Friday, October 30, 2009

Daily Briefing, 10/30/2009

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

Though the details are still unknown, the Saucon Valley School Board and teacher's union have reached an "understanding" that has resulted in the end of the two-week strike.  East Penn School District opened yesterday after being closed Wednesday for a bus driver's strike, but that strike ended yesterday as well.  Local companies reported mixed news yesterday: PPL saw a 90% drop in 3rd quarter profits as a result of mild weather and losses that they took on energy contracts (at least PPL was in good company - Exxon-Mobile saw their profits decrease 68% last quarter), but St. Luke's Hospital received $17.6 million from the state yesterday.  The money will go to the construction a new hospital campus in Bethlehem Township that will help create more than 1,000 jobs.  In Bethlehem, ArtsQuest yesterday officially broke ground on the construction of SteelStacks in Bethlehem.  The Governor was on hand for the ceremony.

In national news, the U.S. economy is growing once again, having expanded 3.5% in the third quarter of 2009.  However, the rate of expansion may slow down again, and unemployment will likely top 10% in the very near future.  The House of Representatives also introduced their version of a health care bill yesterday - one that did include a public option.

That's all for now!  Have a great weekend, and we'll see you Monday!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Daily Briefing, 10/29/2009

Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing, and there is a lot of news today.

In Lehigh County, commissioners yesterday approved a no tax-hike budget.  The budget was approved by a 5-4 vote, with all four Democrats and Republican Sterling Raber voting for its approval.  In school strike and closure news, East Penn School District will open today, despite a bus driver strike that has left the district without any bus service.  In the Saucon Valley, talks between the district and teachers' union have ended with no agreement.  The strike continues.  In Bethlehem, SteelStacks is set for its groundbreaking today.  Governor Rendell will be on hand to begin construction on the $25.8 million project.  In Easton, the city has announced that their Riverwalk project, complete with a bus depot and parking terminal, is back on at a new site on S. 3rd Street.  And Valley-wide, there is good news, as preschool starts today through Community Services for Children after being shut-down as a result of the state budget stalemate. 


In state-wide news, the Public Utility Commission held a public meeting in Carbon County yesterday, during which it recommended that state consumers shop around for their electricity.  Remember, by the way, that the Chamber has a great program for businesses through Constellation Energy.  In politics, a new Franklin and Marshall poll shows that Senator Specter would still defeat Pat Toomey in an election (33-31%), but in the same poll, only 23% of respondents felt that Senator Specter should be reelected.  Meanwhile, an upcoming report is set to show that the national GDP has increased, but there are still signs that the economy is losing ground.

We have three Chamber events today: a Social Networking Strategies and Tactics Training, a debate for Lehigh County Executive (see the Business Matters blog for more info) and a mixer at Frazier Advanced Information Systems.

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Do you send holiday cards?

I found a very interesting blog entry over at Small Biz Survival that I wanted to share with everyone.  The entry's premise is very simple: if you are a small business, send holiday cards to customers.  No, no e-cards, but actual cards.  They are appreciated and remind your customers/clients of your existence in a busy world, and that is NEVER a bad thing for business.

Do you send holiday cards to your customers and do you see a benefit in doing so?

Picture privacy on Facebook

When it comes to Social Networking, one of the things we hear concerns about most often is the merging of people's personal and professional lives.  The wall that used to separate the two is collapsing, and that is bringing a slew of questions, concerns and problems for individuals who are not used to this change.  Without a doubt, social networking is a huge instigator behind these changes. 

One of the biggest concerns for people, at least when it comes to Facebook, is pictures.  There are plenty of pictures that we are totally comfortable sharing with our friends, but maybe not with our business clients.  Is there anyway to control what gets displayed on your Facebook pictures?  How can you control your Facebook pictures?

First question: can you control what pictures of you are displayed?  The answer, is yes - sort of.  The way that anyone knows you are in a picture is when someone "tags" you in a picture - in other words, when someone notes on a picture that you are in it.  You will always get a notification when you have been tagged - and can always choose to remove that tag. 

When it comes to viewing pictures of you, the default settings are that no one can see your Facebook pictures unless they are your friends.  You can change it so that anyone can see your pictures - and you can also change it so that only certain people can (or can't) see your pictures.  To do so, go to -

- Settings
- Privacy Settings
- Profile

You can then alter your privacy settings under the "Photos Tagged of You" section.

Hopefully this will be helpful information!

Daily Briefing, 10/28/2009

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

Another school district is closed because of a strike, although it isn't teachers; the East Penn School District has been forced to shut down due to a bus drivers strike.  Speaking of school districts, there was good news in Bethlehem, as the Bethlehem Area School District made a $2.3 million profit on bond swamps.  The deals have been widely criticized.  Congrats to PPL, which announced yesterday it will receive a $19 million grant from the Department of Energy to improve the reliability and save energy for Harrisburg area customers.  There was also good news for Mack Trucks and its workers, as the company recalled 110 workers to help make trucks per an increase in demand.  There was also good news for Lehigh Valley International Airport, as traffic rose 8.3% from last years levels, the third straight month that LVIA has seen a traffic increase.

In national news, the GDP is expected by many economists to rise 3.2% this quarter, signaling an end to the recession - although it doesn't mean that a massive recovery has begun unabated just yet.

We have two Chamber events today: our annual Health Care Summit and a Hellertown-Lower Saucon breakfast on the Saucon Valley Comprehensive Plan.


And that's it for now!  We'll be back later today.  Have a good one!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Buy Lehigh Valley RFP


One of the things that we like to promote at The Chamber, of course, is people buying in the Lehigh Valley.  To that end, we have tried to promote buying in the Valley in a few different ways.  One of them is our Buy Lehigh Valley Pledge, in which we encourage members to make their purchases within the Lehigh Valley by shifting 5% of their business to local firms. 

Another is our Membership Directory.  We recently unrolled our Buy Lehigh Valley RFP process.  It basically allows you to seek a Request for Proposal from any of our membership firms.

Here is how it works.  First, access our Membership Directory on The Chamber's webpage.  Type in a type of company you are looking for (for example, printers).  From there, you could type in your name, phone, E-mail and the specifics of the job you are looking for.  You could then check every firm that you were interested in hearing from. 

Sending an RFP via our website is that simple.  Members and non-members alike can do this, although only members are displayed in our member directory.

This is a great tool that will encourage businesses to buy in the Valley!

The Social Media Revolution

Hi everyone,

There is a great YouTube clip regarding what is referred to by its creators as the "Social Media Revolution."  The clip, which is a little longer than four minutes long, does a great job of discussing the incredible and powerful impact that social media is having over the way the world communicates.

It is absolutely worth viewing.

Daily Briefing, 10/27/2009

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

According to a new report, unemployment increased by 40,000 jobs since September in the Valley, rising to 9.5%.  In Lehigh County, County Executive Don Cunningham is using his extensive campaign war chest to help get Democratic county commissioners elected - much to the chagrin of his opponents.  In Northampton County, pension costs have now been calculated a different way - possibly resulting in a lower tax increase.  There was also news from Morning Call, as a report by the paper itself shows that their circulation numbers decreased 1% while their online readership increased.  The same report showed the Express Times had nearly flat circulation numbers while subscriptions and readership dipped nationwide.  A letter from Norfolk-Southern to the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation casts concerns over the future of light rail in the Valley, noting that the project will not be easy or cheap.  In Easton, the city received $1 million in funding from the Commonwealth for cleanup at the former Simon Silk Mill Property, as well as $26,725 for their Farmers' Market.  In another Easton related story, the Mayor has recommended that the city Judge's ruling to not throw out the $20 million lawsuit related to the accidental shooting deal of Easton police officer.  And in the Saucon Valley, teachers and the school district are talking again in an effort to end the strike that has shut down the school district.  In Allentown, the city held an H1N1 vaccine clinic - which ran out of vaccine in two hours.


In national news, after weeks of being all but declared dead, Senator Harry Reid will introduce health care legislation that will have a public option

We have one Chamber event today, and its a big one - the Athena Award and Athena Young Professional Luncheon.  Also, make sure you catch Business Matters, which aired yesterday at 8pm on WFMZ.  The topic was the legalization of Physician Assisted Suicide in Pennsylvania.  You can watch the show online later today and visit the Business Matters blog to learn more and join in the debate.

That's all for today!  We'll be back later.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Daily Briefing, 10/26/2009

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

In Allentown, 986 people received H1N1 vaccines this weekend.  The vaccines come after President Obama declared a national health emergency as a result of the spread of H1N1.  In the Saucon Valley, the teachers' strike continues; the Morning Call runs a story regarding the negotiations and the laws that govern them and the strike.  In Easton, the city is considering using state and federal money to make upgrades to city pools, despite the fact that the pools are running a deficit.  Meanwhile, also in Easton, the local Boys & Girls club is sharing resources with other non-profits in an attempt to keep costs down.  Across the river in Phillipsburg, the city has decided to have free parking on certain days in an effort to entice people to shop downtown.


In state-wide news, the Morning Call runs a story on Congressman Sestak's attempt to unseat Senator Specter, noting that the Congressman is trying to define himself before the Senator does it for him.

In national news, there was some good news this weekend, as home sales increased 9.4% last month - higher than economists projected.  There was bad news as well, as 106 banks have failed so far in 2009, the highest number since 1992.  In the U.S. Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid appears set to introduce health care legislation that will include a public option, according to an aide.  Gas prices have jumped 8% in the past two weeks, and there is apparently no obvious explanation. 

Business Matters airs today - the topic is Assisted Suicide in Pennsylvania.  For more information, check out the show's website, or check out the Business Matters blog for more information.  The show airs at 8:00pm on WFMZ-TV.

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We'll be back!

Hi everyone -

Your resident blogger is on a conference to discuss social media and, ironically, has relatively sketchy access to the internet. We'll be back by the end of the week, Monday at the latest, and hopefully with some more information on how you can use social media!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Chamber is heading to Tuscany!

As we mentioned earlier, a Chamber trip of about 27 people is currently in China, seeing the sites and exploring business connections. Given the success and high demand for this trip, we thought it was only appropriate that we launch a different trip to another exotic location - this time, we are heading to Tuscany!

Check out the information session at the Chamber's calendar for more information about the trip. Here is a description:

Disocver Tuscany is a 10-day, all inclusive trip to experience the beauty of the Tuscany region of Italy for the member rate of $2,999. Highlights include: Rome, Assisi, San Gimignano, and Siena. Trip Includes: Roundtrip international airfare (does not include travel to and from Newark International Airport), Hotel Transfers, 13 meals (8 Breakfasts, 5 Dinners), Deluxe Tours, and local expert tour guides.

Snow Ball - we need your help!

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On Saturday, February 13, 2010, the Small Business Council (SBC) of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce will once again host SNOW BALL, its annual black tie dinner dance and silent auction. The 21st Anniversary SNOW BALL will be held at the Holiday Inn Conference Center in Fogelsville.

We invite your company to support SNOW BALL by contributing to the silent or live auctions – either with an item or a financial contribution to underwrite an auction item.

Each year, SBC donates 100% of the net proceeds of the silent and live auctions to a non-profit organization whose mission is closely aligned with the Chamber’s.  The recipient organization for the 2010 SNOW BALL is Cops’n’Kids.  The Cops’n’Kids Children’s Literacy Program has been fortunate to have been embraced by countless individuals and organizations from throughout the Lehigh Valley in its mission of Connecting Kids & Community through Literacy.

The general retail value of auction items ranges from $50 to $5,000.  As a contributor to the auction, the name of your organization will be listed in the gala’s program, which is distributed to more than 500 business and community leaders who attend the event.
 
Thank you in advance for your generous support of the Small Business Council, SNOW BALL, the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Cops’n’Kids Children’s Literacy Program.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Danielle Joseph at (610) 841-5851 or daniellej@lehighvalleychamber.org.

Pennsylvania Budget Summary

Hi everyone,

Our intern Kyle was asked to give a summary of the recently passed state budget.  Here are the highlights:
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  • The new budget will not increase broad-based taxes, an issue that has separated Democratic and Republican lawmakers.   
  • New revenue will be assessed by instituting an increase of 25 cents per cigarette pack and also small cigars.   
  • Table games will be used to increase revenue as they will be allowed at Pennsylvania’s slot-only casinos. However, the games are not legal right now, but they are currently in the legalization process with the General Assembly.  In order for the casinos to carry table games they will have to pay a $15 million fee. The House wanted a 34 percent tax on table games, but a bill that has passed the Senate would reduce the tax to 14 percent.   
  • Furthermore, the Department of Community and Economic Development had its funding decreased by more than half to $264.8 million. 
You can see the full budget here by clicking on the first link.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Candidates' Forum with Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham and Scott Ott

Hi everyone -

We have an outstanding debate coming up - see the info below.


 Chamber logo
Candidates' Forum with Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham and Scott Ott

  

     Scott Ott                            Don Cunningham, Jr.
                     Scott Ott                                                   Lehigh County Executive                                                                                          Don Cunningham, Jr.

Sponsored by King Spry Law Firm   King Spry 
*Questions must be submitted ahead of time to
Portions of this program will be webcast live and captured
for an upcoming episode of Business Matters! 

DATE: Thursday, October 29th, 2009
TIME: 11:30am registration, 12 noon lunch & debate
LOCATION: Brookside Country Club, 901 Willow Lane, Macungie
COST: Tickets are $25 per person
MORE:  Hear the candidates for Lehigh County Executive debate their positions and get your questions answered at this luncheon event!  Listen to candidates Don Cunningham, Jr. and Scott Ott to find out who has the best plan for Lehigh County and decide which way you'll cast your ballot on Election Day!
 

For more information call Michelle Griffin-Young at 610-841-5832.
To register, contact Melody at
melodyg@lehighvalleychamber.org. 

Daily Brieifng. 10/19/2009

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

In Bethlehem, Illick's Mill has reopened after after six years and $1.2 million in renovation costs.  The Mill will be used as an educational resource in the school district.  In Easton, though the state budget has been passed, troubles remain, as the Easton Area Community Center faces budget cuts of of nearly $100,000.  In political news, the U.S. Senate approved $11 million for Lehigh University, Air Products and Lehigh Heavy Forge.  The money would go to projects that would benefit the military.

In state-wide news, Robert Mensch will be sworn in to the State Senate today.  Mensch was elected earlier last month in a special election to replace Rob Wonderling, who resigned his 24th Senate District seat to become President of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

In national news, this should be an interesting week on Wall Street, as fourth quarter earnings announcements for major corporations are expected to come this week.

We have one Chamber event today: a debate with candidates for East Penn School Board, held by the East Penn Chamber of Commerce.

Business Matters airs today, and the topic is a one-on-one interview with Allegheny County Executive and Democratic candidate for Governor, Dan Onorato.  The show airs tonight at 8pm - you can also debate it live in find out more information over at the Business Matters blog.

That's it for now!  We'll be back later today.

Friday, October 16, 2009

To China!!


The happy, smiling faces that you see in this picture are Chamber members that are heading on an amazing trip to China.  The 9-day drip includes airfare, meals, tours and travel expenses - all for $1999 per person.  It genuienly is an outstanding deal and a great opportunity for individuals who are interested in exploring business opportunities in China or just in seeing the sights.

The trip is literally going on as we speak and we are hoping to be able to bring you pictures and information from the trip at a later date.

Stay tuned for more information on our next trip to Tuscany!

Daily Briefing, 10/16/2009

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

In the Saucon Valley School District, the school board is asking the state to shorten the strike by five days to November 4.  The state had originally set November 10 as the last day that teacher's could legally strike.  In political news, Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan (D) out raised Congressman Charlie Dent in the 3rd quarter by more than $100,000 in their race for Congress.  Callahan raised $345,000, while Dent raised $232,000. In Northampton County, county council voted 5-4 to use gaming money for tax relief, instead of using it to fund a bi-county health board as County Executive Stoffa wanted.

In state-wide news, the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission has approved a plan by PPL that would cut power consumption by 1.3 billion kilowatt hours in an attempt to reduce the impact of the incoming 30% increase in electric costs.

In national news, 401(k) accounts dropped an average of 24% in 2008, but the same study showed that they rose an average of 7.2% over the same time since 2003.  According to a report on the stimulus, over 30,000 jobs have been created with $16 billion allocated.  And, for the first time since 1975, there will be no cost of living increase in Social Security payments as a result of a decline in consumer prices.

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

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Great Program - Destination Lehigh Valley

We received this via E-mail yesterday and wanted to help advertise it.   This sounds like an outstanding opportunity.  Read below:
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Once again, The Hospitality Career Institute of Northampton Community College is partnering with the Lehigh Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau to offer Destination Lehigh Valley.  This very popular visitor service training program is designed to enhance the skills of your employees who come in direct contact with your customers.  This course, held in 3 half day sessions, will educate front line staff on the importance of the service they offer and the image they portray of Lehigh Valley.
Who should attend?
Front Desk Staff, Retail Associates, Wait Staff, Attraction Employees, Bellmen & Van Drivers, Parking Enforcement Officers… anyone who comes in contact with the general public and visitors.
Why should you enroll your staff?
To improve guest satisfaction which generates repeat business, and to increase staff development through continuing education.
What's it going to cost me?
Just $35 per associate includes continental breakfasts, Lehigh Valley tour, lunch following the tour, graduation certificate, classroom materials and handouts.
When and where are the sessions?
Wednesday, November 4 and November 11, 2009     9am-12:00pm
November 18, 2009                                       8:30am-1:00pm
NCC Fowler Family Southside Center
Course Code: HCI-1004-Q2
How do we register?
Just follow the link below:
http://webapp.northampton.edu/course-search/coursedetails.aspx?crsenum=HCI-1004&prog=CMED&campusfilter=%&subjectcode=HCI+
IF YOU HAVE ANY ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS VERY IMPORTANT TRAINING PROGRAM, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME!

Nancy Signorovitch
Director of Member Relations
Lehigh Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau
840 Hamilton Street
Suite 200
Allentown, PA  18101
Phone: 610-882-9200
Fax:  610-882-0343
E-mail:  nancy@LehighValleyPA.org
www.LehighValleyPA.org

Lehigh Valley Job & Labor Outlook

The October 2009 version of the Lehigh Valley Job and Labor Outlook is available, thanks to our friends at the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board.  A rough (very rough) summary of the employment trends:
  • Unemployment went up - 9.3% in August - from 9.0% in July.  In August 2008, unemployment was 6.1%.  
  • In the Lehigh Valley statistical area, about 38,800 people are unemployed. 
Check out the report for additional information.

Daily Briefing, 10/15/2009

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

In the Saucon Valley School District, the state has ruled that the teacher's union can strike for 20 days, meaning that the strike will likely last until November 11.  At a Chamber event yesterday, Northampton County Executive John Stoffa discussed the state of the County's finances, including his proposed 9.3% property tax hike.  In Easton, construction has begun on a $3.7 million plan to revitalize the city's waterfront.  Also in Easton, the city increased its federal funding allocation for police officers while cutting funding to the city's ambassador program.

In state-wide news, the table games remain a significant chunk of state-wide revenue that is expected to be generated to make the budget - but two critical pieces of legislation must still be passed in order to complete table games - how heavily casinos will be taxed and what will happen to "non-preferred" legislative accounts.  Meanwhile, a poll released yesterday shows that only 31% of those surveyed want to see Senator Arlen Specter reelected - a number regarded as "near fatal" by at least one pollster.

And in national news, another sign of economic recovery was visible yesterday: the Dow closed over 10,000 for the first time in more than a year.  However, another report indicated that foreclosures increased 5% from the summer to the fall.

We have one Chamber event today: a forum on how to market to the Hispanic community.

And that's it!  Have a great day. We'll be back later today.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Social Networking & Urban Revitalization

We write, quite a bit, about the connections between various social networking/internet tools and small business.  We also write a great deal on urban revitalization and its various benefits and struggles in the Valley.  Well, here's a really great article, again from Mashable, that discusses the connection between the two.

The article isn't really about urban revitalization, per se.  Instead, it discusses ways to be safe in cities, and how social networking is assisting in that effort.  Specifically, it reviews programs that are mashups (combination of social networking and internet programs) that address a variety of issues related to safety in a public place.  Examples discussed are crime mapping software that reviews how safe an area is to live, ensuring that your walking route will be safe, illness tracking software, and efforts by police departments to use social networking to keep the public informed and to catch criminals.

As social networking continues to become more prominent, we can likely expect more software like this. 

Daily Briefing, 10/14/2009

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

In local news, for the 2nd time in barely a year, the Saucon Valley School District has a teacher's strike.  The walkout begins today after the School Board voted 9-0 against the latest contract offer from the union.  The walkout could last as long as 15-17 days.  In the city of Bethlehem, the first part of a Greenway on the city's Southside has been completed.  The new park was paid for largely by the Sands Bethlehem. 

In state-wide news, there is a new poll out for the hotly contested 2010 U.S. Senate race.  The poll shows Senator Arlen Specter beating Pat Toomey by a slim 46-43% margin.  If Congressman Joe Sestak is the Democratic nominee, Sestak wins 43-38%. 

In national news, Senator Max Baucus' health care bill passed the Senate Finance Committee yesterday, with one Republican, Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) voting yes.  This bill must now be merged with another version that passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee before it is voted on by the full Senate.  In other news, there is now a new push to expand the $8,000 first-time tax credit on home purchases.  The credit is set to expire on November 30.

We have two Chamber events today: the annual Phillipsburg Awards banquet and an update on Steel Stacks from Jeff Parks of ArtsQuest.

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Daily Briefing, 10/13/2009

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

In the Saucon Valley, teachers are, once again, heading on strike.  The strike is set to begin tomorrow and coincides with a school board meeting to be held tonight.  At that meeting, the Saucon Valley School Board was set to vote on the latest contract proposal from the union.  At PBS-39, budget cuts have resulted in some local casualties, with shows being canceled and crew being laid off.  The cuts come as a result of a 90% reduction in state funding.  In Allentown, the city is moving forward with a plan to build a minor league hockey arena in the next seven months.  When it comes to swine flu, the Lehigh Valley will get vaccines, but not yet, as initial vaccines went to areas where there were the most cases. In business news, Lehigh Valley homes sales rose 18.2% in September, but prices continue to drop.  WFMZ runs a story on the recent state budget and its affect on Community and Economic Development projects.

We have one Chamber event today: a Capitol BlueCross Wellness Lunch and Learn on maintaining health habits.

Business Matters aired yesterday, and the topic was transportation in the Lehigh Valley.  You can watch the show online later today and check out the Business Matters blog to join in on the debate.

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

Monday, October 12, 2009

Google Analytics

To our readers - do any of you use Google Analytics to track your website's visitors and success?  We just installed it on this blog and are looking to do the same on the website - and, I have to say, it is incredibly impressive.  Check out their website to learn more about what it can do for you.  In addition to tracking how many views and visitors your website gets, you can also learn when they visit your page, where they come from, how long they are on your website, where they found your page from, and much, much, much more.

Oh, and it's all free.

Daily Briefing, 10/12/2009

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

First of all, in case you missed it yesterday: electronic deregulation may spike prices 30%, but it will also give customers a choice about who they want to buy their electricity fromTwo articles note that the Chamber is allowing our members to purchase electricity at a discount through a program we have launched with Constellation NewEnergy.  In an interesting story on a possible private-public partnership, the Borough of Nazareth and the local YMCA have met to discuss a possible partnership with the local pool that would help it turn a profit.


In state-wide news, the Morning Call runs a story on the race for Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice, with Jack Panella of Easton (D) facing off against Joan Orie Melvin (R).  Friday also saw an end to the +100 day budget stalemate, with Governor Rendell signing a budget late Friday night - the Morning Call reviews the pain that the budget will bring to many affected groups.

Business Matters airs today - the topic is transportation in America, Pennsylvania and the Valley.  The show features an interview with Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.  That interview is followed by a panel discussion with four Lehigh Valley guests.  The show will air tonight (Monday, October 12) at 8pm on WFMZ-TV and you can check out the Business Matters blog for more information and to join in the debate yourself.

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

Friday, October 9, 2009

What do we do with empty storefronts?

Well, it's no secret that America has a surplus of real estate space for offices and businesses - this is now more true than ever, with 10% of stores nationwide sitting empty or idle, according to this Time magazine article.  The lack of demand for business space, exacerbated by the global recession, has create numerous vacancies in every municipality.  These vacancies are bad on a variety of levels, but one of the most critical is that they create a bad impression of a dying economy. 

The Time article notes that many real estate firms are dramatically lowering their standards and charging less than they normally would, settling for more temporary uses (like campaign offices) at reduced prices.  This is a short-term strategy, but something that can help get everyone through these difficult economic times.


Meanwhile, many governments are using alternative strategies to fill storefronts that are vacant.  The picture here is from a vacant storefront in Allentown.  Is it better than a business?  Of course not.  But, at least some merchants/real estate agents are thinking creatively about the effect that real estate vacancies have on public space and what can be done to mitigate their effect.

Daily Briefing, 10/9/2009

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

PPL rates will be increasing 30% next year, a result of rate-caps expiring at the end of the year.  The move will cost the average home-owner an additional $378.72. In state-wide news, the long-delayed state budget appears to be nearing a conclusion, with the Pennsylvania Senate and House each moving forward key pieces of legislation, making it appear possible that a budget could be signed within the next couple of days.  In international news, it has been announced that President Obama has been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

Well, today's entry might just make a record when it comes to shortest Daily Briefing!  We will hopefully be back later today with at least one more entry, and until then, have a great day!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Small Business Financing Options - hosted by Congressman Dent

We received this the other day and wanted to share with you all.  Given the recent economic difficulties, it is much harder for entrepreneurs that are looking to start or expand small businesses to obtain the credit and financing that they need to get started.  As such, interested parties need more information and assistance than ever.  See the information below for more:

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U.S. Congressman Charles Dent hosts:
Small Business Financing Options
Presented by The U. S. Small Business Administration   
       
Are you looking for financing to start or expand your small business?
If so, come to this FREE workshop to learn all about financial assistance programs from Federal Agencies, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and National and Local Lenders.
Presenters include:
Michael Kane, U.S. Small Business Administration
Kim Edwards, Lehigh Small Business Development Center
Dan Hilbert, Lafayette Ambassador Bank
John Kingsley, Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation
Sue Malone, Superior Financial Group
Tony Ceballos, U.S. Export Assistance Center
Two Dates for Your Convenience:
Date: Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Time: 6:00pm-9:00pm
Place: Lehigh Carbon Community College, Alumni Center
4525 Education Park Dr., Schnecksville, PA 18078
Date: Thursday, November 5, 2009
Time: 6:00pm-9:00pm
Place: Northampton Community College, Fowler Center Room 605,
511 East Third Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015
Cost: The seminars are free, however you must pre-register as space is limited
              
To Register: Please email or fax Megan Everett, megan.everett@mail.house.gov, Fax: 610-861-9308
  COMPANY: _______________________________________________________________________
ATTENDEE(S): ____________________________________________________________________
PHONE: _____________________________________ FAX: _______________________________
EMAIL: ___________________________________________________________________________
SESSION DATE YOU WISH TO ATTEND:______________________________________________

Daily Briefing, 10/8/2009

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

In what could be a huge story, St. Luke's Hospital and Health Network and Temple Medical School announced the creation of the Valley's first medical school - the school will have its first class by 2011.  The Pennsylvania Auditor General's office slammed the Bethlehem Area School District yesterday, saying that the district failed to properly manage itself on a variety of financial fronts.  In Allentown, State Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare announced yesterday that it plans on closing Allentown State Hospital and moving its patients elsewhere across the state.  In Bethlehem, the Sands got some good news, as its revenues held steady last week, making it the 5th busiest casino in the state.  Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley announced yesterday the creation of a $250,000 pilot program that links the unemployed with health insurance opportunities.

In state-wide news, the budget crisis appears to be nearing a completion, with the house yesterday passing its own budget bill that differs from the Senate version passed earlier on a few relatively minor fronts.  In political news, former Congressman Pat Toomey announced yesterday that his campaign has raised $3 million in its fight to unseat Senator Arlen Specter.

In national news, although the economy appears to be recovery, consumers are still feeling the pain and seeking the deepest possible discounts.  In the Senate, a bill to extend the benefits by 13 weeks for the unemployed stalled in the Senate yesterday, with Senators arguing over the terms of the bill.  And, in the no surprise department: U.S. tax revenue has taken a significant hit this year, largely thanks to the recession - the U.S. collected 25% this year than at the same time last year, and next year apparently won't be much better.

We have one Chamber event today: a mixer at Buca di Beppo.

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

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Daily Briefing, 10/7/2009

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

In Lehigh County, County Executive Cunningham's budget was left generally unchanged after a budget hearing last night, surviving attempted cuts to quality of life grants and non-union pay raises.  In Bethlehem, City Council allocated $1.1 million in stimulus funding yesterday, granting the money to homeless prevention and two projects on the city's south side.  WFMZ runs a story on Facebook, Twitter and serving on a jury.  The summary: they don't mix.

In state-wide news, a budget deal appears to be relatively close, although House Democrats blasted Senate Republicans for what they consider $12 million in "Walking Around Money" that is contained in the budget the Senate passed yesterday.  They say they will pass their own budget, without the WAM money.

In national news, good news for natural gas customers: they can expect a double digit decrease in prices due to expectations of a milder winter and the recession.  Meanwhile, the price of gold shot up during the recession - but indications are that the price will soon come back to earth.

We have one Chamber event today: a Southern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce meeting at DeSales University.  The topic will be utilizing social media.

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

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Daily Briefing, 10/6/2009

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

In local news, Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley has distributed $564,678 in funding to area agencies in an effort to help those agencies assist the public with the effects of the recession.  The money itself comes from funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

When it comes to the state budget, the previously agreed upon deal now appears to be dead, with Senate Republicans working on their own budget once again.  The Governor remains "optimistic" that a deal can be reached.  The Morning Call runs a story on health care reform and abortion, noting that Senator Casey (who is opposed to abortion), could wind up voting for plans that may allow individuals to pay for abortions.  In other political news, Dan Onorato, Allegheny County Executive, begins a state-wide tour today to announce that he is running for Governor.  Onorato will be in Allentown on Thursday.

In national news, stocks rose yesterday as reports indicated that the service industry was growing once again.

Business Matters aired yesterday, and the topic was health care.  You can catch the show online later today, or visit the Business Matters blog to read more and join in the debate.

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

Monday, October 5, 2009

Welcome, new members!

The Chamber is pleased to welcome its new members for the month of September.  Check them out!

Prudential Patt, White Real Estate
2 North Main Street
(610) 282-4444
www.pattwhite.com
Business Type: REAL ESTATE APPRAISALS, DEVELOPERS & SERVICES

Croot Realtors
2 Partridge Lane
(908) 852-4410
eileencroot@yahoo.com
Business Type: REAL ESTATE APPRAISALS, DEVELOPERS & SERVICES

Edentify Inc.
One Bethlehem Plaza, Suite 901
(610) 814-6830
www.edentify.us
Business Type: SOFTWARE CONSULTANTS & DESIGN

Prudential Patt, White Real Estate
190 Brodhead Road, Suite 100
(610) 865-0033
www.pattwhite.com
Business Type: REAL ESTATE APPRAISALS, DEVELOPERS & SERVICES

Country Meadows of Bethlehem
4035 Green Pond Road
(610) 865-5580
www.countrymeadows.com
Business Type: NURSING HOMES & RETIREMENT COMMUNITIES

4 Aces Grill
1301 West Hamilton Street
(484) 661-4723
Business Type: RESTAURANTS & CAFES

Affiliated Financial Planners
4155 Independence Drive, Suite 1
(610) 799-9191
Business Type: FINANCIAL SERVICES

Bradley Corrugated
440 Allwood Road
(908) 313-1939
www.paigecompany.com
Business Type: MANUFACTURING

David Louis Catering
923 North 19th Street
(610) 297-1918
David@davidlouispc.com
Business Type: CATERING

Dekka Studios
901 Princeton Avenue, Suite 205
(610) 704-4250
www.dekkastudios.com
Business Type: MARKETING SERVICES

Domino's Pizza-Corporate
155 Mickley Road
www.dominos.com
Business Type: RESTAURANTS & CAFES

Energy Choice Solutions
913 Shenandoah Lane
(484) 885-8345
www.energychoicesolutions.com
Business Type: ENERGY

Extended Business Services
2299 Brodhead Road, Suite D
(610) 625-1540
www.extendedbusinessservices.com
Business Type: CUSTOMER SERVICE CALL CENTER

Finelli Consulting Engineers West Inc
54 Main Street
(610) 559-1000
www.finelliconsulting.com
Business Type: ENGINEERING

First Data - Joel Garcia/Bethlehem
906 W. Lehigh St.
(484) 554-6404
www.firstdata.com
Business Type: CREDIT CARD PROCESSING

Four Points Properties Ltd.
8484 Airport Road
(610) 390-8506
fourpointsp@verizon.net
Business Type: CONTRACTORS

igotaguy.com
110 Hoffman Street
(215) 774-1394
alexander@igotaguy.com
www.igotaguy.com
Business Type: ADVERTISING, MARKETING & PUBLIC RELATIONS

Jeff's Automotive
4110 William Penn Highway
(610) 253-6565
www.jeffsautomotive.com
Business Type: AUTOMOBILE REPAIRS, SERVICES & DETAILING

Kissinger Associates, Inc.
2117 Main Street
(800) 562-5456; (610) 926-7450
sales@kissingerassoc.com
www.kissingerassoc.com
Business Type: COMPUTER SALES & SERVICES

La Bella Family Restaurant & Pizzeria
1715 Butler Street
(610) 258-4050
Business Type: RESTAURANTS & CAFES

LB Management Group, T/A Louie's Restaurants
2071 31st Street SW
(610) 791-1226
www.louiesrestaurant.com
Business Type: RESTAURANTS & CAFES

Marco's Pizza Express
593 Main Street Lower Level
(610) 882-5800
www.marcospizzaexpress.com
Business Type: RESTAURANTS & CAFES

Mary Kay Cosmetics - Leslie A. Coleman
509 Gold Finch Terrace
(908) 859-0016
www.marykay.com/leslieacoleman
Business Type: SALONS, SPAS & BEAUTY SUPPLIES

Millbrook HomeCare Partners, Inc.
P.O. Box 233
(610) 390-5305; (610) 390-5308
info@millbrookhomecare.com
www.millbrookhomecare.com
Business Type: ASSISTED LIVING & HOME CARE

Pain Specialists Of Greater Lehigh Valley
1245 South Cedar Crest Boulevard, Suite 301
(610) 402-1757; (610) 402-9050
Business Type: HEALTH CARE SERVICES

Palram Americas
9735 Commerce Circle
(610) 285-9918
vanessa.fenstermacher@palram.com
www.palramamericas.com
Business Type: MANUFACTURING

Pilot Freight Services
964 Marcon Boulevard, Suite 160
(610) 264-8777
Business Type: FREIGHT MANAGEMENT

Premier Choice Real Estate LLC
3400 Bath Pike, Suite 312
(610) 866-2100
www.PremierChoiceRealEstate.com
Business Type: REAL ESTATE APPRAISALS, DEVELOPERS & SERVICES

Republic Lens Company
1683 Valley View Drive
(610) 588-7867
Business Type: MANUFACTURING

RGS Promotions LLC
1330 Jacobsburg Road
(610) 392-3523
rsaeger@ptd.net
Business Type: COPYING, BINDING, PRINTING SERVICES & SUPPLIES

SAGE Design-Build Inc.
8113 Laurel Court
jland@ptd.net
Business Type: ARCHITECTS & RELATED SERVICES

SaladWorks at Cedar Crest
1403 North Cedar Crest Boulevard
(610) 437-0400
www.saladworks.com
Business Type: RESTAURANTS & CAFES

SunWire Energy
6400 Baltimore National Pike, 170-A, #183
(410) 691-3129
info@sunwireenergy.com
www.sunwireenergy.com
Business Type: ENERGY

Target-Airport Road
912 Airport Center Drive
(610) 573-5710
www.target.com
Business Type: RETAIL SALES

The Caring Connection Inc. - Elder Care Services
3550 Freemansburg Avenue
(610) 882-9131
caringconnection@rcn.com
www.caringconnectioneldercare.com
Business Type: HEALTH CARE SERVICES

Top of the Line Salon & Spa LLC
629 West State Street
(610) 282-2142
Business Type: SALONS, SPAS & BEAUTY SUPPLIES

Treatment Trends
P.O. Box 685
(610) 439-8479
www.treatmenttrends.org
Business Type: NON-PROFIT & NOT-FOR-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS

Turnbull & Co.
1636 North Cedar Crest Boulevard, Suite 309
(610) 439-1582
www.box007.com/turnbull
Business Type: INSURANCE

Western Pest Service
1444 Bethlehem Pike
P.O. Box 259
(215) 646-5900
www.westernpest.com
Business Type: EXTERMINATORS

Ameriprise Financial dba Sidden, Cook, Pfister & Associates
2045 Westgate Drive, Suite 401
(610) 865-7980; (866) 865-7980
chantell.a.reeves@ampf.com
www.ameriprise.com
Business Type: FINANCIAL SERVICES

Finelli Consulting Engineers - NJ
205 Route 31 North
Business Type:

GGH Consulting LLC dba LET GEORGE (DO IT) FIX IT!
2965 Magnolia Circle
P.O. Box 573
(610) 217-9841
gghconsulting@ptd.net
Business Type: HOME IMPROVEMENT

Jena Communications
125 Stokes Avenue
(570) 476-6900
dbeck@jenapub.com
www.jenacommunications.com
Business Type: ADVERTISING, MARKETING & PUBLIC RELATIONS

Prudential Patt, White Real Estate
3601 Nazareth Road
(610) 258-0808
www.pattwhite.com
Business Type: REAL ESTATE APPRAISALS, DEVELOPERS & SERVICES

Prudential Patt, White Real Estate
2814 Walbert Avenue
(610) 434-3223
www.pattwhite.com
Business Type: REAL ESTATE APPRAISALS, DEVELOPERS & SERVICES

Prudential Patt, White Real Estate
447 Blue Valley Drive
(610) 863-3360
www.pattwhite.com
Business Type: REAL ESTATE APPRAISALS, DEVELOPERS & SERVICES

Prudential Patt,White Real Estate
5925 W. Tilghman Street, Suite 90
610-395-2082
www.pattwhite.com
Business Type: REAL ESTATE APPRAISALS, DEVELOPERS & SERVICES

Business Type:

Business Type:

Daily Briefing, 10/5/2009

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

In local news, local colleges are dealing with an increase in gambling addictions, something that is of particular concern to Bethlehem schools that are located near the Sands.
In state-wide news, the state House met yesterday and debated over 180 amendments as it worked towards legalizing table games at Pennsylvania casinos, a key component of the budget deal that has supposedly been worked out.

In national news, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan said yesterday that he believes that the 3rd quarter GDP will grow 3% but that unemployment will break 10%. Meanwhile, a report on the recent bank bailout shows that government officials were "too rosy" in their predictions about the health of the banks that received bailouts.

Business Matters airs today, and the topic is the most controversial one going right now: health care reform. You can catch the show at 8:00pm on WFMZ-TV, and make sure to join in the debate at the Business Matters blog - and it will likely be a raging debate!

We have one Chamber event today: a meet the candidates forum, held by the Greater Northern Chamber of Commerce.

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

Friday, October 2, 2009

Daily Briefing, 10/2/2009

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

In Bethlehem, the city is set to begin construction on a $1 million skate park.  The park will be located across the street from the Bethlehem Sands and will be about 40,000 square feet.  In Northampton County, County Executive John Stoffa has proposed a tax increase of 9.3% for next year's budget - the issue might have come up at yesterday's Council meeting, but the meeting had to be canceled due to a lack of quorum.  In Easton, Mayor Panto has proposed a $27.6 million budget that holds the line on taxes, spending and other fees.  In Lehigh County, County Executive Don Cunningham distributed county money to pay for new community police officers in Allentown, Bethlehem, Catasauqua, Fountain Hill and Salisbury Township.  Half of the salaries for nine officers will be covered.


In state-wide news, the broad agreement regarding the Pennsylvania budget seemed to be falling apart yesterday, with various House Democrats opposing a variety of different provisions about the deal, including taxes on small games of chance.  Instead, the Democrats have proposed taxing the extraction of natural gas and increasing the tax on table games and one-time fees for casino licenses. 

In national news, auto sales dropped dramatically in September after the expiration of the "cash for clunkers" program, dropping a dramatic 41%.  Meanwhile, we can also expect to find out September's unemployment numbers later today.  And, with its fiscal year closing, the Small Business Administration announced that it gave out 25,000 less loans this year than last - a drop of 36%.

In Chamber news, our annual "Mayor of the Year" dinner was held yesterday.  The winner was Mayor Walter Niedermeyer of Slatington - congrats, Mayor Niedermeyer!  And, make sure you get to Bethlehem this weekend for its annual Harvest Festival.

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

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Volunteer opportunity in Easton!


Hi everyone,

This comes from Danielle Josephs, Vice President of Easton Initiatives at The Chamber.  There is a great event coming up in Easton - the "Movies at the Mill" event.  The information is below.

“Movies at the Mill – Easton
  • Easton Film Festival
  • Friday, October 9 (rain date on October 10)
  • 6-10 pm
  • Silk Mill off of North 13th Street in Easton

We are looking for volunteers 21 and over to help with:
  • Set up (evening before and morning/afternoon of)
  • Lighting
  • Projection
  • Perimeter control
  • Greeting, id check, program distribution
  • Parking area
  • Bus stop area
  • Food and beverage booths

Please contact Danielle at daniellej@lehighvalleychamber.org or (484) 226-

Daily Briefing, 10/1/2009

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

The first vaccines of the H1N1 virus have arrived in Pennsylvania, but we won't see any of that shipment in the Lehigh Valley - they will be going to school children in high risk areas.  In Allentown, the city is hosting an Energy Efficiency forum designed to help property and business owners decrease their energy costs.  The Lehigh County, the Express Times runs a story on the two candidates for the fifth commissioner district: incumbent Glenn Eckhart (R) and Hillary Kwiatek (D).  In Northampton County, three Boroughs are currently without permanent police chiefs and two are still looking: Pen Argyl, Wilson and Nazareth.  Also in Northampton, the gaming authority has begun discussions about how to distribute $2.8 million in grant funding.


In state-wide news, a new budget controversy is brewing: whether or not to tax the drilling of Marcellus shale.  About 30 Democrats want to tax its extraction - Republicans oppose the idea.  A new Senate poll has come out that shows former Congressman Pat Toomey (R) defeating Arlen Specter (D) in a general election match-up, 43-42%.  The poll also has Specter with a lead over primary opponent, Congressman Joe Sestak (D-7), 44-25%.

The International Money Fund has said that the economy will grow 3.1% next year, although unemployment will remain high and the pace of the recovery will remain slow.

We have one Chamber event today, and its a big one: our annual Mayor of the Year dinner.
 
That's it for now!  Oh, and of course: GO PHILLIES!