Thursday, March 31, 2011

2012 Republican Presidential Candidates

With the mid-term elections long-since done, the gearing up has begun for the 2012 Presidential Election.  With Barack Obama essentially assured renomination, all eyes are turning to the race for the Republican Presidential nomination.

What is most striking about this race, so far, is its comparative slowness.  At this point in the 2008 cycle, 17 Democrats & Republicans had announced they were running or had set up exploratory committees.  At this point, including the President, there are only four official candidates.

Here is a run-down of the likely/declared Republican candidates for President:

  • Representative Michelle Bachmann (R-MN):  A tea-party favorite, the controversial Congresswoman appears increasingly likely to run for President, having made multiple trips to early primary states.  She has made multiple statements that she is likely to run for President, though she has also filed for reelection in her Congressional district.
  • Governor Haley Barbour (R-MS):  Governor Barbour is the former Chairman of the Republican National Committee and Governor of Mississippi.  He is also a former lobbyist.  He is a presumed candidate, though he has not officially announced yet.
  • John Bolton:  Former UN Ambassador under the George W. Bush administration.  Bolton has made speeches to many speeches to national conservative groups and said that he is considering running.
  • Herman Cain:  Successful businessman and Navy vet.  Cain is one of the few candidates to actually form an exploratory committee, essentially making him a declared candidate.  
  • Mitch Daniels (IN):  Governor of Indiana.  Daniels, however, has not declared his candidacy and has yet to say if he is even likely to run.
  • Newt Gingrich (GA):  Former Speaker of the House of Representatives and architect of the Republican Revolution of 1994.  He sounds more and more like a Presidential candidate, though his political and personal baggage (two divorces) would present challenges to his candidacy.  
  • Mike Huckabee (AR):  Former Governor of Arkansas, 2008 Presidential candidate and fox news contributor.  He, too, has yet to say if he is likely to run.  
  • Sarah Palin (AK):  Former Governor of Alaska and VP Candidate in 2008.  Her status is very much unknown and she could dramatically shake up the field if she runs.
  • Rand Paul (KY):  Newly elected Senator from Kentucky who has made more and more noise about running for President.  Has said he will not run if his father runs.  Favorite of the Tea Party.
  • Ron Paul (TX):  Congressman with libertarian leanings who ran for President in 2008 - he garnered a large amount of grass-roots support but was never able to gain traction in election results. 
  • Tim Pawlenty (MN):  Former Governor of Minnesota who has actually declared his candidacy by setting up an exploratory committee.
  • Mitt Romney (MA):  Successful businessman and former Governor of Massachusetts.  Ran for President in 2008 and is the nominal front-runner.  His entry to the race appears virtually guaranteed, though he has not declared his candidacy yet.
  • Rick Santorum (PA):  Former Pennsylvania Senator who appears more and more likely to run.  Has been courting social conservatives and made multiple trips to early-primary states, particularly South Carolina.  
  • Donald Trump (NY):  Billionaire businessman and television personality who has been making more and more comments about running.

Daily Briefing, 3/31/2011

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

In the Allentown School District, a new proposed Program of Studies would result in the layoff of nearly 250 teachers and support staff.  The results of a newly released health study have increased calls for a bi-county health department.

In state-wide news, it is increasingly likely the two Democratic Congressman, Mark Critz & Jason Altmire, will run against each other in the 2012 elections.  Pennsylvania is set to lose a Congressional seat, and the two Democrats will likely be redistricted into a new Congressional seat together.

In national news, the bank bailout has officially turned a profit of $6 billion and climbing.  In an interview yesterday, Vice President Biden has said that there is "good progress" in the ongoing budget negotiations between the White House and Republicans.

We have one Chamber event today:  Building a Sales Culture with Author Todd Cohen and the LeBEAM Chamber of Commerce.  And, be careful out there tomorrow: the weather will be terrible, and as ridiculous as this sounds, some areas may see some snow.

That's it for now!  See you folks in a bit, and drive safe out there!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Senator Toomey addresses the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerc

As you may know, Senator Pat Toomey recently addressed The Chamber at an event earlier this week.  The entire event is viewable thanks to our friends at WFMZ-TV, but here are the first few minutes.  Enjoy!

QR Codes - What are they, and should you pay attention?

I know, I seems like a new technological innovation is coming out every three seconds.  One of the most difficult things for any small business is keeping up with the seemingly non-stop barrage of technological innovations.  How do you know when something is for real and you should pay attention vs. when something isn't at a level that you need to care about?

Well, here's a new trend that is starting to make its way into the mainstream: QR Codes.  The attached picture was taken today at our Verizon Mixer - the QR Code itself is to the right of the text.  

Like a snowflake, each QR Code is different.  They are scanned by a smartphone App (there are many free ones available) and take you to a website that contains more information about whatever the product is - in this case, the QR code took me to a site about the Android phone.

The great thing about these codes is that they can be integrated into virtually any type of marketing campaign - print, billboards, digital, business cards, you name it.  They are portable and relatively easy to create - and, as smartphones become more and more ubiquitous, these things will become more and more popular.  This could be big.

How about you?  Do you use QR codes or have any success stories to share?  

Daily Briefing, 3/30/2011

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

In the Allentown School District, Superintendent Zahorchik will be asking district administrators to forgo a 3.9% pay increase.

Pennsylvania House of Representatives Speaker Sam Smith is proposing a constitutional amendment to shrink the size of the House of Representatives from 202 to 153.  The first candidate for state Attorney General also appears set to declare her candidacy - Kathleen Kane (D), a prosecutor from Lackawanna County, has entered the race.

Negotiations between Democrats and Republicans on ratifying a budget appear to be breaking down, increasing the odds of a government shutdown by April 8.  Food prices are rising across the nation, including tomato prices, which is putting increasing pressure on restaurant owners.

We have one Chamber event this morning: a free Open House at Verizon Wireless on Macarthur Road.

That's it for now!  Have a great day.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Five Google functions - and how they can help your business

I don't think its possible to use the internet and not be familiar with Google.  The biggest search engine in the world is also the most visited website (though Facebook has been making gains of late).  However, there is much more to Google than search.  Indeed, it has literally dozens of functions that you may not be aware of.  Here is a quick overview of some of its additional functions.

1)  Google Alerts:  Google will E-mail you every time it finds a search query of your choosing.  This function can be useful for tracking news or reviews of your business.  Don't just put in the basic information, however (your name, your business, your employees).  Make sure you input other search terms, like the names of your competitors, clients, vendors or partner organizations.  This can help you keep track of the latest news in your entire industry or community.

2)  Blog Search:  You can obviously use Google for search, but did you know that you can also use it to search blogs specifically.  Check it out and try searching for industry or community terms.  For example - type in Lehigh Valley and look at the amount of results!

3)  Google Books:  Did you know that you can download books (free or paid) directly from Google?  With eReading becoming more and more popular, Google is positioning itself as a one-stop shop for all your reading needs.  You can download a book straight to your computer, or you can download it to your eReading device (Nook, Kindle, etc).

4)  Google Checkout:  For those of you who have eCommerce capabilities on your website, this can be exceptionally useful.  Google launched its own method of accepting and processing online payments - similar to Paypal - that can be directly integrated to any website.

5)  Google Finance:  If you are a finance buff, you can use Google to track not only the latest in financial news, but your specific stock and investment portfolio.  Best of all, like virtually every section of Google, you can customize the page to however is most useful to you.  This can enable Google to give you a customized, personalized experience.

What about you?  How do you use Google or other website to make your life easier and help your business? Let us know in the comments!

Daily Briefing, 3/29/2011

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

Senator Pat Toomey addressed an audience of about 200 Chamber members yesterday, talking about his pro-business and deficit reduction agenda.  You can watch the entire event at

Good economic news: the new hotel that is being constructed at the Sands Bethlehem is on target for a completion date in May.  LANTA is preparing to announce a complete overhaul of many of its operations, including bus routes.  In Alburtis, the police assured nervous residents that they were safe in the aftermath of the murder of two residents.

In Harrisburg, about 500 students protested the proposed cuts to higher education funding.

President Obama addressed the nation last night, laying out his case for the attack on Libya as a multinational mission in which the US will not be bogged down.  In Indiana, Democrats in the state legislature returned to the state after leaving in an effort to stop legislation that they believed was an attack on unions and education.

We have two Chamber events today: a seminar on corporate & individual identity theft and a free info session for our upcoming trip to Dubai.

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

Monday, March 28, 2011

Allentown Restaurant Week!

Did you know that this week is the first ever Allentown Restaurant Week?  Following on the heels of the very successful events in Bethlehem and Easton, Allentown is launching the same event.  It will run from today (Monday, March 28) to Sunday, April 3 and features Sangria, the Cosmopolitan, Allentown Brew Works, the Bay Leaf, Bada Bingg and Made in Brazil.

Check out the flier below for more info!


Daily Briefing, 3/28/2011

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

In state-wide news, the former District Attorney of Philadelphia, Lynn Abraham, is reportedly considering a run for Attorney General in 2012.  Governor Corbett said that he now may favor a local impact fee for Marcellus Shale drilling, a softening of his earlier position.

According to a new survey, 13% of all U.S. homes are vacant, up from 12.1% in 2007.  President Obama will speak later tonight on the ongoing coalition attacks in Liyba.  

We have one Chamber event today, and its a big one:  a D.C. update with Senator Pat Toomey.

That's it for now - not a big news day today!  We will be back with at least one entry later today - have a good one, and we'll see you then!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Free Breakfast & Open House at Verizon Wireless

Our friends at Verizon Wireless are having another Breakfast & Open House!  This one will be held on March 30, 7:30 - 9:30am at their store on 2180 Macarthur Blvd., Whitehall.  They will be providing a free breakfast, a venue for networking with local business leaders and a chance to play with the latest technology, including the iPad, iPhone and more!

We had a great turnout at their last Open House and are looking forward to another one at this event.  Hope to see you there!

Want to go to Dubai?

As you may know, The Chamber has sponsored trips in the past - on two occasions, we've taken Lehigh Valley business owners to China for a trip that included meeting with government officials, businesses and sight-seeing.  We are very pleased to announce our latest trip - we're off to Dubai!  To quote a Chamber member who has visited, "You will get a sore neck from looking up so much."  It is an amazing place, and if you have ever wanted to go, now is the chance.

Per below, we are having a free informational session on March 29, 5:30 - 6:30pm.  This is a great chance to learn more about the trip!

Daily Briefing, 3/25/2011

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

At a breakfast with the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation yesterday, Greg Fajt, chairman of the Pennsylvania Gaming Board, spoke about the economic impact of gaming in the Commonwealth.  In Bethlehem, the Bethlehem Area School District unveiled 160 job cuts among other budgetary moves.  Lehigh County formally unveiled a new police/forensics lab yesterday, dedicated and named after officer David M. Petzold, who was hit by a car and killed in the line of duty in 2006.

In Japan, the latest information shows that over 27,000 are dead or missing from the country's earthquake/tsunami.  According to a new report from the Federal Reserve, household wealth in America decreased a massive 23% from 2007-2009.  Two updates in the race for the Republican nomination for President:  Republican Senator Jim DeMint is definitely out, while Representative Michelle Bachmann appears to be in.

That's it for now - we'll have a couple of entries later today.  Have a great day until then!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

This Week With Tony - a DC update from Senator Toomey!

On this week's episode of This Week With Tony, Michelle and I discuss our Monday event, which features a DC Update from Senator Pat Toomey!  Details are in the video, and you can also check out the event on our website.

FYI: Fake Chamber Scammer

We've received a couple of calls in the past two days that we thought were worth mentioning.  Some businesses have reported receiving calls from someone (with a 309 area code - Illinois) saying that they are from the Lehigh Valley Chamber and soliciting people to join.  When the person says no, the caller gets angry and belligerent.

Just an FYI, we have not been making those calls and no one we work with would make those calls from that area code - and we would certainly not be rude!  If this happens to you or anyone you know, ask them to give you a number to call them back - this will give you a chance to verify the call.

We aren't the first to have this happen to us (other friends at regional agencies have seen the same thing).  It's a good general tip to - never give credit card information to anyone unless you can confirm that they are who they say they are!

Daily Briefing, 3/24/2011

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

In Easton, the City is looking for more money to fund special event requests.  In Lehigh County, County Commissioners unanimously accepted a $3 million grant to help bring Avantor Performance Materials from Phillipsburg to Lehigh County.  At a Chamber President's Roundtable yesterday, Greg Butz, CEO of Alvin H. Butz, said that he sees continued (albiet slow) growth in the economy.  At an event yesterday, Senator Toomey & Congressman Dent slammed a new tax on medical devices.

In national news, Republican leaders in the House and Senate have said that they will not consider any deficit reduction package that involves a tax increase.  Former Governor Rendell adamantly denied rumors that he had any interest in being appointed as U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

We have two free Chamber events today: a breakfast and Social Media presentation in Allentown and a mixer at Brookside County Club.

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Daily Briefing, 3/23/2011

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

According to at least one analysts report, Pennsylvania could overtake Atlantic City to become the nation's 2nd biggest gambling market.  The Easton Area School District says that it may have to layoff another 215 teachers if the teachers union doesn't make concessions - the layoffs would come largely as a result of cuts in funding from the state.  Easton teachers have said that they would agree to a wage freeze if there are no layoffs.  At a hearing yesterday in Easton, the city announced that it would be revising many of its parking policies.  PPL has announced that it will be launching a new program designed to reduce demand during peaktime summer hours - the program would also pay customers who use it.

Today is the one year anniversary of the signing of the President's Health Care law...and as you can imagine, there are differing reactions to the anniversary on each side.  The price of oil continues to rise, with prices now breaking $105 per barrel.

We have two Chamber events today: a seminar with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, featuring multicultural female business leaders, and a Presdient's Roundtable with Greg Butz of Alvin H. Butz Construction.

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Who is running for office in Lehigh County

Well, believe it or not, elections are starting to come upon us once again.  The primary is set for May 17 and the general for November 8.  Petitions have been filed and the candidates list is now set for Pennsylvania candidates.  Below is a list for county-wide office seekers in Lehigh.  For a full list, visit the Lehigh County webpage.  Unfortunately, Northampton doesn't have a full list available yet on the internet.

Lehigh County

Judge of Commonwealth Court (candidates crossfile)

  • Melissa Pavlack
  • Dan McCarthy
  • Doug Reichley
  • Arda Renee Smith
County Commissioners at-large (vote for 4)
  • Scott Ott (R)
  • Norma Cusick (R)
  • Brad Osborne (R)
  • Vic Mazzioti (R)
  • Lisa Scheller (R)
  • Mike Welsh (R)
  • Dean Browning (R)
  • David Najarian (R)
  • Geoff Brace (D)
  • Dennis Pearson (D)
  • Gloria Hamm (D)
  • Timothy Waltkus (D)
County Controller
  • Glenn Eckhart (R)
  • Tom Sloanaker (D)
District Attorney
  • Jim Martin (R)
  • Ed Koren (D)
  • Andy Roman (R)
  • Ron Rossi (D)
  • Scott Grim (D)
Clerk of Judicial Records
  • Andrea Naugle (D)

Daily Briefing, 3/22/2011

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

Good news for Lehigh Valley International Airport, which saw traffic increase 20% in February compared to the same time last year.  The Nazareth Area School District has proposed cuts and a tax hike in order to bridge a $2 million budget deficit.  The Bethlehem Area School District approved of a refinancing deal that was necessary in an effort to minimize the damage from prior bond swaps.  According to a new report, the Lehigh Valley housing market continues to slide, with sales down from last month and the same time last year.

In state-wide news, Dicks Sporting Goods CEO Ed Stacks is apparently mulling a challenge to Senator Bob Casey in the 2012 election.

In national news, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty announced yesterday that he is forming an exploratory committee in preparation for a presumed White House run.

We have one Chamber event today: the Women's Business Council is holding their monthly luncheon, the subject of which is business communications.

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

Monday, March 21, 2011

Local search

One of the latest trends in Search Engine Optimization is that of local search.  Local search is a relatively simple concept.  Many search engines, such as Google, Yelp, Bing, SuperPages and CitySearch have developed (or are primarily focused around) a local search option.  This means that you search for a business, or business type, within a geographic location.

In the case of something like Google Places, claiming your business and updating your Places page can help increase your SEO and make you more visible if someone searches for your business and location.  For example, if you operated a Dentist office in Allentown, how powerful would it be to your business if you were the top search result for the phrase "Dentist Allentown" or "Dentist Lehigh Valley"?

Within each page, there are usually a variety of options - adding business descriptions, contact information, hours of operation, pictures & video and reviews (that you can sometimes respond to).  Having a robust page that has been updated can enhance your SEO and increase the odds of someone actually visiting your establishment.  This, of course, can be great for your business!

If you want to learn more, visit these sites.  Chamber members also have some additional options: you can contact, a free Chamber member benefit that enhances your website's SEO.  You can also attend an upcoming webinar on April 28 on the same subject.

Main Street Lehigh Valley Foundation now offering fourth round of funding

You might be familiar with the The Chamber's Main Street Lehigh Valley Foundation.  The Foundation is the 501c3 arm of The Chamber and seeks to revitalize the urban cores of the Lehigh Valley by funding a variety of urban revitalization projects.  This year's Snow Ball Gala's main recipient was the MSLV Foundation, and we raised over $30,000 for the Foundation (10% of which went to the Allentown gas explosion victims).

The remainder of this funding will go out on the street in the form of grant funding for a variety of projects.  If you are a municipal government, Main Street/Elm Street program or any other group geared towards urban revitalization, this grant funding may be for you.  See the press release below for more information.


March 18, 2011

CONTACT: Tony Iannelli
        Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce
                        840 Hamilton St. – Suite 205, Allentown, PA


Allentown, PA – While State and Federal budget discussions threaten the unprecedented elimination of numerous community grant programs, the Main Street Lehigh Valley Foundation has announced that it will be releasing a fourth round of its Community Improvement grants.

As the final projects from the third round of funding near completion, the Main Street Lehigh Valley has announced that it is seeking new grant funding requests; over $30,000 will be allocated to Lehigh Valley communities, in amounts not to exceed $2,000 per project.

President/CEO of the Chamber Tony Iannelli said, “When we say we are on every main street we mean it – not just as the valley’s cheerleader, but to deliver real dollars to affect positive change.”

Projects funded include streetscape amenities such as banners, benches, tables, greening, and signs or promotional assistance.  Proposals must speak to projects that are consistent with the Foundation’s mission: improving every main street in the Lehigh Valley through targeted investments in fa├žade improvements, streetscape designs, sidewalk beautification, and other enhancements to the physical appearance of our downtowns and urban centers.

In the first three rounds over $100,000 in grants contributed to nearly $1 Million in community revitalization projects that have benefitted over a dozen municipalities. The Main Street Lehigh Valley grant guidelines require that half of the cost of the projects be funded by other community partners to promote public and private investment in these downtowns and surrounding neighborhoods.

Applications and details can be requested from the Chamber office: 610.841.5802. Applications will be due no later than May 31, 2011.

The Main Street Lehigh Valley Foundation was established as a 501(c) 3 in Bethlehem, originally to raise funds for holiday decorations. Now that the Chamber has merged with thirteen regional partners, the Foundation has also grown to help all of its communities as part of its MSLV Initiative.  The Chamber’s charitable arm aims to use donations from the private sector and assistance from Lehigh and Northampton counties to directly fund community development projects in Lehigh Valley’s communities.

Daily Briefing, 3/21/2011

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

A new state formula is being used to calculate the number of students who have earned their high school diplomas, and according to the revised formula, less in Pennsylvania have earned their diplomas than previously believed.

The United States has joined a coalition of forces that has launched airstrikes against Libya.  The strikes have destroyed Gadhafi's compound, leaving his whereabouts unknown.  A CNNMoney survey of economists shows that the biggest perceived threat to economic recovery is the rising price of oil.  Indeed, gas prices increased by nearly seven cents a gallon over the past two weeks.  In other news, AT&T has purchased T-Mobile USA for $39 billion.  The deal still must be approved by regulators.

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

Friday, March 18, 2011

Text message marketing

The other day, I was talking with Barry Diehl of Your Neighborhood Dry Cleaner.  Barry runs a dry cleaning service that picks up/drops off dry cleaning from someone's home or office.  He would send out text message reminders to people when their dry cleaning was ready, but he had to keep track of the times/customers and send the text messages out himself from his phone - a difficult proposition for any small business service!

The idea to use texting for marketing purposes is a solid one.  E-mail use is falling among younger generations, who are relying increasingly on texting.  Automating and managing it, however, can be hard.  There are no shortage of services that can be used for sending group text messages - most are paid at this point, though the fees are not astronomical.

These types of services tend to be opt-in, meaning that your users/marketing base opt-in to receive texts and determine what type of texts they want to receive (reminders, advertising, sales, etc).  The potential of texting is relatively unlimited, particularly as smart phone use continues to increase and new features are added to group messaging features, like photo, video, etc.  Indeed, there are a variety of different uses:  sending appointment or RSVP reminders, combining with location-based services to send out discounts/coupons when you are nearby, trying to get rid of distressed inventory, etc.

That next question comes to you:  How do you use text-message marketing, or how would you use it?

Daily Briefing, 3/18/2011

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

Great news for Mack Truck's, which saw sales jump 46% compared to the same time last year.  Northampton County Council voted against preventing the sale of Gracedale yesterday, another necessary step in the continuing effort to put the issue in from of Northampton County voters.

The House of Representatives voted yesterday, along party lines, to eliminate funding for National Public Radio. A new report yesterday indicated that 99% of TARP funds have been repaid.  The entire bailout is expected to earn the taxpayers a $20 billion profit.

We have two Chamber events today:  the Small Business Council & Lehigh Valley Ad Club is holding their monthly breakfast on advertising & marketing, while the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce is holding their St. Patrick's Day party later tonight

That's it for now!  Enjoy your Friday, and we will have one more blog entry later today.  See you then!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tuesday's Women's Business Council Luncheon - Free tickets!

Hello everyone!  Christine's Secret Garden in Easton is sponsoring this Tuesday's Women's Business Council seminar.  The topic is Business Communications:  The Essentials.

As part of her sponsorship, Christine has been nice enough to offer three free tickets to anyone who wants them.  All you have to do is E-mail me at  The tickets are on a first come, first served basis, so you better E-mail me quick!  And yes, men are absolutely encouraged to attend.

Hope to see you there!

Daily Briefing, 3/17/2011

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

Good news for the Lehigh Valley economy, which saw its labor market improve and unemployment drop to 8.9%. National Penn Bank, the parent company of KNBT, announced yesterday that it had paid back $150 million in government TARP funds.  The first donation checks were mailed out to the victims and survivors of the Allentown gas explosion of last month.  Local teachers unions say they are willing to consider a wage freeze after the President of the State Teacher's Union called for one.  In Northampton County, Ron Angle and Bernie O'Hare fought back against the accusation that they collaborated with the County's law firm in the ongoing legal battle over Gracedale.  The Lehigh Valley International Airport is hiring a management company to review its operations and manage the airport before hiring a new director.  Lehigh County is preparing for its 200th anniversary celebration.

2010 wasn't a difficult economic year for everyone: another 600,000 Americans became millionaires during the year.  In an interview yesterday, Hillary Clinton announced that she will not serve a 2nd term as Secretary of State, should President Obama win reelection.

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

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Daily Briefing, 3/16/2011

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

In Phillipsburg, city officials awarded improvements contracts to South Main Street at a savings of about $145,000.  Petition challenges were filed against Republican Charles Tommor and Democrat Frank Pintabone, who are running for Bethlehem City Council and Easton Area School Board, respectively.  Republican District Attorney Jim Martin has also found his petitions challenged. At a State Senate hearing in Allentown yesterday, UGI said it would take forty years to replace its entire cast-iron pipeline inventory.  In Bethlehem, City Council voted to approve a deal that will allow the city's water authority to sell water to East Allen township.

In Berks County, voters elected Democrat Judy Schwank over Republican Larry Medaglia to replace the late Senator Mike O'Pake in the 11th Senate District.

The House of Representatives passed a funding extension that will allow the government to keep running for another three weeks.

We have one Chamber event today, and its a big one: our annual Buy Lehigh Valley Expo, featuring over 120 vendors and more than 2,000 attendees.  This is gonna be great (and free admission), so make sure you come by!

That's it for today - we'll be at the Buy Lehigh Valley Expo all day, so make sure to come by if you can.  If you are on Twitter, follow us at #BuyLV.  See you there!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Op-Ed: Corbett's proposal will set the stage for state's businesses to create jobs

This Op-Ed appeared in this Sunday's Morning Call and was written by The Chamber's Michelle Griffin-Young, Executive Vice President of Public Policy.  It details the Chamber's position on Governor Corbett's budget proposal.

What do you think?

Corbett's proposal will set the stage for state's businesses to create jobs

As the Lehigh Valley continues to face 9 percent unemployment, the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce welcomes Gov. Tom Corbett's agenda focusing on private sector employers growing their businesses so they can hire more people off the unemployment lines and into family-sustaining careers.

In his budget address, Gov. Corbett said, "We have to spend less. Because we have less to spend. We must tax no more. Because the people have no more to give." That reality is a hard pill to swallow, but his pledge to eliminate the capital stock and franchise tax and increase the research and development tax credit will result in jobs for Lehigh Valley residents.

The governor also called for a fair, predictable and even-handed legal system. Current Pennsylvania law allows a defendant who is just marginally responsible for injury or harm to be made to pay 100 percent of the damages. The enactment of joint and several reform, the Fair Share Act, will limit awards against defendants who are judged to have been only partially liable in a lawsuit. This much-needed reform will create the right environment for job creation at no cost to taxpayers.

» Saucon Valley community updates delivered to your mobile phone. Text SAUCONVALLEY to 52270! Message and data rates apply.
Text STOP SAUCONVALLEY to quit, text HELP for info

The new Governor's Task Force on Privatization will explore what jobs now performed by government might be better done by the private sector — more opportunities for job growth.

Maintaining our employer-led, workforce development system — the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board — is imperative to this agenda. A skilled workforce is key to business development.

It is time for Pennsylvania to change its ranking of 47th in the nation for job growth. As the governor said, "government is not meant to be the answer for jobs. The private sector is."

Michelle Griffin Young is executive vice president of government and external relations for the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Best Blogs of the Lehigh Valley

The Morning Call is running a great content - the Best Blogs of the Lehigh Valley.  There are a variety of user-submitted categories that you can vote in, and you can vote up to once a day in each category.  You do have to be a registered user of the Morning Call online community, but the nice thing about the site is that you can sign in via Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  There do seem to be some problems logging into the website, so if you try and can't get in, don't be surprised and just try again later.

I am very pleased to report that there were multiple Chamber members nominated for these awards.  We were also nominated in the Business & Technology, News & Neighborhood sections, and we'd certainly appreciate your vote!

What is most interesting, perhaps, is that a business as large/well known as the Morning Call is running this contest.  It is another statement to the power of blogs.  It's also a statement about the size of the Lehigh Valley blogging community.  This list likely isn't comprehensive, but still, there are around fifty blogs that were nominated for awards.  I have to be honest - I know that I had no idea that there were that many blogs in the Valley.  I also know that some bloggers have banded together to encourage others to vote for a "ticket" of blogs.  That's another statement - to some extent, this is an organized community that commands the views of thousands of people.

Of course, Social Media distributors have a bad tendency to sometimes act in a vacuum.  Here is the real question:  What does this mean for the real world?  What sort of effect does this have on our every day lives?

Anyone want to answer that?

Daily Briefing, 3/15/2011

Good morning everyone, and welcome to the Ides of March!  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

Here is some great local economic news: Lehigh Valley unemployment has dropped below 9% for the first time since May 2009.  In Allentown, the state Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee will hold a hearing on gas safety at Allentown Symphony Hall.  LANTA will begin testing MetroPlus riders to determine if they can use the regular bus.  The Bethlehem Area School District's budget deficit for next year has increased to $11 million.  In Northampton County, the law firm Eckert Seamens might have fought the challenge to the Gracedale sale petitions using County resources.  Speaking of Northampton, a civil suit is underway in which County Councilman Ron Angle has been accused of breach of contract in a land development deal.  In Lehigh County, the re-assessment process has begun, for the first time since 1991. In Berks County, a Special Election is being held today in the race to replace the late Senator Mike O'Pake.

According to a new survey, confidence in the U.S. government has dropped to its lowest point in 35 years.

We have one Chamber event today: an Easton-Phillipsburg Speed Networking event.

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

Monday, March 14, 2011

Guest Blog Post: Real Estate is at its Most Affordable Point in Decades

Hello everyone!  Another day, another guest blog post.  This one comes to us courtesy of Tai DeSa of Keller Williams Real Estate.  There is a lot of doom and gloom about the real estate market, but as Tai correctly points out, housing prices are at their most affordable princes in decades!  Tai is also promoting InvestorFest, of which Chamber members can get 15% off if they register using the code "chamber15" - but the code is only good through tomorrow, so register now!

Real Estate is at its Most Affordable Point in Decades

Home affordability relative to household income reached its best level in decades as property values fell. This news bodes well for real estate investors and homebuyers alike. An abundance of housing inventory and a dearth of buyers have created a bonanza of real estate deals.

Data provided by Moody’s Analytics track the ratio of median home prices to annual household incomes in 74 markets. Nationally, the ratio of home prices to annual household income reached a peak of 2.3 in late 2005. By September 2010, the ratio had fallen to 1.6, a level not seen since 1989.

Data provided by the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo in February 2011 echoed the Moody’s numbers. The Housing Opportunity Index found that 73.9 percent of new and existing homes sold in the fourth quarter of 2010 were affordable to families earning the national median income of $64,000, surpassing the previous high of 72.5 percent reached in early 2009. Before that point, the index had never reached 70 percent and rarely went above 65 percent. The index has been above 70 percent for eight straight quarters.

According to data from the Lehigh Valley Association of REALTORS® Multiple List Service (MLS), 9.3 percent of homes for sale are pre-foreclosure short sales and 5.4 percent are bank-owned foreclosures. Many of those properties are being snatched up by real estate investors and bargain-hunting homebuyers.

So the data indicate that now is the time to buy, but what should people buy? The answer for those who plan to buy a home to live in is fairly simple: buy what you can afford in a neighborhood that you find desirable. In a matter of minutes, a good mortgage loan originator can help a homebuyer understand what they can afford.

The answer for real estate investors is a little more complex and depends on their level of experience. In the current market climate, flipping can be dangerous for novice and intermediate investors due to the lack of buyers and the abundance of inventory on the market.

A proven strategy for real estate investors in this market is to buy income-producing properties. A strong suggestion for landlords is to buy fixer-upper properties in working class neighborhoods, renovate them, and rent them with the help of a licensed property manager. By improving a house, the landlord should create equity. Furthermore, the renovations serve as “repair insurance,” ensuring that costly repairs will not be necessary for at least the next five years. Investors who buy fixer-upper properties in cash and then refinance them in a few months after they are rented should recoup much of their cash investment. That may allow them to buy the next property in a matter of months, using the same capital.

By hiring a property manager, the investor is free to focus on acquiring the next deal while allowing an experienced professional to manage the tenants. Investors who pay full price or close to full price for an already-improved property will not create equity and will likely not be able to refinance and pull cash out for many years. We are in the midst of the greatest buyer’s market of our generation, and now is the time to acquire more than our fair share of real estate. To learn more about real estate investing, go to for information on the Lehigh Valley Real Estate Investors Group. Also, check out for information on a major real estate educational seminar that takes place April 1st through the 3rd right here in the Lehigh Valley.

Idea Disruption

I was going through my old reading file the other day and came across this article from Mashable.  It was a great exercise in creative thinking and I really though it was worth sharing and summarizing.

The article specifically focuses on coming up with a pathway whereby anyway can develop ideas that will completely disrupt their industry.  It lays out a step-by-step process:

1)  What do you want to disrupt?  Take a very broad view of your industry and figure out, from a high-level perspective, what idea you want to change.
2)  What are the basic business assumptions in your industry?  This is the basic stuff.  Soda is used as an example - Soda is inexpensive, is sweet and advertised as aspirational.  These are basic assumptions about the soda industry.  That leads to step three -
3)  What are your disruptive hypotheses?  Start getting crazy here, if only as an exercise in creativity.  Start thinking about how you can disrupt those basic assumptions by completely turning them on their head.  What can you invert, change or deny?

This article struck me so much, I think, because every one of us in business (including your friendly neighborhood Chamber staffers) are striving (and sometimes struggling), every day, to develop new services and products in an ever-changing world.  Just look at Borders at Blockbuster - both companies are bankrupt, in due no small part to changes in the economy.  They were kings of their industry (ten years ago, could you imagine a world without either of these companies) that fell as a result of changing thinking.  "Books and movies are physical items" were assumptions that were overturned by "Books and movies can be digitally downloaded."

These are broad examples, but they prove the point.  How can you disrupt your industry?


Are you going to be joining us at the Buy Lehigh Valley Business Expo this Wednesday?  As mentioned on Friday, the Expo is completely sold out, and with new events this year, we expect this to be our biggest Expo yet.

To that end, if you are there, make sure that you use Twitter to get the latest updates/talk with other attendees, make sure you use the #BuyLV hashtag.  You can also tweet us directly at @GLVCC.

See you there!

Daily Briefing, 3/14/2011

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

WFMZ runs a story that breaks down Governor Corbett's proposal for school vouchers.  If you are a frequent traveler, bad news: airfares are rising, perhaps by as much as $60 per ticket.  In Japan, the death-toll following the earthquake and tsunami may rise to 10,000.  The country is also struggling to bring stricken nuclear reactors under control, with problems reported in four different reactors.

We have one Chamber event today: an Open House/Mixer at the DaVinci Science Center.  This event is totally free, and we encourage you to attend!

That's it for today!  Anyway, as always, we'll be back later.  Have a good one!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Are you coming to the Buy Lehigh Valley Expo?

We have a major event coming up next week - it is free to attend and guarantees network, exposure to Lehigh Valley businesses and some great deals.  It is our Buy Lehigh Valley Expo, to be held this Wednesday, March 16 at Northampton Community College.

This year's event is sold out on vendor booths (over 120).  Check out the press release below for more info:

Business to Business Expo Sold Out

Lehigh Valley, PA – March 8, 2011:  Business in the Lehigh Valley…The Chamber and Capital BlueCross are pleased to present the The Buy Lehigh Valley Business to Business Expo – the Valley’s biggest meet, greet, buy-and-sell-your-stuff Business to Business expo of the year!  The expo floor will accommodate more than 120 vendors and bring in nearly 2000 participants.  Traditionally, it is the most highly-publicized and best-attended event of the year at the Chamber.  This year, The Chamber is pleased to announce that the Expo has sold every vendor slot.  This year’s Expo is shaping up to be the largest Expo yet!

A variety of events have been added to the Expo this year, including:
A lunch time mixer (11:30 – 1)
Seminars throughout the day
New hours.

Admission is free, but it is strongly encouraged to bring plenty of business cards for you to make the most out of your networking experience.  Prizes given throughout the day including 2 airline tickets donated by Lehigh Valley International Airport.

WHEN:  Wednesday, March 16, 2011, 9 am – 4 pm

WHERE:  Spartan Center, Northampton Community College, 3835 Green Pond Drive, Bethlehem, PA

PRICING INFORMATION:  FREE to attend, booths are sold out

Guest Blog Post: Tips on Hiring a Contractor

We have a very useful Guest Blog Post today, courtesy of Tony Sorrentino of S&G Asphalt Service.  There are some really practical steps in here for making sure you select a high quality, high reputation contractor for any sort of work that you do.


When you decide to hire a contractor, You are making a major purchase. When committing to making such a major decision you want to insure yourself that the product you are going to invest your money in is a product
that is produced and purchased from a stable and good standing company. This should be a company that is easy to reach and easy to find. For example, if you were interested in purchasing a new 60” flat screen television wouldn't you be more confident going to a Best Buy or Sears and deal with a company
that you know will be there if a problem arises with your purchase? You would know where to find them if you need to turn to them for help. Or would you rather purchase that television from a guy in a white van , who just ran up to your car and knocked on the window and said “ Hey I got an extra television in the van here that was over ordered, you wanna buy it? It’s cheap but I can only take cash! But no worries, I am a legitimate guy, you can trust me.”(this actually happened to me ). Of course I told this fly by night to hit the
road. So how are you able to check the creditability of a contractor you are interested in doing business with? For your benefit, I have compiled a list of actions you can take before you hire a contractor. Whether you choose to use these ideas or not is completely up to you.

1. Before you sign an agreement or give a deposit to any contractor, go visit their place of business and do a site visit. Their company address should be prominently displayed on the proposal / quote, business cards, in the phone book or on the internet. If you feel comfortable with your site visit and you are satisfied with the price quote offered to you then that could be a contractor you may want to do business with.

2. Contractors are required to have their PA License number on all contracts. Make sure you have the contractor’s license number. This number is proof that the contractor at least has liability insurance and that they are registered with the State of PA . Should a major problem arise with your contractor you can contact the Attorney General Office at

3. You can check out the credibility of local contractors by contacting the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. You contact the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce at or call them at 610-437-9661. You can also contact the Better Business Bureau at or call
them at 215-893-9235.

4. Make sure contractors make you aware of any permits that may be needed prior to the start of your job.

5. If you feel the need you can do a criminal background check on the individual owner, to insure that he is not being sued in court for faulty work or if there are any other offences you may find worrisome. Remember the contractor you hire will be in or at your home.

6. I hope you find this list helpful. Good luck to you and may you and the best contractor win.

Daily Briefing, 3/11/2011

Good morning everyone!  Here is your Friday Daily Briefing.

The rain may have been inconvenient and dangerous to drive in, but thankfully it appears that no major flooding was reported.  In Allentown, City Council is considering asking the voters for the power to approve labor contracts.  In Easton, school administrators are taking a pay freeze in an effort to close a $14 million gap that could result in more than 160 layoffs.

A massive tsunami has hit Japan, resulting in another 20 countries being put under a tsunami warning, including the United States.  And, tech lovers rejoice, as the iPad 2 comes out today (and make sure to check out yesterday's blog entry on why you may want to buy a tablet).

That's it for today - slow news day, it would seem - although this story about the tsunami appears to be exceptionally bad.  Be safe out there, and we'll see you later.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why do I need a tablet?

The latest in mobile computing technology are products like the tablet.  The iPad is probably the best known of these tablets (particularly with the iPad 2 coming out tomorrow), but there are plenty of others that run on different systems, including the HP Slate, Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy.

Tablet sales have been skyrocketing of late, and recent surveys show that that more and more people are now buying tablets instead of PCs.  Indeed, it seems highly probably that tablet sales will, in the very near future, eclipse PC sales as the dominate method of computing.

But here is the question now:  I already have a laptop.  I'm good on the go.  WHY do I need a tablet?  Its a question that I have been struggling with as well.  If you already have a laptop, why do you need to get a tablet, particularly since they are still less powerful and lack some of the convenience that come with laptops or desktops (lack of a USB port being the biggest).

So, what is so great about a tablet?  Here are a few thoughts:

  • It doesn't get much more convenient than this:  Yes, laptops are portable by their nature...but with a tablet, you can literally carry much of the computing power you need in two fingers.  They are ultra light (barely a pound, if that) and can be used in the office, home, car (not while driving!).  Most models are connected to a mobile network - so you can have the internet whenever you want it.
  • It's customizable:  In the old days, anytime you wanted a new program for your computer, you had to go out and drop $50 for the latest word processing program.  Of course, that is still true to some extent, but the Apps available on every device mean you can do almost anything you want with your Tablet.  "There's an App for that" is an amazing slogan that is frighteningly accurate.  There are Apps for almost everything these days - its just a matter of changing your mindset to always be on the lookout for new ways of customizing this powerful device. 
  • Reading:  Electronic reading and eBooks have become a very popular form of consuming information - devices like tablets, the Kindle and Nook are reflections of these trends.  Indeed, eReading played a role in Borders recent deceleration of bankruptcy.  Newspapers, magazines, journals and all sorts of books are now available on tablet devices - so, if you are into this trend, you can combine reading and computing.  
  • Productivity:  It's much easier to be productive with a tablet.  You can check your E-mail, take notes in meetings, use it as a second computer monitor or for a slew of tasks.  In this day and age, more is being asked of the average businessperson than every before - and a tablet device can help you get there.
Why did you buy your tablet?  Or, why haven't you yet?

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 We publish job openings every Thursday and are happy to help you find the talent that you are looking for!

Northampton Community College


PT – Bookstore Cashier – Fowler Center Campus

Please visit our website at for additional information.


Daily Briefing, 3/10/2011

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

The City of Allentown grew more than 10% over the past decade, with its population now at 118,032 according to the latest census numbers.  The number of Hispanics in the city actually doubled during that period.  A Morning Call story notes that Governor Corbett's proposed budget has removed funding for Weed and Seed programs that run across the state, including Allentown and Easton.  In Lehigh County, Commissioners agreed to spend $2.8 million to further the development of a Lehigh County Crime Center.

In Wisconsin, with no Democrats present, Senate Republicans were able to pass legislation that stripped collective bargaining rights from most public sector employees.  In national news, some good news related to home foreclosures (yes, you read that right):  Foreclosure filings dropped 27% last month when compared to the same time last year.

Also, be careful out there today - a flood watch is in effect for the Lehigh Valley, with 2-3 inches of rain expected between now and 7am.

That's it for now - enjoy your very wet day, and we'll be back later.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Website & Blog Analytics

Every website, blog and Social Media presence needs to constantly be tracking their blog analytics to see what content works and what doesn't.  If you are on top of your game in this area, you can get a great look at your customers - and at what sells.  If you aren't, you are basically flying blind.

Fortunately, given the rise in the importance of analytics, there are many new, easy to use and free programs available.  Google Analytics, for example, can be used on any website and give you a great snapshot into how viewers are arriving at your website and what they are doing once they get there.

So, what do you look for in analytics?  Here is a snapshot of some of the things that we have found:

1)  Traffic Sources:  This tells you where your traffic is coming from in terms of other referring websites.  If you traffic is high from a particular website, you may want to concentrate on ways you can exploit that link and gear content towards that websites potential readers.
2)  Pageviews:  Which of your pages are being viewed the most, and are the most popular pages the pages that you want to be the most popular?  If not, what can you do to change your website/increase your SEO?
3)  Search Keywords:  What search keywords are the most popular for when people find your site?  Are they keywords that you would expect - and, if not, how can you alter your content?
4)  Time of visit:  What time is your website the most popular?  What does that say about your audience, and when should then be publishing new content?

There are many different thoughts on how to use analytics, and I'm sure some of you out there have ideas.  What else can you share with us?

Guest Blog Post: Intuitive Curiosity

Today's Guest Blog Post comes to us courtesy of Todd Cohen, Sales Culture Expert.  Todd will be speaking at an upcoming LeBEAM Chamber of Commerce event on March 31 (this was rescheduled from January - blasted snow!).

Anyway, Todd has some really interesting insights - check out the post below!

Intuitive Curiosity SM – A Key Skill of Great Sales Professionals
By Todd Cohen

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what makes certain sales professionals better than others. More specifically, what gives some sales professionals that “edge”? Do elements just exist naturally within the DNA of great sales professionals that you can’t teach? There are many factors that set certain sales professionals apart from the rest, and today I’m declaring that one such essential element is a sense of “intuitive curiosity” (IC). Do you have IC? How do you know? In this month’s feature, I share the seven basic traits of intuitive curiosity.

Why IC Is Especially Important for Today’s Sales Professionals
Companies today are offering more solutions to be become more differentiated. In other words, sales organizations must to be able to do more sales discovery across product lines, as well as across their entire enterprises. Companies won’t be successful if they think that selling is a linear process or that one sales force can’t sell multiple products and services.

A hallmark of great sales professionals is that they’re confident and capable of managing multiple conversations about various product lines with multiple constituencies. Being able to do this greatly enhances your sales culture and your virtual team. And having the professional sales skill of IC is an essential part of being able to successfully sell multiple products and services to a broad spectrum of clients.

Do You Have IC?
To determine whether you possess the sales professional skill of IC, think about your relationships with prospects and clients. Do you usually have the urge or gut instinct to ask questions and seek more knowledge about their companies’ issues and problems? Are you curious about their businesses, and do you ask more questions because of that curiosity?
The following are what I consider to be the seven basic traits of sales professionals who have IC:

1. You don’t start and end a sales campaign without uncovering some new area of need somewhere else in the organization.
2. You ask questions that uncover needs because you are genuinely curious, not because it’s in the training manual.
3. Your IC is natural and not formulaic.
4. You feel something is vaguely missing when you leave your client – as if something is left unsaid or uncovered.
5. You just want to know more, and you just know that there is more!
6. When you have IC, you will notice a different level of respect from your clients because you’re showing an authentic level of interest – and clients like that!
7. Your IC is like a tickle that never quite goes away.

I think I’ve read just about everything there is about what it takes to make great sales professionals – and I find much of its true. I want to add to that conversation; however, by making sure that we don’t forget about the intangibles and always personally strive to have a high degree of intuitive curiosity.

Daily Briefing, 3/9/2011

Good morning everyone!  Here is your Wednesday Daily Briefing.

PPL has announced that it will spend more than $450 million in various capital improvements to its facilities.  According to a new survey, more Lehigh Valley employers are planning on hiring in the 2nd quarter of 2011.
Easton Mayor Sal Panto has drawn a Republican challenger, as firefighter Mike Krill has filed petitions to run as the Republican nominee for Mayor.  For fans of the 80s, here is some good news:  Journey, Foreigner and Night Ranger will be playing at the Allentown Fairgrounds in late August.

Governor Corbett delivered his budget address yesterday.  His proposed budget reduces spending by 3% and includes significant cuts to education, as well as 1,500 layoffs.  A new report notes that no serious Republican candidate has emerged yet to challenge Senator Casey.

10.7% of all mortgaged homes are underwater, meaning that their owners owed more to the bank than the actual value of the house.  This is an increase of 10.2% from the last quarter.  In Wisconsin, Governor Walker appears to be offering some concessions in an effort to break the gridlock caused by his proposal to remove collective bargaining rights of unions.

We have two Chamber events today: an Open House at Verizon Wireless on Airport Road and a Phillipsburg   Area Chamber of Commerce seminar on Labor Law in New Jersey.

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

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Verizon Open Houses

We have two free Open Houses that are open to the general public.  Both are at new Verizon locations and will feature a free breakfast.  These are great events because they present you with an opportunity to network, meet other Chamber members and check out new Lehigh Valley businesses (and what opportunities they may present for you!).

One event is tomorrow, 7:30 - 9:30am at Verizon on 1820 Airport Road, in Allentown.  The other is on March 30 at the Verizon on 2180 MacArthur Blvd., Whitehall.

Hope to see you there!

This Week With(out) Tony - The Chamber's New Website

Back in January, The Chamber's Website received a major overhaul and is now much more functional for our members and the Lehigh Valley community.  In this week's episode of This Week With Tony, Brandy and I review the website.  We even remember to mention the address of the site (see around the 2:30 mark for an explanation):

Daily Briefing, 3/8/2011

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

Lehigh Valley Industrial Park filed plans last month to create ten more lots in Bethlehem.  The development will happen on old Brownfield sites.  The Northern Lehigh School District appears set to approve a budget that does not include a tax hike.  In Wind Gap, the Borough is pursuing looking at merging its police departments with those in surrounding townships.

Congressman Bill Shuster (R-PA), who chairs the Transportation subcommittee responsible for pipeline oversight, held a hearing in Montgomery County yesterday.  At the hearing, Shuster and others called for better pipeline oversight.  Governor Corbett has overturned Rendell-era regulations that required studies and environmental impact reviews before drilling could occur on state park land.

Five potential Republican candidates for President attended a forum hosted by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition.

We have two Chamber events today: a joint lunch from the Greater Northern and Northampton Chambers, looking at local school district budgets, and a State of Forks County address, held by the Business & Commerce Association of Forks County.

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