Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tech Wednesday

Hello, all! Stephanie, your faithful intern, here with this week’s Tech Wednesday.

As a self-diagnosed social media junkie, I have quite a few social networking accounts to manage. Every morning I spend a significant amount of time catching up on tweets and status updates, clicking around from one site to the next – and this is before checking up on the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal… and so on and so forth. If your business has a growing social media presence, then chances are you can sympathize with my multiple account madness. Luckily, there are almost as many social networking aggregators as there are social networking sites. These applications come in both on- and offline forms, and allow you to pull together and sort updates from multiple site feeds in a manner that best suits your interests.

I did some searching and found a neat little application called AlertThingy. Its name may be a little silly (I dare you to say it three times fast without at least a chuckle), but the program itself is nothing to laugh at.

How it works:
Once the program has been downloaded and installed (Windows and Mac compatible), you can link AlertThingy to your social networks (including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, and Basecamp) or set it up to follow your favorite news feeds (including CNN, ESPN, Reuters, the New York Times, and more). You can set the program to start up when you power on your computer, so you can start off your day with a morning news roundup.

Features and benefits:
- Can sort social networking contacts into groups (filtering out that one guy who is always on FarmVille)
- Automatic, live updating with optional desktop news alert pop-ups (which will link you directly to the source, should you want more information)
- Update social networking status or tweet from the program
- Display one solid feed of data or multiple streams from different groups

Price:
AlertThingy is FREE (my favorite price), and you can download it here. The installation is in two parts – one to install Adobe Air (which allows web applications to behave like desktop applications), and one to install AlertThingy. I was able to get everything up and running in fewer than fifteen minutes.

What applications do you use to manage your social media? Leave a comment and let us know!

Daily Briefing 6/30/10

Good Morning here is today's daily briefing:

In Lehigh Valley news: I wish I had better news on a beautiful day but, Valley unemployment hits high-water mark. Rate rises to 9.9 percent in May despite addition of 1,600 jobs.

  
In national news: Kagan faces third day of questions Quizzed on military, political views, court nominee displays cool demeanor 

Chamber events today: 

President's Roundtable with IronPigs owner Joe Finley at Coca Cola Park, a few seats are still available. The event begins at 11:45am to register call Colleen at 610-841-5800 or email colleend@lehighvalleychamber.org

Have a fantastic day!



Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Daily Briefing 6/29/10

Good Morning, here is today's daily briefing:

In Bethlehem - The $750,000 first phase of the Skate Plaza is slated for a grand opening on July 16.

In state news - No deal in the marathon PA budget talks. State budget talks failed to produce a deal after negotiators worked into the early morning hours Tuesday without reaching a compromise that could be signed into law before the fiscal year begins Thursday.

In national news - Home prices rise for the first time in seven months in April as government tax incentives helped to bolster the housing market.

Have a great day!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Daily Briefing 6/28/10

Good Morning, here is today's daily briefing:

In Bethlehem, Former Bethlehem mayor tells all Gordon Mowrer — releases autobiography.

In national news, Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, a fiery orator versed in the classics and a hard-charging power broker, died Monday. He was 92.

Brewing in the Caribbean, as Tropical Storm Alex moves into the Gulf of Mexico, there is a fear that Tropical Storm Alex could halt relief-well drilling and unhook the leak's containment cap.

Today at The Chamber we have Berkheimer Outsourcing LLC Grand Opening from 12-2pm!

Have a great day!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Guest Blog Post: A realtor's experience with Social Media

Hi everyone -


We have another guest blog post.  This one comes to us courtesy of Reginald D. Reglus of Keller Williams Real Estate.  Reggie is hosting a Social Media Marketing Summit for Small Business Professionals and can be reached at rreglus2002@yahoo.com.

Enjoy!
7 Essential Social Media Keys to Generating More Business
 
I have met so many small business professionals (Realtors, Attorneys, Accountants, Consultants, etc) who think that in order to take advantage of social media they have to be a nerd or super-technical. Nothing could be further from the truth. To be great at social media you simply need a few key skills and you will be on your way to generating business through social media.

1. Understand the Purpose of Social Media
It is oft-said that when you don't know the purpose of a thing you tend to misuse or abuse it (or just avoid it altogether). The purpose of social media used in a business context is three fold: (1)to build trust; (2) to build credibility; and (3) to build relationships.
Remember, you are reaching out to touch other human beings. People will only feel safe and do business with you if they know you, like you and trust you. Social media is one way to facilitate this process. In this vein, let's briefly discuss some things that will help you build trust, credibility and relationships online.

2. Be authentic

Be you. Be the best you...but be you. Show your personality online. People need to know they are dealing with a real live person on the other end. Respectfully share your thoughts and feelings about ideas. Write about some challenges you have just overcome in your business. Write about some challenges you are currently facing (remember keep it positive. Talk about challenges you expect to overcome, not problems. Bottom line. Be you and be honest.

3. Add value by sharing information and insights

Look for interesting articles and tidbits to share with others especially around your business expertise. For example, if you are in real estate, share home remodeling tips, problems that you have helped buyers or sellers overcome, local news about home values, new construction projects in a local area that may affect the local economy, etc. Where appropriate, add your insights about the articles and tidbits you are sharing.

4. Be conversational

When you write, don't be stiff. Write like you are speaking to a good but well-respected friend who you would never offend. Someone you want to help. Be conversational, but be professional.

5. Listen and Respond Often

Listen to what is being said in your area of expertise and interest and start a conversation. Active listening is an important skill in social media and in life. And I suggest that you listen widely. Go to a number of sites and social spaces to listen. See what is being said about your business, profession or industry and respond in an intelligent positive manner. You build social capital when you are known as someone who listens and shares expert advice.

6. Actively Comment and Share

Respond to questions about your business and industry often. Proactively go out to different online social spheres and look for questions you can answer. This is a little different from above. Here, it is important to specifically look for questions you can answer and answer them effectively.

7. Join affinity groups online

Find online groups that interest you either professionally or personally and join up. Don't just join. Participate. Invite others to join. Write comments, share information and answer questions. This also builds your online social capital.

8. Get out

Don't spend all your time online. Face-time is still important. Make sure you get out and network in the offline world. When you are offline, invite people to join you online. This is a great way to build your network and stay in touch.

All of these items are important to build trust, credibility and relationships. Only after you build this triad are you able to invite and direct people to your website to do business with you. Believe me, if you work on these items, you will generate more business because people love to do business with people they know, like and trust.

Reginald D. Reglus
Learn more. Register for the upcoming

Daily Briefing 6/25/10

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

In Allentown, The $80 million hockey arena proposed for Allentown's Lehigh riverfront will not be open until at least 2013, according to Mayor Ed Pawlowski.

In state-wide news, State Senator Anthony Williams, who made a splash in this year’s Democratic gubernatorial race, plans to run for auditor general in 2012.

In national news, Now that Democrats have agreed on a Wall Street reform bill, President Obama is set to have an incredible year of accomplishments. He's already signed major health care reforms into law and is more than likely to have energy/climate change legislation on his desk later this year. Not since FDR has a president done so much to transform the country. The new iPhone 4 made it's public debut yesterday many customers screamed with joy when opening their new smartphone,and then customers turned to the internet to report problems with it.

Today at the Chamber we have one all day event: All Day Sales Training Seminar with Sam Iorio of Dale Carnegie.

One final note, The Chamber's Social Media Guru is on his honeymoon and will return on Tuesday, July 6th, so please, be nice. Thank you. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Scam Alert

Hi folks -

An E-mail just came through from our friends at Discover Lehigh Valley.  The summary is this - a company called "Premier Map" has been making calls to their members, saying that they are representing the Convention & Visitors Bureau and asking for a credit card to get their "advertisement on our map" renewed.

The number they are leaving is 888-332-6670.

This group does NOT represent Discover Lehigh Valley, or anyone else. 

The group has done the same with Chamber members as well.

If you ever have a question about if someone is calling on behalf of the Chamber, do not hesitate to call us at 610-841-5800.  For information about Discover Lehigh Valley, please see the E-mail below.
-----------------
Hello All…


We have been informed a company called "Premier Map" has been contacting our members saying they are calling on behalf of "The Lehigh Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau". They are asking for a credit card number to renew your "advertisement on our map".

THEY DO NOT REPRESENT DISCOVER LEHIGH VALLEY!!!

The phone number they give is 888-232-6670

DO NOT GIVE ANY CREDIT CARD INFORMATION TO THIS COMPANY!

I Googled "Premier Map" and found several scam alerts.

If you have any questions regarding your membership in Discover Lehigh Valley (formerly the Lehigh Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau) Please call our office at 610-882-9200.

For your convenience, I am attaching a copy of our Staff Directory.

Thank you,

Nancy

New Ways to Connect With LinkedIn

Good morning! This is Stephanie the Intern, here with my second post of the week. I was forwarded a Mashable article about some big changes that LinkedIn has made to its groups and discussions features. Personally, I have only been a casual LinkedIn user, focusing the majority of my communication and networking on Facebook and Twitter. However, some of these new features geared towards facilitating and encouraging discussions have raised my interest in the site. Here are some of the changes:

Starting a conversation in groups: Instead of clicking that pesky “Start a Discussion” link, you can now post via a publisher box on the group page. This feature is reminiscent of the “What’s on your mind” box on the Facebook homepage. LinkedIn also borrowed the “comment” and “like” features native to Facebook, in an effort to generate more responses to discussions. Using these established feedback mechanisms could give LinkedIn a big boost – users are generally more comfortable with features with which they are already familiar.

Following members/discussions: If you don’t think you have enough followers on Twitter, fear not – you can now gather more followers (and follow others) on LinkedIn. This feature also extends to discussions. You can keep track of activity in conversations you are a part of and/or are interested in. This can be helpful in maintaining a more “one-on-one” conversation feel – no more discussion threads falling silent because members forgot they existed.

Top influencers: The groups page now includes a “Top Influencers” box, which ranks group members not only by how often they post, but how much feedback they generate from other users. This way, you can find out which members are the most engaging (and not just the most talkative).

LinkedIn has always been sort of on the back burner of my social media stove (forgive the terrible metaphor), but it may be time to give the site a little more attention. I have already started searching for groups related to my interests on the Groups Directory – I suggest you do the same!

For more information on the new features, check out this video from the LinkedIn YouTube channel.

Job Openings - Northampton Community College

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!

Instructor – Video Game Design
Must have knowledge of video game history, industry practices, development stages, and design fundamentals. Minimum of a bachelors degree in art, interactive design, game design, computer science, or related field; working knowledge of game engines is a critical requirement for this job (UDK, Blender3d, Unity, Adobe Flash, or a related engine), and experience with 3D modeling and animation is helpful, but not required for this position. Prior college teaching experience a plus. Send cover letter, resume/curriculum vitae, and 3 references to Tom Shillea at tshillea@northampton.edu. NCC is EEO/AA.


Instructor – Web Design
PT to teach one section of Introduction to Web Design- Tuesday and Thursday, 9 – 11am from 8/23 thru 12/11/10. Must have minimum of a bachelors degree (Masters Degree preferred) in graphic design, interactive design, new media design or related field; working knowledge of best practices of web design; strong knowledge of Adobe CS5 Photoshop, Illustrator and Dreamweaver software; knowledge of html and css coding. Prior college teaching experience considered a plus. Send resume/curriculum vitae to Tom Shillea at tshillea@northampton.edu. NCC is EEO/AA.


Instructor – Computers / Flash
Computer instructor needed to teach a Flash course for 6th 9th graders, 7/6-7/9, from 1-4 pm. Submit resume, cover letter, and references to Northampton Community College, Horizons for Youth, 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem, Pa 18020, or to jmccarthy@northampton.edu, or fax to 610-861-4575 by 6/21/10. NCC is EEO/AA.


Manager, Instructional Design
FT position providing leadership in the application of instructional design theories and methodologies to help faculty build and facilitate quality online and hybrid courses. Works closely with faculty to ensure their online and hybrid course content and assessments reflect best practices in online course design, accessibility standards, and copyright policies. Master’s degree in Instructional Design is required. Minimum 3-5 years experience as an instructional designer in an educational setting is strongly preferred. Demonstrated experience with the Quality Matters rubric and process, Blackboard, Elluminate Live, Web 2.0 technologies, and section 50 compliance is preferred. Salary is competitive and the benefits are excellent. Send letter, resume and names, addresses and phone numbers of 3 professional references to Human Resources, Northampton Community College, 335 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem, PA 18020, or email to hr@northampton.edu by 7/2/10. NCC is EEO/AA.

Daily Briefing 6/24/2010

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

In Bethlehem, the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities kicked off their annual convention, giving the city a chance to show itself off to the entire state.  In Parkland, School Board Members agreed to a tax hike of 2.88%.

In state-wide news, a U.S. House of Representatives panel rejected a resolution to have the Attorney General turn over any discussion regarding the alleged job offer that Joe Sestak claims was made in exchange for his withdrawal from the primary.  Governor Rendell is denying the reports of a Philadelphia magazine that allege he had an affair with a woman who works for him.  Budget talks continue at the state, and progress is apparently being made, with the gap between the House Democrats and Senate Republicans narrowing to $700 million (yes, you did read that section correctly).  State Senator Lisa Boscola has introduced a bill that would required any Pennsylvania government employee to live in the state.  The purpose of the bill is to "make a point," as similar legislation has been proposed in New Jersey.  A new poll shows Attorney General Tom Corbett with a ten point lead over Dan Onorato in the race for Pennsylvania Governor.

In national news, General Stanley McChrystal has been replaced by General David Petraeus as the leader of American forces in Afghanistan after McChrystal's remarks in a Rolling Stones article that were critical of American's civilian leadership. 

Today is a busy day at The Chamber, as we have three events:  a training on how to use Social Media to better connect with your customers, our annual Easton-Phillipsburg Golf Classic and and information session on our upcoming Chamber trip to China.

That's it for now!  We'll have two entries for you later today.  Have a good one!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chamber Partner Capital BlueCross Wins Award for Customer Satisfaction

This just came in from Capital BlueCross, our exclusive Health Insurance provider.  Per the press release below, Capital BlueCross has won a J.D. Power and Associates Award for having the highest ranked member satisfaction among all of Pennsylvania health care plans. 

The Chamber is proud to partner with Capital BlueCross to provide our members with low-cost, high quality health insurance options.  If you are interested in learning more, please E-mail Lanita Lum at lanital@lehighvalleychamber.org.
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J.D. Power and Associates Recognizes Capital BlueCross for Ranking Highest in Member Satisfaction Among Pennsylvania Health Plans


HARRISBURG, Pa. (June 17, 2010) – J.D. Power and Associates Director of Healthcare Practice James Dougherty will formally recognize Capital BlueCross employees on Tuesday, June 22 for ranking highest in Member Satisfaction among health plans in the Pennsylvania Region, according to the 2010 National Health Insurance Plan Study. The event will take place at Capital BlueCross headquarters in Harrisburg from 9-9:30 a.m.

Now in its fourth year, the study measures satisfaction among members who purchased their coverage individually or through their employer from 133 health plans in 17 regions throughout the United States. The study examines seven key factors: coverage and benefits; provider choice; information and communication; claims processing; statements; customer service and approval process. The study also revealed that Capital BlueCross ranks highest in Network Satisfaction in its region.

“We exist because of our customers so knowing that we are the one Plan in Pennsylvania people are most satisfied with according to J.D. Power is rewarding,” said Bill Lehr, Capital BlueCross president & CEO. “This distinction is a credit to the hard work and dedication put forth by caring Capital BlueCross employees every day on behalf of those we serve.”

Health insurers are evaluated based on quite a number of criteria, but the one category believed by many to be the ultimate differentiator between Plans is Member Satisfaction, according to J.D. Power. Dougherty adds: “I am looking forward to my visit to Capital BlueCross so I can personally congratulate the men and women who have helped the company achieve these strong study results in such an important category.”

About Capital BlueCross

Capital BlueCross is the leading health insurer in its region, providing health insurance coverage to nearly one million people in central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. Capital BlueCross is committed to making health insurance simple for its customers and members through all the stages of life by offering nationally acclaimed customer service and a full range of innovative benefit programs for groups and individuals at competitive prices.
By establishing a culture of caring, Capital BlueCross constantly strives to do more in order to deliver more for the men, women and children who depend on the company for their health insurance needs. Capital BlueCross has been providing health security to the people and communities of central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley for more than 70 years and employs about 2,000 people in the region.

Headquartered in Harrisburg, Pa., Capital BlueCross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
About J.D. Power and Associates
Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, training and customer satisfaction. The firm's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on cell phone ratings, car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

PEL Pension Forum

Last Thursday, The Chamber sponsored a Pension Forum at the Bethlehem Best Western. Richard Dreyfuss and State Senator Pat Browne spoke on the pension crisis, reform suggestions, and pending pension legislation. Check out what they had to say:





Tech Wednesday

Hello, everyone! Today I have a special Tech Wednesday interview with my good friend Laura Gesin. Laura is a technology teacher at Communications High School in Wall, NJ, and the owner of the New Jersey-based VoxPopNJ, a company dedicated to teaching professionals how to use social media as a marketing and branding tool. Not only that, but she is also a major influence on my own pursuits of web design and social networking.

Last week, Laura attended TWTRCON 2010, a daylong event on the business uses of Twitter and other emerging social media. I contacted her (through Twitter, of course) and got her feedback on the event, and on social media in general.


Which social media sites/third-party social media managers do you use?
Twitter/Tweetdeck, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Foursquare

Which one of those is your favorite?
Twitter although Foursquare is definitely moving up in usage. Facebook I’m using less and less.

What sort of events/speeches/etc went on at TWTRCON? What did you attend?
The event was in one large ballroom, so I saw all of the panels/presentations. The best was probably the “Right Time, Right Place” panel with Foursquare, etc. that I wrote about on my blog. The real eye opener was the Real Time Media Brands panel made up of online and traditional news organizations. Huffington Post, and to a great extent the Associated Press, “get it”. The New York Times, not so much. I love the Times, am a subscriber, but didn’t realize just how resistant they are to new media.

How would you define Foursquare? How does it work?
Foursquare is a geolocation social networking program. Users follow friends much like Facebook, but instead of posting your status or tweeting what you’re doing, you check in where you are currently (1 button, what could be easier). For example, when I go to my local health food store, I check in, get points for the visit, and because I’ve been there more than anyone, am now Mayor. It is a game in the sense that you compete for points with your foursquare friends, and earn badges like “swarm” (when more than 50 people check into one location in a short period of time). Retailers are now using Foursquare to reach customers directly. For example, Starbucks now gives all their Foursquare Mayors $1 a frappuccino each visit. That’s really the power of Foursquare.

What sorts of businesses are using Foursquare? For what purposes?
Starbucks, as I stated before. I recently saw on Twitter that some Whole Foods locations are rewarding people who visit a certain number of times with free food. I think businesses will begin doing this more and more as they see large retailers like Starbucks and Whole Foods utilizing Foursquare. The ability to connect with customers at your location, rather than remotely is a big plus! It also promotes brand loyalty. With so many retailers to choose from, and such a difficult economy, it really has an impact on the bottom line.

Do you think there will continue to be many small social networking phenomena, or is Facebook just going to aggregate everything into one massive social media Matrix (sans-Neo)?
I actually think Facebook is not the leader in business social media. In fact, I think most business people would say the same. Facebook is a landing page that provides information, creates a community, and promotes discussion, but platforms like Twitter drive the traffic to Facebook, and Foursquare provides an entirely new way to interact with customers. I think a year from now, we’ll be talking about Foursquare they way we talk about Twitter today, and Facebook will be part of a social media marketing strategy but not the primary piece.

Be sure to visit Laura Gesin’s website and the VoxPopNJ site.

Daily Briefing, 6/23/2010

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

In Allentown, Mayor Ed Pawlowski has warned the city's three unions that, without concessions, the city is heading for Act 47 (finally distressed) status which will ultimately result in the city altering union benefits.  Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli has asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to render Ron Angle's appeal of a decision saying that he cannot serve two office moot, since Angle has already resigned from the Bangor Area School Board.  The United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley has announced that this year's campaign chair is Sally Gammon, CEO of Good Sheppard Rehabilitation Network.

In state-wide news, a report by Auditor General Jack Wagner on the states Megan's Law website has given the site a C-, saying that more needs to be done to alert residents about sex offenders living in their area.  A new polls shows that Pat Toomey and Joe Sestak are tied in the race for the U.S. Senate.



In national news, a new report shows that, even when adjusted for inflation, the cost for raising children has risen 22% since 1960.  General Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, has reportedly tendered his resignation after comments made to Rolling Stone in which he and his staff made fun of civilian officials, including the Vice President.

We have two Chamber events today - a mixer at the Allentown Brewworks on the Green and Young Professionals event, featuring Joe Brake, CEO of Coca Cola Bottling Company.

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

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Interesting ways state's are trying to raise $$

I caught this article via Mashable - and it is way too - umm, strange? - to not pass along.  Facing another difficult budget season, California has come up with a creative (if not slightly horrifying) way of raising revenue.  They are considering switching to digital license plates - and having those license plates display ads (if the car is stationary for four or more seconds).  The legislation to do so is now winding its way through the California assembly.

That got me thinking (never a good thing, I know).  It is no secret that state's across the national continue to suffer in this difficult economic climate.  At last report, Pennsylvania's budget gap was over $1.1 billion - and that isn't even close to the worst gap in the nation.  Given these issues, what other creative ways are states using to try and raise revenue?

It isn't creative, but it is standard - raising the so-called "sin taxes" on beer, wine, liquor and tobbaco.  Legalizing marijuana to raise money is starting to rear its head - California may do so this November.  Tax amnesties have become popular - Pennsylvania just completed a round of tax amnesty that netted the state $261 million.  Some states are now even asking taxpayers to donate money to the state.

Oh boy.

Webinar - The Value of Chamber Membership

We have another (totally free) webinar coming up that is perfect or individuals who are considering joining The Chamber or who are already members and want to know how to get more out of their Chamber membership. 

The webinar, Learn How to Make the Most of Your Chamber Membership, will be held on Friday, July 16, from 11am - 11:45am.  As you can see, it's brief.  It will contain information about the benefits of Chamber membership and have time for a Q&A session.

To register, just E-mail Marta at martaa@lehighvalleychamber.org.

Daily Briefing, 6/22/2010

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

At a public hearing yesterday, customers ripped into PPL's plans to raise electricity distribution rates by 5%.  There was good news for Lehigh Valley International Airport, as their traffic saw a 15% jump in May when compared to last year; on the whole, traffic is up 5% this year.  In an effort to increase lending, 11 Lehigh Valley Banks agreed to participate in a "peer review" of each other's lending program.  In Emmaus, Borough Council voted 7-0 to oppose an application by "The Vault" for relief from the Zoning Hearing Board.  The Vault is the controversial swingers club that is looking to locate to Main Street.  In Allentown, the Wachovia Regional Foundation awarded the newly named "Jordan Heights" neighborhood $630,000.  The funding, which was formally awarded to the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, will go to fund a variety of revitalization efforts in the area.  There was quite a bit of local school district news yesterday.  The Bethlehem Area School District voted to raise taxes by a little more than 6%.  The Bangor Area School District formally accepted Ron Angle's resignation following a Court ruling that said Angle cannot serve in more than one office.  In Easton, the Easton Area School District's teacher's union offered between $3-$5 million in concessions to save the 72 teacher's jobs.  However, in the end, the board ratified its budget that did fire the 72 teachers.

In national news, White House budget director Peter Orszag will be leaving his position in July.  In oil news, a Judge will be ruling later today or tomorrow about whether or not to lift the federal governments temporary ban on deepwater drilling.

Business Matters aired yesterday - the topic was whether or not the Bonusgate case has been prosecuted fairly by the Attorney General's office.  The show will be available online later today.

We have one Chamber event today - the Women's Business Council is holding their annual monthly luncheon, featuring a panel on networking tips.

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

Monday, June 21, 2010

Daily Briefing, 6/21/10

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

The Morning Call runs a story on seniors and employment, noting that the AARP has been helping to find jobs for seniors. The Express Times runs a very interesting story on technology and graduates, noting that technological advances are making it easier for those who couldn't otherwise attend to see graduation ceremonies.  In Forks Township, Supervisors have passed a law banning elected or appointed officials from holding paid positions with the township.  Honeywell Township has reimbursed eight affected agencies about $139,000 for expenses related to a chemical spill along Route 33 last year.  There will be two public hearings to discuss PPL's proposed rate hike for next year.  The 5% hike would cost the average homeowner an additional $7.41 per month. 

In case you missed it on Friday:  Former State Representative Mike Veon, the one-time #2 ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, was sentenced to 6-14 years in jail for his role in the Bonusgate scandal. 

In national news, a new report says that BP has, thus far, spent $2 billion in its efforts to clean-up the oil spill in the Gulf.

Business Matters airs tonight, and as we enter the summer we will be rerunning our favorite shows.  Today's topic:  Bonusgate - fair prosecution?  The show airs tonight at 8pm on WFMZ-TV.

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

Friday, June 18, 2010

Group buying for small businesses

I saw this article a couple of weeks ago in Mashable (easily my favorite blog) and it details a very interesting trend called Group Buying.  The idea itself is simple - customers band together, using already established platforms on small business' websites, to buy a product or service for a cheaper amount.  It's a win win - businesses get more customers and more people using their services, while customers can get what they want for less money.  It's also ingenious on many levels, but one in particular - it turns customers into sales agents.  Instead of a customer just buying a product or recommending one out of the goodness of their hearts, a customer is converted into a sales agent who now wants others to buy your products to save themselves money.

A variety of websites dedicated towards this new trend have started to pop up, including GroupOn and LivingSocial.  Right now, many of these services seem concentrated in major cities, many formerly small and now massive internet trends have started in isolated locations before spreading to the world at large (Facebook was originally available only to limited colleges and Foursquare was once only in major cities). 

The thing that is most fascinating to me about this trend is that it seems to be very similar to much of what we do at The Chamber.  We are all about using the power of our nearly 5,000 members to leverage additional savings for our members (see our Member Benefits for more information), and that seems to be what this trend is promulgating - using numbers to save you money.

I haven't seen any of this type of buying in the Lehigh Valley yet, but that doesn't mean anything - is anyone out there familiar with Group Buying in the Valley, or have any of you had any positive or negative experiences with it?

Guest Blog Post: Dealing with stress

We have another guest blog post, this one about stress reduction.  The entry comes from Bob Burns of We Have Choices.  Enjoy!
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     My purpose in life at this point is to inform others that they too can have a decent life and that what they dwell on will most certainly happen. I've been without alcohol for almost 27 years, tobacco for 23 years, divorced twice, buried both parents as an only child and yet keep moving forward and it has to do with the knowledge I've gained through listening to certain audio programs, and not the news. I've have been fussy concerning with who I form an  association as far as friendships. It's been said that the two biggest influences in life are the books we read and the people we associate with.
     The favorite seminars and the most requested are as follows: "Self Esteem/Deserve Level" covering the age old things such as how much do you like yourself which determines just what you "feel" you deserve. "The power of Rapport" is an excellent workshop for those dealing with others such as Sales People, Teachers, Law enforcement, Parents, and generally everyone. In this workshop, you hear the information, see the information demonstrated and have the chance to physically use it on the other attendees. When you leave this workshop, you'll not see the world the same way you did when you walked in. This one runs approximately three hours plus. Another favorite is "Relationships". Whether it's dealing with a loved one, work, or any type of relationship, you will learn how to defuse any type of disagreement before it gets out of hand.
       The seminar on June 24th discusses what we do to ourselves when a situation comes about for example, it's not the event or happening that brings about stress but what we think or say to ourselves after learning of it. I will give many personal examples of both myself and some others to illustrate this point. Many times events are not what we think we are experiencing and what can really cause stress perhaps more so than an actual is our perception of it. You will be given upon your arrival one of the most powerful meditation CDs ever created (a $19.95 value). Stressful things do take place however it's what we do with them or think of them that creates stress in our lives. I know you will find this very rewarding as you take control of your life and feelings back.
      Robert Burns has been doing seminars and workshops for 20 years and has been successful in all phases. He's worked with many organizations nationwide such as Mary Kay Cosmetics, Shaklee, Equinox, Market America, New York Life to name a few and has been on more than one hundred fifty radio shows ranging from London England, Canada, and Nationwide discussing his books and CDs. Bob has an office in Bethlehem on 26 West Broad Street in the Atrium Building where he has a private practice as well as groups on Wednesday evenings for Past Life Regressions and Meditation groups.
     Bob is presenting a seminar on Thursday the 24th of June at the Hyatt Hotel located at 24 West  North Street at 7pm. The topic is "Dealing with Stress" and the attendees will be given strategies for dealing with stressful situations as well as a meditation CD valued at $19.95. The seminar will conclude at 9pm allowing time for individual questions and answers.

Daily Briefing, 6/18/2010

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

New home sales in the Valley dropped 50% in May compared to April.  The drop is attributed to the loss of federal tax credits.  In Lower Macungie, the Township has proposed a law that would ban hunting on all 1,200 acres of township owned property.  In Allentown, the Allentown Art Museum will close to the public for ten months during renovations.  Embassy Bank announced yesterday that shareholders would receive a special dividend of $.02 per share.

In national news, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a $30 billion bill that would increase lending to small businesses.  The bill now heads to the Senate.  CNNMoney runs a report on the job security (or lack thereof) of government workers, noting that 19 states currently have plans to layoff more workers.  This would be in addition to the 231,000 state or local employees who have lost their jobs since August 2008.

The Chamber held its Excellence in Business Awards yesterday.  Congrats to the winners, Plantique and Haggerty Services.

We have one Chamber event today - a LeBEAM Mixer with the Bath BBRP at the Bath Farmer's Market.

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

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Job Openings - CSI & Valley Dealz

Here are this week's job openings. As always, if you have any job openings that you'd like to share with us, please E-mail me at MikeS@lehighvalleychamber.org. Thanks!
_______________________________________________________________________________________
Title: Wireless Network Apprentice - CSI
Reports to: Senior Wireless Network Engineer
Class: Full-Time
Type: Salary
Revised: 06-07-10


Primary Role:

The Wireless Network Apprentice assists in the installation of indoor and outdoor wireless network infrastructure solutions and the installation of the delivered wired network infrastructure solution. The wireless technology solutions may include: LAN/WAN solutions, Point to Point and Point to Multipoint Wireless Links, Mesh topologies and various CSI partner application and/or security solutions supported by the deployed wireless network infrastructure.

Responsibilities:

• Assist Wireless Network Technician/Engineer with:

o Basic equipment configuration using GUI and CLI interfaces.
o Mechanical and technical tasks such as fabrication, delivery and physical installation of equipment indoors and outdoors.
o Tasks relating to preventative and comprehensive maintenance agreements for installed wireless LAN/WAN solutions.

Qualifications:

• Must be responsible, self motivated and well-organized individual.
• Strong interpersonal, and communication skills.
• Knowledge and experience in unlicensed 2.4GHz, 4.9 GHz, and 5.3/5.8 GHz wireless, and microwave technologies for both indoor and outdoor LAN/WAN infrastructure solutions preferred but not required.
• Proficient in the use of personal computers including (but not limited to) such programs as MS Word, Excel, Visio and Outlook.
• Must be able to read and effectively interpret general business documentation.
• Pass a security investigation and meet state eligibility requirements for access to government facilities.
• Valid and current driver’s license. Must meet qualifications for CSI fleet insurance.


Physical, Mental and Environmental Requirements:

• Employee is required to stand, walk, climb, sit and use hands and fingers.
• Some heavy (over 50 lbs.) lifting of objects is required.
• Must be comfortable with heights while working on extension ladders (13-28 ft.), bucket vans (34 ft.), and building rooftops (34 ft & up).
• Reaching, grasping and carrying activities also required.
• The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.
• Work will be performed both inside and outdoors and you will be subject to seasonal temperature fluctuations.

All requirements may be modified to reasonably accommodate individuals with disabilities.

Travel:

• Up to 75% or more travel is required.
• Most travel is with 2 hours of CSI office.
• Some out of state travel maybe required.

Accountability:

The Wireless Network Apprentice will be accountable to the Senior Wireless Network Engineer. Secondary accountability will be to the IT Manager. A review session will be scheduled at
3, 6 and 12 month intervals during your first year of employment and annually thereafter on or
about your anniversary date.

Disclaimer
The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by people assigned to this classification. They are not to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties, and skills required of personnel so classified. All personnel may be required to perform duties outside of their normal responsibilities from time to time, as needed.

Management has the right to revise this description at any time. The job description is not a contract for employment, and either you or the employer may terminate employment at any time, for any reason as outlined in the employee manual or other written agreement
____________________________________________________________________________________
Title: Estimator - CSI
Reports to: Director of Engineering
Class: Full Time
Type: Salary
Revised: 5/6/10



Primary Role:

Responsible for working with sales, engineering, service and purchasing to assemble a bill of materials and labor estimate for bid opportunities. Responsible for accurately determining all costs associated with and needed to complete the job according to company, bid, and customer expectations.

Responsibilities:

1) Accompany Account Executives to pre-bid meetings as required.
2) Procure or coordinate procurement of bid documents as required.
3) Review, comprehend, and quantify costs of contract documents including, but not limited to, specifications, addenda, drawings, etc.
a) Perform takeoffs (counts) and review all relevant specifications, drawings, and addenda.
b) Work with others to develop an accurate and complete estimate including all materials and labor needed to perform the project.
i) Engineering will assist with design, materials, and technical scope, when needed
ii) Project Managers will assist with labor, subcontracting, and contractual scope, when needed
4) Assist Account Executives with responding to customer questions regarding bid projects.
5) Generate a comprehensive description of the project and scope of work as necessary.
6) Other duties as required or assigned by company management.

Accountability:

The Estimator will be accountable to the Director of Engineering. Secondary accountability will be to the Contractor Sales Account Executive, other management team members, employees and customers of the company.

Qualifications:

The Estimator shall possess a two-year electronics degree or equivalent combination of education and related field experience. A working knowledge of fire alarm, intercommunication/public address, and master clock systems is required. Related system knowledge/experience including access control, video surveillance, telephone systems, distributed audio systems, nurse call systems and data networks is highly preferred.

The ability to read blueprints and specifications is important. CAD and/or Visio experience would add value. Industry certifications may be required in order to perform job functions, as determined by company management.

What makes a successful Estimator:

1. Attention to detail
2. System/technology knowledge
3. Experience (knowledge of bidding area)
4. Work ethic

Travel:

Occasional travel to customer and vendor site is required.

Additional Skills and Abilities:

1. Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
2. Public speaking may occasionally be required.
3. Must be responsible, self-motivated, a self-starter, personable and well-organized. Ability to manage multiple tasks simultaneously.
4. Strong interpersonal skills; ability to work with diverse groups.
5. Proficiency in the use of personal computers including such programs as MS Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Internet Explorer and Outlook.
6. Ability to demonstrate planning, organizing and implementing skills which allow the successful completion of a project by a specific due date.
7. Must be able to effectively handle stressful situations.
8. Must be able to read and effectively interpret general business documentation.
9. Valid and current driver’s license.

Physical, Mental and Environmental Requirements:

1. Employee is required to stand, walk, climb, sit and use hands and fingers. Reaching, grasping and carrying activities also required.
2. The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate to low.
3. Although most work is performed inside, occasional outside activities are subject to seasonal temperature fluctuations as well as outdoor conditions. Outdoor conditions include parking lot, grounds, job sites and any other as deemed necessary to carrying out responsibilities.

All requirements may be modified to reasonably accommodate individuals with disabilities.

This job description does not list all the duties of the job. You may be asked by supervisors or management to perform other instructions and duties. You will be evaluated in part based upon your performance of the tasks listed in this job description.

Management has the right to revise this description at any time. The job description is not a contract for employment, and either you or the employer may terminate employment at any time, for any reason as outlined in the employee manual or other written agreement.
____________________________________________________________________________________
Valley Dealz -
Location: Lehigh Valley
Pay Rate: Commission only + Bonus (up-front and recurring commissions)
Schedule: Part & Full Time Available
Job Description:
• Outside sales experience required
• Some leads will be provided, but you must be able to generate your own
• Account management experience a plus - regular follow-ups with clients to ensure they're VERY happy with our service
• Must be comfortable with technology: text messaging, marketing, using computers, etc.
• Familiarity with CRM software and lead management a plus
• Must be self-motivated, team oriented, and value relationships
For more information, visit: http://www.valleydealz.com/index.php?_node=careers

Daily Briefing, 6/17/2010

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

PennDOT released the final draft of their Transportation Improvement Plan yesterday, listing the roads and bridges that will see repairs and construction in the Valley from 2011-2014.  To the chagrin of Easton officials, Route 22 in Northampton County will not be improved.  Speaking of Northampton County, the County continued its budget talks, looking to avoid a tax hike that could be as high as 20%.  After an "informal" investgation, PPL has agreed to increase their oversight of a state-mandated program that requires the weatherization of low-income homes when those customers are having trouble paying their bills.

In state-wide news, more than 80 programs are being cut from state colleges, with low student enrollment cited as the main reason.

The oil crisis continues in the Gulf, with BP's CEO testifying before Congress later today.  I'm sure he'll receive a friendly welcome.

We have two events today, and they are both big ones.  In conjunction with the Pennsylvania Economy League, The Chamber holding a lunch on the very hot topic of pension reform.  The Small Business Council is also holding their annual Excellence in Business Awards later tonight.

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

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bank Failures

This article appeared in the mint.com financial blog and I thought it was fascinating.  It detailed the relatively significant amount of bank failures in 2009 - 140 to be exact (there were only twenty-five such banks in 2008, with a mere four in 2007!).

The only good news, if you can call it that, is that only one of those banks was in Pennsylvania - Dwelling House Savings and Loan Association, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to be exact.


Check out the image on the website.  You can see massive clusters of bank failures appear in a few places - Washington, California, Georgia, Florida, New Jersey and Minnesota in particular.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - the recession could have hit us much worse than it did.

Tech Wednesday

Hello, all! Stephanie here again with this week's Tech Wednesday.

From a client’s perspective, scheduling appointments can be a bit of a hassle. In the past few weeks, I have spent a good deal of time on the phone with receptionists, playing the “Do you have an opening on Tuesday? What about the week after that? After three? Do you have anything before ten?” game. After those phone calls, I wondered if there was some way for businesses to streamline the scheduling process for the customer. A few clicks of the mouse later, I came upon Genbook, the online appointment book application. There are quite a few websites that offer such services, but Genbook stands out from the pack as a time-management wizard.

How it works: Genbook is a customizable, 24/7 online scheduling/appointment tool that helps businesses connect with clients through the web. Businesses post and manage their open appointments on a continuously updating calendar. Customers can access this schedule through a button placed on your company’s website, without having to register for any sort of separate account.

Features and benefits:
- Online appointment calendar (customizable)
- Multiple calendars for different staff members
- “Book now” button for your own website
- Automatic appointment reminders
- Customer invitation tool
- iPhone/mobile phone access
- Text message notifications and 12-month advance scheduling are available with subscription packages

Pricing: The basic Genbook subscription is FREE (an excellent price, as always). The premium package is $19.95/month for single-staff businesses, and $39.95 for multiple-staff businesses.

That's all for this week!

Daily Briefing, 6/16/2010

Good morning everyone!  We are back again, and here is today's Daily Briefing.

In Easton, with time running out, the school district vowed to take another look at the current plan to cut 70 teachers.  After a vote yesterday, most LANTA fares are set to increase by 12.5%.  In school district news, the Northern Lehigh School District is set to raise taxes by 2.3%, while the Southern Lehigh School District will be increasing taxes by 1.5 mills.  PPL will be holding webinars to show small and medium sized businesses how to save money on their electric bills.  Speaking of electricity rates, Senator Lisa Boscola and the Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission have announced that they will be lobbying federal regulators for relief on Pennsylvania electricity prices.  If you drive in Bethlehem, be warned - driving while using a hand-held cell phone will now get you a ticket.  A local union has attacked Northampton County Executive John Stoffa's bargaining tactics regarding contract negotiations for employees at Gracedale, the County's nursing home.


In state-wide news, the Rendell Administration and Democrats in the legislature are pushing for a tax of natural gas drillers.  Democrats, however, at least as of yet, do not have the votes to get such a plan through the House.

In national news, President Obama addressed the nation from the Oval Office yesterday, discussing the BP oil spill.  Later today, he will meet with executives from BP.  In political news, a poll of 70 swing Congressional districts shows bad news for Democrats, with the poll indicating that Republicans hold a generic 49-41% lead in those districts. 

Today is a busy day at The Chamber, with three events: a joint East Penn and Allentown Chamber of Commerce lunch at America on Wheels in Allentown, a Southern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce benefit at Putt U, and a free after-hours mixer at TD Bank in Hanover Township.

That's it for now!  We'll be back later today, so have a good one and we'll see you later.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Blogger

Sorry, we will not have a Blog today, sometimes even Bloggers get sick!

Obama to Congress: State & local governments need $$ from the federal government?

It is no secret that, despite the slowly recovering economy, state and local governments are hurting badly.  With stimulus money running out in 2010, many state and local governments find themselves in a precarious position, as they will be forced to make additional cuts or raise taxes in order to balance their budgets.

To that end, President Obama is pushing for more state and local aid.  In a letter to Congress, President Obama is calling for increased funding for education and health care.  However, the increased aid would unquestionably add to the national deficit, something many lawmakers are currently hesitant to do.

84,000 jobs have been lost from state and local governments in 2010 - since August 2008, that number totals a massive 231,000.

The past two year's have been very difficult for states, but they are rapidly running out of options.  Stimulus money is drying up, one-time revenue boosts have been used and many rainy day funds have been depleted.  Despite an economy that appears to be on the rebound, state and local governments appear to now be entering a new phase of their economic crisis.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Study - Facebook fans spend more money

Here's another example of the power of Facebook.  I caught this blog entry from Mashable, probably my favorite blog, especially when it comes to the latest in Social Media news.  The crux of this story can have particularly important repercussions on small businesses.

This entry reviewed a marketing study by Syncapse.  According to the study, someone who likes your brand on Facebook will spend more money on it than someone who doens't.  Additionally, someone who likes your brand on Facebook is 28% more likely to keep using your brand and 41% more likely to recommend your brand to others.  They also have more positive feelings about a brand than non-fans.

This is a hugely important study.  It shows, empirically, that having Facebooks fans/likes is an incredibly valuable tool that can translate into more $$$ for your business.

Daily Briefing, 6/14/2010

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

A Morning Call story notes the impact of the U.S. Census on area unemployment, with over 1,700 people employed by the agency.  In Emmaus, a controversial swings club is looking to open on Main Street.

In state-wide news, a story on the 80 new members of the Republican State Committee notes that many are affiliated with the tea-party movement.  The Express Times runs a story on the job outlook for college graduates, which, after a very difficult couple of years, is starting to slightly rebound.

President Obama is visiting the Gulf again.  The President is now planning a prime time address tomorrow to address the crisis and discuss his efforts to compel BP to do more when it comes to paying for the recovery.

Business Matters airs today, featuring a debate on passenger rail in the Lehigh Valley.  The show airs at 8pm on WFMZ-TV.  This is the final show of the new season...we know, try and not cry....

That's it for now!  We'll have more later today.  See you then!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Daily Briefing, 6/11/2010

Good morning everyone!  Here is your Friday Daily Briefing.

Good news for the Sands Casino - it will have table games very shortly - July 16, to be exact.  Bad news for the Sands - it was just fined $48,000 for allowing underage drinking and gambling.  In Northampton County, a Judge has ruled that Ron Angle has until Monday to step down from one of two seats he was elected to - if he does not, he cannot vote or participate in Northampton County Council meetings.  There was great news for Mack Trucks, which is seeing an increased demand for its trucks - and, as a result, is calling back previously laid off workers.  More good news in the local business sector - Valley home sales rose 28% in May.  In Allentown, the Allentown Art Museum held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new addition and additional renovations.

In state-wide news, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court chose to not hear a case regarding local municipal laws that target lost or stolen guns - a win for Allentown and Wilson, which had passed such laws.  Senator Arlen Specter and President Obama met yesterday for a one-on-one meeting, though Specter refused to discuss what the meeting was about.

In national news, a bill by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) that would have prevented the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon emissions failed yesterday, after mustering only 47 votes.

We have one Chamber event today, and it should be a fun one: the Phillipsburg Area Chamber of Commerce is holding An Evening of Comedy.

That's it for now!  Have a great day, and we'll have one more for you later.  See you soon!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Telecommuting = less stress?

I caught this blog entry from Lifehacker and thought it was worth sharing.  The results certainly can have some pretty strong implications for people who have the freedom and the option to telecommute instead of going to the office every day.

According to a study of about 25,000 IBM employees in 75 countries, working from home can dramatically increase productivity, to the tune of an extra 19 hours of work per week, without feeling additional stress.  Wow.  Those numbers are pretty incredible.  The study did caution that this lack of stress only occurs if flextime is awarded with the extra hours.  Apparently, the results and flexibility have convinced managers - eight in ten IBM managers believe that having flexible work hours can increase productivity.

There was quite a bit of talk about telecommuting when gas started to hit $4 per gallon two years ago.  Changes in workplace culture have generally made others realize that employees don't have to be in the office to be productive. 

What about you?  How do you allocate work hours, and is your company flexible with work time?  Have you seen any positive or negative differences in productivity?

Daily Briefing, 6/10/2010

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


A report by the Keystone Research Center found that the Lehigh Valley has fared the worst of nine urban areas in the state when it comes to receiving grant funding from three major state programs.  Congratulations to new State Representative Marcia Hahn, who was sworn in yesterday after winning a special election in May.  Hahn takes the place of former Representative Craig Daly in the 138th Legislative District - Dally resigned after being elected to the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas as a judge. 

A grand jury report that came out days ago slammed the Pennsylvania legislature, calling for a variety of reforms, including reducing staff, term limits and switching the legislature to a part-time body.

A new report has indicated that more people are leaving their jobs than they have in the past 15 months - indicating that they are confident that they will find new ones.  By the way, this has gone relatively underreported, but California passed a very interesting law on Tuesday.  Proposition 14 completely overhauls primaries.  Instead of closed elections, voters of all parties will vote for the top two contenders in a race, regardless of party.  The top two will then move onto the general election - even if they are members of the same party.

We have one event today - the Easton Area Chamber of Commerce annual dinner and awards banquet.

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

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tech Wednesday

Good morning! Stephanie here again with this week's Tech Wednesday.

"And the survey says…" When you are presenting to an audience of any size, chances are you want to get some sort of feedback. Unfortunately, mass mind-reading has not been perfected (or successfully attempted, for that matter), so we have to ask - what’s the best way to get responses from the audience, and keep them engaged in the presentation? Paper surveys are a hassle, and hand-raising may only garner a few halfhearted responses. Chances are, some members may prefer to play on their cell phones. Why not use that to your advantage?

Enter Poll Everywhere. This online application allows presenters to get instant feedback from an audience through the web or text message, and display the results in real time.

How it works: Poll Everywhere allows you to create a survey question on a customizable layout, which can then be projected during a presentation. The site shows instructions for voting by cell phone or through the web, and displays the vote counts as they are received.

Features:
- Customizable poll displays
- Ability to collect responses from SMS text message, the Poll Everywhere website, and Twitter
- Results can be displayed live, downloaded to Powerpoint, and/or embedded in a website or blog

Pricing: Pricing is on a monthly subscription basis. Subscription levels are based on the number of responses that you can collect per survey, and the number of users that can moderate an account. The basic service is free for 30 responses and 1 moderator – which is the perfect size for a small business presentation or meeting. The full pricing schedule is available here.

Daily Briefing, 6/9/2010

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

At the re-groundbreaking of the Bethlehem Sands Hotel yesterday, officials said that they were hopeful that they could restart construction on the planned concert center and conference hall.  In the Bethlehem Area School District, officials need a temporary $14 million loan in order to keep the district running until tax revenue starts being paid.  BASD was also asked last night to consider a Tax Increment Financing district, or TIF, to help fund the improvements to Martin Towers.  In Easton, the city has banned smoking in Centre Square and is looking at banning smoking in city parks as well.

In state-wide news, T.J. Rooney, Chairman of the Democratic State Party, has announced that he is resigning.  Rooney served since 2003, and his replacement will be selected at an upcoming meeting of the Democratic State Committee.

In national news, here is some good news - job openings have risen to their highest levels in 16 months.  Twelve states held their primaries yesterday; in perhaps the biggest surprise of the day, Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln (D) defied polls and national trends to hold her seat against Lt. Governor Bill Halter.

We have one Chamber event today: a webinar on how to Cold Call and gain new customers, sponsored by The Chamber and Dale Carnegie.

That's it for now!  We'll have our Tech Wednesday post later today.  See you soon!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Are you a Chamber member? Check our your member-to-member discounts

We talk a lot about the various benefits of being a Chamber member.  One of those benefits are our exclusive member-to-member discounts.  Over 200 of our members offer discounts that are exclusive to Chamber members.  These discounts vary quite a bit, ranging from reduced or eliminated set-up fees, free manicures, 20% off of selected services and products and more.

If you are a Chamber member, check out this document and see how you can take advantage of your Chamber membership!  If you don't have a member-to-member discount, or if you are interested in learning more about Chamber membership, please E-mail me at mikes@lehighvalleychamber.org.

Daily Briefing, 6/8/2010

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

Northampton County Council President and Bangor Area School Director Ron Angle has said he will fight a judge's ruling saying that he cannot hold both offices at the same time.  Angle will ask to serve both offices while the appeal is in progress.  The Easton Area School District has received state permission to cut 72 teaching positions and numerous programs.  There was great news in Bethlehem, as the Sands Casino restarted construction on a 300 room hotel.  The hotel is expected to open in May.  In Lehigh County, major upgrades are needed to wastewater treatment plants owned by the Lehigh County Authority and the City of Allentown. PPL customers will now have the option to buy cheaper, wind-based electricity from Clean Currents.


In national news, there is great news for technology fans, as the new iPhone was introduced to the world yesterday; the device will be made public on June 24.  The White House is asking government agencies to prepare to cut at least 5% of their budgets.  A new survey of employers shows that more believe that they will add jobs rather than cut them in the 3rd quarter of 2010.

We have two Chamber events today: a grand opening at Genesis Insurance Advisers and a sold out Speed Networking at Applebees on Route 191.

Business Matters aired yesterday, featuring a debate on unions.  The show will be available online later today, and you can check out the Business Matters blog for more information.

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

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mixers & Grand Openings in June

Hi everyone -

We have quite a few mixers & grand openings in June.  These events are geared to help bring people to a new location and feature food, drinks and the opportunity to network.  They are a great way for a business to gain publicity; and, even better, they are free for people to attend!  For more information on how your business can hold a mixer, please E-mail Janet Boore at janetb@lehighvalleychamber.org.

Here is a list of our mixers & grand openings in June:

Daily Briefing, 6/7/2010

Good morning everyone!  Hope you had a great weekend.  Now it's Monday, and back to work.  Anyway, here is today's Daily Briefing.

In Easton, Mayor Sal Panto will be planning his own task force to study the possibility of passenger rail from Phillipsburg.  The Mayor has said that he believes the recent rail study "has holes in it."  In Bethlehem, local and county officials have come to an agreement over tax revenue at the Sands Casino.  Speaking of Bethlehem,officials are debating whether or not to use grant funding for low and moderate neighborhoods to create more parking spaces on Main Street in Bethlehem. 

In state-wide news, the Morning Call runs a story on the ongoing budget process, noting the similarities between this year and last year. Another story notes the problems facing Pennsylvania school districts.

In national news, the stock market is in for another rough week, as concerns about world markets and the possibility of a global slowdown in the economic recovery may push stocks lower.  The oil spill continues to ravage the Gulf Coast, with the University of South Florida saying that there is evidence of a second oil plume.  In a dramatic change of public opinion, a majority of Americans now oppose off-shore drilling

Business Matters airs today, and this one will be lively:  the topic is "Unions:  Past their prime or now more than ever?"  The show will air tonight at 8pm on WFMZ-TV.

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

Friday, June 4, 2010

Welcome, new members!

We'd like to welcome new Chamber members from the month of April!  If you are interested in joining the Chamber, check out the benefits of Chamber membership and E-mail me at mikes@lehighvalleychamber.org for more information.
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Allstate Insurance - The Ashman Insurance Agency
3926 Linden Street
Bethlehem, PA  18020
(610) 954-9666
vashman@allstate.com
www.allstate.com
Business Type:  INSURANCE

Atlantic States Cast Iron Pipe Co.
183 Sitgreaves Street
Phillipsburg, NJ  08865
(908) 454-1161
info@atlanticstates.com
www.atlanticstates.com
Business Type:  MANUFACTURING

Bennett Automotive Group
2300 Hanover Avenue
Allentown, PA  18109
(610) 437-6711
www.bennettcars.com
Business Type:  AUTOMOBILE DEALERS: USED & NEW

Consolidated Mechanical Services Inc.
P.O. Box 188
Emmaus, PA  18049
(610) 965-7740
prmasair@ptd.net
Business Type:  HEATING, VENTILATION, AIR COND & ENERGY MGMT

Forensic Pathology Associates
1210 South Cedar Crest Boulevard, Suite 3900
Allentown, PA  18103
(610) 402-8144
Kathie_R.Mory@luh.com
Business Type:  PHYSICIANS & SURGEONS

Gifts & More
131 East Third Street
Bethlehem, PA  18015
(610) 691-4100
anassry3@aol.com
Business Type:  RETAIL SALES

Glezio Rocha LLC
1275 Glenlivet Drive, Suite 100
Allentown, PA  18106
(484) 224-2981
alexruozzi@hotmail.com
www.gleziorocha.com.pr
Business Type:  ATTORNEYS, JUDGES & LEGAL SERVICES

Iron Lakes Country Club
3625 Shankweiler Road
Allentown, PA  18104
(610) 395-3369 ext. 230
debyevans@ptd.net
www.ironlakescountryclub.com
Business Type:  COUNTRY & TENNIS CLUBS

Kellie Pypiuk Design
4601 Greenfield Road
Bethlehem, PA  18017
(610) 997-3097
kpypiuk@hotmail.com
www.kelliepipiukdesign.com
Business Type:  GRAPHIC ARTS

Kramer & Maehrer LLC
2597 Schoenersville Road #304
Bethlehem, PA  18017
(610) 868-6353
mjkids@ptd.net
www.walkbetternow.com
Business Type:  PODIATRIST & FOOT CARE

Life Stage Financial Solutions LLC
31 Blenheim Drive, Suite 200
Easton, PA  18045
(610) 252-4986
www.lifestagefinancial.net
Business Type:  FINANCIAL SERVICES

MidCap Advisors
7540 Windsor Drive
Suite 108
Allentown, PA  18195
6103952666
joe.digiacomo@midcapadvisors.com
www.midcapadvisors.com
Business Type:  INVESTMENT SERVICES

STUDENT MEMBER - Kutztown University Rhonda Miller
4322 Kathi Drive
Bethlehem, PA  18017
(610) 349-5697
rhondamiller@rcn.com
Business Type:  INDIVIDUALS

Playdrome Rosebowl
801 North 15th Street
Allentown, PA  18102
(610) 437-4606
frank.monaco@rcn.com
www.playdromebowl.com
Business Type:  BOWLING

Priority Bracelet
660 Hope Drive
Nazareth, PA  18064
(610) 657-0952
deb@prioritybracelet.com
www.prioritybracelet.com
Business Type:  JEWELERS

Professional Maintenance
6750 Iroquois Trail
Allentown, PA  18104
610-351-9630
bob@professionalmaintenanceco.net
www.professionalmaintenanceco.net
Business Type:  CLEANING SVCS, EQUIPMENT, RESTORATION & SUPPLIES

Pugliese Associates
2205 Strawberry Square
Harrisburg, PA  17101
(717) 238-9078
www.puglieseassociates.com
Business Type:  CONSULTING SERVICES & TRAINING

Reiki by Jerry
501 North 17th Street, Ste. B,
Allentown, PA  18104
4842251727
reikibyjerry@aol.com
www.reikibyjerry.com

Safety Watch Inc.
1150 Edward Avenue
Allentown, PA  18103
(610) 434-6032
alkal@aol.com
www.safetywatchinc.com
Business Type:  SAFETY & PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT DISTRIBUTORS

Saucon Valley Medical Center
4801 Saucon Creek Road, Suite 110
Center Valley, PA  18034
(610) 625-9090
smvc@ptd.net
Business Type:  PHYSICIANS & SURGEONS

Seasons Olive Oil & Vinegar Taproom
504 Main Street
Bethlehem, PA  18018
(610) 866-2615
www.seasonstaproom.com
Business Type:  RETAIL SALES

South Mountain Cycles & Coffee Bar
303 Main Street, Lower Level
Emmaus, PA  18049
(610) 967-4490
smc@bittergravity.com
www.southmountaincycles.com
Business Type:  BICYCLING SALES & REPAIRS

Steel Mill Grille & Bar
322 East Third Street
Bethlehem, PA  18015
(610) 691-3652
tomsgonfishing@aol.com
Business Type:  RESTAURANTS & CAFES

The Coopersburg Computer Doc
2060 Flint Hill Road
Coopersburg, PA  18036
(610)428-1609
adkaruza@ptd.net
Business Type:  COMPUTER SALES & SERVICES

The Widow's Tavern & Grille
200 Main Street, Box 311
Stockertown, PA  18083
(610) 365-8890
widowstavern@yahoo.com
www.widowstavern.com
Business Type:  RESTAURANTS & CAFES

We Have Choices
1726 Second Street
Bethlehem, PA  18020
(610) 462-0804
bob@wehavechoices.com
www.wehavechoices.com
Business Type:  THERAPISTS

We R Wireless
6465 Village Lane
Macungie, PA  18062
(610) 966-6500
macungie@wer-wireless.com
www.wer-wireless.com
Business Type:  TELEPHONE PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Stoned Crab Inc.
1905 Brookside Road
Macungie, PA  18062
(610) 398-8060
www.stonedcrab.net
Business Type:  RESTAURANTS & CAFES