the Sands Bethlehem opening up in a matter of weeks, Northampton Community College is offering classes in casinos. The opening of the Sands, earlier than originally expected, will also mean extra money for local governments.

In state-wide news, the first poll to come out after Senator Specter's defection to the Democratic party shows him crushing Pat Toomey, 53-33%. The numbers against former Governor and Secretary of Homeland Security are much closer, with Specter squeaking by at 46-43%. This could get VERY interesting.

In national news, the results of a stress test on the top 19 U.S. banks are expected to show that 10 need to boost capital in order to weather potentially tougher times. However, that money won't come from the federal government, as the White House has stated that they will not ask for additional bailout money for U.S. banks.

Business Matters aired yesterday, and the topic was a good one - the relevance and importance of the recent tea party protests. You can watch the show online later today, and make sure to check out the Business Matters blog to participate in the debate.

Today is a very busy day at The Chamber, as we have four events: a Roundtable Discussion with Jim Miller, President & CEO of PPL, a Greater Northern Chamber of Commerce Lunch featuring municipal updates, a Phillipsburg Mayoral luncheon with the Phillipsburg Area Chamber of Commerce and a ribbon cutting at European Body Concepts in East Texas.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Daily Briefing, 5/1/2009

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

TH Properties, the Lehigh Valley home builder that abruptly stopped all of its construction, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. They say that they are expect construction to begin again in a few weeks. The Call also runs a story on what local agencies are doing to prepare for possible swine flu in the Valley. There was also some extremely bad news for the Valley, as it appears that the budget crunch has eliminated any chance of state-funding for a hockey arena in the Lehigh Valley, with Governor Rendell saying that no state funding will be available to support the project. That budget deficit is now apparently at $3.0 billion. Uh-oh. More bad news, as Soverign Bank has announced that it will be laying off 950 jobs.

In state-wide news, a ban on political contributions from casino operators has been struck down by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

And in national news, it comes as no surprise that Chrysler will be filing for bankruptcy. However, it is being billed as a restructuring that will allow the company to survive in the long-term. And, it appears that a Supreme Court judge is set to retire; Justice David Souter, 69, is apparently going to retire at the end of his term. This will obviously give President Obama his first opening on the Supreme Court.

We have one event today, and its a major one: The Chamber's Commercial Real Estate luncheon.

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