Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Daily Briefing, 12/22/2010

Good morning everyone!  Here is the your final Daily Briefing before the holidays!

In Bethlehem, city council approved a .75 mill tax increase and $16 million loan to balance the budget.  Bethlehem City Councilman and former Mayor Gordon Mowrer announced that he will not seek reelection at the meeting.  The Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority voted to authorize a design in a new fuel farm at Queen City Airport, despite questions about Queen City's long-term viability as an airport.  Lehigh Valley home sales dropped again in November, falling 45.2% from the same time last year.

Senator Arlen Specter gave his farewell address after 30 years in the Senate yesterday, blasting partisanship and attacking the ideological gridlock that he believes has taken over the institution. U.S. Census results yesterday were revealed, making official what many have known is coming - Pennsylvania will lose one seat in the House of Representatives and Electoral Collage.

In national news, Congress has passed a Stopgap spending resolution that will keep the federal government operational through March 4.  The START arms treaty with Russia appears headed for ratification, as the Senate voted to end debate by a 67-28 margin yesterday.  President Obama will sign legislation officially ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell later today.

That's all for now!  We will be back with a holiday message later today - have a good one!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The lessons of Blockbuster's fall

As we noted earlier today, Blockbuster Videos is in bankruptcy and closing 182 stores across the nation.  This comes in addition to the closing of an additional 2,000 stores over the past two years.  As someone who has spent the better part of a decade renting videos from there, this comes as a bit of a culture shock.

However, in the home rental video industry, this isn't really all that much a surprise - Blockbuster has been fighting an uphill battle for years against the internet, Redbox and Netflix.  Unfortunately for them, the industry was caught in a changing technological field and couldn't keep up with the competition.  This is not to say that Blockbuster is dead - they have a very robust online presence and will likely emerge from this bankruptcy stronger - but clearly some pain is in store for the entire corporation.

So, as business professionals, what can we learn from this?

1)  Eye on the future:  In 2000, Netflix tried to partner with Blockbuster, a deal that Blockbuster basically laughed at.  Hindsight is 20-20, so its easy to look at that decision and say, "How could they be so foolish!?!?"  Chances are, most of us would have made the same decision.  But, that being said, it does prove a point: What if Blockbuster had done a better job of reading the tea leaves and seeing the direction that their industry was going?  The takeaway is this: always keep an eye out for future trends - and position your business accordingly.

2)  Eye on the competition:  As Netflix and Redbox started to take-off, Blockbuster should have (and probably was) keeping an eye on them.  But, what could they have done to evolve quicker in order to cut off their potential competition?  This isn't to say that your business should always react and change its plans according to the actions of your competition - that's a bad idea because it means that you will always have a business strategy that is reactive, not proactive.  But if your competition is doing something right to the point that it is taking away business from you, adjustments are necessary.

3)  Tech, tech, tech:  Technology and an outdated business model lead Blockbuster to bankruptcy.  This isn't to say that technological advances will always be responsible for what drives a business out - but it sure doesn't hurt.  Is your business keeping up with the latest in technology?  How is your website?  Social Media presence?  Do you have an active eCommerce portal?

Daily Briefing, 12/21/2010

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

The Lehigh Valley Transportation Study Committee has approved ten projects to receive nearly $3.9 million in funding.  Good news for Lehigh Valley International Airport, as traffic rose 14% compared to the same time last year.  Taxes will remain the same in Bethlehem Township.  In Bethlehem, the city's Director of Community & Economic Development, Tony Hanna, has retired to take a job as the head of the Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority.  Some local retailers are taking the pre-Christmas sales all the way to midnight.

Here's a depressing statistic: 1 in 7 Americans rely on food stamps, a 16% increase over the past year.  Blockbuster will close as many as another 182 stores; it is unknown which Lehigh Valley stores may be affected.

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

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tip from the experts: Business in 2011

Well, as I'm sure you know, the New Year is fast approaching.  New Years provide us with an opportunity to start over, to create a clean slate for ourselves and our businesses and to promise to do better in the upcoming year.  To that end, we asked three of our members who are small business experts to answer the following:  What is the one thing businesses must do in 2011?  Below are there responses:

Tom Garrity, Compass Point
Create a focused strategy and communicate/align it to your employees is critical to your success.  The game of business is not won on the owner’s/CEO’s shoulders.  It is won by a great team, focused on the company’s most important goals, and who is lead by the owner.  Decide what you are going to sell, who you are going to sell it to, and how you are going to win… and 2011 will be a successful year.

Sally Handlon, Handlon Business Resources

With all the emphasis on social media, don’t expect it to be your total communication effort.  Just like your marketing plan should have a component of “social media”, your overall communication plan for customers and employees alike, should have a portion dedicated to “social media” but don’t forget the basic foundations of communication.

Each of us communicates and understands differently due to gender, culture, personality traits, etc.  For some it is speaking, others reading, listening or writing. Using a variety of methods helps to insure that the information or message reaches the majority of  your stakeholders.  And by mixing up the delivery methods, you can help to insure that you are maximizing your reach.

It is very easy in our fast-paced and multi-tasking environment to overlook taking the time to think about and communicate in various forms – there is too much to do.  However, it is by taking the time to have these different interactions….slowing or changing the pace,  that we can better understand what our customers are seeking and we are able to keep our employees informed about the company so that can represent us with knowledge.

Bill Rampo, Rampo+
My reading of the tea leaves tells me that the recovery in the business sector will be stronger than anticipated in 2011.  As a result, business owners need to be prepared now to squeeze the maximum amount of business out of an up tick in the economy and in the attitudes of their current clients and prospects.

If they have not already engaged in a thorough review of their business’ operations they need to do it now!  The last thing they want to have happen is to miss opportunities early in the year.  They should also be mining opportunities from their clientele and prospect lists now!  Asking clients and prospects about their purchasing plans for the New Year now is an excellent use of time at this time of the year.  If they haven’t done this, they need to do it now!  

If they have not unpacked, reviewed and repacked the appropriate workflow, marketing, networking, sales and client care systems they need to do it now!

Daily Briefing, 12/20/2010

Good morning everyone, and happy Monday!  We are almost at Christmas, which likely means vacation for many of you - so, in that spirit, here is today's Daily Briefing!

In Easton, City Officials will be lowering a crayon on New Years Eve - and if the event catches on, they will continue to do so in the future.  In Bethlehem, the city's municipal skating rink will not reopen until February due to repairs.

Significant action occured in the U.S. Senate over the weekend, with Senators voting to repeal a ban on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" but defeating the DREAM Act that would have provided a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who entered the country when they were under 16.  Senate Republicans reported that they had reached a deal to keep the government funded - at the same time, negotiations continued on the START Treaty, as Democrats sought the 60 votes necessary for its ratification.

If you watched the Eagles yesterday, then you know they pulled of a stunning comeback against the New York Giants, coming up with 28 points in the 4th quarter and winning, as time expired, on a 65 yard punt return by DeSean Jackson.  This is the second "Miracle at the Meadowlands" - the first is below.  Have a great day, and we'll see you later!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Guest Blog Entry: Go With the Pros…and Surpass Your Competition!

Hello everyone!  We have a guest blog entry today, courtesy of Golden Pepper Productions, a video production company in the Lehigh Valley.  If you are interested in running a guest blog entry, just E-mail me at mikes@lehighvalleychamber.org.  Enjoy the entry, and enjoy your weekend!
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Video is quickly becoming a useful and integral part of any marketing approach.  As the Chamber’s Mike Schlossberg, Assistant VP of Technical & Community Management, pointed out in his recent Connections article, web videos have been one of the driving forces behind the rise of Social Media web sites and their use in mainstream marketing.  While I agree with Mike in that a short web video is an extremely valuable tool, I do have to disagree with his encouragement of local business owners to purchase a “flip cam” and produce a short video on their own.

Web videos are a valuable marketing tool, which bring long-term results, for a relatively small investment.  A short web video is a great way for potential customers to experience your business first-hand.  He/she has an opportunity to “meet” your employees, see the team in action at the office or a remote location, and witness the interactions with other customers.  After watching your video, potential clients can have a clear understanding of your business and the services offered even before the initial meeting.  Videos are also great ways of updating the public of new products/services, additional employees, or exciting promotional events being held.

With such an important marketing piece potentially being seen by so many people on a daily basis you want to make sure you put forth the best video possible.  Having a part-time employee or a relative tape a few minutes of video with a consumer camera, and then post it on YouTube, is not the greatest way to represent your business.  Ideally, you should work with a video production company to develop a concept and produce a professional video that best markets your business.

Video production companies have an experienced group of producers, videographers, and editors who will create a high-quality video, while maintaining the excitement and spontaneity desired in social media and web content.  They work with you every step of the way: from brainstorming ideas and scripts, to shooting, and to editing the finished product.  For example, Golden Pepper Productions has worked with many businesses, in a variety of industries, to create web videos that address a specific need or marketing plan.  The beauty of these videos is that once they are produced the options to share them are endless: business web site, Facebook, e-mail blasts and more!  With one investment, your business is able to reach countless, potential customers via several different methods.

If you would like to learn more about Golden Pepper Productions please feel free to visit www.goldenpepper.com.  From our web site you can view samples of our work or link to the GPP Facebook page, as well as learn more about our approach to video production and read our weekly blog, Golden Perspectives.  To see additional videos check out our YouTube Channel: youtube.com/thegoldenpepper.

With 2011 fast approaching, now is the time to consider new ways of marketing your business; and with its endless array of possibilities, video should be at the top of your list.          

Daily Briefing, 12/17/2010

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

Some county news to report: in Lehigh, Dean Browning introduced a bill to withdraw Lehigh County from the proposed bi-country health bureau, though the proposal was immediately tabled.  In Northampton, five firms have submitted offers to purchase Gracedale.  Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim announced yesterday that he will be seeking reelction.  The "I heart boobies" bracelet ban of the Easton Area School District had a hearing in federal court yesterday.

In country-wide news, the House of Representatives approved legislation that would extend tax cuts and unemployment insurance yesterday.  Senate Majority Leaders Harry Reid also withdrew a $1.1 trillion spending bill yesterday as votes for the legislation disappeared under criticism of earmarks.

We have two Chamber events today:  the Small Business Council is holding their annual holiday breakfast and we also have our monthly (free) Member Benefit Webinar.

That's it for now!  We'll have a guest blog entry later today, and after that, have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Job Openings - Allentown Parking Authority and 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!

Allentown Parking Authority

Customer Service Manager

The Customer Service Manager oversees this fast-paced department which is primarily responsible for customer interactions, citation payments, permit processing, signage requests, etc. The manager supervises a staff of four representatives, is a member of the Authority’s Senior Management Team, interfaces with District Courts, is responsible for cash controls, processes and analyzes daily reports, and much more.

Management experience in a fast-paced customer service setting is required. The ideal candidate must demonstrate superior supervisory instincts, an ability to remain professional in difficult situations, must possess the ability to communicate effectively with diverse audiences, be highly detail-oriented, and have the capacity to learn parking ordinances, state statutes and other legal requirements. Position also requires the ability to master numerous software packages specific to the parking industry.

Qualified applicants should forward their resume’ to me at: weller@allentownparking.com

Northampton Community College


Head Softball Coach - Interim

Immediate opening for an interim Head Softball Coach. This position is part-time, no benefits. Coordinate all aspects of a collegiate softball program, which competes as a Division III member of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). The NCC women’s softball team has advanced to the NJCAA Region XIX Final Four the last two seasons and will be hosting the Final Four this Spring. Associate’s degree (Bachelors preferred). Softball coaching experience at the collegiate level preferred. Candidate must have a schedule that allows flexibility for travel to away games throughout the season.

French Language Instructor (Non-Credit)


Seeking part-time non-credit instructor to teach French I and II Thursday evenings beginning 2/3/11. Bachelor’s degree required, Master’s preferred. Native speaker highly desirable. Teaching experience preferable.


PT Office Assistant


Office Assistant needed for the Enrollment Office at the Monroe Campus of Northampton Community College in Tannersville, PA. Responsible for functions of Admissions, Records/Registration, Bursar, and Financial Aid offices. Must be proficient in data entry and responsible with the handling of money. Excellent customer service skills needed. Hours are Monday through Thursday 11:30am – 7:30pm. High School diploma required. Experience in an office setting preferred. Deadline: 12/23/10.



Daily Briefing, 12/16/2010

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

The average Lehigh Valley resident commutes 25 minutes to work, according to data from the U.S. Census.  Allentown State Hospital has been officially closed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  In Allentown, City Council votes 5-2 to enact Project Labor Agreements for projects that are $250,000 or greater and use state/federal funding.  At a five hour budget review hearing yesterday, Bethlehem City Council froze sixteen nonunion pay-raises.  Council also voted to raise taxes by .75 mills and decrease the size of a loan that city officials are taking out to balance the budget.    Lehigh County voted to freeze the pay of Cedarbrook employees by an 8-1 vote.  Good news for Mack Trucks, which saw a 32% increase in deliveries compared to last year in the month of November.

Good news in terms of home ownership, as the number of homes that have been taken back by banks has fallen to an 18 month low.  The House of Representatives yesterday voted to approve a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  The issue now goes back to the U.S. Senate.  Time's Person of the Year is Mark Zuckerberg, one of the founders of Facebook.

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

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Upcoming tax compromise


We have received quite a few questions about the proposed tax compromise that President Obama and Senate Republicans have agreed to, so we wanted to try and take a few minutes to explain what exactly the compromise is and how it will affect you.  So, in bullet points, here is what will be in the deal (at the moment - these things are always subject to change!):


  • Extension of the Bush era tax cuts:  The tax cuts of 2001/2001 (the so called "Bush tax cuts") will be extended for another two years at all levels.  This is a major sticking point for some who are angered that those who make over $250,000 will continue to see a tax cut.
  • Extension of unemployment benefits:  Unemployment benefits will be extended for another year.
  • 2% payroll tax cut:  This is a completely new tax break.
  • Child tax credit:  $1,000 child tax credit will be extended for two years.
  • Earned Income Tax Credit:  Expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit for another two years.
  • American Opportunity Tax Credit:  Credit of up to $2,500 to help students & families pay for college tuition.  
There are also some tax credits specific to business:


  • 100% business expensing:  This is another new provision that increases the amount that can be deducted as business expenses.  
  • Renewable energy production credit:  Grants given to those who use renewable energy.
  • Research & Development:  Two year extension of a research & development tax credit.
  • Empowerment Zones:  Two year extension of empowerment zones - tax incentives to businesses and individuals who work in economically depressed areas. 


Sources:
White House

Daily Briefing, 12/15/2010

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

In Pen Argyl, Borough Officials voted to raise taxes by 8.3%.  In Allentown, City Council is set to vote on a Project Labor Agreement that would require the use of union labor for any project over $250,000 that uses state or federal funding.  In Lower Macungie, planners reviewed a proposed industrial and commercial development in the western part of the township.

In national news, the Federal Reserve left interest rates at nearly 0%, saying that the economy is recovering, but not fast enough.  Twenty CEOs are coming to Washington to meet with President Obama and discuss a variety of issues.  Lead by outgoing Congressman Patrick Murphy, the House of Representatives will vote one more time in an attempt to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

We have one Chamber event today: a joint holiday lunch with the East Penn and Western Lehigh Chambers of Commerce, featuring Ed Hanna.

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

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This Week With(out) Tony - Christmas in Bethlehem!

Hello everyone!  Here is the latest in our This Week With(out) Tony series!  This one features Samantha Schwartz of The Chamber and the Downtown Bethlehem Association discussing the many, many, many events going on in Downtown Bethlehem over the holiday season.  Enjoy!

Five ways to get Facebook fans

Despite the advent of the new Facebook Groups pages, Facebook Fan Pages remain the number one way that a business can communicate with customers and the community at large on Facebook.  The trick, of course, is getting individuals on Facebook to "like" your page to begin with.  How do you do it?  Here are five tips that can help you get there.

1)  Integrate Facebook with your website and other Social Media efforts:  Facebook makes it easy for you to integrate your Facebook page with your website.  There are a couple of options here: you can add a Facebook link straight from your homepage, or you can add a Facebook "widget" that allows someone to like your fan page without ever leaving your website.  Check out the example below - the row of Social Media links comes straight from our website, whereas the pic of the Facebook widget is borrowed from the Morning Call website.



2)  Put your Facebook link in your signature:  Below is an example of my work E-mail signature.  You'll notice on the last line that I have links that go to all of our Chamber Social Media sites.  There has been some talk in recent years about E-mail becoming extinct, but to borrow a popular quote, the death of E-mail has been greatly exaggerated.  It remains one of the most popular ways to communicate, and integrating your Social Media with your E-mail, as best you can, is a great way to advertise your Social Media presence.




3)  Advertise your Facebook presence offline:  How are you advertising your Facebook location in the real world?  Do you list it on your mail or marketing material?  Do you have your Facebook fan page URL on your business cards?  Even if someone doesn't remember the exact Facebook URL, they will remember that you are on Facebook.  

4)  Content is King:  It is often said in Social Media that Content is King.  I firmly believe this statement.  To that end - no one will like or view a Facebook fan page that is not updated, or is updated with poor, self-promotional content.  A Facebook fan page is like anything else - you invest some time in it to make it work.  Concentrate on creating first-class content, be it status updates, blog entries (that you can import to the page), pictures or videos.  The better the content, the more people will share it with their Social Networks and recommend that their friends like your page.


5)  The Chamber's Facebook suggestion service:  One of the member benefits that we provide to Chamber members is our suggestion service.  With that service, we will take your Facebook fan page or event and recommend to our +3,900 friends that they like your fan page.  This is a great way to get additional exposure to The Chamber's massive friend list and let people in the Valley know who you are and where you are on Facebook!  For pricing and availability, contact Mike Schlossberg at mikes@lehighvalleychamber.org.

So, what do you think of the five tips we offered?  Do you have any others that you'd like to add?  Let us know in the comments!

Daily Briefing, 12/14/2010

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

In Lehigh County, Commissioner Dean Browning has proposed legislation that would withdraw Lehigh County from the proposed Bi-County Board of Health.  In Bangor, Borough Council voted 8-0 to fire their Chief of Police, although they would not publicly discuss why.  This preliminary budget approved last night calls for no tax hike, but some employees will likely face layoffs.  In Wilson, the preliminary budget calls for a 35% tax hike.  Good news for the Bethlehem Area School District, which has turned a $7.2 million debt into an $8 million surplus.

A big story in national news: a federal judge has ruled that the individual mandate portion of the recently passed health care reform bill is unconstitutional, setting the stage for a likely appeal to the Supreme Court.  U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke passed away yesterday; Holbrooke had been rushed to the hospital and had 20 hours of surgery to repair a torn aorta.  Michael Steele announced yesterday that he will be seeking another term as chair of the Republican National Committee.

We have one Chamber event today: the Women's Business Council is having their annual holiday fundraiser.

That's it for now!  We'll have more later today - see you then!

Monday, December 13, 2010

How Four Chamber Members use Twitter

We talk quite a bit on how to use Twitter here - but, let's be honest, there are people can tell you all much more about Twitter than me.  I asked four of our Chamber members to tell us how they use Twitter and they were kind enough to write up a bit for us on how they have used Twitter in their business.  There experiences are very interesting in their diversity.  Thank you to all four of our participants!

Jennifer Mann of Shuze (@ShopShuze)

Shuze uses Twitter in two ways:
1) To share pictures of products on sale right now! We’ll snap a shot, and share. We also tie our Facebook account to Twitter to show these images.
2) We will highlight things going on in downtown Bethlehem, including at Shuze and use hash-tags to reach out to various groups that may find the info compelling. For example, if downtown is having a parade (such as the pet parade), we’ll hash-tag dogs, pets, marching bands, etc. This way we reach a wider potential audience about us and Bethlehem. If we can draw interest in the area, it potentially helps grow interest in our business.

Donna Hosfeld of Hosfeld Insurance (@HosfeldInsuranc)

We use Twitter in the following ways:

To post info about safety, weather, tips for managing insurance
To post links to our monthly e-newsletter
To post info about events like Car Seat Safety Clinic, Client Appreciation Events, Open Houses
To post entries from our ongoing blog…the link actually takes them to our blog
To post giveaways, contests, “FREE MOOD CUP WITH EVERY QUOTE”, embedding photo into the tweet
To actively listen to trends in the insurance industry, as well as join in the conversation 
To reach out and meet other insurance agents like myself and compare marketing ideas, social media trends, etc.
To provide advice, when asked, about basic insurance matters
To meet new people at “the virtual cocktail party” .  We all know the bottom line is about relationships.  Meeting people, learning about them and becoming a resource for them is one of the best things about Twitter and the other social media platforms.  It allows you to do some of that very important “meeting new people” right from your couch!  Especially nice as the temperatures drop, LOL!

Cindy Ratzlaff, Brand New Brand You (@BrandYou)
I'm a keynote speaker and a social media marketing consultant, helping businesses and individuals create visibility for their brands through various social technology and platforms.  I use Twitter to increase my chances of being found in internet searches for the keywords that describe my business.  Every Tweet is a unique URL, and that means that Google indexes every single Twitter post as brand new content.  Google treats a Twitter post exactly the same way it treats a blog post.  Twitter is a micro-blogging platform. I use Twitter as a broadcasting tool to help amplify my brand message.  I give away short bits of my best advice on Twitter to demonstrate my deep knowledge in my area of expertise.  In other words, I show, rather than tell, potential clients exactly what I know.  This kind of education-based marketing attracts my ideal client to follow me because I am giving them something they want.  And, if they want more than the 120-140 character tidbits I offer every day, they can contact me as a consultant.

I've had two Fortune 1,000 companies contact me through Twitter and they've eventually become clients.  I had a reporter from The New York Times contact me through Twitter and quote me in her story in the Sunday paper.  I've received accolades from Forbes, who called me one of the top 30 Women Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter and through that, Villanova University hired me to speak at one of their business conferences.  

Twitter is a business tool.  When used in a strategic way with Facebook, YouTube and your company website, Twitter can be the rocket fuel that takes your message from reaching thousands to reaching hundreds of thousands.  You can follow me at http://Twitter.com/BrandYou.

I started using twitter about 1.5 years ago. I really had no clue on how to use social media or even what effects it would have on my business until I just started posting stuff not only in regards to my business but anything else that came to my mind. It was very natural to me and I actually had fun with it and I think that is why it has really been working to my advantages and has helped my business grow more and more each day. I use twitter in many different ways - posting daily specials and pictures of my dishes. I interact with my fan/followers on a daily basis and have met most of them in person. I currently have over 1200 followers. I also try to use twitter to support other local small businesses in the valley - so I will name a small business that I love and tweet it to my followers to go and check them out. Social Media has become a part of my life and my business's life - as well as supporting the lehigh valley and sending others to check other businesses out. Twitter has helped me to get my name out there and even if someone hasnt visited my business as of yet - Im sure they have heard of BlackForest Deli & Catering. I have been featured in the Mcall numerous times - Express Times - LVStyle as well as WFMZ/PBS39 and will be on the 10! show in january for a cooking segment on the set.

Daily Briefing, 12/13/2010

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

Electricity regulation caps are coming off those of you who live or work in the Met-Ed district next year, resulting in higher electricity prices.  The good news is that the price bump for residential customers will be relatively small - 2.2%.

There is some good news to look forward to in 2011, with economists predicting that the economy will grow next year.  The tax compromised agreed to by President Obama and Senate Republicans will face a test vote in the Senate today - the bill is expected to pass.  Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is expected to announce today whether or not he will seek reelection to his post as Chairman.

We'll leave you with this: Your Monday may be rough, but it probably isn't as bad as the Monday for some in Minnesota.  The Giants were supposed to play the Vikings yesterday, but the Metrodome roof collapsed under the weight of a winter storm.  The game will instead be played in Detroit tonight.  Check out the video below and remember - your day could be worse!!

 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Daily Briefing 12/10/10

Good Morning Everyone, Happy Friday! Here is today's Daily Briefing:

Federal and state authorities are investigating Lehigh Valley Hospital after a review found that security guards used stun guns on unruly patients four times since 2008 in violation of state and federal health rules.

Matthew Cyphers, the proprietor of Uncle Wesley's, wasn't ready to talk this week. The restaurant and tavern at 11th and Bushkill streets his family has owned since 1972 is closing, a Chamber of Commerce official says.


Air Products and Chemicals Inc. said today it boosted its offer to acquire rival Airgas Inc. to $70 per share, saying it was its “best and final” offer.


That is all for now. Enjoy the day!



Thursday, December 9, 2010

Job Openings - Magnolia Logistics, Northampton Community College, Stotz Fatzinger and Parkland Community Library

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!

Magnolia Logistics
CDL Drivers
Magnolia Logistics is looking for twenty experienced Class A CDL Drivers, both Full time and Party Time. Pay is an average of $1,000 a week and medical can be provided. For more information, E-mail Brian Brown at browntrucerman@yahoo.com.

Northampton Community College

Computer Graphics Instructor
PT to teach one class in introduction to Adobe CS5 Photoshop & Illustrator software and graphic design, in Spring 2011. The class meets two days a week for 3 hour sessions and is taught in a smart classroom with new Apple G5 computers. MFA (min BFA) in graphic design or related field, prior college level teaching exp.

Instructors
NCC is seeking Business & Technology adjunct instructors to teach the following courses: Financial Accounting 1 & 2 (days); Macroeconomics (days); Microeconomics (days); Modern Office Procedures (days); Medical Office Management Practices (days); Processing: Health Care Services Reimbursement (days); Management Fundamentals (evenings); Medical Terminology (evenings).

Visit us at www.northampton.edu to apply. NCC is EEO/AA.

Stotz Fatzinger

Outside B/B sales representative covering Lehigh, Berks and Bucks counties.


Responsibilities:
-Develops, establishes, and maintains professional relationships with customers and potential customers, developing a clear and complete understanding of their potential business issues and needs.
-Calls on and schedules face-to-face contact with decision influencers and decision makers.
-Demonstrates persistence, overcomes obstacles, and strives to improve skills and achieve personal and company goals
-Prepares and makes compelling presentations to customers and potential customers to introduce new products and services.
-Addresses customer concerns, demonstrates good listening skills, and consistently moves the customer towards commitment.

Qualifications:
BA/BS or equivalent work experience with 1-3 years of successful sales or customer service experience preferred. Must be a highly motivated self-starter with excellent customer relations and time management skills. Should also possess strong oral and written communication and presentation skills. Thorough knowledge of or desire to learn industry specific products and services is required.


Email resume to: WGR@Stotzfatzinger.com Attn: Bill Regan

Parkland Community Library

TITLE: Bookkeeper (Part time) The Parkland Community Library seeks a bookkeeper for a 10 hr/wk position.EOE

Reply to: Betsy Drizos, Interim Director

Parkland Community Library

4422 Walbert Ave.

Allentown, PA 18104

• Applications are available at the main desk in the library.

• If you wish to reply by email, send resume, 3 professional recommendations and a letter of interest to: drizosb@parklandlibrary.org

• Do not apply by telephone.
QUALIFICATIONS:
-Associate of Arts degree or equivalent experience.
-Familiarity with computerized accounting systems.
RESPONSIBILITIES:
-Handles cash disbursements approved by the Library Director.
-Pays bills; records and files invoices.
-Prepares payroll checks.
-Prepares and pays all semi-monthly, monthly, quarterly and yearly taxes to federal, state and local governments.
-Prepares W-2 Forms and 1099’s at year’s end.
-Administers retirement plan for eligible employees.
-Records cash receipts, including posting interest to all accounts.
-End of month account reconciliations.
-Prepares Financial Statements.
-Prepares financial information and reports for inclusion in the Annual Report to the Commonwealth of PA.
-Collects and prepares records and reports necessary for the annual audit and IRS Form 990.
-Prepares general ledger reports upon request for staff members.
-Knowledge of Peachtree Accounting software helpful.

















State mid-year budget gaps: $27.6 billion

I came across this very depressing article at Stateline.  The summary is this: as we are half-way through most states fiscal year, 15 states are facing a combined deficit of $27.6 billion.  In the next fiscal year, the deficit is going to grow to 35 states.  Why?  Because stimulus funding is expiring.  This will, of course, place an increased burden on states that are already stretched to the maximum.

The irony of all of this is there is some good news in the report, conducted by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Revenues are stabilizing, and in some cases are even growing.  According to a report by the Rockerfeller Institute of Government, revenues grew 2.3% in the 2nd quarter of 2010 when compared to the 2nd quarter of 2009.  Some growth even occurred in Pennsylvania:  in October 2010, revenue collections were actually up 1.3% above estimated.  However, that revenue growth isn't occurring fast enough - the expiring stimulus benefits account for an average of 5% a state's budget - meaning that revenue enhancements or service cuts must follow to balance state budgets.  Indeed, in 2010, only four states were not facing budget shortfalls:  Arkansas, Alaska, Montana and North Dakota.

And what about good old Pennsylvania?  At last check, our budget deficit may be as high as $4 billion.

Daily Briefing, 12/9/2010

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

In Bethlehem, for the 2nd time in a week, City Council heard testimony related to the recommended termination of a police officer.  In Easton, the city is facing a $900,000 spending gap in 2012.  In North Whitehall, taxes are increasing half a mill.  In other budget news, taxes in the Borough of Nazareth are expected to hold steady, while taxes will increase in Bushkill and Moore townships.  In Lehigh County, County Commissioners are examining whether or not to cut the pay of Cedarbrook Nursing Home employees.

The elections may have just ended, but challengers are starting to appear against Senator Bob Casey in the 2012 election - State Senator Kim Ward may be in, but businessman Jim Moran is out.

The White House is now arguing that a failure to approve the tax deal that it made with Senate Republicans may result in a double dip recession.  In a horrendously depressing report by Zillow, American homes have lost $1.7 trillion in value during 2010.

We have two Chamber events today: a free after-hours mixer at the Shoppes at 3900 Hamilton Blvd and a Vintner's Circle Holiday Mixer in Forks.

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

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

LinkedIn Company Pages

When I talk about Social Media, I usually do so in reference to the "Big Five" Social Media platforms for business - Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Blogging.  For us at The Chamber, we've actually found that LinkedIn is the least useful of all the networks that we use.

This might be surprising, at least on the surface - after all, isn't LinkedIn the business to business network?  Wouldn't that make it ideal for Chamber activities.  Well, yes, to some extend.  There are some problems with LinkedIn, however, that do not make it the most user-friendly of services:

1)  Sharing information is difficult - you can't easily post articles or other content to your LinkedIn page.  However, this changed recently with the introduction of the LinkedIn sharing button, which websites can now use to encourage the sharing of their content to LinkedIn.
2)  It's relatively easy to connect with individuals on LinkedIn, but connecting with company's and getting any sort of real information is much harder.

Thankfully, that 2nd issue also appears to be on its way to being resolved.  LinkedIn recently revamped and enhanced their company pages, which have been evolving steadily over the past year or so.  What used to just serve as a central repository for employee listings is now much more.

Company pages contain a variety of information, including:

  • Listing of all company employees and statistics about them - demographics, education, job function, etc.
  • An opportunity to post job openings about a company.
  • Products and services - a new feature that enables companies to post up to 25 products and services that they offer.
  • If you run a company page, you can check out its analytics, which enables you to see how often your company is being viewed.  
  • You can also "follow" a company and be notified in your news feed anytime they offer a new product/service, post a job openings or hire someone new.
I hope that this is a feature that continues to be enhanced.  LinkedIn is great for business to business sales - but if you can't connect directly with a business than its effectiveness is limited.  If this feature is continually enhanced, LinkedIn can really become a much stronger network.

Daily Briefing, 12/8/2010

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

In Bethlehem, ArtsQuest is now asking for another $2 million in state funding for the 2nd phase of SteexStax's construction.  Bethlehem City Council voted unanimously to fire police officer John Nye.  Nye was accused of improper conduct related to an arrest he made in March.

Economists say that the deal struck by President Obama and Senate Republicans will likely pump billions into the economy and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.  Many House Democrats, however, blasted the deal.  In sad news, Elizabeth Edwards died yesterday of cancer.

We have one Chamber event today - a joint Christmas Party between the Bethlehem, Southern Lehigh and LeBEAM and Hellertown-Lower Saucon Chambers of Commerce in downtown Bethlehem.

That's it for now - have a good one, and we will be back later today.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Daily Briefing, 12/7/2010

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

A new survey of the Lehigh Valley job market by Manpower shows that only 11% of firms are planning on hiring in the first quarter of 2011 - down from 18% in the last survey.  Esscroc Cement in Nazareth will be laying off 10% of its workforce as a result of a weak construction market.  Both RCN and Service Electric will be raising cable rates this year - the amount of the raise will be between $4 - $10.  In Wind Gap, a tax hike of 10% has been preliminarily approved by Borough Council.  Lower Macungie Supervisors have given its budget a final approval; the $15.5 million budget does not contain a tax hike and holds all fees at their current rates.  The Bethlehem Area School District agreed to a new contract with its teachers; the three year contract will provide 3.9% raises.  Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has said that he will decide if he is running for President next year.

In national news, President Obama and Senate Republicans agreed to a deal to temporarily extend all Bush-era tax breaks, extend unemployment benefits for 13 months and cut payroll taxes by 2%.  Democratic leaders, however, have yet to agree to such a deal.  Elizabeth Edwards has stopped cancer treatment and has been told that she only has weeks to live.  Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, has been arrested in England on sex-crime accusations.

We have one Chamber event today: our all-day Social Media boot camp that will be taught be your resident blogger.  Alas, this also means that this will be the last blog entry of the day.  So, have a good one, and we'll see you tomorrow!

Monday, December 6, 2010

This Week With(Out) Tony - Snow Ball 2011!

In this week's video, Danielle and Lorie discuss our Snow Ball 2011 gala - an amazing charity ball that will also benefit our Main Street Lehigh Valley initiatives.  For more information on Snow Ball, including how to get tickets or donate an item for the Silent Auction, watch the video below or E-mail Danielle at daniellej@lehighvalleychamber.org.


Daily Briefing, 12/6/2010

Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing.  I'll warn you ahead of time: its a slow news sort of Monday.

In local news, District Judge Maryesther Merlo is seeking to have charges against her thrown out.  She has been accused by the state Judicial Conduct Board of improper behavior.

In national news, bad news for gas prices, which may hit $3 per gallon by Christmas - there are certainly some places in the Valley where prices have hit $3 already.  President Obama has said that he is willing to consider a deal that would allow an extension of all Bush-era tax cuts after the Senate twice rejected an attempt to extend tax cuts to those making less than $250,000.  In California, a federal judge's decision to overturn a ban on same-sex marriages will now be heard by an appeals court.  Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, told 60 minutes that it could be 4-5 years before the country returns to a "normal" unemployment rate.  Ouch.

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

Friday, December 3, 2010

Daily Briefing, 12/3/2010

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

Lehigh Valley unemployment ticked up last month, increasing to 9.5% from the previous 9.3%.  State Auditor General Jack Wagner and Treasurer Rob McCord are currently refusing to sign a $1 billion loan for RCAP funding, which is putting dozens of capital projects across the state on hold - these projects include many in the Lehigh Valley.  In Northampton County, unions have agreed to talk more with the county about possible contract renegotiations in order to avoid the possible sale of Gracedale, the county's nursing home.

The U.S. House of Representatives formally voted yesterday to censure Congressman Charles Rangel for violating 11 House ethics rules.  The House also voted yesterday to approve an extension on tax cuts for those making $250,000 or less, though the Senate is likely to turn that plan away.  Retailers beat their November sales expectations and posted the highest gains since March.

We have two Chamber events today:  a Slatington Tree Lighting & Mixer and a Grand Opening/Ribbon Cutting for the new Third Street cafe in Easton.

That's it for now!  Have a great day!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Job Openings - Northampton Community College and VIA

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!

Northampton Community College

Art Instructor
Adjunct instructor to teach one section of ARTA 101 Survey of Art History in the spring 2011 semester – January 18 through May 9, 2011. The class meets on M/W/F from 9 – 9:50 am. This course is designed as a survey of art history and therefore presents a general overview of the major historical styles and figures in the history of art. Minimum of a BFA Degree (Masters Degree preferred) in an art related program of studies, and previous college level teaching experience preferred. Send resume/curriculum vitae, web URL. http://www.northampton.edu/

Employment Open House - Via of the Lehigh Valley is Hiring!


Thursday, December 2, 2010 from 1-4pm and Tuesday, December 7 2010 10am-1pm

Via of the Lehigh Valley
336 W. Spruce St., Bethlehem, PA 18018

Looking for a rewarding career, one where you can make a difference in someone’s life every day? Join the Via team and help provide leadership, support, opportunities and resources for people with disabilities so that they may be independent, productive and enjoy full lives within the community. Via offers medical, vision and dental benefits to all full time employees. Via employees are covered at no cost to the employee. Via offers paid vacation and holidays for full-time employees, short-term and long-term disability insurance, and retirement saving options with an employer match.

Full and part time positions available immediately! On the spot interviews!

For more information: R.Ahner@ViaNet.org  610-317-8000








Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lehigh Valley leaders working with Gov-elect Corbett

The Morning Call ran a very informative article today, highlighting the role of Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham and others who are serving on Governor-Elect Corbett's transition team.  Below is a look at some of the other Lehigh Valley leaders who are serving in some capacity on the Governor-Elect's transition team:

Daily Briefing, 12/1/2010

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

Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham was among the Lehigh Valley officials who volunteered to serve on Governor-Elect Tom Corbett's transition team.  In Easton, Mayor Sal Panto will be distributing $475,000 in federal grant money by helping to make properties more energy efficient.  In Bethlehem, City Controller Meg Holland has recommended that the city adopt a real estate tax, saying that the city's projected revenue will not cover expenses.  Good news for UGI customers: gas prices have dropped again, likely saving the average customer $100 per year.  In Bangor, Borough officials are looking to lay off two employees and furlough a third to avoid a tax increase.

By the way, be careful out there today: a flood watch is in effect.

A just signed piece of legislation will standardize food inspections across the Commonwealth.  In Virginia, a federal judge rejected a challenge to overturn a key piece of the Obama health care reform law.  A new report shows that the taxpayer tab from the TARP bailout is $25 billion, down from $109 billion in the latest report.  A new survey shows that states are facing $41 billion in budget shortfalls by the start of the 2012 fiscal year.

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