Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A "fundamental shift" in the real estate market? Transitioning from suburbian to urban development

I found this really fascinating story from the New York Times.  The crux is this: according to an EPA study, urban redevelopment continues to outpace the growth of suburban redevelopment.  Here are some of the bullet-points:
  • In a census of 26 o the 50 biggest metropolitan areas, residential construction in cities has doubled since 2000.
  • This trend takes the most effect in areas with the strongest land-use and smart-growth policies.  However, even areas with weak policies in these areas, such as L.A. and Chicago, are seeing this level of revitalization.
  • The federal government is encouraging urban revitalization through the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant program, which offers a total of $100 million for sustainable redevelopment.
  • This shift appears to be at least partially demographic - baby boomers and young adults tend to prefer livable and walkable communities that are found in cities.
This trend obviously has some very serious repercussions on the Lehigh Valley, an area with redeveloping urban cores and plenty of suburban townships. 

I'm curious to hear from locals on this national trend - to our realtors, have you seen this trend, and what do you think?

Daily Briefing, 3/31/2010

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

In what has been a relatively sleepy Democratic primary for Governor, the ad wars began yesterday, with Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato becoming the first of the candidates to air TV advertisements.

Saturday mail could end as early as the beginning of 2011 according to Postmaster General John Potter.  The post office faces a deficit of $238 billion over the next decade.  If you have an iPhone, or if you have Verizon, here's a potentially huge story - a new report says that the iPhone may be available on Verizon at some point in the future.  Currently, the iPhone is exclusive to AT&T.  President Obama is set to announce the opening of previously closed areas to oil drilling.  Locations include off of the Virginia cost and the Gulf of Mexico. runs a story on how cities, faced with budget crises', are looking to outside agencies to help them collect on bad debt.

We have one Chamber event today: a municipal update from Upper Saucon and Coopersburg.  This event was originally scheduled for 2/10 but was cancelled due to snow.

That's it for now!  We'll be back later today with our usual Tech Wednesday post.  Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Facebook E-mails driving you nuts?

We talk about Social Media quite a bit here - it can be an incredible tool for people to conduct business, but it can also get really annoying and become a time waster.  Facebook can be distracting, annoying and time-consuming, especially if you don't use it properly.

I don't have all the answers, but I can try and help!  For example - if you are on Facebook, you likely get an E-mail every time that someone becomes your friend, comments on your status, invites you to a group, suggestions that you become a fan of a page, etc.  That can be useful - but again, it can be annoying.  Personally, I have it set so I don't get E-mails when I am invited to an event, group or page.

Here's how you can do that:
1)  On the main page, click on Account, then click on "Account Settings."
2)  Click on the notifications tab.

You are now at the main tab for notifications and can customize it however you want.  From this page, you can adjust when you are E-mailed when a specific action occurs.  Want even more notification?  Some functions can be arranged so that you get a text message. 

Facebook is very user-friendly.  Most of the time, there is a way to adjust it to your liking. 

Any more questions?  Feel free to E-mail me at

Shifting burden: What states are trying to tax

Chalk this one up under depressing.  We write, frequently, about the fiscal crisis facing state and local governments.  This is a result of many factors, including pension obligations and the massive recession that will still take at least another year for state and local governments to get through.  To that end, states are seeing rising expenses and decreasing revenues. 

In an attempt to combat these trends, states are attempting all new ways to raise revenue, and this New York Times story highlights a few.  Examples of possible new taxes in some states include:
  • Garbage pickup
  • Dating Services
  • Bowling
  • Haircuts
  • Clowns (that's just not funny...sorry, I couldn't resist, moving on....)
  • Funerals
  • Legal advice
  • Helicopter rides
  • Dry cleaning
  • Tailors
  • Blimp rides
  • ...and many more....
In Pennsylvania, Governor Rendell has proposed dropping to overall rate of the sales tax from 6% to 4%, but dramatically expanding the reach of the sales tax.  The Governor argues that this is necessary and the "best of the alternatives."  Such a tax shift could have a dramatic effect on business and government operations.  Other states have taxed such services as above, including Hawaii, New Mexico, South Dakota and Washington.

What do you think?  Is this a necessary shift to modernize or tax system or another tax grab?

Daily Briefing, 3/30/2010

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

St. Luke's announced yesterday that it will start screening all new applicants for nicotine and rejecting any smokers.  The move was announced as an attempt to improve the health of employees.  In the ongoing dispite between the Mayor of Macungie and Police Chief, the Mayor has filed a complaint in Lehigh County Court, saying that he is entitled to access to police department records and a key to the station. 

In state-wide news, Speaker of the House Keith McCall gave his staff pay raises despite a prohibition against raises this year.

Here's some good economic news: consumer spending rose for the fifth straight month, increasing the Dow Jones industrial average yesterday.  National Race to the Top education funding was awarded yesterday to two states out of fourteen finalists: Pennsylvania was not among the two winners, Tennessee and Delaware.  President Obama will sign the health care "fix" bill into law later today, bringing an end to his push health care reform.  Meanwhile, a new poll shows that 56% of American's disapproves of the recently passed health care legislation, but opposes a repeal by 50-47%.

In Chamber news, the late Susie Olewine is the winner of the Greater Northern Chamber of Commerce's Spirit Award.

Business Matters aired yesterday, featuring a discussion on how to save our cities.  The show will be available online later today, and you can also check out the Business Matters blog to read more about the program.

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

Monday, March 29, 2010

Wall Street Journal: Personal income down in 42 states

If you can bear the depressing news, check out this informative story from the Wall Street Journal.  According to the survey, personal income fell in 42 states during 2009.  It stayed flat in two states and rose in six, as well as Washington D.C.  The only good news is that the trend is positive - personal income rose in the 4th quarter of 2009 as compared to the 3rd quarter - more evidence that the economy is improving.  In Pennsylvania, the per capita income decreased by roughly .5%.  Believe it or not, Pennsylvania's income decrease did not fare nearly as other states.  The Sun Belt (Nevada, Arizona, California, etc) was hit particularly hard, but that is consistent with the rest of the recession.

Hey, it could be worse, right?

What blogs do you read?

Thanks to Google Reader, I'm able to follow about 15 blogs and day and keep up with them relatively easily.  Most of the blogs I read are work related in some way.  Here's a list of what I read, but we want to hear from you.  What blogs do you read that help you keep on top of business, politics or your work life?
  • CrossroadsThe official blog of Renew Lehigh Valley - has some great story on regionalism, local planning and urban issues.
  • Mashable!This blog is the authority on Social Media.  Easily my favorite blog.
  • GOODPertains to a variety of issues, mostly on a world-wide scale.  Gets a little too theoretical/out there sometimes, but does have some very good infographs.
  • PlanetzeinGreat blog for stories related to urban planning.
  • pa2010Deals with the upcoming election on a state-wide level, but also touches on individual Congressional districts.  Very good way to keep up with the election.
  • Political WireAmazing blog for national political news.
  • Stateline.orgLocal & statewide political stories.  
  • LifehackerA blog on personal productivity.  If you are busy, read it.
  • MintLifePersonal finance tips.
How about you?  What do you read?  What am I missing?

Daily Briefing, 3/29/10

Good morning everyone, and welcome back to work!  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

You can expect a wet next few days, as we are expected to get up to three inches of rain from today until Tuesday night.  The Lehigh Valley Auto Show ended yesterday, with car dealers optimistic that more customers are on the way.

In state-wide news, the Philadelphia Inquirer runs a story on the income of four of the six candidates running for Pennsylvania Governor.   Their income ranges from $83,000 - $216,000.

The Express-Times runs an AP story on how to start saving now on your health care costs.  President Obama made a surprise trip to Afghanistan over the weekend, meeting with U.S. troops and holding a face to face meeting with President Hamid Karzai. 

That's it for now!  We'll be back later today.  Have a great day, and we'll see you soon.

Business Matters airs today, featuring a discussion on saving our cities.  The show airs at 8:00pm on WFMZ-TV - for more information, check out the Business Matters blog.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Daily Briefing, 3/26/2010

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

Information about the long awaited rail study came out yesterday, and the results are not good - light rail from the Lehigh Valley to New York City would cost almost $700 million, a prospect made even more doubtful as New Jersey Transit is considering raising fares and cutting back service, not expanding it.  In other regionalism news, Allentown and Bethlehem are submitting a joint application for Google Fiber, a service that would dramatically increase the area's internet speed and capacity.  In political news, a judge ruled that Michael Horton (D), who is running against State Representative Karen Beyer, was legally qualified to run for the seat.  Two candidates also withdrew from the race after acknowledging problems with their petitions - Corey Miller (Democrat running in the 138th House District for Craig Dally's old seat) and Heidi Markow (Republican running in the 136th House District for Bob Freeman's seat).  Both will now run write-in campaigns.  PPL has launched an energy-saving program designed to help customers use energy more efficiently.  In Easton, the specter of teacher layoffs were raised again for the Easton Area School Board.  The Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Show opened yesterday at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem.

In state-wide political news, a new poll yesterday showed Pat Toomey leading Arlen Specter 33-29% in the hotly contested Senate race.  The same poll had Toomey leading Sestak 27-19%.  Senator Specter maintains his lead on Congressman Sestak in the primary, 32-12%. 

In national news, the final health care "fix" bill has passed the House and the Senate and is on its way for President Obama's approval.  The Obama administration will also later today announce new initiatives to help struggling homeowners with mortgage payments.

That's it for now, and actually for the rest of the day, as your resident blogger will be running from meeting to meeting from here on out.  Have a great weekend, and we'll see you on Monday!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What new taxes are in the health care reform package?

The massive health care reform has obviously dramatically changed the American government and economy.  The bill, which will cost $940 billion over the next decade, does create new taxes in order to be paid for.

So, where specifically does the money come from?  Here are some of the answers, assuming that the final version of the legislation passes the Senate:
  • Over the next decade, new taxes will general an additional $409.2 billion, plus another $69 billion in penalties on individuals and businesses who don't meet insurance mandates.
  • Medicare taxes are increased on individuals who make more than $200,000 a year and couples who make more than $250,000.  Medicare taxes are also now applied to investment income.  In all, taxes on the highest income bracket could rise as high as 44%.
  • There will be a 40% tax levied on the "Cadillac" health care plans, starting in 2018.
  • Starting in 2013, Americans (under 65) will not be able to deduct health care expenses until they make up more than 10% of out-of-pocket costs - up from 7.5% now.
  • There are new limits on health savings accounts - individuals breaking those limits face a 20% tax.
  • There is now a limit on what can be contributed to flexible spending accounts - $2,500.
  • Tanning salons face a 10% tax.
  • Fines are placed on individuals who don't purchase insurance and the same applies to businesses who don't purchase insurance for their employees.
This really has fundamentally altered American government.

Daily Briefing, 3/25/2010

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

In Easton, City Council voted unanimously last night to take advantage of Act 44's pension recalculation, staving off a doubling in the city's pension obligations.  Also in Easton, the tragic death of Robert Mitchell, a 13 year old who was killed when his bike was struck by a LANTA bus, has amplified the need among some for a skate park in the city.  There was bad news for Mack Trucks yesterday, as new figures showed their February deliveries down 5% compared to the same time last year.  In Allentown, City Council held a public meeting to discuss the upcoming closure of Allentown State Hospital.

In state-wide news, Representative Dwight Evans, a Democrat who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, attacked Attorney General Tom Corbett's suit against the federal government for health care reform and has said that he will do "whatever it takes" to stop the suit, including cutting off funding to the Attorney General's office. In politics, Democratic Senator and candidate for Governor Anthony Williams earned a huge endorsement yesterday, with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter saying he would back Williams.

In health care news, Senate Republicans found two provisions of the legislation that are in violation of parliamentary procedure, forcing the so-called "fix" bill back to the House of Representatives for another vote.  Also in health care news, some frightening information: 10 Democrats have been victims of threats or acts of vandalism following the health care vote.  By the way: did you know that tanning salons now have a 10% tax to help pay for health care reform?

We have two Chamber events today: an introductory training class on how to use Social Networking and a grand opening at Express Business Center.

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

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tech Wednesday: TextMarks for text messaging to a broad audiance

Text messaging is obviously an incredibly popular way to communicate - there are 2.5 billion text messages sent every day in the United States and far more text messages sent than phone calls on a daily basis.  Businesses and other groups have begun to tap into text messaging as a way to market to individuals, but sending text messages to a large audience of interested readers is not an easy task and cannot be efficiently done without access to better technology.  Fortunately, that technology is available to us all in the form of TextMarks.

Summary:  TextMarks allows you to send text messages to a broad audiance that registers to receive messages from you. 

How it works:  You sign-up and register your keyword with the website (such as "Main Street Cafe").  You can then tell users to send a text to 41411 to register.  Those users will then receive text messages from you whenever you send them out.

It's easy to get others to sign up to receive your messages, as all you have to do is fold your keyword into other advertising (E-mails, website, Social Media, etc). 

The uses here are pretty broad - you can easily create different messages regardless of the type of business or community activity that you engage in.

TextMarks also has some significant data analysis, enabling you to see who has read your text messages and when they read them.

Pricing:   Like many of these websites, TextMarks is free to use on a limited basis.  For free, you can send out an unlimited amount of texts a month, but only register one keyword and use it on a trial basis.  Paid plans are available that remove or expand these limits, give you access to better keywords and remove ads from your messages.

Daily Briefing, 3/24/2010

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

The Lehigh Valley International Airport, facing a $25 million court judgment, is finding new ways to make money, approving an $85,000 contract to maintain (via grass cutting and litter removal) an area of property near Airport Road and Route 22.  The airport did get some bad news, with a report saying traffic declined in February 2010 compared to February 2009; the drop was blamed on February's terrible weather.  In Macungie, the fight between the Chief of Police and Mayor has taken another turn, with the police union suing the Borough of Macungie.  WFMZ takes a look at the pension problems facing school boards, noting that some boards are facing 500% increases in their pension obligations - a massive amount that cannot be covered.

In state-wide news, as noted yesterday, Attorney General Tom Corbett is one of 12 Republican Attorney General's suing the federal government, saying that health care reform passed is unconstitutional; yesterday, Democratic Candidates for Governor unloaded on Corbett, calling the move an unprecedented waste of time and money.

In health care news, President Obama will today sign an executive order that will reiterate that federal funds for abortion will not be allowed under the new health care reform; the executive order was part of a deal that helped make health care reform a reality.  There are two interesting national polls to report today.  First, Americans continue to be largely pessimistic on the economy, with an almost 2-1 margin believing that the economy got worse last year, not better.  In health care news, a USA Today/Gallup poll showed that, by a 49-40% margin, Americans now believe that it was a "good thing" rather than a "bad thing" that Congress passed the health care reform bill.  If this poll is accurate, it is a reversal of other polls taken before the bill's passage. 

We have one Chamber event today: a grand opening at ZEP East.

That's it for now!  We'll be back later with our usual Tech Wednesday post.  See you then!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Attorney General's Day

Attorney General Tom Corbett has had a big 24 hours, with some serious positives and negatives.

First is the news regarding health care.  With the passage of health care reform on Sunday, Attorney General Tom Corbett will be joining eleven other states in suing the federal government over health care reform.  Those other states are Alabama, Florida, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Utah.  All twelve states have Republican Attorney General's.

Next is yesterday's verdict in the Bonusgate scandal.  Former State Representative Mike Veon was convicted of 14 felonies that stemmed from Bonusgate.  Others have been charged as well, and the Veon verdict represents the first convictions from Bonusgate.  The court verdicts are seen as political victories as well, as they help highlight Corbett's reputation as a reformer.

Of course, politics is in the middle of each area and their are negatives to the press coverage.  There are many legal experts who believe that a law suit against health care reform stands little chance of being successful, and others note that while Veon was convicted of 14 counts, he was acquitted of 45 counts. 

There were positives and negatives on the day for the Attorney General, but he certainly made waves over the past 24 hours. 

Daily Briefing, 3/23/2010

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

In local business news, home sales are up but the price of those sales is down from the same month a year ago.  The Express Times reports on local colleges support of a revamped college loan program that cuts out private agencies from loaning money to students and replaces it with direct loans from the Department of Education.

In state-wide news, Attorney General Tom Corbett has joined with Attorney General's in 11 other states in suing the federal government for its recent passage of health care reform, challenging the reform as illegal and unconstitutional.  Former Democratic State Representative Mike Veon was convicted of 14 felonies yesterday.  All were related to the Bonusgate scandal

President Obama will sign health care reform into law later today; WFMZ takes a look at how the health care reform package will work.  Meanwhile, the "fix" bill will begin debate shortly in the Senate, with Senator Harry Reid hoping that it will be passed by the weekend.  Financial regulation legislation has cleared the Senate Finance Committee.  The controversial community organizing group ACORN announced yesterday that it was shutting down.  The move comes after scandals rocked the organization last year.

Business Matters aired yesterday, featuring a one-on-one interview with Representative Sam Rohrer (R-128), candidate for Governor.  The show will be available online later today.

We have two Chamber events today: a LeBEAM business spotlight and a Women's Business Council Monthly Lunch.

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

Monday, March 22, 2010

Health care: What comes next

Hi everyone -

So, obviously the historic health care reform package passed yesterday.  But, here's a relatively common question: now what?  The process still isn't over.  This article from CNN nicely breaks down the ongoing process.

The bill that passed the House yesterday was an exact version of the same bill that passed the Senate on Christmas Eve.  That legislation will be signed into law by the President tomorrow.  However, there is still more to come.  However, in a separate package, the House also approved amendments to the Senate bill.  That legislation is now headed over to the Senate for debate and voting.  Senate Republicans have indicated that they will do everything within their power to slow or stop the passes of this legislation. 

Regardless of if the fixes to the Senate bill pass or fail, because of the passage of the Senate legislation in the House yesterday, health care reform is now the law of the land.

I think this is why they say that you should never see how laws are made...its a bit of a messy process!

Daily Briefing, 3/22/2010

Good morning everyone, and I hope you had a great weekend!  At least the weather was perfect.  Anyway, here is today' Daily Briefing.

In state-wide news, Pennsylvania is dealing with a pension crisis, one caused at least in part by the pension hike of 2001 and the subsequent decline in the stock market.

Of course, the big news of yesterday is that health care reform legislation passed the House of Representatives yesterday and is now headed to President Obama's desk to be signed into law.  The legislation passed by a vote of 219-212, with no Republicans voting in favor and 34 Democrats voting against. takes a look at how the $940 billion legislation will be paid for and how it will affect small businesses.

Business Matters airs today, featuring a one-on-one interview with State Representative Sam Rohrer (R-128), candidate for Governor.   The show airs at 8pm on WFMZ-TV.

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

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Job openings

Hi everyone - as usual, here are this week's job openings from Chamber members.  If you have any job openings that you would like to advertise, please E-mail me at
Hotel Bethlehem - Fine Dining Restaurant Manager

We have an opening for a full time manager of 1741 on the Terrace, our fine dining restaurant.

Applicants must be self motivated, have a steady and stable employment history, and must have at least two years of management experience in a fine dining restaurant. Those who do not have previous management experience in fine dining will not be considered.
Must be flexible, and must be available to work weekends and holidays. Must be reliable and detail oriented, and have strong organizational and planning skills.
There will be a pre-employment drug screen, as well as a criminal background check. Previous employment will be verified and references will be thoroughly checked.
We offer medical, dental, matching 401K, short term and long term disability, life insurance, and a very generous paid time off (PTO) package.
Please e-mail your resume to:
Hotel Bethlehem - Banquet Manager

We have an opening for a full time Banquet Manager.
Applicants must be self motivated, have a steady and stable employment history, and must have at least two years of management experience in banquets. Those who do not have previous management experience in banquets will not be considered. Hotel banquet experience is much preferred.
Responsible for the day to day management of all aspects of the rooms/facilities, set up, and food and beverage service, so that all efforts are directed toward guest satisfaction. Responsible for managing all banquet servers, bartenders, and set-up staff. Must coordinate with clients, food and beverage staff and the sales department to ensure a successful and effective operation, and exceed all guest expectations. Must be reliable and detail oriented, and have strong organizational and planning skills.

The ideal candidate would enjoy leading and developing associates, resolving problems under time pressure, be detail oriented and have a passion for giving guests an exceptional experience.
Banquet Manager reports directly to the General Manager.
Must be flexible, able to work all hours and must be available to work weekends and holidays.

There will be a pre-employment drug screen, as well as a criminal background check. Previous employment will be verified and references will be thoroughly checked.
We offer medical, dental, matching 401K, short term and long term disability, life insurance, and a very generous paid time off (PTO) package.
Please e-mail your resume to:

Daily Briefing, 3/18/2010

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

In political news, it was announced yesterday that Vice President Joe Biden will visit the Lehigh Valley to campaign for John Callahan, the likely Democratic nominee for Congress.  Speaking of Bethlehem, City Councilman Eric Evans announced yesterday that he plans on introducing a hand-held cell phone ban, modeled after Allentown's.  The Easton Area School District appears to be moving towards employee layoffs to help balance their budget.

In health care reform news, the Congressional Budget Office did not release their score of the health care reform legislation, meaning that a vote this weekend will now likely not occur.  An $18 billion jobs bill has passed Congress and will be signed into law by President Obama tomorrow.  The legislation gives tax credits for companies hiring and includes an extension off transportation funding.  WFMZ runs an interesting story on the recent spike in multi-generational homes, or homes that have three generations living in them.  Their number has increased 30% since 2000.

Today is a big day at The Chamber, with three events and two of them are major ones: today is the Buy Lehigh Valley Trade Fair and Meet the Purchasers mixer.  We also have a mixer later today at White and Williams.

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

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Your federal legislators NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU! The White House set Thursday, March 18, as the deadline for the House to pass the Senate health care reform bill. The House and Senate would then pass a package of fixes to that legislation, with the package considered in the Senate under budget reconciliation rules rather than a super-majority vote on the measure. Democrats are looking at an Easter deadline for completing health care reform, which would put final measures on the president's desk by the end of March.

The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce:
  • supports "legal reforms based on fairness, common sense and personal responsibility that will allow for a stable and sustainable insurance system for providers." The Senate Bill does not contain any such provision.
  • supports "reforming government regulations to improve the delivery of healthcare." The Senate Bill expands the role of the Federal Government into the healthcare and health insurance industries. This expansion neither reforms regulations nor improve the delivery of healthcare.
  • supports "encouraging fair and open competition." The Senate Bill attempts to accomplish this with the establishment of Federally structured "exchanges" that will require Federally mandated benefits.
  • opposes "shifting a disproportionate share of the funding for the cost of healthcare in any way that would impair the health or economic vitality of the Lehigh Valley." The Senate Bill creates taxes on certain healthcare products and services which will increase the cost of healthcare. The Senate Bill requires employers to either to offer coverage to all their employees or pay a tax. There will be increased payroll taxes. These act against the notion of hiring more employees.
  • opposes "unfunded and underfunded government programs and the expansion of mandated benefits, unless sufficient evidence exists demonstrating that the benefits of the mandate clearly outweigh its costs." The Senate Bill broadly expands Medicaid, which history has proven to place an additional burden on the treasury of the fifty states.
Make your voice heard with those representing us in Washington, D.C.

Thanks to our partners, the Pennsylvania Prosperity Project (P2), in less than 60 seconds, you can tell your federal legislators how you want them to vote on this legislation. We encourage you to click the link below and simply enter your address and the P2 system will match you up with your members of Congress. In Step 2, you will be presented with a template letter that you may send as is, or edit at your will. Then, just hit send! It’s your opinion, your vote, and your healthcare!

Click here to send the letter.

For additional information please view the below information and/or contact Michelle Griffin Young at

GLVCC Healthcare Policy

CBO (Congressional Budget Office) review of the legislation

CBO: Senate Bill Makes 10 Million Employees Lose Coverage

Tech Wednesday: Toodledo

We've previously featured websites like Remember the Milk for organizing your to do list.  I just started using a different website, and it is working great for me.  The website is Toodledo, a great online to do list.

Features and benefits:
  • Input, track and sort all of your tasks.
  • Organize by a variety of features, including group of tasks, due date, status, priority, etc.
  • Share your tasks with anyone else using the system.
  • Arrange for E-mail reminders of items on your list.
  • An iPhone application is available for $2.99.  The app is very convenient and lets you manage your tasks from anywhere.
Pricing:  Toodledo is free to use just about every feature (and really, every feature you would need as far as I can tell), but there are more advanced versions available for a relatively low price.

How about the rest of you?  What do you use to keep yourself organized?

Daily Briefing, 3/17/2009

Good morning everyone, and happy St. Patrick's day!  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

Senators Lisa Boscola (D-18) and Pat Browne (R-16) will be introducing legislation that will ban any government or authority from entering into bond swaps.  These types of swaps cost the Bethlehem Area School District millions.  In Bethlehem, city council passed a measure that will require that the city submits regular financial reports.  The move comes after the city's business administrator was reprimanded for "misrepresenting spending."  City Council also wrote a letter to the state, saying that they want the Bethlehem Sands to complete the rest of their originally proposed construction complex.  In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie's budget has eliminated state funding for the Urban Enterprise Zone from his 2011 budget.

There's a new state-wide poll in the race for the Senate, and this one has Pat Toomey up on Arlen Specter by a 49-40 margin.

In the battle for health care reform, there is still no word on what type of procedure's the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate plan on using in order to pass the reform legislation.  In economic news, the Federal Reserve left interest rates near 0% yesterday and said that this practice will likely continue in the near future.

We have one Chamber event today:  a Western Lehigh Chamber of Commerce lunch featuring Andrew Stanton of Altitude Marketing

That's it for now!  See you later and have a great day.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Small Business Council Event: Attracting, Motivating and Retaining the Most Valuable Asset

Social Media event: Social Media in the Workplace

We have another great Social Media event coming up, this one hosted by The Chamber's Small Business Council and the law firm of Tallman, Hudders and Sorrentino, the Pennsylvania Office of Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A.  The event is entitled "The Water-Cooler Effect: How The Social Media Sensation Offers Businesses Risks and Rewards."  Check out the press release below for more-


Tallman, Hudders/Norris McLaughlin to Speak on Social Media in the Workplace at Small Business Council Meeting

Allentown, PA (March 12, 2010) – Tallman, Hudders & Sorrentino, the Pennsylvania office of Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A., will host the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Council Meeting entitled, “The Water-Cooler Effect: How The Social Media Sensation Offers Businesses Risks and Rewards” on Friday, April 16, 2010, at the Fowler Southside Center of Northampton Community College.  There will be a panel of experts who will discuss the impact of online social networks on the workplace and the implications on hiring and firing.  Registration for this event will begin at 7:30 a.m.; the program will run from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 am.  There will be opportunities for participants to ask questions after the program.

“Online social networks (OSNs), such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn, are the new frontier in the workplace. As more and more employees use OSNs to socialize and conduct business at work, their impact on the workplace is ever present and increasing,” explained David E. Cassidy, a Member of the New Jersey office Labor & Employment Group.

OSNs are changing how employers recruit and hire employees, interact with (and react to) employees, and address post-employment issues and challenges.  Often, OSNs create an environment of informality and a free-flow of unedited expression.  More alarmingly, they might be a harbor for criminal activity.  Former employees have used OSNs to damage their employer; and employers risk lawsuits for retaliation when OSNs are used to injure former employees.  Several high-profile cases have addressed OSNs in the workplace and, with an understanding of the law and the correct employment policies in place; employers can reduce their liability and increase productivity.

A panel of experts, including Fernando M. Pinguelo, a Member of the New Jersey office and Co-Chair of its Response to Electronic Discovery and Information Group, George C. Hlavac, Chair of the Pennsylvania office Labor & Employment Group, and Cassidy, will address social media and its impact on hiring, current employment, and post employment/retaliation issues.  The panel will outline appropriate steps you can take to help insulate your business from the legal consequences that flow from the use of online social networks in the workplace.

The Labor and Employment Department of Tallman Hudders & Sorrentino covers the entire spectrum of employer/employee relations.  With wide-reaching experience in virtually all aspects of labor and employment law, its attorneys represent clients in a variety of capacities—as advisors, negotiators, advocates, and litigators.  They have extensive litigation experience with respect to employment discrimination and harassment claims involving Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.  In this regard, they regularly represent clients before courts and administrative agencies at the state and federal levels.  They also have extensive experience defending wrongful termination claims and claims involving alleged violations of The Family and Medical Leave Act, The Equal Pay Act, The Fair Labor Standards Act, The Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Law, and The Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law.


Tallman, Hudders & Sorrentino, P.C., the Pennsylvania office of Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A., prides itself on its 35 very talented and tested attorneys and 11 paralegals that believe in dedication to client service, a commitment to each other and to community, and a personally fulfilling working environment.  Its attorneys know the value of working collaboratively, sharing ideas and information regarding new and emerging laws and legal trends, for the benefit of its clients.  The team approach to solving clients’ needs anticipates unexpected issues and creates positive outcomes. It also fosters cooperation between lawyers and clients that yields close attorney/client bonds not found at many other law firms. 

Over the past two years, in an effort to continue to deliver on the ideals of client service and personal fulfillment, the managing partners and others in Tallman, Hudders & Sorrentino have looked intently at the firm’s strategic direction. In response to the requests of many of its clients to deliver additional types of services to them, it merged with Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A., a full service law firm based in Bridgewater, New Jersey, with a significant presence in New York on June 1, 2009. 

Norris McLaughlin & Marcus brings to the combined firm more than 100 attorneys from diverse backgrounds, holding degrees from top U.S. law schools, who regularly serve as leaders in bar associations, various trade groups, and charitable organizations.  With 25 of its members listed in the 2010 edition of Best Lawyers and 23 selected as Super Lawyers for 2009, in addition to an active repertoire of speaking engagements and legal publications, attorneys at Norris McLaughlin & Marcus embody large-firm talent in a small-firm setting. This combination of legal talent and personable surroundings allows attorneys at Norris McLaughlin to provide service and value to their clients on an individual level.  It is the goal of Norris McLaughlin& Marcus to accommodate the needs of every client, who run the gamut, from Fortune 500 corporations to smaller publicly and privately held companies to start-up companies and individuals, through the use of experience, strategic planning and common courtesy.

Please visit us online at or for more information.

Daily Briefing, 3/16/2009

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

Lehigh Valley unemployment declined in January, dropping from 9.7 to 9.6%.  In Macungie, Borough Council voted unanimously to direct Police Chief Ed Harry to grant the Mayor access to the police schedule.  If he does so, Chief Harry will receive all back pay and have records related to his suspension expunged.  Keep an eye on your mailbox this week, as Census 2010 forms are in the mail and officials are encouraging you to fill them out.  Legislative representation and over $400,000,000 in federal funding depend on census results.  Thomas Senavitis was found not guilty of vehicular homicide in the car crash that killed former State Senator Eric James Rhoades, but was found guilty of DUI and reckless endangerment.  And, congrats to WFMZ-TV, winner of nine awards from the Pennsylvania Associated Press Broadcasters Association.

There was another poll in the heated Senate race between Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Pat Toomey (R), this one showing Toomey with a 42-36% lead over Specter.

The drama surrounding health care reform continues, with Democrats working to pin down as many votes as possible despite the fact that the final legislative language is not complete and a cost estimate is not yet available.  Both are expected today.  In the Senate, Democrats and Republicans have agreed to vote on a $17.6 billion jobs bill.  As expected, Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) introduced a plan to overhaul the financial regulatory system yesterday.  The plan includes more regulation on executive compensation and a new consumer regulator in the federal reserve, among other provisions.  According to a new report, the U.S. is not in any immediate danger of seeing its credit rating downgraded, though a new report from Moody's does say that there is now "no room for error."

We have one event today - an AT&T webinar on how to use mobile phones for social networking.  To register for the event (its not too late), E-mail me at

Business Matters aired yesterday, featuring a debate on whether or not corporations and unions should be allowed to directly contribute to political campaigns.  The show will be available online later today and you can check out the Business Matters blog for more information.

That's all for now!  We'll be back later.  Have a great day.

Monday, March 15, 2010

YouTube Video: Using Your Chamber Membership

Job Alert: The Chamber is now hiring

We are VERY pleased to announce that The Chamber is now hiring a Main Street manager for the soon to be formed Main Street Program in Downtown Allentown.  Information about the job description can be found here or by reading below:

Job duties:
1. Implements the Hamilton District Main Street Program strategic plan in association with the ACCA Board of Directors and its committees.
  • Position reports to the Vice President, Allentown Initiatives and the ACCA board and committees of the Hamilton District Main Street Program.

  • Organizes and implements the Hamilton District's five-year strategic plan.

  • Maintains communication between all committees and sub-committees.

  • 2. Organizes and facilitates public meetings and committee meetings. 3. Markets the Hamilton District Main Street Program and its activities and businesses.
  • Assists individual merchants and property owners with design and construction restoration projects.

  • Serves as a resource for entrepreneurship and small business development.

  • Coordinates social media for Hamilton District Program and its committees

  • 4. Works in collaboration with community groups on special events, festivals, community projects and other promotional events within the district.
    5. Works with business owners, community groups, residents and others to identify and resolve issues facing the district.
    6. Facilitates partnerships and collaborations among businesses, community groups, residents and public officials.
    7. Assists with planning and development of new programs and initiatives.
    8. Prepares program reports for funding sources and tracks data for the Hamilton District on an on-going basis.
    9. Assists in fundraising efforts in support of program goals and objectives.
    10. Presents monthly reports on ACCA activities at the Board of Director meetings.
    11. Serves as an ex-officio member on the Board and all committees.
    12. Performs other duties as required.

    Working conditions:
    On-Site Work Location: 840 Hamilton Street, Allentown, PA 18101
    Off-site work in the community, predominately within the Hamilton District.
    Other: Possible out-of-town and overnight travel for training, etc.

  • Bachelor's degree required with a minimum of three years experience in a marketing related, event planning or community organizing field.

  • Knowledge of community and economic development issues and programs on the local, regional and state level is a must.

  • Past business experience is preferred.

  • Experience with urban design and historic preservation is helpful.

  • Desired knowledge and skills include leadership, interpersonal, administrative, communication, grant writing, and report preparation skills, as well as a broad understanding of public policy and business development.

  • Energetic, self-motivated, creative and well organized are critical skills.

  • Desired computer skills include proficiency with MS Office applications, as well as working knowledge of graphic design programs, and online communication tools, including but limited to e-newsletter programs, and other social networking programs.

  • City of Allentown residency preferred.

  • Bilingual, Spanish and English preferred.

  • Personal vehicle or access to independent transportation required.

  • Valid driver’s license and good driving record required.

  • Proof of motor vehicle insurance (for use of personal vehicle) required.

  • Successful passage of pre-placement physical and pre-employment drug screen required.

  • Criminal record check required.

  • Send resume and cover letter to the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, Attn: Miriam Huertas, 840 Hamilton Street, Suite 205, Allentown, PA 18101, or e-mail

    Application deadline: April 5, 2010.

    Daily Briefing, 3/15/2010

    Good morning everyone!  I hope you enjoyed the rainy weekend.  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

    Weather wise, it wasn't the best weekend, but it was still better than expected and there was no major flooding.  With Allentown's cell phone law set to take effect on Friday, the Morning Call reviews equipment options for drivers that will legally enable them to keep talking.  The Call also profiles the controversial Mayor of Macungie, Rick Hoffman, who has been involved in a controversy involving control of the police department and his battles with the Chief of Police, Ed Harry.  The Call also profiles Jake Towne, who is running an independent campaign for Congress.  And, get ready: this week, census forms will start to arrive by mail.

    In state-wide news, a second consecutive poll shows Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) with a lead over former Congressman Pat Toomey, with this poll showing Specter up 47-41.  The poll shows Specter's favorable numbers have improved dramatically since the last poll. 

    This could be a big week, if not the week, for health care reform, with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs saying that he expects health care reform to pass by next week.  Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) is also set to unveil a financial overhaul reform package today.

    Business Matters airs today, featuring a debate on whether or not corporations and unions should be allowed to directly contribute to political campaigns.  The show airs tonight at 8pm on WFMZ-TV.  For more info and to participate in the debate, check out the Business Matters blog.

    That's it for now!  We'll be back later.  See you then!

    Friday, March 12, 2010

    Please note: Chamber member not Jihad Jane

    This is easily one of the more annoying mistakes of mistaken identity I've heard in a long time.  Colleen R. LaRose of Pennsburg was recently arrested on terror charges.  As a simple google search will demonstrate, Colleen R LaRose., better known as Jihad Jane, has made national and international news.

    The story has elicited to shocked and horror-filled reactions from most of us.  For one Chamber member, however, the story is a little more personal.  Colleen L. LaRose of Millsville will soon be launching an online magazine for women, FemmeSpeak.  As if having the same name as an international renowned terrorist isn't bad enough, an Austrialian reporter mistakenly took Colleen L's picture and displayed it as Colleen R. 

    That is one pretty bad mistaken!

    To her credit, our Colleen is handling this with grace and humor and using the opportunity to market FemmeSpeak.  Here's a story from NBC Philadelphia on the subject.

    Daily Briefing, 3/12/2010

    Good morning everyone, and welcome to your Friday Daily Briefing!

    In Bethlehem, the Sands Casino is hoping to have table games ready as early as July 1.  In Easton, City Council has lowered the costs of purchasing pool passes for families in an attempt to cell more.  The ACLU and the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations in the Lehigh Valley have partnered to open a hot-line for Spanish-speaking immigrants who believe that they have been discriminated against.

    In state-wide news, the Bonusgate trial against former State Representative Mike Veon and three former aids is coming to a close, with closing arguments expected today.

    Here is some good news: highway deaths have decreased to levels not seen since the 1950s.  There are a variety of reasons for this, including increased safety measures, less road travel as a result of the recession, heavier seat-belt usage and programs designed to decrease drunk driving.  Here's an interesting poll - the Americans are apparently getting less concerned about global warming, with the amount of people who believe the threat of global warming is exaggerated now at 48%, up from 41% last year and 31% in 1997.

    That's all for now!  Have a great day and we'll be back later.

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    Job Openings

    Hi everyone - here are our job openings today.  As always, if you have any openings that you'd like to advertise and you are a Chamber member, please E-mail me at
    Exigo Mfg Inc.

    I am looking for an person to inspect parts coming off our CNC machines. This person would have to know how to read blueprints to measure parts using micrometers, calipers and a host of other measuring equipment. Quality is of utmost importance, so this person would have to have an eye for flaws in workmanship so bad parts would not get out the door. orderliness and penmanship are very important also for employment. This would be a full time job with benefits.

    I am also looking for an experienced CNC lathe machinist.This person would have to be able to program, setup and run parts with little or no assistance. This position is for a person with experience looking to become a shift supervisor. This position is full time, second shift, with benefits.

    Contact:  Craig Traugher, 484.285.0200
    Family Support Partner for High Fidelity Wraparound Program

    Description: High Fidelity Wraparound (HFW) is an evidence-based process that has proven effective in supporting youth with complex emotional needs to live successfully in the community with their families. The HFW initiative provides Lehigh County youth, ages 16 to 21, and their families with the skills and confidence to coordinate their own services and supports.
    Job Summary: The Family Support Partner is someone who has the experience of PARENTING a child with severe emotional and/or behavioral health challenges. The Family Support Partner acts as an empathetic link to parents by providing support because of their similar experiences.

    § Must be a parent/primary caregiver for a child with severe emotional and behavioral challenges.
    · Minimum age of 21
    · Must have outgoing personality that supports engaging people from different cultures, ages, and backgrounds
    · Possesses understanding and experience with different systems, including schools, mental health, child welfare, juvenile justice, healthcare and others.
    · Possesses extensive knowledge of community resources and ability to engage them.
    · Proficient using a variety of computer software
    · Must be available to work flexible and on-call hours.
    · Must have valid driver’s license and insurance, excellent driving record, and reliable transportation.
    · Sensitive to cultural and socioeconomic differences.
    · Bilingual (English/Spanish) skills a plus.

    Contact information: Please submit your cover letter and resume to or Fax it to 610-432-5174.

    If you would like to learn more about Pinebrook Family Services please visit our website at










    Northampton Area Community College
    Systems Technician, Computer Services

    PT - Seeking dynamic, customer service oriented person in our Computer Services Department at our Monroe Campus in Tannersville, PA. Responsibilities include installing, imaging and maintaining desktop and laptop PCs and associated software; troubleshooting and resolving hardware/software problems; documenting processes; other duties as assigned. Requirements for this position include a thorough knowledge of computer operating systems, application software, networks and system administration. Prior work experience on a higher education helpdesk, use of Novell Zenworks and DeepFreeze, and A+ certification preferred. Minimum of Associates degree in related field or 3 years related experience. Must have ability to work independently and in a team environment. Normal working hours for this position are Mon.-Tues. 4pm – 9:30pm, Wed. 3pm-9:30pm, Sat. 8am – 4:30pm and Sun. 12pm-4pm. Please submit letter, resume, and names, addresses and phone numbers of 3 references to David Hassick, Northampton Community College, 3 Old Mill Road, Tannersville, PA 18372, or email to by 3/5/10. NCC is EEO/AA.
    Head Men’s Soccer Coach

    PT - Coordinate all aspects of the men’s soccer program including coaching, recruiting, organizing and planning both practice and competition strategies. Northampton is a member of Region XIX of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), one of the most competitive junior college conferences in the country. Associates degree required, Bachelors preferred. Men’s soccer coaching experience at the collegiate level preferred. Demonstrated ability to recruit student-athletes and develop successful programs. Candidate must have a schedule that allows flexibility for travel to away games throughout the season. Send letter of application, resume and names, addresses and phone numbers of three references to Troy Tucker, Northampton Community College, 3835 Green Pond Rd, Bethlehem, PA 18020 or email to NCC is EEO/AA.
    Admissions Assistants

    PT - Seeking two part-time (20 hrs/wk) Admissions Assistants. Primary responsibility will be entering student transcript information into our administrative database; additional work may include entering other student application information. Excellent data entry skills and ability to work with a team are required. Interested applicants should send resume, cover letter, and three professional references to Mary Sinibaldi, 3835 Green Pond Rd, Bethlehem, PA 18020 or by 3/12/10. NCC is EEO/AA.

    PT afternoons 3-7 p.m., Monday-Thursday, mid-August through mid-May. $11.15/hr to start, increase to $11.50/hr possible after 3 months. Answering phones, typing, data entry, routine office jobs in busy adjunct faculty office. Excellent interpersonal skills, knowledge of MSWord/Excel/ Access software, ability to multi-task, and a high degree of confidentiality required. Send letter, resume, and contact information on 3 references to Pamela Bradley, Northampton Community College, 3835 Green Pond Rd, Bethlehem, PA 18020 or email to by 3/15/10. NCC is EEO/AA.

    Official candidates for office

    If you are going to run for office in Pennsylvania, you are familiar with the nominating process.  In order to get ballot access, you have to get a certain amount of signatures, the number and requirements differing depending on what you are running for.

    The signature process ended Tuesday, and any court challenges pending, here are the candidates for elected office in the Lehigh Valley.  The full list is available here (click 2010 candidates).


    • Arlen Specter (D-Inc)
    • Joe Sestak (D)
    • Joseph Vodvarka (D-who???)
    • Pat Toomey (R)
    • Peg Luksik (R)


    • Jack Wagner (D)
    • Dan Onorato (D)
    • Joe Hoeffel (D)
    • Anthony Hardy Williams (D)
    • Tom Corbett (R)
    • Sam Rohrer (R)
    Lt. Governor:
    • Jonathan Saidel (D)
    • Scott Conklin (D)
    • Doris Smith-Ribner (D)
    • Billy McCue (R)
    • Jim Cawley (R)
    • Steve Johnson (R)
    • Stephen Urban (R)
    • John Kennedy (R)
    • Chet Beiler (R)
    • Jean Craige Pepper (R)
    • Russ Diamond (R)
    • Daryl Metcalfe (R) 
    (WOW, nine Republicans for Lt. Governor!  That should be one interesting race!)

    15th Congressional District:
    • John Callahan (D)
    • Charlie Dent (R-Inc)
    • Matt Benol (R)

    6th Congressional District:
    • Doug Pike (D)
    • Manan Trivedi (D)
    • Patrick Henry Sellers (R)
    • Jim Gerlach (R-Inc)

    16th Senate District:
    • Richard Orloski (D)
    • Pat Browne (R-Inc)
    18th Senate District:
    • Lisa Boscola (D-Inc)
    • Matt Connolly (R)
    24th Senate District:
    • Bill Wallace (D)
    • Bob Mensch (R-Inc)
    131st Legislative District:
    • Mike Horton (D)
    • Karen Beyer (R-Inc)
    • Justin Simmons (R)
    132nd Legislative District:
    • Jennifer Mann (D-Inc)
    133rd Legislative District:
    • Joseph Brennan (D-Inc)
    • Dave Molony (R)
    134th Legislative District:
    • Patrick Slattery (D)
    • Doug Reichley (R-Inc)
    135th Legislative District:
    • Steve Samuelson (D-Inc)
    136th Legislative District:
    • Robert Freeman (D-Inc)
    • Heidi Markow (R)
    • Ron Shegda (R)

    137th Legislative District:
    • Charles Dertinger (D)
    • Frank Scagliotta (D)
    • Joe Emrick (R)
    • Donald Albanese (R)
    138th Legislative District:
    • Cory Miller (D)
    • Marcia Hahn (R)
    • Nick Sabatine (R)
    183rd Legislative District:
    • Julie Harhart (R-Inc)
    187th Legislative District:
    • Richard Stine (D)
    • Gary Day (R-Inc)

    Daily Briefing, 3/11/10

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

    First, be aware - there may be flooding this weekend.

    In Bethlehem, Mayor John Callahan has formally reprimanded his business administrator for borrowing money without City Council's consent in violation of the law.  In Macungie, the conflict between the Mayor and Chief of Police continues, with five Borough Council members signing a letter to the Morning Call in support of the Police Chief over the Mayor.  A federal judge has thrown out a policy brutality suit against the city of Easton.  Later today, the  Bethlehem Sands will be formally requesting permission to add 89 tables to its casino complex.

    There is good news on the national front when it comes to foreclosures: the amount of foreclosures rose only 6% between February 2008-2009 - the smallest increase in four years (apparently that's good news, anyway).  In a lecture to law students, Chief Justice John Roberts called the President's State of the Union attack of the Supreme Court's decision in Citiens United v. FEC "very troubling."

    We have two Chamber events today: a Grand Opening for the new Sam's Club on Airport Road and a mixer at the Holiday Inn Fogelsville.  Both events are free!

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

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Tech Wednesday: Basecamp

    One of the things we talk about, all the time, is how busy EVERYONE is now.  The demands on all of our time have dramatically increased, and with those increasing demands, it has become harder and harder for us all to keep track of what we have to do.  Project management becomes even more difficult as you incorporate more people and more projects.  Thus, Basecamp was born. 

    Basecamp touts itself as one of the leading project management tools in the world.  It's users include Adidas, Warner Brothers Records, USA Today, Fox Sports, Best Buy and more.

    Summary:  Basecamp is project management software that comes with a wide variety of project management tools.

    Features & Benefits:
    • Create project or company specific pages that help you manage any project.  This includes to-do lists, file sharing, message boards, time tracking, message boards, milestone tracking and project overview.
    • Customize the site to include your colors and logos. 
    • Since the software is internet based, there is no downloads and all work is held "in the cloud," meaning accessible from anywhere. 
    • Ability to go mobile and download apps for a variety of different types of smart-phones.

    Pricing:  You get a 30-day free trial.  From there, what you pay depends on how many projects, files, users and other bells & whistles you are interested in.

    Daily Briefing, 3/10/2010

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

    If you live in the Northern Lehigh School District, your taxes are likely to rise by 1.5 mills, according to a preliminary budget presented to the School Board last night.  In Easton, City Council eliminated pre-meeting workshops in favor of as needed meetings.  In Bethlehem, the city has pledged to help the neighborhood around Moravian College as students will soon be forced to live on campus only.  There was good news for cable company RCN, as the company announced that their quarterly and yearly losses have narrowed thanks to an increase in revenue and customers.

    In the Senate, a procedural vote on a bill to expand unemployment benefits and a variety of tax cuts passed a procedure vote in the Senate by a vote of 66-34.  The vote means that there are enough who favor the bill to end a filibuster and move the legislation forward.  According to a new analysis, the Cash for Clunkers program did better than was previously believed, selling 765,000 cars that wouldn't have been sold otherwise.

    Today is a busy day at The Chamber, with three events on the calendar: a Southern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce event on working professionals and caring for aging parents, a Phillipsburg Area Chamber of Commerce roundtable discussion with Thomas Litz, CEO of Warren Hospital and an Easton Area Chamber of Commerce mixer at Fat Jack's.

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

    Tuesday, March 9, 2010

    Young Professionals in the Lehigh Valley

    Here's an interesting question, and one that is of particular concern to me as a Young Professional: What do YPs in the Lehigh Valley want?  And how can we keep YPs here?

    There are some pretty standard answers: good communities, high quality safe streets, low taxes and amble cultural & entertainment attractions.  But, aside from a heavier emphasis on cultural & entertainment attractions, isn't that what all demographic groups want?

    I want to reexamine the question from a different perspective - a business perspective.  I'll be the first to admit it: being a young professional in an older world can, at times, be intimidating.  Networking, presentations, types of meetings, mentoring - these are all things that, as best we can tell, YPs are actively looking for.  But we also think in a different way: Young Professionals tend to keep our own hours (but we get the work done) and be more technically aligned than our older counter-parts. 

    There are at least two groups in the Lehigh Valley that are dedicated towards working with Young Professionals: the Network of Young Professionals and some work done by our friends at the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation.

    So, I ask again - Attention all Young Professionals: What Do We Want?

    It's a question that The Chamber would like to help answer.

    In this economy, marketing and networking are more important than ever. Here is a presentation given to the Women's Business Council a few weeks ago on the importance of both of these tools to your business.

    Daily Briefing, 3/9/2010

    Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing

    President Obama was in the area yesterday, speaking at Arcadia University in favor of enacting his health care reforms.  According to a new survey, 13% of area employers plan on adding jobs in the Valley - the best report we have seen in 27 months.  In home sales, the amount of home sales in the Valley continues to rise, although the price of those sales continues to fall.

    In Harrisburg yesterday, municipal leaders came to the state capital to lobby for enhanced taxing powers

    As the debate rages on over proposed health care reforms, proponents and opponents of abortion differ over whether or not the legislation will increase or decrease federal funding of abortion.  In the Senate, legislation to extend unemployment benefits will today face a critical test vote in the Senate.  According to a new survey, 43% of people say they have less than $10,000 saved for retirement. 

    Business Matters aired yesterday, featuring a show titled What price are you willing to pay to go green? The show will be available online later today, and in the meantime you can check out the Business Matters Blog for more information.

    That's it for now!  See you later today.

    Monday, March 8, 2010

    Guest Blog Post:

    We have a great blog post today - this one is from Joan Marcus, a member of The Chamber's Ambassadors, on how to network.  It also discusses The Chamber's upcoming Speed Networking event, a great way to meet Chamber members and gain leads and sales.  Read on for more info!
     Networking is a critical part of growing a business or career. It’s not enough, however, to just show up for an event, socialize with a few people and leave. If you want to build your business, you need to differentiate yourself and your company with a memorable marketing message.

    Your marketing message is the verbal representation of your brand. It is a succinct statement — usually 25 words or less — that addresses your customers’ key pain points, your solution, and why your solution is the best one available. Your message should be customer-centered, focusing on what your customers need to hear to convince them to purchase your product or service.

    Here are six tips to help you craft a memorable message:

    ·        Think before you write. Developing a powerful message takes time. Consider your core strengths, current and future needs of your clients and how you can best meet those needs.
    ·        Think like your customers. Customers don’t buy your product or service because of how great it is. They are interested in benefits so craft your message to make them obvious.
    ·        Focus on one key point. Most companies provide several services or products. Don’t try to include all of that information in your message. Instead, focus on the product or service that best addresses your customers’ pain points.
    ·        Make it simple yet memorable. Don’t try to impress people by filling your message with jargon and technical language. Your goal is to help people understand your message and remember you.
    ·        Watch how you say it. Once you have crafted your message, say it out loud. Sometimes words look great on paper but are difficult to say. You should be able to say your message with ease.
    ·        Try it out! This month, the Chamber is offering two networking opportunities where you can try out your message. On Friday, March 19, the Small Business Council is hosting Build Your Pipeline at Coca-Cola Park, from 7:15 a.m. to 9 a.m. And on Thursday, March 25, the Ambassador Committee is sponsoring Speed Networking at the Corner Bakery CafĂ©, from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Come armed with business cards and a memorable marketing message. It’s time to grow your business.

    Submitted by Joan B. Marcus, president of Joan B. Marcus Communications, where we help you build your brand through the power of words. Find us at, on Twitter at or on LinkedIn at

    Corporate Citizens

    This story came to us courtesy of Good and details a topic that we've heard quite a bit about recently, particularly in an era where executive compensation and bonus' are discussed on a frequent basis.  The story looks at corporate responsibility and citizenship from the reverse angle and details the top 100 corporate citizens.  According to the methodology, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, General Mills, IBM and Kimberly-Clark are the top five corporate citizens.  The score was calculated based on these seven categories: Environment, Climate Change, Human Rights, Philanthropy, Employee Relations, Financial Performance, and Governance.

    This is very interesting and brings up some interesting questions.  More than half of all Chamber members are small businesses with under 10 employees, so the ability of these businesses to give back to the community obviously can't reach the same scale as the above corporations.  Instead, their give-backs come in other ways, through things like community donations and volunteerism. 

    From a Chamber perspective, we give back to the community through The Chamber Foundation, which is dedicated to the revitalization of the urban cores of the Lehigh Valley.  How do you and your company give back to the community?