Friday, October 28, 2011

Daily Briefing, 10/28/2011

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

The Morning Call takes a look at the race for Lehigh County District Attorney and Northampton County Council.  Believe it or not, some parts of the Valley may get 4-6 inches of SNOW this weekend.

In national news, a Judge yesterday ruled against a motion by John Edwards' lawyers to dismiss charges against him regarding campaign finance violations.  A new report shows that Netflix is taking up an astounding 32.7% of all internet bandwidth.

We have two Chamber events today: a President's Roundtable on the Employee Free Choice Act and the Southside Masquerade Ball.

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

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Deal to Save Europe

This is a major story that will have consequences across the world: at a European Union Summit, political leaders and banks reached a deal to hopefully end the Greek deficit crisis, recapitalize banks and create a stronger European bailout fund.  This deal can dramatically help the stability of the European and world economy.

Here are the three major points of the deal:

1)  Greek deficit:  Greece had been facing a major debt problem with a likely default looming, despite austerity measures already taken.  With this agreement, Greek bondholders will write-down 50% of Greece's bond debt, resulting in a loss to bond-holders of 100 million Euros.

2)  Bailout fund: The European Financial Stability Facility was considered ill-prepared to deal with additional bailouts, with Ireland, Spain and Italy all potentially requiring assistance.  As part of this agreement, European leaders will boost the fund by one trillion Euros.

3)  Recapitalizing European Banks:  As part of this agreement, some European banks in must raise more capital, totaling 106 billion Euros.


The deal is already having a positive affect on world stock markets, with US stock's up 2% as of the time of this writing.


Sources:

Daily Briefing, 10/27/2011

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

A Morning Call article takes a closer look at the race for Lehigh County Sheriff.  In Easton, debate continues regarding the proposed Neighborhood Improvement District.  The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation has announced plans to find a new CEO in 2012.  Traffic fell 9% compared to the same time last year at the Lehigh Valley International Airport.

In international news, there is good news in Europe, as investors have agreed to take a 50% loss on Greek investments.

We have one Chamber event today: a look at the tax issues that are facing small businesses in 2012, presented by the Hellertown-Lower Saucon Chamber.

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Sneak Peek at the new Facebook profile

As you may be aware, some new changes are coming down the pike to your Facebook profile - indeed, your profile will be gone, replaced by the Timeline.  Though it isn't available to ALL of Facebook yet, it is being slowly unveiled - for the extremely curious, you can enable it now.

For those of you who want to know more, here's a look at what your new Timeline will look like.

Daily Briefing, 10/26/2011

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

First, some Allentown related news.  Guidelines were passed to determine when financial aid could be offered for development related to the Arena project.  Associated Builders & Contractors is suing the City of Allentown, saying that its recently passed Project Labor Agreement violates the law.  A developer has offered the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority $18 million for the development of Queen City airport.  In Whitehall, an audit has showed that the Township finished 2010 $700,000 in the red.  In Easton, Mayoral Candidates Sal Panto (D) and Mike Krill (R) debated at the State Theatre.

In state-wide news, the Pennsylvania Senate approved the use of red-light cameras in 19 Pennsylvania cities.

In national news, tear gas was used on Occupy Oakland protesters yesterday.  President Obama will issue an Executive Order that will help former students pay down student loans.

And that's all we have for now!  Have a great day, and we'll be back later.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What you are voting on, 2011 - Lehigh County Edition

As you are most likely aware, voters will head to the polls this November to determine a variety of local races that have a massive impact on you.  For the next few days, we're going to take a look at what voters are voting on.  First, here's a look at the races in Lehigh County - and, for more information, check out the League of Women Voters, Lehigh Valley.  The races below are contested races only.

Lehigh County - County-Wide:

  • Judge of the Court of Common Pleas
    • Doug Reichley (R)
    • Dan McCarthy (D)
  • Judicial Retention Election
    • Judge William Ford
    • Judge Ed Reibman
  • Lehigh District Attorney
    • Jim Martin (R-Inc)
    • Ed Koren (D)
  • Lehigh County Sheriff
    • Andy Roman (R)
    • Ron Rossi (D-Inc)
  • Lehigh County Controller
    • Glenn Eckhart (R)
    • Tom Sloanaker (D-Inc)
  • Lehigh County Commissioner
    • Republicans:  Scott Ott, Lisa Scheller, Vic Maziotti, Brad Osborne
    • Democrats: Gloria Hamm (Inc), Dennis Pearson, Geoff Brace, Tim Waitkus

Daily Briefing, 10/25/2011

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

A Judge ruled that Ron Angle needs to pay $1.3 million, not $1.7 million, in a land dispute.  In North Whitehall,  residents will be voting on whether or not to expand the existing Board of Supervisors from three people to five.  In national news, President Obama announced changes to the federal government's refinancing program that would allow more home owners to take advantage of home refinancing options.  In international news, Moammar Gadhafi was buried in a secret location yesterday.

We have one Chamber event today, and its a big one: our annual Athena Award celebration.

And that's it for now!  See you later today!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Daily Briefing, 10/24/2011

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

In election previews, the Morning Call Checks out the races for Lower Macungie Commissioner and Bethlehem City Council.  In state-wide news, a preliminary redistricting map is expected to be revealed on 10/31.  In national news, Vice President Joe Biden left open the possibility that he would run for President in 2016.

We have one Chamber event today - a Roundtable Luncheon with the CEO of Warren Hospital, Tom Lutz.

Business Matters airs tonight at 8pm, featuring a debate on Occupy Wall Street, and specifically Occupy Allentown.  The show airs on WFMZ-TV.

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

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Job Opening

We have one job opening to share today, per below.  As always, if you are a Chamber Member and are trying to advertise a job opening, please send it to me at mikes@lehighvalleychamber.org.  The job opening itself is for a Writer/Editor at Altitude Marketing and the description is here (normally we copy and past the job opening, but the formatting here is far to nice to be ruined).

Friday, October 21, 2011

Daily Briefing, 10/21/2011

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

The Bethlehem Area School District voted to end another bond swap.  Northampton County Council voted yesterday to accept a tax increment financing district that will create a new interchange at Route 33.

In national and international news, the big story yesterday was the death of Moammar Gadhafi, killed in the crossfire of an attack on his convoy.  In other news, it appears that European leaders will not be able to resolve their debt crisis by this weekend, as previously promised.  Republicans in the U.S. Senate successfully blocked a vote on a portion of President Obama's jobs bill yesterday.

We have two Chamber events today: Just Desserts in Bethlehem (YUM) and the Chamber's Healthcare Summit.

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

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sales and networking face-off - what works better for you?

At the Chamber, we are all about helping your business increasing your sales and helping Lehigh Valley professionals network with one another.  That being said, there are many different types of ways that individuals network and try to gain sales.  Three stick out the most to me: face-to-face meetings, phone contact and electronic (E-mail and Social Media).  All have different strengths and weaknesses - here's a brief look at what works best for some and why:

Face-to-face networking:


Pros:

  • Make the strongest impact - people are much more likely to remember you in person than networking otherwise.
  • Allow you the most flexibility when it comes to talking to someone - you can read someone's expressions & body language in a way that's simply impossible otherwise.
  • Easiest way to build a long-term relationship with someone.

Cons:

  • Time inefficient, especially compared to other methods.
  • Can be difficult if you are shy or not a "people-person."
Phone:

Pros:
  • A happy medium between face-to-face and electronic.
  • Relatively time efficient.  
  • Phone numbers aren't too hard to get.

Cons:
  • These days, everyone is busy - who likes to be bothered on the phone?
  • Can be difficult to find the right contact-person who is a decision maker.
  • A gate-keeper, like an administrator, can keep you from talking to the person you are trying to reach.

Electronic:

Pros:
  • VERY time efficient - allows for mass contact that simply cannot be replicated.
  • Allows for creativity in graphics & messaging that isn't possible otherwise.
  • Allows for obtaining information that isn't possible to get otherwise (if you ever really spend time looking at someone's Facebook or LinkedIn profile, you know this - you can get tons of information that isn't otherwise accessible!).
Cons:
  • Your message can be easily ignored or dismissed as spam.
  • Not nearly as impactful as a face-to-face meeting or phone call.
  • Requires a great deal of effort, segmentation and potentially cost to be effective.

Daily Briefing, 10/20/2011

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

In Allentown, public meetings have been scheduled on the Arena project.  Mikail Gorbachev spoke yesterday at Lafayette College.  In state-wide news, both the State House & Senate have now passed legislation that would allow for a state takeover of Harrisburg.  Governor Corbett is expected to sign the legislation. In national news, a record 400,000 illegal immigrants were deported this year.

We have two Chamber events today: a debate for the judicial candidates for Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas and a mixer at Fulton Financial.

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Saved by the Bell…For Now: the NLRB’s Posting Requirement For Non-Union Employers Comes Due

Today, we have an article from Deirdre Kamber of Fitzpatrick, Lentz & Bubba on some information that every business needs to be aware of: updating posting requirements, from the National Labor Relations Board, that virtually every business must post.

Incidentally, The Chamber is hosting a very important event on the Employee Free Choice Act on September 28.
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Announced in August 2011, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) has issued a Final Rule requiring nearly all private-sector employers to post a Notice of Employee Rights in the workplace. Employers who post personnel policies on an internet or intranet site also must post this Notice electronically.  Compliance for posting was dated November 14, 2011; the NLRB announced in October that it has moved the compliance date to January 31, 2012 to allow for additional “research.”

The Notice contains: (1) a summary of employee rights; (2) illegal conduct; (3) the employer's obligation to bargain in good faith; (4) basic enforcement procedures; and (5) NLRB contact information.  Translated versions must be posted in workplaces where at least 20% of employees are not proficient in English.

Who must post?  Irrelevant as to whether union activity is present in the workplace, any employer or labor union subject to the NLRA, including federal contractors, must post this notice.  Those excluded by this Rule include agricultural, railroad, airline, and “very small” employers (whose annual volume of business is not large enough to have a more than slight effect on interstate commerce.)

How will the NLRB enforce the Rule?  The NLRB cannot fine an employer for non-compliance.  It can treat a failure to post as an additional violation of the NLRA or extend the statute of limitations for NLRA violations for multiple violations.

Daily Briefing, 10/19/2011

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

In Macungie, the dispute between the Mayor and Chief of Police continues, as the Mayor is now asking for the manner in which the Chief of Police to be investigated.  In Allentown, District Justice Merlo was removed from the bench, following a format investigation into her conduct.  LANTA received $14.4 million in federal grants yesterday.

In national news, the cost of mail will rise by one cent next year.  Americans who are on Social Security can expect to see a cost-of-living increase in their payments next year.  A gas pipeline safety measure passed the U.S. Senate yesterday after Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) released his hold on the legislation.  Republican Presidential candidates debated yesterday in Las Vegas.

We have one Chamber event today: a seminar on how to use Social Media.

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Allentown Chamber of Commerce - Letter from the President

Every now and then, we like to give you articles from Connections, our monthly newsletter.  Connections is filled with articles from leaders across the Valley.  Below is a letter from Joe ElChaar, President of the Allentown Chamber, talking about downtown Allentown.  Enjoy!
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Have you been to Downtown Allentown lately? This is the question I seem to ask anyone and everyone willing to listen. And although the majority of answers border on “it’s been a while” to “not really,” I usually find myself going into a repetitive marketing mantra: “Wow, you should have been at...“

Having an office in downtown, it comes naturally to take a walk whenever possible to visit the diverse eateries spread along the way. From Nana’s Cafe, Bada Bingg, and the Noshery to our newest - Café Central, they each have their own flare.  And, then there are places like the Brew Works, Sangria, Made In Brazil and Cosmopolitan - no matter what time of the day, there is always something to do.  I have had the opportunity lately to “hang” in downtown, and I find it refreshing to experience the changes that have taken place over the past several years.

People of all ages are flocking here to check out what’s happening, to listen to music, sit outside and enjoy the company of friends and colleagues, have drinks and dinner - and they stay as late as these places are open. A new sense of belonging is permeating and I strongly believe that this perception will expand to all areas of the downtown, as soon as the arena project becomes alive.

Kudos to Pastor Bob Stevens, Chair of the Allentown Center City Association, a partner of the Allentown Chamber, for receiving Main Street designation - and a $50,000 grant from Pennsylvania DCED to continue to manage the Hamilton District Main Street Program.  Programs like Main Street will help to revive our urban core and bring Allentown back.  Check out the new Hamilton District logo and pick up your copy of the Downtown Allentown map and guide.

Downtown Allentown - it starts here!

And, on behalf of the Chamber, I like to extend a big welcome to Steven Valentim of Café Central, located in the Butz building. By the way, check out their frozen yogurt; it’s fat free and sinfully delicious.

Daily Briefing, 10/18/2011

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

The Lehigh Valley Board of Health presented a report yesterday in Northampton County Chambers, arguing why they are still needed.  In Lehigh County, Commissioner candidates are debating whether or not it would ever be a good idea to sell Cedarbrook, the county Nursing Home.  In Allentown, it appears that legislative redistricting may result in a new State House seat for Allentown.

In national news, Iowa officials have set January 3 as the date to hold the Iowa Caucuses.  Hillary Clinton again denied that she would consider serving as Vice President or ever running for President again, saying she will retire at the end of 2012.

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

Monday, October 17, 2011

Interview with First Generation

Every now and then, we like to do a blog interview with a Lehigh Valley business that has done something particularly interesting or remarkable.  Today, we interviewed Sara Lorenz, Creative Director at First Generation.  First Generation recently held a 1G for Good contest.  What is it?  Find out below....
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Can you give us a summary of the 1G for Good contest?


The 1G for Good Contest challenged individuals to develop creative submissions in support of charitable organizations in the Lehigh Valley. It began with a call for entries for individuals to submit a video, essay, song, or work of art that explained – in the most creative way possible – why their nominated organization deserved a $1,000 donation from First Generation. First Generation’s creative team reviewed the submissions and selected the most creative entry in each category, each of which were then featured on the contest website (www.1GforGood.com). For one month thereafter, voting was open to the public, and the entry receiving the highest number of votes was named the winner.

What inspired doing this?

Given the nature of our business as a marketing agency, we wanted to do something in our local community that would inspire creativity – but we wanted to take it a step further. We developed the contest in such a way that it would also engage residents to get out there and get active in support of all the wonderful charitable organizations that exist here. There are so many groups in the Lehigh Valley that work tirelessly to help those in need, and this was an opportunity to promote awareness of these groups, as well as to promote creative thinking.

How were you, as a business, hoping to benefit from this?
We hoped the contest would show that we support the well-being, strength, and growth of our local community, as well as allow us to increase our interaction with residents of the Lehigh Valley. In addition, the contest gave us a new creative outlet and a way to showcase the integrated marketing services we provide.

How did you market the contest?


The marketing for this contest was truly integrated – it blended traditional advertising with PR, social media, and word of mouth. We started with a strategic plan, and spread the word through our social media channels, press releases, outdoor, direct mail, and hand-to-hand flyer and sticker distribution. In addition to the print and interactive elements, we
 created an original song and fun promotional music video for the 
contest. Because we have such a talented team, our Art Director, Integrated Marketing Producer, and Media Planner even sang and played
the instruments! (You can view the video on First Generation’s YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/firstgencom)  Once we hit the public voting phase, the contest finalists and their nominated organizations began marketing the contest as well – simply by promoting their entries through their own social media, word of mouth, and more. We heard one group even created t-shirts directing people to the contest website to help gain votes for their submission!

What benefits did you see from it?


The strongest benefit we saw from this contest was awareness. We increased awareness for both our agency and for the organizations that were nominated. We saw a significant jump in our social media followers and traffic on our website, and a total of 302,264 total votes were cast the one month voting period. The campaign was featured in multiple local publications and on Outlook with Dan Holzman through Clear Channel radio stations WAEB, B104, WZZO and WSAN. We also had a great time creating and producing this contest – it brought us together as a company to work for something that contributed to the greater good.

Who won?


The contest winners were Salisbury High School juniors Casey Creveling and Alan Mendez. These students submitted an original song and music video nominating the Race For Adam Foundation (www.raceforadam.org), which is a local organization dedicated to funding research for treatment and a cure for Niemann-Pick Type C disease and related neurodegenerative disorders. They did an incredible job of bringing Lehigh Valley residents together in support of their cause, in every stage of the contest, and a total of 136,820 votes were cast for their entry. On September 25th, First Generation presented the Race For Adam Foundation with a $1,000 donation at the Cruise For Adam event. The students played their original song live at the event, and were presented with First Generation Honorary Producer Awards.


Daily Briefing, 10/17/2011

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

Tax collection changes are coming to the Valley, as state law requires that all counties use a single agency to collect local income tax.  There is good news in the housing market, at least locally, as home sales rose 20% compared to the same time last year.  In state-wide news, Pennsylvania will start asking residents to report sales tax on purchases they made on the Internet (and other out of state purchases).  In national news, President Obama and others dedicated the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Business Matters airs tonight, featuring a look at what Northampton County will do with Gracedale, now that the referendum stopping the sale has passed.

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

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Chamber to China!

I have a wonderful blog entry today from Lorie Reinert.  Lorie is a Chamber employee and works as Tony Ianneli's Executive Assistant.  In that capacity, one of her responsibilities is to coordinate our trip to China that is in just a few days.  Her thoughts on the trip are below.  Enjoy!
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On Monday, October 17 at 9am a group of eighteen Chamber members will depart for the "Chamber’s  Mission to China," a nine day all-inclusive trip across the international date line!  These eighteen strangers will soon be fast friends - they will experience a once-in-a lifetime tour of Shanghai, Beijing, and Suzhou with visits to the Olympic Stadium, Great Wall, Ming Tombs and Tian an Men Square.  I have been to China and Hong Kong and find it difficult to put into words how very different it is from anything I have experienced here in the United States.   China smells different, it tastes different, it looks different, it even sounds different – everything is formed into an eye-opening new perspective – there are state of the art schoolrooms housed in crumbling buildings, children in uniform speak clearly in English,  (how embarrassing that I could not speak a word of Chinese) calling after me ‘miss America, miss America! – they love to be photographed with Americans.  There are very modern skyscrapers and five star hotels – and just down the street there are farmers walking their water buffalo by the nose ring up the middle of the street by a piece of rope – the dichotomy is fascinating!  After going through customs, you board a double-decker train packed with passengers – right out of an old movie –  the countryside is like nothing I have ever seen.  The very poor live in makeshift huts, built with pieces of cement and blue tarps – but their Buddha’s are extraordinary!  After a full day of new sights and smells, when you think there can be no more surprises – guess what?! You step off the train and are greeted by what seems to be a million motorbikes, circling and revving their motors like a swarm of hungry sharks – all waiting to ‘taxi’ you to your local destination.  The Chamber’s next group travel destination will be announced soon.  It may be Europe, South America, or National Parks of America - - whatever the destination, it will be a fun and fascinating educational journey!  The Chamber also offers discounts for unescorted trips with guaranteed departures throughout the year.  I hope our travelers have as much fun as I did experiencing ‘something new’ next week – whether it is exploring fully excavated tombs of the Emperors, eating a Peking roast duck dinner, Kunming Lake, Longevity Hill or Seventeen-Arch Bridge – I know they will be excited to share their experience with you!

Daily Briefing, 10/14/2011

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

Dunn & Bradstreet is considering a major expansion that might include a move into the Lehigh Valley.  State Senator Robert Mensch's (R-18) conviction of disorderly conduct was overturned yesterday but a Judge.  In Allentown, as a result of contract negotiations, the city could lose up to 54 firefighters.

In national news, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has said he plans to leave the Obama administration if Obama wins a second term.  Spain saw its credit rating downgraded by Standard & Poor's.

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

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Why your blackberry may not be working

If you are as addicted to your crackberries blackberries as most of the Chamber staff are, then you probably noticed this yesterday - service interruptions, for E-mail and web browsing, on your blackberries.  This is serious business, of course - interruption of smart phone service can be devastating for the user.  

Here's a brief rundown of what happened.  The service interruption actually started overseas in Europe, the Middle East and Africa on October 10.  Blackberry attributed the failure to a "core switch failure" and said that its back-up was not functioning properly (incidentally, this was not a security failure and there was no hacking, but a hardware issue).  The end result was a massive backlog of E-mails that were not sent during the switch failure.  By yesterday, the issue had spread to American blackberry users as well.  At a press conference yesterday, Research in Motion said that, in the end, all E-mails would be sent and not dropped.  As of now, all E-mail should be working in America (though this is not the case in other parts of the world) and backlogged messages are in the process of being sent.

Of course, the timing is awful for Research in Motion, which has faced at least one network problem a year since 2007.  The news comes in the wake of an announcement in June that RIM would layoff 2,000 people, a little more than 10% of its workforce.  It also comes just before the debut of the iPhone 4S, which will be in stores on Friday.  Blackberry's market share is also declining.

Job Opening

We have one job opening from our friends at Smile Krafters.  As always, if you are a Chamber member and have a job opening you are trying to fill, please E-mail it to me at mikes@lehighvalleychamber.org.
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We are a multi specialty Dental office located in Allentown, looking to add a full time Marketing Representative assistant to our staff.  This is an entry level position, willing to train the right candidate. Must be outgoing, professional and dedicated.  Must have own transportation and be able to work occassional nights and weekends.  This is a full time position.

Please fax resume to 610-432-2332 attention Kelly or email resume to Kelly@dentaoffice.com

Daily Briefing, 10/13/2011

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

The Lehigh Valley International Airport launched a rebranding initiative yesterday, once again becoming ABE.  In Lower Macungie, residents sounded off against proposed construction on land owned by the Jaindl family.  In Easton, city officials cut more than $420,000 from CDBG requests.

In state-wide news, Harrisburg city council voted yesterday to seek bankruptcy protection.

In national news, Congress passed trade deals yesterday with Panama, South Korea & Columbia.  Foreclosure activity increased in the 3rd quarter of 2011.  BlackBerries across the world are still down today, although service appears to be improving.

We have two Chamber events today: our annual Energy & Environmental conference and a free mixer at Buca Di Beppo, with KidsPeace.

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Daily Briefing, 10/12/2011

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

Northampton County Council began its budget review yesterday, though no cuts will be formally introduced until after Thanksgiving.

In national news, Republican candidates for President debated yesterday in New Hampshire.  New Jersey Governor Christie endorsed Mitt Romney before the debate.  The US Senate passed legislation, 65-35, that would allow the US to pass a tariff on goods imported from China if China does not revise its currency, which many believe is undervalued.  The Senate also defeated the President's jobs bill by a 50-49 vote - 60 votes were needed for this procedural vote.  News also broke yesterday that the government of Iran was behind a plot to assassinate a Saudi Arabian envoy to the United States.

We have two events today: the Phillipsburg Area Chamber of Commerce is holding their Citizen of the Year Annual Banquet and the Southern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce is holding a breakfast on whether or not the Commercial Real Estate market is recovering in the Valley.

And that's it for now!  Have a good one, and we'll be back later.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Free Chamber events in October, 2011


One of the main benefits to joining The Chamber are the events.  We have somewhere between 30-40 events each month, and usually around six are free to members and non-members alike.  These mixers/ribbon cuttings/seminars are great chances to meet Lehigh Valley business professionals, have free food & drinks and get to know new Valley businesses.

Here is a list of our free events in October:


Daily Briefing, 10/11/2011

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

In Allentown, the "Occupy Allentown" protesters are claiming that they were kicked out of their location on 7th and Hamilton Streets by the police.  The Bethlehem Area School District has spent $7.4 million trying to end its bond swaps.  In national news, Wisconsin Democrats are gearing up their effort to recall Governor Scott Walker (R).  The NBA has cancelled the first two weeks of its season as a result of its ongoing labor dispute.

We have one Chamber event today: the Easton Area Chamber of Commerce is holding an event at the new Sigal Museum.

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

Monday, October 10, 2011

Netflix's implosion

As we have discussed previously, the video rental market has changed dramatically over the past few years, as is particularly evident by Blockbuster's recent deceleration of bankruptcy.  One of the primary reasons for this change was Netflix.  The mail- and streaming-rental service took the market by storm and was seemingly on top of the world.

Then, over the course of the summer, Netflix has managed to, in spectacular fashion, lose its grip on the market.  Here's a brief history on what happened and what can be learned from Netflix's missteps.

A Brief History
Until July 12, 2011, Netflix charged $9.99 for unlimited video rental by mail and streaming services.  Then, in July, Netflix changed it's pricing, pretty dramatically:

  • The charge for both services would jump to $15.98.
  • DVD rentals jumped to $11.99 per month (for two DVDs at a time) and 7.99 (for one DVD at a time). Streaming started at $7.99.
Netflix said the changes would be instant for new users and rolled out September 1 for new users.  They said the switch was to better reflect prices and give customers more options.  The backlash was almost instantaneous, sweeping over Social Media and damaging Netflix's reputation and stock price.

Then, on September 1, Starz announced it would no longer stream movies through Netflix, effective February 28, 2012.  

In a blog post by its CEO, Reed Hastings, apologized for the tumult around the price hike and announced that Netflix would split off its streaming rental company as Quikster.  Less than a month later, today, Netflix said "Never mind!" and announced it would keep streaming DVDs under Netflix.

All of this took its toll on Netflix.  Netflix has said that it expects to lose one million subscribers and its stock has dropped from a one-time high of $299 to $117.21 as of this writing.

Lessons

1.  Don't move to fast:  Netflix tried to rush a price hike through without adequate notification and feedback from its customers.  Price hikes are always ready, but phasing them in (especially if they are as large as this one was) is a better strategy.

2.  Be upfront and transparent with your mistakes:  This is probably one of the things Netflix did really well - in his apology note, CEO Reed Hastings was upfront with Netflix's errors and noted that the company had "slid into arrogance based upon past success."  Hearing such contrition from the company CEO is wise.  

3.  Don't compound your mistakes: In the same graceful apology note, Hastings announced the creation of Quikster, a separate, streaming service.  The response was almost identical: HUH?  The move made no sense and seemed designed to camouflage the price hike - and this is likely why the move was rescinded earlier today.

What do you think about all of this?  What could Netflix have done differently?  Let us know in the comments!

Daily Briefing, 10/10/2011

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

In state-wide news, Tuesday is the last day to register to vote for the 2011 elections.  Governor Corbett is set to unveil his school voucher plan, likely at some point this week.  In national news, the economy added 103,000 jobs in September, but unemployment remained stuck at 9.1%. Gas prices across the nation have dropped to an average of $3.42 per gallon, a drop of $.12 in the past two weeks.  The Congressional Budget office found that the 2011 fiscal year ended with a budget deficit of about $1.3 trillion.  A new survey found that U.S. incomes kept falling after the recession supposedly ended.  In international news, Germany & France are close to an agreement on a variety of reforms & proposals that would cushion banks against a Greece default.

Business Matters airs tonight at 8pm on WFMZ - today's episode features a one-on-one interview with Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski.

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

Friday, October 7, 2011

Best Practices: Using Twitter Hashtags for events

Our Annual Meeting is coming up - this is our biggest event of the year, usually attended by over 1,000 people and advertised to thousands more.  As is standard best practice for major events, we'll be using a Twitter hashtag at the event - anyone Tweeting there should use #ChamberAM to refer to it.  We're looking forward not only to the event, but all the Twitter conversation it will generate.

This got me thinking about using Hashtags for major events or happenings.  They are essentially required at all major events these days, regardless of if an event is in a unified location (for an example, check out #ows for a look at the Occupy Wall Street protests).  A while ago, we discussed some best practices for Twitter usage - and here are some thoughts on the best way to use Twitter Hashtags for events.



  1. Create a short, memorable Twitter Hashtag ahead of time – and promote with all event materials.  This is crucial to start to build momentum.
  2. Announce the Hashtag at the event.  Have it on all event-related materials at the event as well.
  3. Have a designated person tweet during the entire event.  Multiple people tweeting can get confusing and uncoordinated.
  4. Provide customer service & answer questions throughout the event.
  5. Hold a contest – and require that people use the hashtag.  This is a great way to generate awareness about your event, and to gain more followers.
  6. Summarize the tweets afterwards.  We've done blog entries with tweets before, and I think this is a great way to summarize the event for those who weren't in attendance.  


Daily Briefing, 10/7/2011

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

Not much happening locally today!  In state-wide news, President Obama will be visiting the state next week, heading to Pittsburgh on Tuesday.  Senator Casey questioned Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke at a hearing yesterday.  In national news, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) used a rare Senate procedure to stop Republicans from forcing votes on amendments to legislation on China currency.

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

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pancreatic Cancer

Yesterday, the world lost one of its great innovators and entrepreneurs, Steve Jobs.  Jobs impacted this world in ways most of us can only dream of.  To quote Barack Obama's statement on Jobs' death, "...there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented."

Jobs had suffered from pancreatic cancer in since 2004, when he had a cancerous tumor removed from his pancreas.  In 2009, Jobs had a liver transplant.  This past August, Jobs stepped down as CEO of Apple, saying that he could no longer focus the necessary time and energy on his job.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly cancers, and it seemed appropriate to discuss the disease in today's blog entry.  Pancreatic cancer accounts for the 4th most cancer-related deaths in the world.  It has an atrocious prognosis rate - those who are diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer have one- and five-year survival rates on 25% and 6%.

The reason for such a high mortality rate is because pancreatic cancer usually does not display symptoms until in is far more advanced - as a result, treatment is difficult if not impossible.  Symptoms include jaundice, loss of appetite, vomiting, pain in the upper abdomen and significant weight loss.  Risk factors include a family history of the disease, age, smoking, diets that are low in vegetables & fruits, high in red meat, or sugar-sweetened drinks and obesity.

In terms of prevention, there are no formal, established guidelines from the American Cancer Society, but there are some suggestions:

  • Don't smoke
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Increase consumption of fruits, vegitables and whole grain
  • Decrease consumption of Red Meat
  • Consume 300-449 international units of Vitamin D

Sources:
- Pancreatic cancer (wikipedia)
- Pancreatic cancer (American Cancer Society)

Daily Briefing, 10/6/2011

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

Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin has said that he will appeal a ruling that gave the Mayor of Macungie access to certain police records.  In Allentown, a major natural gas leak forced an evacuation of a city block.  In Lehigh County, County Executive Cunningham's budget stands as proposed for now, with an effort to cut more from his budget failing in a vote yesterday.

In state-wide news, the state's highest ranking gaming regulator told a State House committee yesterday that he believes that the gaming board's Bureau of Investigations & Enforcement should report to the Attorney General's office.

In national news, the major story of the day is the death of Steve Jobs, who succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 56.  Jobs founded Apple and helped to bring countless innovative products to the world. In other news, Sarah Palin announced yesterday that she will not seek the Republican nomination for President.   Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that he will not accept his party's Vice Presidential nomination if it is offered to him.  Nevada moved its caucus date to January 14, likely bumping up the dates of the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary.

We have two Chamber events today, and both are free mixers: a mixer at the Shoppes at 3900 on Hamilton Blvd. and one at Pistachio's in Allentown.

That's it for now.  We leave you the only way we can today - a great light has gone out of the world.  Steve Jobs changed the face of this planet forever and his death should be mourned by us all.  Here's to you, Mr. Jobs, and thank you for everything.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Social Media Exclusive: The Chamber releases its Social Media policy

As you may have caught the other day, The Chamber's Board of Governors formally approved a Marcellus Shale public policy position.  On the same day, the BOG also approved a Transportation Policy, which is below.

The policy is below, with an Executive Summary up front.  One important note: transportation is critically important to business in the Lehigh Valley.  Every moment that an employee is tied up in a traffic jam on Route 22 represents a real loss of time, opportunity and dollars.  Workers need roads and mass transit to move from home to their place of employment and businesses need transportation options to be able to provide goods and services.  We can never lose sight of the importance of having a stable, modern and robust transportation system (and funding source).

The policy is below:
--

Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce
Transportation Policy
October 3, 2011


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce recognizes that a modern, safe and efficient transportation infrastructure is necessary for the economic vitality of regional businesses and the mobility of our citizens.  Managing roadways and providing funding for future improvements is essential to the safety of our citizens and a vital part of the efficient distribution of products and services.

The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce recommends implementing the following transportation improvements, which are vital to continued growth & sustainability of our regional infrastructure:

Bridges:  Provide sufficient transportation funds to continue PennDOT’s recent initiative to repair and replace structurally deficient bridges at the same (2010) or higher level as the Accelerated Bridge Program.

Roads:  Provide full project funding for the completion of the Route 22 Tomorrow, American Parkway and Route 412 projects, as well as the other projects on the Lehigh Valley Surface Transportation Plan 2011 - 2030.

Public Transportation:  Provide funding for public transportation to the level originally envisioned with the passage of Act 44 and to support the “Moving LANTA Forward” program to encourage increased usage of public transportation.

Air:  Provide funding to assist the state's mid-sized airports in attracting and retaining quality airline service through an air service development fund.

Freight Rail:  Provide funding and continued investment in rail freight infrastructure to maintain the current infrastructure and increase capacity to promote the intermodal distribution of goods.

The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber supports developing a long-term funding strategy and the consideration of a variety of possibilities for funding transportation needs, including but not limited to the following which are listed in priority order.

Promote Efficiency Improvements In Transportation Projects
Propose The Setting Of An Appropriate Prevailing Wage
Wider Use Of Tolling On New And Existing Public Highways
The Creation of Dedicated Funding For the State Police
Public-Private Partnerships (P3)
Gradually Adjust The Cap On The Oil Company Franchise Tax (OCFT)
Implement Inflation Based Increases In Fuel Tax & User Fees


WHY TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IS CRITICALLY REQUIRED:

The Greater Lehigh Valley is the 2nd fastest growing metropolitan area in the Northeast United States.  With this growth, comes an increased demand on our aging infrastructure, which has impacted businesses in the Lehigh Valley by challenging our mobility.  The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released its 2010 PA Infrastructure Report Card on May 24, 2010, which shows our road, bridge and public transportation systems receiving very poor grades.  This poor condition of our infrastructure has added to transportation costs, impacting all of our citizens and businesses.

The Chamber understands there is no question that our state highway, bridge, and public transportation systems are in a financial crisis.  In 2008-09, the Commonwealth invested nearly $2.3 Billion in Motor License Fund (MLF) revenues to build and maintain highways and bridges. However, the May 2010 report issued by the Pennsylvania State Transportation Advisory Committee (PATAC) confirmed that $3.5 Billion (2010 dollars) in annual funds is needed to simply maintain, not expand or improve, existing state and local highway, bridge systems and public transit.

This situation leads to a significant gap of more than $1 Billion per year in projected versus actual transportation funding beginning in 2010, and requires an immediate solution to address our current & future infrastructure needs.

Recently, Act 44 of 2007 attempted to create a dedicated Public Transportation Trust Fund (PTTF) with a streamlined program structure and provide a portion of the additional transit funding recommended by The Transportation Funding and Reform Commission (TFRC).  The additional funding was intended to be predictable and to grow with inflation.  However, a related proposal by the Pennsylvania Turnpike to toll I-80 was not approved by the Federal government, resulting in an immediate decrease of $472 million in annual infrastructure funding in Pennsylvania.  In addition, the main source of MLF revenue is the gas tax.  Yet gas consumption has declined by .3% annually since 2004, and taxes & fees have not been adjusted since the mid-1990’s.  While the goal of The Chamber is to help stabilize costs to our business community, we also recognize that no business could function without an increase in that time period.

Support for transportation funding crosses all sectors of our community.  In late 2010, 74% of Pennsylvanians said they supported fee increases, so long as these increases are strictly for fixing transportation woes.  It is clear that while increased costs are not something people want, when it comes to the safety and mobility of our residents - they recognize the need & the benefits.  If invested, this money will result in more than double the amount to the Pennsylvania economy.  A Wisconsin DOT study found that every $1 of additional investment beyond that needed for maintenance equaled $3 dollars of benefit to the state.

Furthermore, the US Chamber and AFL-CIO have made a pact together promoting the need to address our aging infrastructure.  Without appropriate levels of transportation funding, job growth will not be as fruitful, and statistics prove at the national level, an adequately funded transportation program will create over 1,000,000 transportation-related jobs.  In Pennsylvania alone, that estimate is more than 50,000 jobs, with the majority of those expected to be in sectors outside of highway construction.

Lastly, as our society focuses more and more on “greening” our communities and lifestyles, we must consider the cost burdens to our citizens & businesses which can emerge in other ways due to inaction.  According to a Texas Transportation Institute study in 2005 regarding urban mobility, 5.7 billion gallons of fuel was wasted on traffic congestion every year.  That equals 74 gallons per person and $222 per year (if you figure an average gallon of gas costs $3).  A similar study from 2000 showed that nationwide, traffic costs to business in hours lost and to residents in fuel wasted totaled more than $68 billion.



WHAT TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENTS ARE NECESSARY:

Bridges:  PennDOT’s shift from expanding road capacity - to maintenance of the existing network - is understood as a necessary safety initiative.  Unfortunately, years of inadequate funding has resulted in a low level of maintenance and upkeep to our bridges.  This has resulted in thousands of our bridges being categorized as ‘structurally deficient’.  When a bridge gets posted with a weight restriction, or worse is closed, it takes a heavy toll on the business community as well as the emergency services providers.  Posted and closed bridges force larger trucks, buses and emergency vehicles to use longer routes.  This is costing money for trucking companies, and more critically, longer response times for emergency service providers.  Locally, Lehigh County has 350 state bridges including 74 that are structurally deficient – which is 21%.  Neighboring Northampton County fares very similarly with 63 structurally deficient bridges out of 311 – that is more than 20%.
The GLVCC position:  Provide sufficient transportation funds to continue PennDOT’s recent initiative to repair and replace structurally deficient bridges at the same (2010) or higher level as the Accelerated Bridge Program.

Roads:  Funding shortfalls are having a detrimental affect on our road projects which is complicating our vision for a strong Lehigh Valley.  US Route 22, also termed the Lehigh Valley’s Main Street, is vital to the distribution of people, goods and services every day.  The US Route 22 Tomorrow project has been a priority of the Chamber’s and the Lehigh Valley for many years.   PennDOT revised the plans in 2009 to expand the highway to six lanes, replacing them with a scaled back version that did not meet all of the needs identified by the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC).  Lack of funds is the reason for the change — the new version of the project dropped the project cost by $150 million.  Our community is concerned that a savings today will mean a large price to pay in the future.
The GLVCC position:  Provide full project funding for the completion of the Route 22 Tomorrow, American Parkway and Route 412 projects, as well as the other projects on the Lehigh Valley Surface Transportation Plan 2011 - 2030.

Public Transportation:  The shortfall in funding anticipated from Act 44 will have an immediate impact on the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority’s (LANTA) capital program, jeopardizing the Authority’s ability to replace its fixed route and para-transit vehicles in a timely manner, thereby having a deleterious effect on service reliability and maintenance costs.  Over the next six years, LANTA will need total funding of approximately $18 million (from all sources – federal, state & local) simply to replace buses which have reached or exceeded their useful life and $8.4 million to replace para-transit vans.  This would not allow for any fleet expansion to accommodate the system enhancements called for in LANTA’s recently adopted 12 year regional public transportation strategic plan, Moving LANTA Forward.  The plan establishes a vision for transit service in the Lehigh Valley designed to help realize the regional goals set forth in the Comprehensive Plan – The Lehigh Valley 2030.  New funding sources would also need to be identified to fund a needed $13 million modernization at LANTA’s antiquated maintenance facility in Allentown.  In the intermediate term, funding shortfalls will have an impact on LANTA’s operating budget making it difficult to maintain current service levels and all but preclude service enhancements outlined in Moving LANTA Forward.  This could end LANTA’s decade long trend of gains in ridership, which has increased 70% since 1997 on LANTA’s fixed route Metro system.
The GLVCC position:  Provide funding for public transportation to the level originally envisioned with the passage of Act 44 and to support the “Moving LANTA Forward” program to encourage increased usage of public transportation.


Air:  Lehigh Valley International Airport (LVIA), operated by the Lehigh Northampton Airport Authority (LNAA), has been effectively developed to serve a nine county region from its facility located between Allentown and Bethlehem.  The Authority has made great strides to assure that the LVIA will meet the air service needs of that region and also act as a reliever to congested Philadelphia and Newark International Airports.  Currently the Authority is using $6 million in state grant funds along with local revenue to complete a major renovation of the Main Terminal Building.  More improvements are needed soon to enhance safety and security, and to bring the facility into compliance with new FAA standards. That price tag is expected to be $36 million over five years from state and federal funds.  The projects will include obstruction removal, safety area construction, taxiway, and aircraft parking ramp reconstruction.  We believe the State should consider establishing an air service development fund that would provide assistance to the state's smaller airports in attracting and retaining quality airline service.  Such programs have been used effectively by other States and Localities.  
The GLVCC position:  Provide funding to assist the state's mid-sized airports in attracting and retaining quality airline service through an air service development fund.

Freight Rail:  The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) reports freight volume will double in the next 40 years, resulting in a 50 percent increase in truck traffic on our highways.  Rail is the most efficient, affordable and environmentally responsible way to move freight in the United States.  When more freight moves by rail everyone benefits from lower shipping costs, reduced highway gridlock, enhanced mobility, lower fuel consumption, reduced greenhouse emissions and improved safety.  The Lehigh Valley is fortunate to have an intermodal terminal in Bethlehem which handles over 100,000 containers per year - freight that would otherwise be traveling long distances on Pennsylvania highways.  In addition, Lehigh Valley railroads provide carload service to the region.  One of the area’s railroads, Lehigh Valley Rail Management LLC, operates on the former Bethlehem Steel property and handles over 6,500 rail cars per year.  Each rail car of freight takes three or more trucks off Pennsylvania roads.  As the former Steel property continues to be developed, funding for rail spurs, yards, container yards and expansion of the intermodal facilities is critical to job creation in the Lehigh Valley.  Continued investment in rail freight infrastructure is necessary to maintain the current infrastructure and increase capacity to handle a greater share of the anticipated freight volume in order to keep Pennsylvania and America competitive in the global marketplace.
The GLVCC position:  Provide funding and continued investment in rail freight infrastructure to maintain the current infrastructure and increase capacity to promote the intermodal distribution of goods.



HOW TRANSPORTATION NEEDS SHALL BE PROPERLY FUNDED:

The GLVCC understands that today is the time to act & make changes to our funding policies so that we can realize the vision of a balanced, efficient transportation system to serve the health and welfare of our citizens and to promote economic development.  As Pennsylvania’s roads and bridges, buses and rail infrastructure reach the end of their useful life, maintenance costs rise and major capital expenditures become necessary.  Failure to address these needs will lead to greater deterioration of our transportation infrastructure and result in even greater costs in the future.  We believe the solution to this funding crisis will include regional and statewide planning to set our priorities, as well as sacrifices in the way of increased user costs.  The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber supports developing a long-term funding strategy and the consideration of a variety of possibilities for funding transportation needs, including but not limited to the following:

Promote Efficiency Improvements In Transportation Projects: Reduce project delivery costs through implementation of a variety of alternate delivery techniques such as increasing the use of Design-Build, A + B Bidding, Lane Rentals, Flexible Construction Schedules, & Lump Sum Bidding.  Further improvements could take place in streamlining the environmental review process, vehicle fleet and asset management practices, purchasing pools & supply side cooperatives, regionalization and reducing duplication of resources within agencies.

Propose The Setting Of An Appropriate Prevailing Wage: The goal of a prevailing wage is to ensure that workers on public projects receive a fair wage for their work.  This prevailing wage must be tied closely to the wage paid in a competitive market for labor whether the work is performed for either public or private project owners.  A mechanism needs to be exercised to set prevailing wages which more closely represent the actual wage rates for both public and private projects across the different regions of the state as well as the fluctuations in the labor market.

Wider Use Of Tolling On New And Existing Public Highways: Pennsylvania currently has a limited funding stream to maintain its transportation infrastructure.  Without the use of additional funding mechanisms such as the electronic tolling of new and existing public highways, Pennsylvania will only receive approximately one–fourth of the $1.7 billion funding needed to maintain its infrastructure.  Roads, highways and bridges will receive only one-fifth of the identified $965 million and mass transit will receive less than one-third the identified $760 million needed.  The Chamber supports the development of a state-wide tolling network which can adequately provide usage-based fee collection across the Commonwealth. The Chamber also supports initiatives to revise Federal restrictions on the usage of funds collected from tolling interstates per 23 U.S.C 129 and 23 U.S.C 301.  With the Federal Surface Transportation reauthorization legislation on the horizon, the time to act on these regulations is now.

The Creation Of Dedicated Funding For The State Police which does not rely on liquid fuels taxes. Revenues for the State Police from the transportation fund total approximately $524 million in past years, enough to provide the lowest level of funding for highway and bridges.  The Chamber supports removing the State Police off of motor vehicle fuel taxes as its major funding source and establishing sustainable and long term funding for the State Police from other sources.  This funding could include increases to vehicle registration and other license fees.

Public-Private Partnerships (P3):  Private investment will likely play a major role in building new capacity in the future.  A more comprehensive examination of the risks and the benefits of such investments should take place in the context of developing a comprehensive P3 plan for Pennsylvania rather than limiting the discussion to the sale or lease of assets.

Gradually Adjust The Cap On The Oil Company Franchise Tax (OCFT): The oil company franchise tax is not a consumer tax.  It is imposed on distributors of liquid fuels on a cents-per-gallon equivalent basis.  Presently, there is a cap on the calculated tax rate based upon a limit of $1.25 per gallon, which is significantly less than the current actual average wholesale price of liquid fuels.  This leads to a large differential in collected tax versus the expected revenue based on the actual market price.  The Chamber supports raising the current cap with inflationary adjustments thereafter to accommodate inflation.

Implement Inflation Based Increases In Fuel Tax & User Fees: While the Chamber understands the Fuel Tax is not representative of a long-term funding solution, with an expectation of alternate energy sources in the future, it must be considered that this major funding source of transportation projects has not been adjusted for inflation in nearly 20 years.  In addition, our current fee table for motorists & vehicles registered is one of the lowest in the nation, up to 75% less than in a number of other states.   Implementing staged increases to registration fees & fuel taxes is a viable avenue to provide dedicated funding for key infrastructure projects.  The Chamber recommends that these taxes and fees should be responsive to inflation and should be part of a balanced approach that includes a variety of options which are adequate and predictable.  In order to help maintain that balance, the Chamber supports the exploration of a registration fee schedule linked to total vehicle miles traveled, value of vehicle, or gross vehicle weight.   In order to meet the needs of some specific or high-cost projects, which would otherwise go unfunded, the Chamber also supports implementation of a limited term tax or fee increase dedicated to a specific set of projects. (Reference Washington DOT “Nickel” Projects Program)


VOTES:
6/2/11---Transportation Committee --passed unanimously
6/15/11---Public Policy Committee – passed 13-2 w/1 abstention
7/11/11---Executive Committee----discussed, no vote taken
9/26/11---Chamber Board – passed with one no vote and 3 abstention

While the Chamber understands the Pennsylvania Fuel Tax is not representative of a long-term funding solution, especially with more fuel efficient vehicles and an expectation of alternate energy sources in the future, it must be considered that this major funding source of transportation projects has not been adjusted for inflation in nearly 20 years.  In addition, Pennsylvania’sour current fee table for driver license motorists & vehicles registeration renewalsed is one of the lowest in the nation, up to 75% less than in a number of other states.   Implementing staged increases to driver license/registration fees & fuel taxes is a viable avenue to provide dedicated funding for key infrastructure projects.  The Chamber recommends that these taxes and fees should be responsive to inflation and should be part of a balanced approach that includes a variety of options which are adequate and predictable.  In order to help maintain that balance, the Chamber supports the exploration of a registration fee schedule linked to total vehicle miles traveled, value of vehicle, or gross vehicle weight.   In order to meet the needs of some specific or high-cost projects, which would otherwise go unfunded, the Chamber also supports implementation of a limited term tax or fee increase dedicated to a specific set of projects. (Reference Washington DOT “Nickel” Projects Program)



Daily Briefing, 10/5/2011

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

In Allentown, the city is progressing in its efforts to start construction on the American Parkway bridge that would create another connection between its East Side and downtown.  In Bethlehem, City Council had to authorize another $300,000 in overtime for its firefighters.

In national news, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie again said that he would not run for President.  In West Virginia, Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin won a special election to remain Governor of the state.  Apple released its new iPhone yesterday, the iPhone 4S, but it was not the iPhone 5 that was rumored.  In comments to Congress yesterday, Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, told Congress that the recovery is "close to faltering."  President Obama signed a resolution that will allow the federal government to continue operating through November 18.

We have two Chamber events today: a President's Roundtable with Rob Vaughn of WFMZ and a mixer at Franklin Hill's Vineyard.

That's it for now!  Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

This Week With(out) Tony -- Employee Benefits for joining The Chamber!

It's been a little while since we did a This Week With(out) Tony, but they are back!  Here's a new video, featuring Frank and I talking about how your Chamber Membership can benefit your employees, through Coupons, Event Attendance, Prescription Drug Card and our various communications.  Enjoy the video!

Daily Briefing, 10/4/2011

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

In Allentown, protestors organized a local version of "Occupy Wall Street."  Lehigh and Northampton Community Colleges will each receive portions of a $20 million grant that will enhance career training opportunities at the schools.  In state-wide news, Governor Corbett unveiled his Marellus Shale plan, proposing an impact fee per well and new regulations.  New proposed rules would put more stringent requirements on high school football players who suffered concussions.  In national news, Apple is expeted to unveil a new iPhone today.

We have one Chamber event today: the Greater Northern Chamber of Commerce is holding a lunch on health care and Social Media.

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

Monday, October 3, 2011

How do you generate leads?

Like any business, we are constantly talking at The Chamber about how we generate leads.  The topic came up again at a meeting earlier today, and it got me thinking: how do we generate leads?  Here are just some of the things that we do (and hopefully there are some ideas in here that you can use as well!):

  • Events:  Most Chamber events have a low-cost to attend, but we usually have five or six mixers each month that are free to members and future-members alike (we have two coming up this Thursday, for example - one at the Shoppes at 3900 Hamilton Street and at Pistachio's in Allentown).  These events give future-members a taste of what we have to offer, and if done right, leaves them wanting more.
  • Referrals:  The best advocates for the Chamber is not our staff, but its our members themselves.  Any business works the same way - the more referrals you can get, the better.  We also reward those who refer us via our Refer a Member program, whereby we give referring members $50 off their next invoice for every member they refer that joins the Chamber.
  • Marketing:  Broad-based marketing is crucial at building name recognition. You've probably seen Chamber billboards on Route 22.  We also do radio and television ads.
  • Website:  Our President & CEO, Tony Iannelli, likes to say that your front door isn't your storefront - its your website.  We have a website that syncs with our membership database to provide the most up-to-date information about our members and what membership entails.  We also have our website set up so you can join online - making it as easy as possible for someone to start their relationship with The Chamber!
  • New business outreach:  Whenever we hear about a new business, we reach out right away, saying welcome and providing them with information on The Chamber.  We try to wait a few weeks before a business gets up and running - new businesses are obviously insanely busy, plus they have been deluged with similar calls, so we want to give them some breathing room!
Like I said, these are just some of the methods by which we engage in lead generation - and there are so many more out there - seminars, cold calling, contests, Social Media, etc.  We try to use as many of these methods as we can, but at the end of the day, like every business, there is only so much that we can do.

Here's the real question though: of the leads listed above, what specifically do you do that has proven to be helpful?  Please let us know in the comments - we'd love to hear from you!

Daily Briefing, 10/3/2011

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

According to a Morning Call report on the Pennsylvania census, Lehigh Valley residents are earning less and driving longer to get to their jobs.  In Easton, Safe Harbor began its era as an independent agency after it cut ties with the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley.  In Easton, Mayor Panto is fighting with the city's hometown hero, Larry Holmes.  In international news, Greece has missed its budget deficit targets despite austerity measures, further endangering the country's efforts at fiscal recovery.

Business Matters airs tonight at 8pm on WFMZ, featuring a debate on...well, just about everything!

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