Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Chamber talks Pension Reform

As you may have seen in the Morning Call, The Chamber has taken a strong policy stance on the need to reform our local and state pension systems.  Below is a summary of a white paper that The Chamber has published with six other Pennsylvania Chambers.

In today's This Week With(out) Tony, The Chamber's Executive Vice President of Public Policy, Michelle Griffin-Young, discusses what The Chamber has called for and why pension reform is so desperately needed in Pennsylvania.

Daily Briefing, 11/30/2010

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

In Bethlehem, city officials have developed a preservation plan that would make it harder to demolish about fifty buildings in the city.  Be careful later tonight: a flood watch is in effect.  Municipalities from around the Valley are seeking funding from the state's Transportation Enhancement Program to pay for the improvements of local roads.

Though complete totals are not available yet, Cyber Monday sales could top $1 billion and were up an estimated 15% at 3pm yesterday.  President Obama has ordered a freeze in federal pay for the next two years, citing the federal deficit.

We have one Chamber event today: the Northampton Area Chamber of Commerce is holding their annual Night at the Roxy mixer.  President Obama is set to meet with congressional leaders later today in the so-called "Slurpee Summit."

That's all for now!  We'll be back later today, including with our latest This Week With Tony video.  Have a good one!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Transitioning to online sales? You should be.

As we noted earlier in today's Daily Briefing, Black Friday sales did increase compared to last year, but only moderately so: sales increased .3% and customers increased 2.2%.  In this economy, any increase is a good one, but a stronger increase certainly would have been better.  Of course, today is Cyber Monday, this #1 internet sales day of the year.  However, I started to ask a question and did some research: how have internet sales been before Cyber Monday?

The answer: extremely well.  Internet sales, so far, have increased at a rate that is far out-pacing their real-life counterparts.  Black Friday Internet sales increased 15.9% compared to the same sales last year, and the average order price rose 12.1%.  Those are some pretty steep increases, but they pose some interesting questions.  Do the increases reflect a shift in consumer spending to the internet, and is the shift to online spending reflective of a recovering economy?

These questions can't exactly be answered without overall context: what will Cyber Monday sales be compared to last year, and what will the overall sales data show for the holiday season?  Without those answers, its difficult to draw many conclusions.

However, what the data certainly does show is the increasing need for all businesses - large and small - to have a website with eCommerce capability.  Customers expect that level of ease, and eCommerce options, when combined with online marketing (E-mail & Social Media) are an exceptionally effective tool for sales.

Need convincing?  Just check your Inbox.  How many "Black Friday" or "Cyber Monday" E-mails do you have?

It is time for small businesses to catch up with the trends of their larger counterparts.

Daily Briefing, 11/29/2010

Good morning everyone, and welcome back to work!  We hope you had a great Thanksgiving.  And now, here is your Daily Briefing.  I'll warn you ahead of time though, and this is no surprise, the news is pretty thin today.  It looks like most of the interesting news stories took a Thanksgiving vacation as well.

In Salisbury, the Township appears set to increase taxes by .06 mills.  Governor Rendell vetoed legislation over the weekend: one would have given free public health care to firefighters battling cancer and one which would have allowed deadly force to be used be citizens in certain circumstances.

Wikileaks has released more than 250,000 cables of diplomatic conversations between U.S. officials.  Black Friday results are in, and the day showed modest gains on last year, with sales increasing .3% and customers increasing 2.2%.  Today is Cyber Monday, the highest selling day of the year for online purchasing.

We have one Chamber event today: the annual Phillipsburg Area Tree Lighting Ceremony.

In sad news, the great Leslie Nielsen died yesterday.  Nielsen was 84.  It's Monday, and we all can probably use a laugh, so in tribute to Nielsen, here are some of his best moments.  Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

This Week with Tony - We Are Thankful for You!

Hello everyone!  Here is the latest edition of This Week with Tony.  In this week's entry, Tony, Frank and I say thank you - discuss what we are grateful for when it comes to Chamber members and this great organizatin - and Tony signs.  Ignore that part.

Happy Thanksgiving and we will see you on Monday!

Daily Briefing, 11/23/2010

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

In Allentown, the Mayor's administration withdrew its attempt to cap the number of rounds that could be played with an unlimited pass in the face of opposition from City Council.  A new ranking of the most dangerous cities in America has Allentown listed as 70th, up from 86th last year, despite a decrease in every major crime category except rape.  The Borough of Wilson appears set to raise its taxes 32%, the first property tax hike in eight years for the Borough.  A 45 year-old Lehigh County man became Pennsylvania's first flu death of the year.

Hmm, slow news day today - can't say I'm too surprised with Thanksgiving coming up.  Anyway, we have one Chamber event today - a Women's Business Council & Public Policy lunch, featuring a panel with four female state legsiators.

That's it for now - but remember, if you want two free tickets to our upcoming Lehigh Valley Christmas in Concert, check out our Facebook & Twitter page for info on how you can enter the contest!

Have a great day!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The AT&T Lehigh Valley Christmas Concert is coming up - win free tickets!

Hello everyone!  Our annual event, The AT&T Lehigh Valley Christmas in Concert, will be on 11/28, 7pm at Allentown Symphony Hall.  It features dozens of bands and an amazing music experience - click here to purchase tickets.

BUT, if you want a shot at winning free tickets, then here is your chance!  Check out the video below from Miriam:

You heard the nice lady!  Here is your chance to win two free tickets.  How, you ask?

Well, visit the post of the event on our Facebook page and click on the "share" button to share the post with your networks, or check out our Twitter feed and retweet the appropriate Tweet.

Enter NOW to win!

2010 Election Results...Now What?

Last week, the East Penn & Western Lehigh Chambers of Commerce (regional councils of The Chamber) held a great (and very timely!) event, presented by Dr. Michele Deegan (Muhlenberg College) and Dr. Glenn Richardson (Kutztown University) discussed the 2010 Election Results, reviewing the results themselves and what they meant for the Country.  The video below show snippets of their presentations.  Enjoy!

Daily Briefing, 11/22/2010

Hello everyone, and a happy Monday to you all (yeah, two words that don't really belong together, I know).  Anyway, here is today's Daily Briefing.

Wachovia banks in the Valley will start switching over to Wells Fargo in April 2011.  In Northampton, County Council officials are gearing up to decide whether or not to continue their participation in the Lehigh Valley Health Department.  In Bethlehem, local stakeholders are calling for enhancements to the South Side to capitalize on the influx of visitors to the Sands Bethlehem.  The Borough of Emmaus will not have a tax hike this year.

Nationwide, you've probably noticed that the holiday shopping season is starting early this year; the good news is that retail sales are up so far.  Economic growth predictions have decreased from May, but economists are still predicting slow economic growth of 2.7% this year.

We have one Chamber event today, but it's a fun one:  a pre-game Pep Rally at the College Hill Tavern is Easton, just before the annual Easton-Phillipsburg game.

Business Matters airs today, featuring a show that describes the state of our cities in Pennsylvania.  The show airs at 8:00pm on WFMZ-TV.

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

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Other Chambers of Commerce

The Other Chambers of Commerce
Local chambers of commerce like The Greater Lehigh valley Chamber and it's affiliates are the feet on the street in each of our communities!

Thriving in the Global Creative Economy

This was a really fascinating event held by the Southern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce on entrepreneurship and the changing economy.  All three of our panelists are experts in the fields of entrepreneurship and the global economy - the video has some really fascinating information and tidbits.  See for yourself!

Daily Briefing, 10/19/2010

Good morning everyone, and happy Friday!  The work week is almost done.  So, here is today's Daily Briefing.

At a Chamber President's Roundtable yesterday, Martin Till, publisher of the Express-Times, told the audience that newspapers aren't quite finished just yet.  Lehigh Valley home sales dropped 40% compared to a year ago. District Attorney Jim Martin has said that he will seek reelection to another term in the upcoming year.  In tax news, Williams Township is expecting no tax hike this year.  By the way, you can expect a slew of new Christmas events in Bethlehem this year, sponsored in part by The Chamber's own Downtown Bethlehem Association.

The House of Representatives ethics panel has recommended a censure of Congressman Charlie Rangle (D-NY) for  ethics violations.  House Democrats have also said they will vote on extending tax cuts to the middle class, not the $250,000 or higher income bracket.

We have one Chamber event today: the Small Business Council is having their monthly breakfast, this one on getting financial assistance from the Small Business Administration.

That's it for now!  See you soon!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Lehigh Valley look at the State Legislative Leadership

All four legislative caucuses have now held their leadership elections - here is a look at how things shook out:

Republican House (majority)

  • Speaker of the House:  Sam Smith (R-66, Jefferson County)
  • Majority Leader:  Mike Turazi (R-28, Allegheny County)
  • Majority Whip:  Stan Saylor (R-94, York County)
  • Caucus Chairman:  Sandra Major (R-111, Susquehanna, Wayne & Wyoming Counties) 
  • Policy Committee Chairman:  Dave Reed (R-62, Indiana County)
  • Caucus Administrator:  Dick Stevenson (R-8, Mercer & Butler Counties)
  • Caucus Secretary: Mike Vereb (R-150, Montgomery County)
  • Total Valley Representatives in Leadership:  0

Democratic House

  • Minority Leader:  Frank Dermody
  • Minority Whip:  Mike Hanna
  • Policy Committee Chairman:  Mike Sturla
  • Appropriations Chairman:  Joe Markosek
  • Caucus Chairman:  Dan Frankel
  • Caucus Secretary:  Jennifer Mann
  • Caucus Administrator:  Ron Buxton
  • Total Valley Representatives in Leadership:  1
Republican Senate
  • Majority Leader: Dominic Pileggi (R-9)
  • President Pro Tempore:  Joe Scarnati (R-25)
  • Caucus Administrator:  Pat Browne (R-16)
  • Policy Committee Chairman:  Ted Erickson (R-26)
  • Caucus Secretary:  Bob Robbins (R-50)
  • Caucus Chairman:  Mike Waugh (R-28)
  • Appropriations Committee Chairman:  Jake Corman (R-34)
  • Total Valley Representatives in Leadership:  1
Democratic Senate
  • Minority Leader:  Jay Costa
  • Minority Whip:  Mike O'Pake
  • Caucus Chairman:  Anthony Williams
  • Caucus Secretary:  Christine Tartaglione
  • Policy Committee Chairman:  Richard Kasunic
  • Caucus Administrator:  Lisa Boscola
  • Appropriations Committee Chairman:  Vince Hughes
  • Total Valley Representatives in Leadership:  1
So, in total, we have only three Valley elected officials in leadership, and only one is in a majority party.  Is this a good or bad number for us?

Daily Briefing, 11/18/2010

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

Northampton County Council President Ron Angle has said he now opposes the proposed building of a private detention center for illegal immigrants in the Slate Belt.  In Allentown, city officials heard public comment on the proposed earned income tax hike.  In Macungie, the tentative peace between the Mayor and Chief of Police appears to have fallen apart, with the Mayor now revising his lawsuit to go after the Lehigh County District Attorney as well.  Congrats to State Senator Pat Browne (R-16), who was elected the State Senate Majority Whip.  Senator Browne joins Senator Lisa Bocola (D-18) and Representative Jennifer Mann (D-132) as members of the Lehigh Valley legislative delegation that have leadership roles.

A National Journal article notes that the search is on for a challenger to Senator Bob Casey.

In national news, the once defeated Republican Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who lost the Republican primary but then waged a write-in campaign, appears to have pulled off an impossible win, with the AP calling the race for her yesterday.  A new report shows that unemployment insurance has resulted in a whooping $319 billion in payments since 2007.

We have quite a day today, with three Chamber events:  an all-day sales seminar with Sam Iorio of Dale Carnegie, a President's Roundtable with Martin Till, publisher of the Express-Times, and a Taste of Sam's Club Holiday Mixer.

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

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Daily Briefing, 11/17/2010

Good Morning Everyone, here is today's Daily Briefing.

Dr. Ronald Swinfard touts LVHN's care, education initiatives. New CEO belives in passion and compassion.

The new construction of homes in October fell sharply, just another sign that the housing industry remains under duress.

The Pohatcong History and Heritage Society is working to save the gigantic lime kilns carved into the hillsides of Warren County.

We have 4 Chamber events going on today in the valley:

Chamber Website Advertising Consultations - Please follow the link and contact one of our Technology partners at Weblink to tell you about advertising activities avaliable to our members
"2010 Election Results...Now What?" East Penn & Western Lehigh Joint Lunch
KidsPeace Ribbon Cutting
Dan's Camera Mixer
That is all for now. Enjoy this beautiful fall day!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

ATHENA Award Winners

Last month, the Women's Business Council of The Chamber awarded its 2010 ATHENA Award Winners, given to extraordinary women in the Lehigh Valley.  Jennifer Mann of SHUZE won the ATHENA Young Professional award, and Carmen Twillie Ambar, President of Cedar Crest College, won the 2010 ATHENA award.  Below are both of their acceptance speeches:

Reminder: Are you a Chamber member? Get a free link!!

Hi folks -

Just a reminder - if you are a Chamber member, and would like your business listed in our blog roll, we'd be more than happy to list your business!  Just E-mail me at mikes@lehighvalleychamber.org or leave a comment below.  We just need the name of your business and your website URL.  All we ask in exchange is that you link to our blog as well.

Will one link help drive business to you?  Maybe, maybe not.  But, that's not what a link is about.  Links also drive traffic to your website by increasing your SEO, particularly if the content is relevant (like being surrounded by other Lehigh Valley businesses).

The Need for Pension Reform

First, a brief note about a milestone:  our Daily Briefing this morning hit 1,000 posts.  Woohoo!

Now, moving right along.  This article came our way and it was worth sharing.  In details some of the more extreme abuses of public pensions in America: in New York, a firefighter who will receive a $101,000 pension for life (he's 44), etc.  The extreme examples are horrifying but are used to illustrate the point: the system by which our local and state governments give pensions to retirees is broken.  Of course, since the examples are more extreme than anything else, they are easy to dismiss.  That shouldn't happen.

In our own Allentown, the city's pension obligation has arisen from $5.5 million in 2005 to $14.5 million this year - a massive increase of 116% in just five years.  The city's pension fund is only 60% funded and is currently rated to be under distress - and, as one of the remedies for this, the Mayor is proposing a 40% tax increase that will be devoted exclusively towards funding the city's pension obligation.

In Philadelphia, the city only has enough money to fund its pension through 2015.

In Pennsylvania, prior to legislation passed yesterday, the state was expected to have to pay an additional $4 billion in pension costs to deal with benefit enhancements and deferred payments.

There are plenty of examples of our pension woes, and there is no shortage of factors that have caused these significant issues.  Chief among them, however, is that local and state governments offer a defined benefit vs. defined contribution pension plans.  A (very) simple explanation: Under defined benefits, government is forced to pay out an obligated amount to beneficiaries, regardless of what happens in the stock market - meaning that the government (taxpayers) has to foot the bill for any investment losses.  In a defined contribution, a beneficiary, not the government, is responsible for these losses.

Bluntly:  Defined benefit plans are bankrupting our governments and pushing them to insolvency.

You can expect to hear more on this subject from The Chamber.

Daily Briefing, 11/16/2010

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

Dr. Elliot Sussman, President & CEO of of Lehigh Valley Health Network, has resigned to explore national opportunities.  Dr. Sussman has run LVHN since 1993.  He has been replaced by Dr. Robert Swinfard, the current Chief Medical Officer of the hospital.  Ryan Sandberg, former Cubs great, will be coming to the Lehigh Valley as the manager of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs next year.  Pfizer has donated twelve acres of land to Lehigh County - the land will be used for recreation.  Bethlehem Township's preliminary budget has no tax increase.  The ACLU is suing the Easton Area School District for their ban on the "I Heart Boobies" bracelets.  The bracelets are part of a campaign to increase awareness for breast cancer.

Facebook has announced a dramatic overhaul in its messaging system, now offering users an opportunity to integrate their mail, chat and IM conversations with Facebook messages.  In the nation's one unresolved Senate race, Lisa Murkowski (R) pulled ahead of Republican nominee Joe Miller in her write-in campaign for the Senate.  Murkowski appears to be on her way to victory in this race.

We have two Chamber events today: a mixer at the Lehigh Valley Firearms Training Center and a ribbon cutting celebration for the newly reconstructed Route 309.

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

Monday, November 15, 2010

Easton vs. Phillipsburg!

One of the greatest football rivalries in American history (and that is not an exaggeration) is that between Easton and Phillipsburg High School.  The game (and pre-game pep rally) are coming up on 11/22, and in This Week With(Out) Tony, Mike Dowd and Marta Gabriel, our VPs of Phillispburg and Easton, discuss the rivalry, the game and the pep rally.  Enjoy!

Five Social Media Sites your business may not be familiar with...but should be

When I give my Social Media presentations, I like to refer to the "big five" of Social Media - the five Social Media platforms that I think every business should be familiar with:  Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Blogging.  Now, that being said, this is by no means the be-all, end-all of the Social Media revolution.  There are literally hundreds of other sites out there, some of which may have a real use for your small business development.  Here are just five of the outstanding examples that might be of some use to you:

1.  Flickr:  Flickr is the Social Networking site for pictures.  You can upload pictures to the site and then create slideshows/share those pictures with others.  As is standard with these sites, you can comment on pictures and share them with others via your on Social Networking/websites.    

2.  Formspring:    Formspring is a new type of Social Media site - the question site.  Facebook, LinkedIn and Yahoo already have question features, but Formspring's sole purpose is to allow users to ask and answer questions.  The questions can be about anything - and as you can imagine, sometimes they get downright silly - but they are frequently oriented around some professional need.

3.  Slideshare:  Slideshare is great for PowerPoint presentations.  With Slideshare, you can upload a presentation that you have created and allow others to view that presentation.  Depending on the options that you select, the presentation can be commented on, shared or embedded in a blog/website.

4.  Scribd:  You have likely seen us use Scribd for our Member of the Day.  With Scribed, you can upload a document or .pdf file that is on your computer.  From there, you can create a link that others can click on and read your document.  People can then comment on or share your document.  This site is a great way of taking real-world documents and sharing them with the masses.

5.  Ning:  Ning bills itself as the Social Network that lets you create your own Social Network.  It allows you to create your own network that is open to whoever you want it to be, complete with its own customizable features and themes.  From there, you can even use Ning to generate advertising revenue.  The problem with Ning is that it is a closed community that you have to pay to have access to - pushing Ning into a niche (paid Social Networks) that many don't want to open their wallets for.

Those are our five - what are your thoughts?  Any big ones that we missed?

Daily Briefing, 11/15/2010

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

The Allentown Art Museum will be closing its doors for the next ten months for extensive renovations.  In Bethlehem, a Peep Fest will once be held to celebrate the New Year.  In Allentown, the city faces a significant budgetary problem as its Risk Management fund has been drained over the past four years. There is good news for the city, however, as its police union ratified a union contract that will result in a savings of about $6.6 million over the next five years.  Good news for the Borough of Coopersburg, which is not expecting a tax increase this year.

In national news, freshman House of Representative members arrived in Washington for their freshman orientation.

We have one Chamber event today: a Grand Opening at Cooper Electric in Bethlehem.

Business Matters airs tonight (8pm on WFMZ), featuring a show on the "New Media" and the rise of the internet & blogging as a way to report the news.

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

Friday, November 12, 2010

When is your business open?

Some time ago, The Chamber, via our Borough Business Revitalization Program, designed a Business Enhancement Guide.  This guide has a variety of tips and resources for small businesses.  We truly believe that small businesses need as much assistance as possible, particularly in this economy, and we are here to help!

Anyway, this section originally appeared in the Business Enhancement Guide.  To businesses in older communities, this may particularly ring true, and given that the holiday season is coming up, it's more important than ever!

When are you open?

In earlier times, the typical American family had one spouse that worked while the other stayed at home and raised the kids.  This type of model allowed for stores to be open Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm.  However, as the information below details, times have changed, and stores that stick to this outdated model will lose massive amounts of customers (if they can stay open at all).

The facts:

  • The busiest hours for an American retail business are Sunday, between 12:00pm and 7:00pm.  Unfortunately, many small businesses are closed during this period. 
  • 9:00am – 5:00pm is currently one of the slowest times for retail businesses, since many customers are working themselves.  Incidentally, the majority of the shopping done during this time period is conducted on the internet.  
  • In 2008, Borough Business Revitalization Program conducted a survey, asking small businesses what hours they were open.  Out of those fifty, only eight were open during the time that is the most popular among shoppers.  
  • By being closed during these hours, businesses are denying themselves access to customers during the time that customers are shopping the most.  
  • According to a 2005-2006 study by the U.S. Department of Labor, more then 60% of all households with children under the age of 18 were families in which both parents worked.  The time period where many retail and restaurants are open is the same period where a majority of customers are working.
  • Times have changed, and hours of operations have to change with them.  

What you can do:

  • Change your hours.  Saturday and Sunday are both heavy shopping days and should be treated as such.  Try to be open until at least until 6:00pm on Saturday and Sunday.  During the week, many people shop after traditional work hours (5:00pm).  
  • You can try to capture that audience by staying open later, until 7:00 or 8:00pm. 
  • If you cannot afford to completely expand your hours, see where you can cut back.  Try opening and closing an hour later.  Shave an hour off of each weekday to be open for five hours on weekends.  

Daily Briefing, 11/12/2010

Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing - alas, it's another slow news day for us.

Municipal budgets continue to be proposed throughout the Valley - Palmer Townships preliminary budget proposes no tax increase.  In nearby Reading, the city may be looking at a 20% tax hike.  Sick of elections?  Us too.  That being said, it looks like the 2012 Presidential Election season will soon be upon us: primary debates are already being scheduled.  The 3rd quarter of 2010 saw home prices fall slightly and saw home sales drop 25% compared to the same time last year.

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

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Starting a new small business in the Lehigh Valley? Here are some resources.

The Lehigh Valley remains thriving in many senses, and entrepreneurial spirit remains strong.  We do have new businesses coming to the area on a regular basis.  For those of you who are looking to contribute to the Lehigh Valley by starting up a business, congratulations!  We are thrilled to hear it.  Without a doubt, you will need assistance to get your venture started.  So, here are some great resources that can help put you on your way to starting a new business.  These resources can help you in a variety of ways, including grant and loan acquisition, finding the right location, providing market research, training and hiring assistance (among many, many other services):

1)  Small Business Development Center:  The SBDC, located at Lehigh University, is a classic starting point for any new business venture.  As their website indicates, they offer a wide variety of services, including assistance with business plan development, funding research, financing, marketing and more.  Since the program is largely government funded, they can be very useful for acquisition of government grant or loan funding.

2)  SCORE:  SCORE is the Service Corps of Retired Executives.  These are former business volunteers who volunteer their time to assist new businesses in getting off the ground.  They offer a variety of low-cost workshops that can be very useful in helping you start your new venture.

3)  Rising Tide Community Loan Fund:  This program is a subsidiary of the outstanding Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley.  It provides micro-loans that are meant to serve businesses that cannot achieve financing otherwise.  In certain circumstances, it can also provide gap funding.

4)  Department(s) of Community & Economic Development:  If you are looking to start a business in any of the Valley's four major cities (Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton and Phillipsburg), make sure that your reach out the various Departments of Community & Economic Development.  All cities may have special grant or loan options that are not available anywhere else.

5)  Main Street & Elm Street organizations:  Every major Valley city, as well as many of the smaller Boroughs, have neighborhood revitalization programs that have targeted information designed to help bring your business to their location.  Be sure to check out information on these programs:

6)  The Chamber, of course!  We are here to help your business and can be an excellent starting point for any new entrepreneurial venture.  For more information on how we can be of assistance, please contact me (Mike Schlossberg) at mikes@lehighvalleychamber.org.

There are plenty more resources available for new small businesses.  What do you think we are missing?  Let us know in the comments.

Job Opening - Community Services for Children

If you are a Chamber Member, we are happy to help you advertise any job opening. Please E-mail a description and contact information to Mike Schlossberg at MikeS@lehighvalleychamber.org. We publish job openings every Thursday and are happy to help you find the talent that you are looking for!

Community Services for Children

Development Specialist – Assist Development Department with activities and tasks related to raising funds, marketing, public relations, and holding special events and conferences. Data entry and administrative duties, including publications and mailings. BA in Marketing, Communications, or related field; will consider a High School Diploma with relevant experience and proven skills. Willingness to learn Donor Software (currently SAFE FR50). Proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook, including merging letters and tracking expenses. Experience with office equipment. Effective communication, organizational, and interpersonal skills. Car and valid driver’s license required. Ability to work a flexible schedule, including occasional evening or weekend hours. 35 hrs/wk. $14.09/hr. plus excellent benefits. Position ends December 2012. Submit resume to scimerola@cscinc.org or through website www.cscinc.org EOE

Daily Briefing, 11/11/10

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

In Allentown, District Justice Maryesther Merlo responded to accusations filed by the Commonwealth that accuse her of judicial misconduct.  In Bethlehem, Mayor John Callahan announced 50 layoffs to balance his 2011 budget.  At the first city budget hearing, Allentown firefighters accused Mayor Pawlowski of rejecting $1 million in concessions.  In Slatington, the Borough is considering laying off police officers in an attempt to balance its budget.

After facing pressure from its own members, the Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has said the House will convene again to discuss legislation before it, including pension reform.

This is just too fascinating not to repeat: apparently, former President Bush once told a group that he would have endorsed then Senator Obama's campaign, if asked.  The United States remains the largest economy in the world, but it isn't even in the top ten when it comes to economic growth.  The preliminary proposals of a bipartisan debt commission were released yesterday; the proposals call for cuts to numerous programs and tax breaks.

We have one Chamber event today: a free mixer at Penn State Lehigh Valley.

That's it for now - but, before you go, please take our very brief, one question survey!  Have a good one!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

SURVEY: What technology do you want to learn more about? We want to hear from you!

Hi everyone -

As you may know, we are getting more and more involved in promoting technology at The Chamber.   To that end, we are looking for some guidance from you, our readers.  Below is a one-click survey that we would love to have your feedback on.  Just one click, and no information other than your answer is recorded.  You can give more than one answer.  You can also give more than one answer.

What do you think?

Daily Briefing, 11/10/2010

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

I want to apologize as you read this: I'm not being lazy, there just isn't a whole lot of news today.  In an open letter, a bipartisan coalition of pollsters warned that the way polls are being reported by the media is manipulating campaigns; they call for the media to be more critical in how they report polls.  A new poll shows that a majority of Americans favor a repeal of President Obama's health care reform.

We have one Chamber event today: a meet & greet with the new President & CEO of Easton Hospital, Brian Finestein.

That's it for now - sorry it's so short, just not a lot going on!  Have a good one, and we'll see you later.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Quick, Call 911! The Future of Ambulance Service

The Southern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce recently held an event to discuss the future of ambulance coverage in the Lehigh Valley - and it was a very interesting presentation.  Did you know,f or example, that Allentown and Bethlehem are the only two municipalities in Lehigh County that receive tax-supported ambulance service?

For this and more info, watch the video:

So many mixers!

One of the things we take the most pride in at The Chamber is our ability to provide free or low-cost networking opportunities for our members.  We have a crazy next couple of weeks when it comes to those events, so i thought it was worth reviewing.  Check out our calendar of events, and keep in mind that all of these events are absolutely free and provide a great chance for you to network with other Chamber members.

If you are interested in holding a mixer or ribbon cutting at your establishment, reach out to Jennifer Rodgers at jenniferr@lehighvalleychamber.org.

November 9:  Rapid Refile Grand Opening
November 10:  Easton Hospital Meet & Greet for new CEO, Brian Finestein
November 10:  Holiday Mixer at the Playdrome
November 11:  Penn State Lehigh Valley Mixer
November 15:  Cooper Electric Grand Opening (see flier below for more info)

Cooper Print Ad Color November 16:  Lehigh Valley Fire Arms Training Center Mixer
November 17:  KidsPeace Ribbon Cutting
November 17:  Dan's Camera City Mixer
November 18:  Taste of Sam's Club Holiday Mixer

WOW.  If nothing else - no one can ever say that this Chamber isn't active!!!

This Week with Tony - Post-Election Wrap-Up

Hello everyone!  On today's This Week with Tony, Tony talks public policy and the results of the election with Michelle Griffin-Young, The Chamber's Executive Vice President of Public Policy.

Daily Briefing, 11/9/2010

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

According to a news release from our friends at the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, two Pennsylvania companies have been awarded over $2.3 million in loans to help move their business' forward.  PPL has announced its opposition to Mayor Pawlowski's proposed Earned Income Tax hike.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives will not meet before its new members are sworn in, causing  consternation with the Governor and some of its members.

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) is promising to massively expand House of Representative oversight of the Obama administration in the wake of last Tuesday's victory for the Republicans. Oil prices are climbing again, nearing $90 a barrel for the first time in two years.  Perhaps in reaction to the recession, Americans have paid off more than $1 trillion in personal debt.

Today is quite a busy day at The Chamber, with three events: an Easton/Forks luncheon with Jim Petrucci, a grand opening at Rapid Refile and an event on sales forecasting & manufacturing planning.

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

Monday, November 8, 2010

Four things every business blog entry needs

Business blogs are in large supply now - but, to be honest, many businesses blog wrong.  I can think of countless business blogs that miss the point - they are too self-promotional, updated too infrequently, don't accept or seek comments or talk about things that their customers don't care about.

There are many mistakes that are frequently made in blogging.  So, here are four things that every blog entry should absolutely have - and thus, four mistakes to avoid:

1)  An easy to read - and brief- format:  As we've said repeatedly, we live in a world where the demands on someone's time are increasing daily.  Based on that, if you want to keep someone's attention, keep your blog entries brief and too the point.  No fluff, no filibusters, and no wasting your reader's time.  Additionally, keep the format easy to read.  Use bullets or numbered lists - you'll notice that we have, repeatedly, used lists like "top five" or "six things" entries.  These lists entries are not only easy to read, but they get right to the point and provide easy take-aways.  Speaking of take-aways.... 

2)  Take-away tips or knowledge:  Do not use your blog just to promote yourself - if you do, you will fail.  Instead, use your blog to position yourself as as expert in your field, provide added value and give valuable information that will enhance your credibility and trust.  What you discuss on your blog should match-up to your potential customers interests.  As a Chamber of Commerce, we actively discuss business, local politics and community development, since these are subjects that likely match-up with the interests of our readers.

3)  Plenty of links:  Use links to relevant topics.  Lots of them.  You'll notice that, in most of our entries, we are link heavy, meaning that we link to relevant content whenever possible.  The reason for this is two-fold:  first, using links to the content you are discussing can better illuminate whatever point you are trying to make.  Second, using links can help increase your search engine optimization.

4)  A call for feedback & comments:  We make a point of concluding blog entries by asking for your feedback or comments.  This is good practice because the more you engage with your readers, the more likely they are to engage with you.  Make your commenters feel welcomed and they will keep coming back - and keep reading and contributing.  In fact, last Friday, we actually had a blog entry that was inspired by a comment one of our readers made.

Well, now to conclude with our own advice: what do you think?  What are other tips that every blog entry should have?

Daily Briefing, 11/8/2010

Good morning everyone!  Welcome back to work.  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

An Express-Times story highlights the Bethlehem Skateplaza, noting that the plaza has been well received by users and neighbors alike and had relatively little problems.  Only 1,342 people have enrolled in the state's high-risk health-care pool.

In the wake of his party's devastating defeat in the 2010 midterm elections, President Obama has vowed to make "corrections" to his administration's policies.  Obama has signaled he is willing to compromise on the extension of the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest of American's.  Republicans have thus far signaled that they are not willing to compromise with President Obama's agenda.

Business Matters airs today, featuring a post-election discussion.  The show airs at 8pm tonight on WFMZ.

That's it for now!  Enjoy your Monday, and we'll see you later today.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Annual Meeting: A Twitter Review

Yesterday, we ran a blog post highlighting our live-tweeting of our Annual Meeting.  As always, we asked for comments and Kim was kind enough to give a great suggestion: post a transcript of the Tweets.  This is a great idea and an excellent way for everyone to see the event.  Thus, here is all of our Tweets from Annual.  Enjoy!

Daily Briefing, 11/5/2010

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

Despite the continued presence of the disease, local hospitals note that there is relatively little demand for the H1N1 vaccine.  A new survey by The Chamber and Kamran Afshar Associates notes that businesses still expect growth, albiet at a slower pace.   Northampton County Council approved its budget yesterday - the $290 million budget does not raise taxes, but it does eliminate a total of 66 positions (60 via attrition and 6 outright).  You will no longer receive that Verizon White Pages on your door unless you ask for it, thanks to a request by Verizon and a ruling by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.  The Borough of Hellertown has approved its preliminary budget that had a 1-mil tax increase.

I usually don't report on Connecticut news, but boy, what a mess: it appears that the race for Connecticut Governor has descended into chaos, with both camps claiming victory after a mistaken-ridden election.

In a close race, Democrat Patti Rossi has been reelected against Republican Dino Rossi.  The win leaves the Alaska Senate race as the only place where there is still an undetermined Senate result, although Republicans will maintain that seat as the winner will either be incumbent Lisa Murkowski (who ran as a write-in after being defeated in the primary) or Joe Miller, leaving Republicans with control over the seat.  It now appears that the Senate will be 53-47 in favor of the Democrats.

That's it for now!  Enjoy your weekend, and we'll see you Monday!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Job Opening - Priority Bracelet

If you are a Chamber Member, we are happy to help you advertise any job opening. Please E-mail a description and contact information to Mike Schlossberg at MikeS@lehighvalleychamber.org. We publish job openings every Thursday and are happy to help you find the talent that you are looking for!

Priority Bracelet

Seeking sales representatives and workshop presenters for Priority Bracelet, a fifteen- month-old business that inspires women to live more fulfilling lives. Priority Bracelet, a life planner for your wrist, is a new twist on a traditional charm bracelet. Successful candidates will be comfortable around large groups of women and have a sales mindset. Presenters must be comfortable speaking in front of groups and using PowerPoint. Sales reps must be detail-oriented and be capable of providing great customer service. These are commission-based employment opportunities so being a self motivated individual is a must. Hours are flexible.
Requirements for employment: Must have outgoing personality and like to interact with different age groups. Must be able to pass a child abuse background check in order to work with Girl Scouts, schools, and youth groups. Must be physically capable of pushing, pulling, bending, kneeling, stooping, and lifting 25 pounds.
If interested, contact Deb Walter at 610.657.0952 or deb@prioritybracelet.com.

Tweeting Live: How to live-tweet an event

As you are likely aware, The Chamber held its Annual Meeting this past Tuesday.  The event was a great success - it was attended by over 1,000 people are really helped to highlight the business achievements of the Lehigh Valley.

We tried something different this year: we live tweeted the event.  We've come close to doing that before, but this was the first time we actually grabbed a computer and actively integrated Twitter with our event.  By "live-tweeted," I mean that we actually transmitted the highlights of the event over Twitter.

It was a great success as best we can tell.  First, in terms of raw numbers:

  • Tweets sent:  44
  • Tweets mentioning us or our hashtag:  30
  • New followers: 5
Here are some tips:
  • Set up a hashtag that is easy to remember:  For us, the hashtag was #ChamberAM, standing for Chamber Annual Meeting.  Then, whenever you tweet about the event, use the hashtag.  This makes it easier for you to track when others and tweeting about the event.  
  • Remind people often and early:  Keep the hashtag visable throughout the event, and remind people days before the event that you are going to use the hashtag.  That's an area where I goofed - I didn't do either of those things, and the tweets were slow to get started.
  • Respond:  Whenever someone tweets using the hashtag, respond!  You want to do everything you can to encourage interaction.
  • Use multimedia:  Take pictures from a smartphone!  We took many pictures, including an owl brought to us by the Lehigh Valley Zoo, vendors setting up and Tony Iannelli, our President & CEO, with the Allentown Hobo Band.
  • Just the highlights - don't overdo it:  Don't Tweet everything said - it will clog up the stream.  Just tweet the highlights or interesting quotes.
  • Keep your tweets retweetable - 120 characters or less:  Since Twitter has a 140 character limit, you want to keep your tweets to 120 or less - this will make it easier for others to have enough room to retweet.
  • ReTweet people who aren't there:  The point of live tweeting an event is to bring others in on the event as well, regardless of if they are there.  So, make a point of responding to others who aren't at the event.
  • ReTweet interesting or positive comments:  Don't talk about how awesome you are.  Let others do it for you.
  • Hold a contest:  This was our biggest success.  In partnership with our friends at Coca-Cola, we gave away six Coca Cola polar bears (and we're talking three-foot plush bears here), complete with tickets to the Lehigh Valley Zoo and the Iron Pigs.   In order to enter, individuals had to tweet us and say "I want a Coca-Cola polar bear @GLVCC #ChamberAM."  That got us over 20 contest entries and a whole new level of interactivity and exposure.
What do you think?  Anything we are missing here?

Welcome, New Members!

We wanted to take a moment to welcome October's new Chamber members.  As you can see, we had a wide diversity this past month of members in terms of industry, employee size & locations.  My point is this: regardless of your business, there is a place for you in The Chamber.  If you are interested in learning more, just E-mail me at mikes@lehighvalleychamber.org.

Access Business Services - Emmaus
850 Broad Street, Suite 108
Emmaus, PA  18049
(800) 692-1807

3242 Regal Road
Bethlehem, PA  18020
(610) 317-0550

Berkheimer Tax Administrator
50 North Seventh Street
Bangor, PA  18013
(610) 588-0965
Business Type:  TAX SERVICES

Bishop Photo
186 North Commerce Way
Bethlehem, PA  18017
(610) 694-1014

Clifford Promotions
1629 Rosalie Drive
Hellertown, PA  18055
(610) 762-5996

Hellertown Deli - Pita House
1111 Main Street
Hellertown, PA  18055
(610) 838-1490

Invest In Education Inc.
P.O. Box 181
Nazareth, PA  18064
(610) 365-8850

Joey Koldare Artisan Jewelry
2741 Columbus Drive
Emmaus, PA  18049
(610) 730-5603
Business Type:  JEWELERS

Kathleen Coughlin LSW & Associates
147 East Broad Street
Bethlehem, PA  18018
(610) 861-8779

Lehigh Valley Community Resource Center, Inc.
P.O. Box 3432
Allentown, PA  18106
(610) 740-5611

Mad Tatters Tattooing
644 North New Street
Bethlehem, PA  18018
(610) 882-1842
Business Type:  TATTOOING

Milham Ford Toyota Scion
3810 Hecktown Road
Easton, PA  18045
(610) 253-9191

Milk and Honey Kids
3303 Bath Pike
Bethlehem, PA  18017
(484) 821-1399
Business Type:  RETAIL SALES

Phil Zeltzman LLC
P.O. Box 38
Vogelsville, PA  18051
(610) 969-9221

PIC Medical Gas Testing Inc.
4117 Route 309
Schnecksville, PA  18078
(610) 799-4436

Premier Technologies
3 East North Street
Bethlehem, PA  18018
(866) 954-9230

Sally Ullman Photography
2815 Columbus Drive
Emmaus, PA  18049
(610) 966-4744

Samuel Adams Pennsylvania Brewery
The Boston Beer Company
7880 Penn Drive
Breinigsville, PA  18031
(800) 372-1131

Sugar & Spice Thrift Shop
77 West Broad Street, Suite 20
Bethlehem, PA  18018
(610) 419-4147
Business Type:  RETAIL SALES

The Mail Connection LLC
3650 Nazareth Pike
Bethlehem Shoppes
Bethlehem, PA  18020
(610) 867-7700

Tony's Gifts & Home Decor
1901 South 12th Street, 2nd Floor Unit #4
Allentown, PA  18103
(610) 732-3632
Business Type:  GIFTS & BASKETS

White Orchids Thai Cuisine
2985 Center Valley Parkway, Suite 200
Center Valley, PA  18034
(610) 841-7499

Your Neighborhood Dry Cleaner
1729 Whitehall Avenue
Allentown, PA  18104
(484) 274-5737
Business Type:  DRYCLEANERS

7Strong Enterprises
4293 Vera Cruz Road
Center Valley, PA  18034

U.S. Business Directories
6160 Pond View Terrace
Bath, PA  18014
(484) 661-4725

Computer Aid, Inc.
1390 Ridgeview Drive
Allentown, PA  18104
(610) 530-5000

Greater Lehigh Valley Ad Club
P.O. Box 90507
Allentown, PA  18109-8900
(610) 365-7916

JP Venture Group Inc. dba Advanced Products & Services
316 North Broadway
Wind Gap, PA  18091
(610) 863-0570

Daily Briefing, 11/4/2010

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

In Allentown, Mayor Pawlowski formally presented City Council with a 40% increase in the city's Earned Income Tax in order to deal with its ballooning pension costs.  The city also passed the first of two pieces of legislation necessary to extend health care benefits to same sex partners of city employees.  The first of four public meetings regarding the sale of Gracedale was held in Northampton County.

In state-wide news, with the elections out of the way, the state legislature can now start to look towards redistricting the state's Legislative and Congressional districts.

The outcome of two Senate races remain undetermined.  In Colorado, Democrat Michael Bennett eked out a victory.  In Alaska, it appears that Lisa Murkowski will win re-election as a write-in candidate, despite being defeated in the Republican primary.  In Washinton, it appears that Democrat Patti Murphy is heading towards a slim victory, although that race has not been called yet.  If these results hold, Democrats will have lost six seats in the Senate.  John Boehner, the next Speaker of the House, has said that one of his #1 priorities will be top defund health care reform.  Over two million people will stop receiving unemployment benefits unless Congress passes an extension within the next few weeks.

We have one Chamber event today: a mixer at Sam's Club on Airport Road.

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

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Daily Briefing, 11/3/2010

Good morning everyone, and oh boy, do we have a lot to talk about!

Let's start nationally.  As expected, Republicans took the House of Representatives, and by wide margins: the GOP will gain at least 60 seats, comfortably more than the 39 they needed.  In the Senate, Republicans have picked-up at least six Senate seats with two races still undecided: wins in North Dakota, Indiana, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Illinois have helped push Republicans up in that Chamber.  Democratic Leader Harry read won his closely watched election, and the Democrats will have at least 50 seats, retaining their majority.  Colorado, Alaska and Washington still have not been called: Republicans appear to have slim leads in Colorado and Alaska, while Washington looks to barely be trending Democratic.  Republicans also took ten Governor's offices from Democrats.

In Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett and Pat Toomey each won their respective races.  Democrats appeared to have lost five Congressional seats in the state, with Representatives Dahlkemper, Carney, Kanjorski and Murphy all losing their seats, plus Pat Meehan defeating Bryan Lentz in an open seat race to fill Joe Sestak's seat.  The Pennsylvania State Senate remains solidly Republican, but it appears that the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has switched from Democratic to Republican control.

In the Valley, Congressman Charlie Dent cruised to reelection yesterday, winning 53% of the vote, compared to 39% for John Callahan and 8% for Jake Towne.

In the State Senate, all three Valley incumbents easily won reelection: Pat Browne (R), Lisa Boscola (D) and Bob Mensch (R).  In the State House, the winners are: Justin Simmons (R-131), Jennifer Mann (D-132 and unopposed), Joe Brennan (D-133), Steve Samuelson (D and unopposed), Bob Freeman (D), Marcia Hahn (R), Joe Emerick (R and representing a pick-up for Republicans), Julie Harhart (R-183) and Gary Day (R-187).

The Chamber held it's annual meeting yesterday.  If you missed the event, you can see the Morning Call, Express-Times and WFMZ coverage.

Alright, believe it or not, there was other news yesterday!  Some good economic news: the Valley's jobless rate dropped from 9.8% to 9.3% this past month.  Good news for the Sands Bethlehem, as they are showing profit increases of 17% compared to last year.  In Allentown, Mayor Pawlowski has proposed an Earned Income Tax increase to balance the 2011 budget.

We have two Chamber events today, both mixers: one at White Orchid at the Promenade Shoppes and one at the Career Institute of Technology.

We leave you today with a cute puppy whistle.  Yes, you read that right.  If there is bipartisan agreement on anything, it's that puppies are adorable.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day Daily Briefing!

Good morning everyone!  We're gonna skip the usual morning briefing today, since today is a big one: Election Day!  Make sure you know the location of your polling place.

Also, of course, today is The Chamber's Annual Meeting, our biggest event of the year!  We'll be covering it live on Twitter, using the #ChamberAM channel to cover it live.

We'll leave you with a video from Tony and myself yesterday.  See you today!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Daily Briefing, 11/1/2010

Good morning everyone!  Great news: today is the final day that we will see political advertisements!  WOOHOO!  Anyway, here is today's Daily Briefing.

In Easton, city officials have told the police union that they will be monitoring for sick time abuses.  Easton, is also in the news for its allocation of its federal CDBG funding, much of which will go towards funding city expenses.

The polls are all converging - Pat Toomey appears to have a small lead over Joe Sestak, while Tom Corbett has a slightly larger one over Dan Onorato.  Here are the latest results as we have them:

Toomey 48%, Sestak 44%

Toomey 51%, Sestak 46%
Corbett 52%, Onorato 45%

Toomey 46%, Sestak 44%
Corbett +7%

This one is outside of our usual area of interest but of note nonetheless: a new study has found that alcohol is the most harmful drug available, followed by crack and heroin.  Yes, that's right, this study says that alcohol is more harmful than heroin.

Business Matters airs today, featuring two 15 minute interviews with Pat Toomey and Joe Sestak.  As always, the show will air at 8pm on WFMZ-TV.

We have one event today: a ribbon cutting at the new QNB in Wescosville.  

This will be the only entry for today, as your resident blogger will be at Stabler Arena, prepping for tomorrow's Annual Meeting.  So, have a great day, and we'll see you tomorrow!