Thursday, June 30, 2011

Reception with Congressman Dent

On Wednesday, June 28, The Chamber hosted a reception with Congressman Dent and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  At the reception, the U.S. Chamber awarded Congressman Dent with the Spirit of Enterprise Award.  The award is given to those who vote with business more than 70% of the time - and the Congressman voted with business interests 100% last year.  Below is a note from Michelle Griffin-Young, our Executive VP of Government & External Affairs, describing yesterday's event.  From Michelle:

Congressman Dent was presented with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise Award on June 28th at a Congressional Reception held by The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce.  About 140 Chamber members attended.  Chamber President and CEO, Tony Iannelli; B.Braun Chairman and CEO, Caroll Neubauer and U.S. Chamber Great Lakes Regional Manager of Congressional and Public Affairs, Cholly Smith; all provided examples of how Congressman Dent has focused his legislative decisions on job creation and business retention.  The Spirit of Enterprise award is presented to members of Congress who make key pro-business votes including tax cuts, healthcare reform, etc.  Congressman Dent was recognized for his votes made in 2010 (2nd Session, 111th Congress).

Job Opening: Renew Lehigh Valley

We actually have one more job opening, hot off the presses: Renew Lehigh Valley is hiring a new Executive Director.  See below for more:
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JOB TITLE:  Executive Director
SUPERVISOR'S TITLE:  RenewLV Board of Directors
SALARY LEVEL:  $45,000 – 52,000
TO APPLY:  Go to http://bit.ly/mtVVE7. Writing sample, cover letter and resume are required.
APPLICATION DEADLINE:  Thursday July 14, 2011

Renew Lehigh Valley (RenewLV) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to create a vibrant Lehigh Valley characterized by thriving cities, sustainable growth and regional collaboration. RenewLV’s various initiatives include efforts to mobilize community support for establishment of a regional public-health department, promote collaborative approaches to managing the region’s water resources, and foster stronger regional approaches to linking transportation planning and land-use. RenewLV is guided by a 60-member Leadership Council consisting of representatives from government, community organizations, the business sector, the transportation and planning fields, and other key sectors.

The Executive Director serves as the organization's chief executive officer with responsibility for daily operations, the development and implementation of campaign and community-outreach strategies, the supervision of personnel, and — in conjunction with the Board of Directors— the acquisition of operating funds.

The ideal candidate for this position will: be a proven leader and a creative thinker with an interest in advocacy and smart growth; be committed to facilitating a regional movement in support of urban revitalization and sustainability; and have the ability to engage and work with a wide range of partners across the public, private and nonprofit sectors

JOB DUTIES

Campaign Development and Execution

  • Facilitate consensus-building among key stakeholders to advance initiatives on community health, water infrastructure, transportation and land-use, and related issues
  • Guide the organization, or a coalition of organizations, in developing a strategy to address the issues
  • Serve as the spokesperson to the media for the organization and its efforts and foster constructive relationships with various local news outlets
  • Develop and implement activities and tools that will enhance the image of the organization in the community
  • Establish and maintain relationships with organizations interested in and/or relevant to the promotion of smart growth and efficient local and regional governance in Pennsylvania
  • Track the latest developments on issues related to RenewLV’s work, such as community and economic development, planning and land-use, transportation, public health, and government finance
  • Conduct/manage research on issues/trends, so as to help shape RenewLV’s advocacy and outreach strategy

General Management and Supervision

  • Oversee the evaluation of all programs with Board assistance, assuring programming remains consistent with RenewLV’s mission and goals as established by the Board
  • Hire and supervise staff to ensure quality performance
  • Promote the continued development of skills by staff
  • Conduct or oversee annual evaluation of staff


Financial Management

  • Oversee development of annual budget and revised budgets, if necessary
  • Prepare or oversee preparation of written proposals and grant applications for submission to funding sources
  • Assure that program expenditures are within the planned annual budget and that financial statements and reports are accurate and up to date
  • Supervise or conduct fundraising efforts in support of RenewLV’s programs


Board Relationship

  • Participate in the development of sound annual work plans in conjunction with the Board of Directors
  • Facilitate, through the Board of Directors, the organization’s strategic planning and public policy positions
  • Present monthly reports on agency activities at the meetings of the Board of Directors
  • Assist in the initial training and continuing development of Board members
  • Serve as a member ex officio, without vote, on all Board committees
  • Perform other duties as required by the Board of Directors


WORKING CONDITIONS
Site: 1337 East Fifth Street
Bethlehem, PA  18015
Off-site work at other program centers and in the community

Other: Regular travel throughout Lehigh Valley and occasional day-trips to Harrisburg
Out-of-town and overnight trips possible

QUALIFICATIONS

  • Bachelor's degree required and graduate or professional degree in a related field preferred
  • At least three years’ experience in management and advocacy required
  • Desired knowledge and skills include highly developed interpersonal, communication, grant writing, and report preparation skills, as well as a broad knowledge of public policy, financial administration, and community development
  • Familiarity with Lehigh Valley political environment and/or nonprofit sector highly desirable
  • Desired computing skills include proficiency with MS Office applications, as well as working knowledge of HTML and basic familiarity with online content management, supporter/member management, and online communication tools such as e-newsletter programs and social media
  • Personal vehicle or access to independent transportation required
  • Valid driver’s license and good driving record required
  • Proof of motor vehicle insurance (for use of personal vehicle) required
  • Successful passage of pre-placement physical and pre-employment drug screen required
  • Criminal record check required


BENEFITS

  • Health Insurance- Medical, Dental and Prescription 
  • Life Insurance 
  • Long Term Disability 
  • AD&D 
  • 401(k) 
  • Paid Leave Time- Vacation, Sick, Bereavement 
  • Holiday Pay 


RenewLV is serious about its commitment to Equal Opportunity




Job Openings: Moravian College

Hello everyone!  Here are the job openings that we have this week.  As always, if you are a Chamber member and have a job opening that you are looking to promote, please E-mail me at mikes@lehighvalleychamber.org and we will blog it for you!
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MORAVIAN COLLEGE’S Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation seeks qualified candidates to fill the following open positions:

HEAD COACH - MEN’S TENNIS
INTERN - FIELD HOCKEY
INTERN - WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY & TRACK & FIELD

Review of Applications will begin immediately and continue until the positions are filled.


Click on the following link for details on each position and application instructions. Call 610/861-1534 if you have questions.

http://home.moravian.edu/public/hr/jobs/index.htm

Candidates considered for employment at Moravian College will be asked to complete an employment application.

We value diversity and encourage individuals from under-represented populations to apply. EOE

POSTING DATE: 6-24-11

Daily Briefing, 6/30/2011

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

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney will be in Allentown today, appearing at the Allentown Metal Works.  President Obama appeared at the site in 2009 to tout the success of the stimulus, but the plant closed last year.  The country duo Big & Rich will be playing at Coca-Cola Park on August 19.  In Bethlehem, City Council is looking to increase their oversight over city finances by moving the proceeds of last years tax hike into a special account under their control.  The city is also buying a new K-9 dog after an anonymous donate of $12,000.  Beer to go will still be allowed to be carried in the streets of Musikfest thanks to a proposal from Lisa Boscola.

In state-wide news, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed the state budget yesterday.  The budget now goes to Governor for his signature.

In national news, a federal appeals court upheld a challenge to President Obama's health care reform legislation.  In Greece, legislators passed a reform package needed to receive the final part of its international bailout.

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The importance of analytics to your business

One of the more recent trends in the area of businesses & Social Media is the importance of analytics and data.  Once the realm of mathematicians only, the increased spread of technology is making it much easier for analytics to come down to a more readable and usable level.  As a result, any one of us have data that was not previously available - and can make better business decisions from that data.

For example, check out the picture on the left - its a screen shot of our Facebook Insights page, and just one of the many datasets that are available.  From this suite, I can determine which of our posts got the most impressions, which got the most engagement and what lead to more overall page likes.  This information can help steer me to make better decisions about the type of content that we post to Facebook, making our information more relevant and our marketing more effective.  As a business, this is exactly what we want to be doing.

Of course, there are much different types of data available than just what you can get from Social Media.  As you may know, we launched a new website about six months ago.  Among its many new features are a dramatically improved Business Directory - and enhanced data reporting capabilities along with it.  Thanks to the new website and database, I can determine which business categories are the most highly viewed.  This is great marketing information, particularly when we are trying to recruit new members or show our value to already existing ones.

There is all sorts of data available these days, and as I said before, its much more than just your website or Social Media.analytics.  Businesses must ask themselves these questions:

1)  What sorts of data do you have access to?
2)  What information can you get from that data, and what conclusions can you draw?
3)  How can you use that data to improve your business and increase your bottom line?

Young Farmers Market in Bangor

I was asked to pass this information along by Sharon Davis, who coordinates our Borough Business Revitalization Program in Bangor.  They have a great event coming up - check out the flier below for more info! Young Farmers Market Flyer - 2011 Season

Daily Briefing, 6/29/2011

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

Lehigh Valley International Airport reported an increase in passengers that flew out of the airport compared to May of last year; this news came the same day that the Airport began to pay its legal bills stemming from a fifteen year battle over a land dispute.  Northampton County Executive John Stoffa has said that he is going to wait on appointing a new Director of Finance, opting instead to write his 2012 budget.  In School District news, both Catasauqua and East Penn School Districts have approved budgets that raise property taxes by 1.8%.

In budget news, the Pennsylvania Senate passed the 2011-2012 budget last night.  The budget now heads to the House.

In national news, Congress and the President appear to have reached a deal that would ratify trade pacts between the US and South Korea, Columbia & Panama.

Today is a busy day, with three Chamber events: a mixer at Lockridge Park in Alburtis, a Dale Carnegie seminar on developing your sales skills and a networking breakfast at Verizon.

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This Week With(out) Tony - A Lot Going On in Bethlehem!

In today's This Week With Tony, Sam and Loly of the Downtown Bethlehem Association talk about the many, many events that they have coming up in July. As always, This Week With Tony is sponsored by our friends at M&T Bank.

Save your smart-phone batteries!

If you have a smart-phone, you are probably painfully aware of this: sometimes, the battery life isn't the best.  Batteries lifetime on these phones obviously vary pretty significantly, but on average, the iPhone 4 can last up to 40 hours with regular use, Droids can last at least up to an entire day and Blackberries vary depending on the model.

This being said, if you are a regular smart-phone user (and so many of us are), you may need to make your battery last longer than the average.  Here are some tips on how to do it:

  • Full drain your battery at least once a month.  Doing so will help minimize a loss of capacity for your battery.  
  • Keep your phone as close to room temperature as possible.
  • Turn off any features you aren't using (bluetooth, GPS, WiFi, etc) - those features will just drain your power.
  • Put your phone in "airplane" mode when you are out of coverage areas.  When you are back in a coverage area, take the airplane mode off - otherwise, it won't ring or give you E-mails!
  • Dim your screen.
  • Lock the phone.
  • Update your Apps regularly - updated apps frequently drain less battery.
  • Close programs that aren't running - most smart-phones allow for Apps to run in the background, even if you aren't using them.  Again, this creates a drain on your battery life that you don't need.

Sources:

Daily Briefing, 6/28/2011

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

PBS39 will be moving into their new headquarters at the SteelStacks.  State Representative Joe Brennan (D-133) will face additional charges related to his DUI arrest last week.  The Lehigh Valley unemployment rate rose from 8.2% to 8.4%.  Tolls on the Delaware River will increase by to $1 this Thursday.

In budget news, the House and Senate failed to reach the 2/3 majority needed to cut state-related funding for universities when Democrats refused to vote.  The House did approve the final version of the Fair Share Tort Reform legislation, sending it to Governor Corbett's desk for his signature.

In national news, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was found guilty on 17 of 20 charges.

We have two Chamber events today: a reception with Congressman Charlie Dent and a luncheon with our Women's Business Council on issues facing managers.

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

Monday, June 27, 2011

Shop Local Coupons in Alburtis

One of the urban revitalization programs we are most proud of at The Chamber is our Borough Business Revitalization Program.  This program provides revitalization services to seven smaller urban cores in the Valley: Alburits, Bangor, Bath, Catasauqua, Coopersburg, Hellertown and Pen Argyl.  The program does quite a bit: it improves the physical condition of each Borough; gets every volunteer and stake-holder operating towards the same goal, promotes a Borough as a great place to live, work and play; and seeks to improve each Borough's economy by bringing in new businesses & jobs and helping to retain already existing ones.

The below flier can be used by anyone and contains a variety of coupons to locations in Alburtis.  This is one of the many ways that this program supports the participating communities.


Newsletter Coupon Page SCAN

Paper.li and Content Curation

A huge portion of Social Media use, for both businesses and individuals, comes down to what is commonly referred to as content curation.  This is just a fancy was of saying "getting stuff together so other people can read it."  Content curation is just a matter of finding interesting information and sharing them with your networks.  If done right, you can share useful information with others in a manner that also demonstrates you are knowledgeable and interested in your particular field.

The share button that appears on most articles now is a great way of promoting content curation - all you do is click a share button and post an article or website onto your social networks.

A relatively new website, however, is promoting content curation by essentially allowing you to create your own digital newspaper.  The site is paper.li.  How it works is relatively simple: you create an account (can be done automatically by logging into your Facebook or Twitter accounts) and set up your newspaper.  You do so by creating specific keywords that will result in articles automatically populating the various "sections" of your newspaper.  Of course, the entire newspaper can be customized to your needs.

If you have an active Twitter feed, you are probably seeing more and more people promoting their Paper.li sites.  It's something that is becoming increasingly popular over the past few months, and why not?  It largely automates a vital part of Social Media.

We are thinking about starting one here at The Chamber and would love some feedback first.  Do you use the site?  What are your experiences with it?

Daily Briefing, 6/22/2011

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

A story in the Express-Times focuses on the continued rehabilitation of the former Bethlehem Steel site.  Also in Bethlehem, City Council is looking for answers on delayed public safety improvements.  After an apparent deal was reached to pass the Pennsylvania budget, a rare Sunday session of the General Assembly saw movement to getting the budget to Governor Corbett's desk.  Nationwide, gas prices have gone down an average of $.11 per gallon and are likely to continue to slide.  In Greece, austerity measures will be voted on by Parliament this week.  These measures are required for Greece to get the last $17 billion of its debt relief package.

Business Matters airs tonight at 8pm on WFMZ - the topic of this episode is proposed Right to Work legislation.

That's it for now!  Have a great day and we will return shortly.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Interns: Do's and don'ts

At The Chamber, we are very lucky to have numerous interns.  They have been a huge assistance to us, helping to complete a variety of projects that we may not have been able to complete otherwise.  In the course of doing so, we hope that they have learned a variety on our operations and how the business world operates.

Interns can be great, but only if used properly, and too many businesses have a bad tendency to treat them as if they are slave labor.  That's an error that can cost you good talent and future interns.  Here are some do's and don'ts when it comes to interns:

Do:
1)  Supervise:  Don't give an intern a project and fail to check on them.  Interns, like any employee, require proper supervision to succeed.
2)  Connect the dots:  Regardless of the assignment you give an intern, make sure you tell them why they have been given whatever task you assigned them.  Connect their work to the bigger picture.  This will help them understand their role and feel better appreciated.
3)  Stretch them:  If an intern has no experience in a particular area, try to give them that experience.  Stretch their talents and help them grow.
4)  Make sure they are learning:  An intern is with you to gain experience and knowledge.  Make sure that you are giving them that opportunity.
5)  Be honest:  If an intern's work is sub-par, say so - and make sure you give them the opportunity to improve and directions on how to do so.


Don't:
1)  Give the intern nothing but "scut" work:  Sure, data entry, photo copying and envelope stuffing is necessary - we all do it.  But don't make your intern do only this work.  It's an insult to them and probably a waste of time and talent.
2)  Lock them out:  It can be insulting to go to a meeting and leaving the intern behind.  Sure, that has to happen sometimes, but if its at all possible, take an intern with you to your various meetings.  This will give them a chance to experience the real world.


Where to get interns:  Reach out to the various College career offices in the Valley, as well as the head professors in the academic subject areas.  We are fortunate to have multiple high-quality colleges in the Valley, and they can help hook you up with the talent that you are looking for.

What do you think?  Any do's or don'ts you'd like to add?  Let us know in the comments!

Daily Briefing, 6/24/2011

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

State Representative Joe Brennan (D-133) was arrested for DUI on Wednesday night.  The Easton Area School District approved its budget yesterday; the budget raises taxes 1.7%.

In state-wide news, a tentative agreement is now in place for the state budget.  Governor Corbett signed a law that bans the sale, use or possession of bath salts.

The United States will release 30 million barrels of oil from the strategic reserve in an effort to make up from lost oil production in Libya.  A new report indicates that Texas Governor Rick Perry will likely be running for President, while former New York Governor George Pataki made statements that indicated that he is considering running for President as well.

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

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Social Media Night with the Iron Pigs

The Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs are, without a doubt, one of the biggest attractions that we have in the Lehigh Valley.  Their marketing and promotional efforts are second to none.  Recently, they held a new and innovative event: Social Media night.  I asked them if they could answer a few questions about the night and how it went - Lindsey Knupp and Jon Schaeffer of the Pigs were kind enough to answer these questions.  The responses are very interesting from a small business perspective - you may not have the marketing resources and expertise at your disposal that the Pigs have, but there are certainly lessons to be learned for any small business and how to implement a positive Social Media Strategy.  Read on for more!

Job Openings

Hi everyone - we have one job opening today.  As always, please remember: if you are a Chamber member and have a job opening, please E-mail it to me at mikes@lehighvalleychamber.org - we are happy to publish it here at no charge!
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Part Time Administrative Assistant Job Description

A Bethlehem-based government relations and fund raising firm is looking to hire a part time administrative assistant.  The ideal candidate has relevant experience and is proficient in basic computer skills such as Microsoft Office.  The position is for 5 hours per day, 3 days per week.  There is potential for advancement.

Responsibilities:

1. Answer phones;
2. Coordinate schedules;
3. Coordinate travel;
4. Ancillary research duties;
5. Filing;
6. Other duties as assigned.

Please forward resume to klynch@mstratpa.com. No phone calls please.

Daily Briefing, 6/23/2011

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

In Allentown, Earned Income Tax Collections are not coming in at the pace expected, causing concern for some.
In a speech to the nation yesterday, President Obama laid out a timetable by which American troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan.

We have one Chamber event today: the annual Easton-Phillipsburg Golf Classic.

Wow - that's about it today.  Hmm.  Oh well!  Have a good one and we'll see you later.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

MTV’s (and Other Business’) Goal with Social Media Presence: Relevance

Another day, another post from Intern Jon.  In this one, Jon takes a look at MTV and what they seek to do with Social Media - and how you can apply their lessons to your business.
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Since its inception in 1981, MTV has proven to be an incredibly powerful launching ground for artists and musicians and has established its mark on the American consciousness.  Although MTV has largely shed its “Musical Television” promise first in the 90’s with non-music programming like The Real World, Daria, Beevis and Butthead and continuing today with irreverent hits like Jersey Shore, Jackass and 16 and Pregnant, it has successfully retained and grown its audience, whose ages usually range from pre-teen years to the young adult years.  Having survived more than three decades attempting to entertain perhaps the most distracted and shifty age group, MTV has worked tirelessly to prove its relevance.  In 2011, proving one’s relevance in a business sense most directly means keeping up social media and new technology.

In an age where new stars are mostly discovered on the Internet either through Youtube, Facebook or Myspace, MTV is more than aware of these forms of social media that have stripped it of the channel’s original purpose; instead of competing with the music videos all over Youtube, MTV has simply moved into a different avenue from proving its musical prowess to proving its pop culture prowess, while instilling an entirely comprehensive social media strategy.  An example of MTV’s intense, comprehensive social media strategy being used for the 2011 MTV Movie Awards a few weeks ago:

- Pre-show Red Carpet viewing on the MTV website – also available to be viewed through MTV News’ mobile app
- MTV online stream of backstage events
- Live polling during the show through cell phone texts and online polls
- User chats through Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo
- MTV News Correspondents answering questions on MTV’s Facebook page.
- “Twitter tracker” marking the most “talked-about” topics second-by-second during the show
- Posting and reblogging content on its new Tumblr accounts

Why the huge media blitz? Kristin Frank, general manager of MTV and VH1 Digital answers, “We want to be wherever the audience is, and we know audience is in a lot of different places – and a lot of times it’s in many different places at the same time.”  Beyond this intense marketing strategy is the underlying hope of attempting to remain relevant.

Social media, whether implemented by a corporate giant like MTV or by a small business, not only acts as a powerful marketing tool but also proves to your audience that you are relevant and essentially moving with the times.  In an era where it’s essential to establish two-way dialogue with your clientele, imagine if you were stuck with a little comment-box near your store entrance, rather than a Facebook suggestion wall, which could be accessed virtually anywhere.  After all, if MTV didn’t utilize all these new media tools, its audiences’ thumbs would have been twitching to communicate with another network.

Daily Briefing, 6/22/2011

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

In Bethlehem, City Council approved the creation of a Human Relations Commission.  Jeff Parks, President of ArtsQuest, told business leaders at a Chamber event yesterday that those in the non-profit sector need to become better entrepreneurs.   City Council also formally approved a lease of much of the SteelStax facility to ArtsQuest.

A law to expand the Castle Doctrine passed the State Senate yesterday and will be signed into law by Governor Corbett.  Legislation designed to limit legal liability in lawsuits also passed the Senate yesterday.

Newt Gingrich's finance team quit yesterday in the face of what they described as heavy spending and poor fundraising.  Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann is set to officially launch her Presidential campaign this Monday.  Leon Panetta was confirmed to serve as the new Secretary of Defense by the Senate yesterday - the vote was 100-0.  Panetta will officially become secretary on July 1.

Today is a busy day at The Chamber, with three events: the Northampton Area Chamber of Commerce is holding their annual Iron Pigs night and there are two trainings: one on developing your sales skills by Dale Carnegie and one on emergency response training by TrefoilTTA.

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Internet changes and what it means to your business

As you may have heard, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (essentially one of the Internet's governing bodies) voted earlier this week to essentially open the process for what are known as "top level domains," better known to us as the .com, .org and .net that appear at the end of all website domains.  This has the opportunity to change not only the internet, but the manner in which websites are marketed.

The process is basically this: from January 2012 to April 2012, ICANN will accept applications for the operations of new domain names.  The applications will be very detailed (and costs will be $185,000, so unless you have some real money, don't think about applying just yet) - but, this will give the buying company ownership power over important domain names.

This will likely set up some titanic battles.  Applicants of equal merit will have the opportunity to apply for a top level domain (TLD) and bid on it via auction.  Imagine how much some companies will bid for a .sex TLD. Imagine how much Toys 'R Us or Walmart may pay for .toys.

For your small business: questions still remain about how you will be able to access these domains - or if you really want to.  After all, .com is the standard for businesses (and .org for non-profits), and you will have to ask if it really fits your business interests to convert to a new website.

Of course, this is all very much in the future - these new websites won't be active until 2013 at the earliest, but nonetheless, it is something to consider for future business plans.

Personally, I want to buy the .Schlossberg TLD, but hey, that's a totally different issue........

5 Rewards of Volunteering

The entry below comes courtesy of Samantha McFarland, an intern over in our Easton office.  It's a very insightful look about volunteering and the benefits it can bring to you.

This is particularly relevant for The Chamber - we are a bottom-up organization that is only as successful as the volunteers that supervise and comprise the organization.

Enjoy!

Daily Briefing, 6/21/2011

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

Pennsylvania casinos, including the Sands, had their third straight month of earning more than $50 million.  The Bangor Area School District appears set to layoff 13.5 people in an effort to balance their budget.  Senator Bob Casey was in Bethlehem yesterday, where he called for the renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance.  In Nazareth, the Mayor and Police Chief are fighting over efforts to manage the department in the wake of the recent decision to regionalize its police department.

President Obama is expected to announce his plans for troop withdrawal from Afghanistan later today.  John Huntsman, former Governor of Utah and Ambassador to China, will officially declare his candidacy for President today.

We have one Chamber event today: a President's Roundtable with Jeff Parks of ArtsQuest.

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

Monday, June 20, 2011

Marcellus Shale Panel Discussion

On June 2, Representation Justin Simmons held a panel discussion on Marcellus Shale.  This is an issue that has huge importance to Pennsylvania, so the Representative was kind enough to let us film the panel discussion and share it with you all.  Check out the video below to watch:

Public Policy - A Note from our Health Care Committee

Below is an article from Tom Huntzinger (Emerson, Reid & Co), Chair of our Health Care Committee, which is part of The Chamber's Public Policy Committee.  This column originally appeared in Connections and dealt with the recent reforms to Health Care.  Enjoy!

Daily Briefing, 6/20/2011

Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing, and we warn you, its a slow news day.

Senator Bob Casey will be in Bethlehem on Monday, touring Puritan Products.  Oil has fallen below $93 a barrel, which is its lowest levels since February of this year.  Also, the way we view the internet is about to change, as a variety of new website suffixes are set to be unveiled next year - websites like .law or .coke.

We have one Chamber event today: the Downtown Bethlehem Association is having their annual dinner.

That's it.  Really.  Slow news day.  Anyway, have a good one, and see you later today!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Republican Presidential Nominees: Views on Small Businesses

Another great entry from Intern Jon, who writes today about the views of the declared Republican Presidential candidates on small businesses:

Guest Blog Post: Elder Care’s Impact on Employers

We have a guest blog entry today, courtesy of our friends at Homewatch CareGivers of the Lehigh Valley.  This is a great entry, as it provides some very useful information and tips of Elder Care - an issue that is rapidly rising in prominence and importance.

Daily Briefing, 6/17/2011

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

Air Products has purchased a New Mexico company that makes equipment for the semiconductor industry.  In North Whitehall, Supervisors debated hiring a Township Manager.  Northampton County approved a project to preserve 179 acres in Upper Mount Bethel.  Palram, a manufacturer of thermoplastic sheets, will be adding 40 jobs in the Lehigh Valley, thanks in part to funding from the state. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a 13-week unemployment extension; the same legislation now heads to the Senate.  Congressman Anthony Weiner resigned yesterday in the wake of his sexting scandal.

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

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tips for conducting an off-site retreat


Done right, an off-site retreat can leave you and your employees with a renewed sense of vision and purpose, an enhanced sense of teamwork and a real desire to get back to work, fired up and ready to gain new business and serve your customers better.  Done wrong, you a retreat will give you and your employees a couple of days to screw around and do meaningless exercises, destroy any sense in your company's ability to get things done and leave your business feeling like a ship without a rudder.  

So, what's the best way to conduct such a retreat?  Here are some thoughts:

1.  Go away:  Don't try to conduct your retreat in the office - there are too many distractions.  Make a real commitment to get off-site and away from your day-to-day grind - and then follow through on that commitment.  Go somewhere that is conducive to a work environment (a bar, for example, is a terrible idea) - thankfully, there are plenty such centers available in the Lehigh Valley.

2.  Don't harp on personality conflicts:  The purpose of a work retreat varies, but generally speaking, its going to be something that allows you to set a vision and priorities for your business.  Personality conflicts and zeroing in on the people that are holding you back, as opposed to the processes and policies, will not lead to a productive retreat.  Those conflicts should be resolved before any such retreat takes place, or you'll be wasting your time.  

3.  Outside facilitators:  Objective facilitators/leaders are key to these sorts of retreats.  Having someone run the retreat who knows your company well virtually guarentees that their thoughts and biases will have a more prominent place in the retreat than the rest of the company's.  Instead, get outside help - someone who doesn't know your internal thinking very well and someone who can provide an objective, outside perspective.

4.  Eat!:  Have good food.  It's a must - your employees will appreciate it, and if you are going to be locked-away for a few days (possibly away from family), then you had better be well fed!

5.  What are your goals:  It is vital that, from the outset, you are clear on what your goals for the retreat are.  Are you looking to engage in a company reorganization?  Enhance your marketing and sales strategy?  Come up with a reinvigorated vision?  Know what you are doing ahead of time, and make sure those goals are communicated with all present.

6.  Plan to follow up:  Having a retreat can be great, but if you don't follow up on what you discussed, its useless.  Make sure you have a plan to implement what you talked about at your retreat.

What do you think?  Any success or horror stories that you want to share?  Let us know in the comments!

Sources:


Daily Briefing, 6/16/2011

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

In Allentown, the Allentown Education Association rejected its proposed contract.  The Saucon Valley School District and zero tax increase for the third year in a row.  LANTA fares will increase, effective October 1.  Northampton County unveiled their new County Council districts as a result of the 2010 census figures.  Easton's proposed Neighborhood Improvement District will be the subject of at least three additional meetings.

A ban on bath salts and synthetic marijuana was approved yesterday by the Pennsylvania House and Senate; Governor Corbett has said he will sign the legislation.  A new poll finds Senator Casey fairing relatively well, though still below the 50% reelection mark that incumbents seek.

In national news, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was released from the hospital yesterday.  In an effort to force his resignation, House Democrats could strip Congressman Anthony Weiner of his spot on the Energy & Commerce Committee.  The Wisconsin Supreme Court overruled a lower court and found that the state's controversial collective bargaining agreement should go into effect.

Today is a REALLY busy day for us at The Chamber, with four events: a Social Media training session, a Small Business Forum with Senator Mensch and Representative Emerick Emrick, a Grand Opening at Julabo and the Small Business Council's Excellence in Business Awards.

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Is your business evolving?

Earlier today, I had an op-ed published in the Morning Call.  For those of you who are familiar with the blog, this will be familiar - it touches on the need to make sure your business is adapting to changing times and technology. Your thoughts, comments, feedback and critisims are more than welcome!

Daily Briefing, 6/15/2011

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

John Stoffa withdrew Councilman Bruce Gilbert's nomination to be Northampton County's Director of Finance after revelations of Gilbert's past financial problems.  A new report shows that the Valley's home sales continue to struggle, with sales dropping 24% compared to the same time last year.  A Morning Call story notes that significant differences remain between the Borough of Nazareth and Colonial Regional Police Department on how a police merger would work.

In national news, former Utah Governor and Ambassador to China, John Huntsman, is set to formally announce his candidacy for President next week.  Speaker Boehner has said that President Obama has to receieve authorization from Congress for military actions in Libya or risk violating the War Powers Act.

We have one Chamber event today: a Dale Carnegie training on how to increase your sales skills and make more money.

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

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

E-mail marketing tips

Despite all of the talk about the importance of Social Media, E-mail remains a relevant and important way to market your product and communicate with your customers.  A good E-mail newsletter or blast can be extremely effective for your business - of course, a bad one can make your business look terrible.

Here are some tips and tricks that we've found to be useful:

1)  Use a professional service:  Your readers have an expectation that E-mail won't just be written straight from Outlook - instead, they will be designed from a professional service like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp (incidentally, Chamber Members can receive a discount on a contract with Constant Contact).

2)  Permissions:  You should always make sure that you have permission to E-mail a customer a newsletter or offer before doing so - not doing so can violate the CAN-SPAM act.  Also, if you send out a blast E-mail, make sure you give the recipient the option to opt-out of future E-mail blasts - again, not doing so risks violating CAN-SPAM.

3)  Make sharing easy:  Make sure you have buttons on your E-mails that allow its content to be posted to Social Media or forwarded to others.  Also make sure you have a column that says something to the effect of "Did you get this E-mail forwarded to you?  Click here to sign up for future E-mails!"  This makes it easier for your list to grow.

4)  Get E-mails everywhere:  Always make it easy for individuals to sign up for future E-mails.  Put sign-ups on your website and Social Media.  Have sign-ups at events in which people can drop their business cards.  Do whatever you have to do, but make it easy to communicate with your customers (or with potential customers).

5)  Be consistent:  Use your E-mail list on a consistent, if not frequent basis.  Remember, it takes multiple hits for a message to penetrate - so you want to make sure your message is getting out there on a regular basis.

6)  Check your analytics:  Speaking of professional E-mail services, most allow you to view the success rate of your E-mails - how many are opened, deleted, when links are clicked on, etc.  Make sure to tract that data to see what type of content (and subject lines) work and what doesn't.

What do you think?  Any other tips to share with us?

Sources:

This Week With Tony - Congrats to the Easton Area Chamber of Commerce Award Winners

Last week, the Easton Area Chamber of Commerce held their annual awards banquet.  Tony couldn't make the event, but had a very nice message to the award winners - and he makes fun of me - because, you know, that's different.

The winners were:

Community Non-Profit Award: Boys & Girls Club of Easton
Outstanding Small Business:         Lehigh Valley Drycleaning
Outstanding Large Business Award:   Unity Bank
Milestone Award:                 Easton Area Public Library
Community Service Award:         Henriette Frey (posthumously)
Chairman’s Award:                 East Coast Touring Company



Enjoy the video!

President's Roundtable with Jeff Parks of Artsquest!

Please see the flier below for information on a great, and timely, upcoming Chamber event


Roundtable 6-21-11 Parks

Daily Briefing, 6/14/2011

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

A new survey shows that an increasing amount of employers plan on hiring more employees in the 3rd quarter of 2011 than in the 2nd quarter.  The Colonial Regional Police Commission has said that they do not want to be forced into hiring police officers from the recently disbanded Nazareth Police department.  In Easton, Mayor Sal Panto will be holding another workshop on a proposed Neighborhood Improvement District.
Perkins is declaring bankruptcy and closing 65 stores, including five in the Lehigh Valley area (update: Perkins has not identified which stores in the Valley it will close - I made an error in reading the story and apologize for any confusion).  Bruce Gilbert, John Stoffa's nominee to be Northampton County's new Director of Fiscal Affairs, was forced to address numerous previous instances of personal financial trouble, potentially putting his appointment in danger.  The Bethlehem Area School District approved its budget yesterday, cutting 145 teachers.  In Slatington, Borough Council voted yesterday to fill in municipal pool after Councilwoman Chris Burek had ordered its filling stopped.

In state-wide news, members of the legislature are calling for a ban on teacher strikes.  State officials released a rescue plan for Harrisburg yesterday - the city is indebted to the tune of $300 million for a municipal incinerator gone bad.

In national news, seven Republican candidates for President debated last night, where they largely avoided attacking each other and instead went after President Obama.

We have two Chamber events today - a municipal update from the Greater Northern Chamber of Commerce and a Grand Opening at a new LA Weightloss Center.

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

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Chamber supports the Portland Generating Station

As you may have read last week, Senators Casey & Toomey, as well as Congressman Dent, have asked the Environmental Protection Agency to work with the GenOn Portland Generating Station in terms of the implementation of new pollution restrictions.  These restrictions could cause more job losses, which is the last thing this area and economy needs right now.  GenOn is concerned that immediate and inflexible implementation of new pollution requirements could shut the facility down.

The Chamber written a letter to the EPA, urging them to work with the facility and not shut it down.  Doing so would be detrimental to the economy of the Slate Belt and the Lehigh Valley.  Let's be clear: we are NOT advocating that new regulations be ignored - instead, we are asking that the EPA work with GenOn in terms of the speed in which it wants these new regulations enforced.

Check out the letter below from Tony Iannelli, our President & CEO:


Epa

Daily Briefing, 6/13/2011

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

A Morning Call story takes a closer look at the construction on the South Side of Bethlehem; it also interview's Samantha Schwartz of The Chamber and the Downtown Bethlehem Association.  The family of two of the victims of Allentown's 13th Street explosion, William and Beatrice Hall, have reached a settlement with UGI - the amount of that settlement is undisclosed.  A new study by Stanford University shows that Pennsylvania charter school students make "smaller gains" than those that attend public schools.  In national news, seven Republicans running for President will debate in New Hampshire tonight.  After a series of more embarrassing photos surfaced, Congressman Anthony Weiner is said to be considering resignation.  The first photos of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, post-shooting, have been released.  

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

Thursday, June 9, 2011

In support of the Fair Share Act

The below letter was signed by our President & CEO, Tony Iannelli, in support of the Fair Share Act.  In essence, we believe that the Fair Share Act will provide for reasonable legal liability reforms that will improve the business climate of Pennsylvania.  With this rule, a the plaintiff of a lawsuit would only be able to collect damages for the portion that an opposing party was found liable.  Right now, under our current law, if a defendant was found 1% liable for damages in a case (workplace negligence, for example), they could still be forced to pay a massive amount of the damages - this legislation would correct that fix.

See the letter below for more:

PA Chambers Fair Share Act Letter to Senate

Daily Briefing, 6/9/2011

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

Olympus will be laying off workers from its Upper Saucon facility, though the amount is currently unknown.  Local school districts are suffering in the heat and some, such as Easton & Quakertown, are letting classes out early.  A community meeting in Easton yesterday featured a heated debate about a proposed Downtown Improvement District.

A texting and talking while driving ban passed the State Senate - the bill would make texting a primary offense and talking a secondary one.  Differences remain with the House legislation.  In a recount, Kathryn Bookvar has been declared the winner in the race to be the Democratic nominee for the Commonwealth Court.

In national news, a new report indicates that Rudy Giulani is likely to run for President again.

We have two Chamber events today: Summer in the City on 9th & Hamilton in Allentown and our annual Easton Area Chamber Dinner.

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

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Is Internet Access a human right?

According to a new declaration by the UN, yes - internet access is a basic human right and a government turning off internet access is a violation of international law.

The report and subsequent declaration is an acknowledgment of what many, including this blog, have advocated for sometime: internet access and usage is critical in a modern society and economy.  Just take a quick look at the way recent governments have tried to stem internet access during periods of political upheaval:

Egypt was the first country to cut off internet access during revolutions (though other countries had previously curtailed access) - such a move clearly inspired other countries and this UN declaration.  

Daily Briefing, 6/8/2011

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

Senators Toomey & Casey, as well as Congressman Dent, have asked the EPA to work with the GenOn coal-firing plant in Portland in an effort to help the company reduce emissions and avoid job losses.  We can expect a hot, muggy summer, complete with terrible allergies, according to forecasts.  Incidentally, we can expect record high temperatures today.  Local businesses are joining together to hold a job fair that will feature teenage employment opportunities.  In Phillipsburg, Town Council approved a 3.3% tax hike.  Bethlehem postponed its vote on a proposed human relations ordinance, citing legal concerns.

State legislators have until Saturday to reform the state's unemployment law and avoid 45,000 from losing their benefits.

That's it for today.  Have a good one, and we'll see you later!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Blue Mountain Ski Area mixer with the Carbon County Chamber

Alright, this might be a little further north for many of you, but this is a great event being hosted by our friends and partners, the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce.  Skiing in June?  Nice.


The Warm Weather Have You Hot Under the Collar

Weiner is the latest in a series of sex scandals

As you are likely aware, Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) confessed yesterday to engaging in sexting relationships with half a dozen woman.  He sent all of these women illicit pictures of himself.  Weiner, who is married, says that he never had any physical relationship with any of these women (indeed, he says he never met any of them) and that he has no plans to resign.

Weiner may survive the scandal but his future political prospects - he had been rumored to be a potential candidate for Mayor of New York City in 2013 - and unquestionably tarnished.  Here's a quick look back at some of the most recent sex scandals to shake American politics.

1.  Arnold Schwarzenegger:  The Governator had battled allegations of infidelity for most of his acting & political career, but it exploded once he left office after he was forced to admit that he had a fourteen-year old son, born to a former household employee.  Schwarzenegger had announced a separation from his wife a week prior and had been working on several acting & promotional projects at the time - all of those projects are now on indefinite hold.


2.  Eliot Spitzer:  The former Attorney General & Governor of New York was caught in a prostitution scandal - probably not a good thing for any politician, let alone a former Attorney General.  Spitzer's marriage survived - his political career did not, and he resigned shortly after the scandal broke.  Spitzer now works as a commentator for CNN and occasionally floats his name for political office (good luck with that).


3.  David Vitter:  The Louisana Senator had a similar scandal to Spitzer - prostitution.  His phone number appeared in the records of the D.C. Madam, a known prostitute.  Vitter confessed to misconduct and asked for forgiveness, though he did say it was a private matter that his wife had already been aware of.  In Vitter's case, his career was tarnished but not over - he did not resign and was reelected in 2010.


4.  Chris Lee:  This is one of the briefest sex scandals in recent memory.  Congressman Chris Lee (R-NY) responded to a personal ad on Craigslist by sending a shirtless picture of himself.  After the recipient learned who Lee was, she turned the info over to Gawker, which published the information.  Lee literally resigned later that day.


5.  John Ensign:  The former Nevada Senator had an affair with the wife of one of his top aides.  When confronted, Ensign got his aide a job as a lobbyist and set him up with clients.  Ensign's parents also gave the family a $96,000 gift, widely perceived as hush money.  Ultimately, a Senate Ethics investigation found credibly evidence that Ensign had broken the law - but, Ensign had resigned shortly before the release of the report.


6.  John Edwards:  The former Senator, Vice Presidential & Presidential candidate was recently indicted by federal officials for actions related to an extra-marital affair.  Edwards had an affair with a photographer, Rielle Hunter, with whom he had fathered a child (that he initially denied was his and had an aide take the blame for).

Daily Briefing, 6/7/2011

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

In Allentown, city officials have decided not to appeal a ruling that overturned their ban on hand-held phones while driving, though it now appears that the Pennsylvania House and Senate are on their way to passing some sort of similar law.  City Council also passed a resolution that calls for a voluntary ban on smoking in playgrounds.  There is good news for St. Luke's Riverside campus, which is set for an early opening.

In national news, Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) admitted yesterday to sending sexually explicit photos to woman and apologized, though he said he would not resign.  Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) officially announced yesterday that he is running for President.  One of President Obama's top economic advisors, Austan Gooslbee, is leaving the White House to return to teaching.

We have one Chamber event today: a Southern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce fundraiser at Putt U minigolf.

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

Monday, June 6, 2011

The latest Republican candidates for President

The Republican Presidential field has shaped up considerably since the last time we wrote on this topic - indeed, Rick Santorum is announcing his Presidential candidacy as I type this.  Though there could still be some late entries, we now have a pretty good idea of who is running for President.  Here's the list, as well as some possible late entrants.

Current Candidates

Late Entries?

Daily Briefing, 6/6/2011

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

Bethlehem City Council remains split over what type of Human Relations Commission they are going to create.  Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum will formally declare his Presidential candidacy later today in western Pennsylvania.  The state legislature is considering reforming limitations that are currently in place over the way school districts tax their residents.  New statistics indicate that the American labor force is shrinking.  Layoffs at a state and local government level continue to accelerate, with an estimated 110,000 of such employees set to be laid off in the 3rd quarter of 2011.

Business Matters airs tonight at 8pm on WFMZ-TV - the topic is School Vouchers.

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

Friday, June 3, 2011

How to Green your business

Going green is all the rage these days.  This is primarily for two reasons.  First, its environmentally friendly and sustainable, and this is something that has become increasingly popular lately.  Second, and probably on a level that more think about, it saves money.  We all know it: energy costs are rising, both in terms of fuel and electricity.  Going green not only makes you feel good, but it can save a serious chunk of change.

That being said, not everyone has a clear idea of what "going green" entails, or how to do it in their business.  Going green can probably be (roughly) summed up in two words: using less.  Most resources that we use cannot be replaced and used up indefinitely - as such, going green can help reduce your consumption.  Here are some tips:
  • Carpool:  Encourage your employees to carpool.  This will save on gas consumption, reduce traffic, save costs and hopefully result in closer employees.
  • Shut down your computers:  When you leave at the end of the day, don't leave your computer on - shut it down.  After all, why are you going to leave your computer on at the end of the day, for as long as twelve hours, when no one is going to use it?
  • Printing:  Change your printer settings to print double-sided.  Doing so will help save paper, money and trees.
  • Go paperless:  Speaking of paper - can you transition to a paperless office?  Many businesses have done just that of late, made possibly largely thanks to improvements in smart phones that are making paper a thing of the past.
  • Lighting:  How energy efficient are your light bulbs?  Are you using CFLs?  Furthermore, does your office have windows?  As such, are there ways that you can better utilize natural lighting?  And have you looked into getting motion/occupancy lights?  These are lights that shut off if no one is in the room and get help reduce your energy costs.
  • Web-conferencing:  Gas is expensive, and face-to-face meetings aren't always necessary.  Web conferencing and web meetings through services like GoToWebinar allow you to use audio, web-cams and desktop sharing to hold a meeting that can be just as productive as one that is face to face.
What have you done to green your office?

Sources & more reading:

Daily Briefing, 6/3/2011

Good morning everyone!  Here is your Friday Daily Briefing.

Wegmans will be removing its automated wine kiosks.  The Mayor of Nazareth has recommended that the Borough contract with the Colonial Regional Police for police services.  Emrils Italian Table is the newest restaurant to open in the Sands Bethlehem.  LANTA fare cares and passes are set to increase.  In Northampton County, County Council voted to approve an AFSCME union contract after the threat of arbitration promised to be more expensive than the pay raises in the contract.

A new report shows that despite improved tax collections, states across America still cannot keep up with rising costs.  Moody's has said that it will downgrade the United States' credit rating if it does not take some action on its debt ceiling.  An indictment on John Edwards is likely to come later today.

We have one Chamber event today, and its a big one: our Lehigh Valley Women's Summit.

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

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Young Professionals Council: The Hottest New Trend in Social Media!

One of the things we are going to start doing here is blogging articles from our newsletter, Connections.  In each edition, our various volunteer leaders write about what issues are hot in their community - this is a great opportunity for our readers, and for you, to learn more about what is happening in the Valley.

In the below article, Stephen Cunic (Signs By Tomorrow), chair of our new Young Professionals Council, writes about the hottest new trend in Social Media - actually talking to people.