Wednesday, October 31, 2012

D.C. Update with U.S. Senator Pat Toomey

The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation and Lehigh Valley Consortium of Professional Organizations present a D.C. Update with our special guest U.S. Senator Pat Toomey on Monday, November 19, 2012 at the University Center at DeSales University in Center Valley, PA.

Don't miss this important conversation concerning the November 6th elections and the makeup of the Congress as it relates to your business and our community.    

Monday, October 29, 2012

Don't Take Hurricane Sandy Lightly!

Good morning. As we're sure you are well aware, Hurricane Sandy is due to hit the region within a few hours and we thought it would be helpful to compile a list to help make sure you're fully prepared. Google has created a crisis map to track Hurricane Sandy as it makes landfall in the Mid-Atlantic region.

There's a good chance that many in the Lehigh Valley footprint could lose power, so hopefully you already stocked up on the essential non-perishables to get you through a few days. As far as last minute preparations, here's a video on last minute information you should know from Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Craig Fugate. If you don't absolutely need to be outside, don't go outside. If an area looks flooded, stay away from it. This will be a very slow-moving storm that could affect up to 50 million people.

Please keep in mind that the utility companies have done everything they can to prepare for this storm. Follow @PPLElectric on twitter for outage information if you're on twitter, they have a great response team and work hard to ensure the public is informed.

Most importantly, please err on the side of caution. Your safety is the number one priority. We hope that it doesn't affect the Lehigh Valley like the news outlets are saying it's going to, but it's just better to be prepared and use your head. Be safe, Lehigh Valley!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Lehigh Valley Goddesses: 2012 Athena Awards presented by The Chamber’s Women’s Business Council

We have a guest post today from Nancy Signorovitch, Director of Partner Relations for Discover Lehigh Valley. You can find the original post here.

Some honor Divas…but Lehigh Valley is one of 350 communities honoring Goddesses. On Tuesday I had the pleasure of attending the 2012 Athena Awards presented by the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Women’s Business Council.
The rainy weather could not dampen the spirits at Saucon Valley Country Club where the event was held. Upon arrival this year’s recipients were given beautiful corsages full of fall flowers which were carefully pinned to their jackets. What was equally impressive was the amount of corsages ordered for past honorees in attendance.
The festivities started with a champagne reception for the award winners past and present as well as the WBC Board of Directors of which I am a member. Originally this was designed to be an intimate gathering but the number of women who attend had the room packed. For most of these women, some now retired, it is a not-to-be-missed annual event and a reunion of sorts. Not one of these ladies slowed down at all!
This year’s Athena went to Stephanie Hnatiw, Executive Director at YWCA of Bethlehem. Her bio is too long to do it justice in this post but she lives up to the YWCA’s tag line of “eliminating racism, empowering women”. She also was one of the founding members and first chair of the Chamber’s “Executive Women’s Task Force” back in 1982.
The Athena Young Professional Award was presented to Michelle Chrin, Marketing Associate for Caruso Benefits Group. Equally deserving and a name that is sure to come up in many circles. Both ladies gave very moving and motivating acceptance speeches and by the end of the event the entire room buzzed with energy.
Lehigh Valley is home to so many great women leaders. Who do you think should be next year’s Athena Award winners?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Bangor Heritage Mural Is Complete

This article appeared in the October issue of our monthly Connections publication, written by Anne Baum, Chair of the Chamber Foundation.

The Bangor Heritage Mural (funded in part by a grant from Main Street Lehigh Valley) is complete. 

Bangor Borough and the Bangor Borough Business Revitalization Program (BBRP) partnered with Totts GapArts Institute (TGAI) and Todd Miller, owner of the Bangor Trust Building, to produce a Heritage Mural, on the Trust Building in the heart of our historic downtown business district. The mural was painted by student artists under the direction of James Gloria, art director at Totts Gap. The painting itself was an attraction, with people of all ages stopping by to watch the progress. Long time Bangor residents brought photos and stories of their ancestors who lived and worked in Bangor in the era depicted in the mural.  Most of the people in the mural were real folks who helped build Bangor. View photos of the Bangor Mural here.

Completion of the mural fulfills several strategic objectives in the BBRP-led Bangor Community Visioning Plan, adopted in 2009 and partially funded by an earlier grant from Main Street Lehigh Valley. Among those objectives are:

• Promotion and preservation of Bangor Heritage
• Highlight local art and artists
• Provide educational opportunity for the community
• Be a focal point for the proposed Bangor Historic District, to attract tourists and new investors

Execution of the mural involved no public or borough dollars. The MSLV grant stimulated so many donations in the form of financial assistance, in-kind professional services and volunteer labor. A local business owner donated the printing costs for high quality posters of the mural. We intend to sell the posters to raise funds for our next Bangor mural.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Growing Your Business in 2012 - Chocolate

Today's guest blog is from Carol Ritter, of

When all else fails, when all your ideas are washed up, when you think you can’t do it anymore - eat chocolate!  Even some nutritionists have found the hidden value in eating chocolate.  I spent this last week in “Chocolate World.”  Two nights at the Hershey Lodge and two nights at Hotel Hershey.  Both high quality resorts, both so much alike yet so different.  Each with it’s own uniqueness.  When I checked into the Hershey Lodge, the registration went smooth and, of course, they handed me a Hershey Bar.  I arrived at my room and two Hershey kisses were sitting on the bed. Finding my room was a bit difficult and then when I arrived my key didn’t work.  The gal failed to tell me that you had to go through this magic door to get to the other entrance of your room in order to get in.  I basically lost an hour of work running around, standing in line again etc.  Oops, but I was holding my chocolate.  So, apology was accepted.

When I checked into the Hotel Hershey, you received a choice of dark or light chocolate bar.  I chose dark.  When you are handed your key the clerk comes out from around the desk to greet you personally and invites you to use an escort to find your room.  That was extraordinary customer service.  When I left I realized I forgot my brief case which created quite a frenzy in my mind.  I can’t live without it, it has all my work in it.  I called the Hotel, talked with Chad and he told me he would go look for it immediately.  About 10 minutes later they called and said the words I was dying to hear, I FOUND IT!  Instant relief, I think I’ll eat some more smooth silky dark chocolate. 

Is your business Ordinary or Extraordinary?  And even more important, when something goes wrong for your customer are you willing and ready to jump off the phone and fix the problem, just like Hershey?

BTW, I drove back to the Hotel Hershey to get my briefcase, they sent me to security.  I needed to show ID, sign off, go through my briefcase to see if everything was still there and sign a form that said agreed that I was satisfied or not satisfied with the service. 

WOW, are all your customers willing to sign a form saying they are satisfied with your service even when something goes wrong?  Think about it, solving their problems is sometimes more important than the sale. Your reputation is the number one most important piece of your business. 

The moral of the story is that when things go wrong and they will, does your customer have something from you that calms the storm immediately.  It may be extraordinary customer service, it may be an occasional complimentary cup of coffee or it may even be a famous Hershey bar. 

It’s hard to get mad at your business when your customer knows you are extraordinary! 

Carol serves as a featured writer for the Home News and the Lehigh Valley Chamber Blog
Carol is an accomplished professional speaker, coach and educational consultant specializing in innovative leadership, outrageous fundraising, million dollar marketing, and building organizational alliances throughout the country.  Carol’s creative  leadership with bullet proof ideas for recruiting MORE MEMBERS, MORE MONEY AND BETTER LEADERS. 610-442-4545  Visit Carol on Facebook at Caroltalks

Monday, October 22, 2012

Daily Briefing, 10/22/12

Good morning, and happy Monday. We hope everyone had a nice relaxing weekend, now it's time to get back to work!

In local news, the Runner's World Half Marathon took place in Bethlehem, and a more casual Mutt Strutt Halloween Parade and 5K took place also took place over the weekend, drawing thousands of people to the historic district.

In national news, Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France medals, as well as being banned from life by cycling's governing body for using performance enhancing drugs. The third and final presidential debate between President Obama and Governor Romney will take place tonight at 9 p.m. EDT.

We have the Grand Opening of our Nazareth Office tonight, from 4:30 - 7 p.m. The office is located at 18 S. Main Street, right on the circle in downtown Nazareth. The ribbon cutting will take place at 4:45 and the open house from 5 - 7. Any and all are welcome to come out and help us celebrate the opening of our 5th Chamber office. Get the full schedule of events and information here. Hope to see you there! Have a great week.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Allentown Chamber of Commerce - Letter from the President

This article appeared in our October print issue of Connections, written by Bob Buck.
Bob Buck, Buckno, Lisicky & Company
Allentown Chamber President
610-821-8580 •

If you haven’t visited Allentown’s neighborhoods recently, I encourage you take a walk or drive around town.  It is certainly becoming an increasingly more charming place to live and work.

The gateway to our City from the North - 7th Street - has been undergoing a remarkable transformation the past few years. Massive fa├žade improvements to the retail shops, through design and grant assistance, has made a tremendously positive improvement to the aesthetics of this vital neighborhood.

The Old Allentown area, roughly between Linden and Liberty and 8th to 12th, has completed a beautiful streetscape project. Attractive “old fashioned” street signs, posts, trash   receptacles and other improvements rival any that I have seen in their design and beauty.

The “Heart of the City” area  surrounding Sacred Heart Hospital, Sacred Heart School and Parish, and Central Catholic High School also saw major infrastructure improvements earlier this year.  New curbing, turn-in lanes, sidewalks, light posts and banners all help to highlight the hidden gem that is this part of our great city.

In addition, the numerous new attractive solar trash compactors throughout the city appear to have already made a marked impact on the cleanliness and overall condition of the city through awareness and ease of use.

We also expect to shortly see progress on Phase One of the West End Theatre District infrastructure improvement project.  This will also   include more curbing, sidewalk, lighting and other enhancements.

These much-needed physical improvements to our infrastructure and is a great start to making our city great again.  Ultimately it is up to the dedication of the residents and private businesses to complete Allentown’s transformation.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Daily Briefing, 10/16/12

Good morning and happy Tuesday. Today is Boss' Day, so if you have the world's greatest boss make sure to let them know what a good job they're doing! If they're not doing a great job then feel free to skip this holiday.

In local news, National Penn Bancshares Inc., the parent company of KNBT, will move its headquarters into Two Center City, a part of the Allentown arena redevelopment project. The headquarters is due to be completed in 2014 and will employ 275 people. Longtime Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter passed away on Sunday night. Sen. Spector was the longest serving Pennsylvania senator and will be laid to rest today.

The Chamber will be hosting the Lehigh Valley Mayors' & Municipal Officials reception tonight at SteelStacks, where the Mayor of the Year will be announced. There's still time to vote for Mayor of the Year and help their community get a $1,000 grant toward downtown revitalization. The keynote speaker tonight is Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, look for an interview on an upcoming episode of Business Matters with Tony Iannelli.

The Annual Healthcare Summit will take place Thursday morning at Saucon Valley Country Club. The featured speaker is Joel Ario, former US Department of Health Administrator for President Obama. He will be speaking on "Healthcare in 2012: Is the Affordable Care Act good for business?" Please register here.

That's it for now, here's hoping you have a great and productive Tuesday!

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Annual Healthcare Summit is Thursday, October 18

Don't Miss the Chamber's Annual Healthcare Summit

KEYNOTE: Healthcare 2012: Is the ACA Good for Business?

SPEAKER:  Joel Ario, former US Dept. of Health Administrator for President Obama

REGISTER HERE - Only $40 for Chamber Members!

The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber’s Small Business Council and Healthcare Legislative Committee present the 2012 Health Care Summit on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at Saucon Valley Country Club (please note the date and location change!). Registration begins at 7:00 a.m. Breakfast will be served at 7:30 a.m. and the program will run from 8:00 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. 

Now that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the “Law of the Land,” how will it impact your business? 
What does it mean today and will it change after the November election?  
Will you be required to provide a certain health plan for your employees?  
What new taxes are in the Act and will you face more taxes if you don’t comply?  
If you hire more employees, how will your costs change? 
What do you really need to know to make employment related decisions in the future?  

Don’t miss this important opportunity to engage in an interactive dialogue with Mr. Ario and your fellow Chamber members in getting the answers to your questions in a factual, non-partisan forum!

Joel Ario, our keynote speaker, previously served as President Obama’s Director of the Office of Insurance Exchanges at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In addition, he was Governor Rendell’s Insurance Commissioner overseeing the state’s $85 billion insurance industry after serving as Oregon’s Insurance Administrator. Currently, Ario works independently in Washington, D.C. as both the Managing Director of Manatt Health Solutions and as a member of the “FuturePanel” of Leavitt Partners, headed by Mike Leavitt. Leavitt serves as Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney’s transition team chief focusing on a healthcare system with less federal regulation, more emphasis on free market principles, more choice for consumers and more latitude for states. 

Customized sponsorship opportunities are always available. If interested in sponsoring this event, please contact Frank Facchiano

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Daily Briefing, 10/11/12

Good morning, and happy Thursday Lehigh Valley!

Today we will be hosting another debate as State Rep. Ryan Mackenzie (R) & John Reynard (D) debate for the 134th Legislative District seat. This debate will be moderated by Tony Iannelli, President & CEO of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, and will be filmed to air on WFMZ Ch. 69 Business Matters prior to the election. The cost to attend is $18 for Chamber Member ($22 walk-ins) and $36 Non-Members, which includes networking, lunch and the debate.

In local news, the Treasury said smaller Pennsylvania banks increased lending by $379.1 million over their baseline lending. Named in the report was a local Bethlehem bank, Team Capital Bank, which increased small business lending by 38 percent, or $49 million, due to the infusion of $22.4 million in Small Business Lending Fund money. Vice President Biden and Republican Paul Ryan will face off tonight in the VP debate from 9 - 10:30 p.m. on various news channels.

Don't miss these upcoming Chamber events!

Lehigh Valley Mayors’ and Municipal Officials’ Annual Reception - October 16
The Chamber's Annual Healthcare Summit - October 18

Become a fan of The Chamber on facebook to follow all upcoming Chamber events.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Daily Briefing, 10/9/12

Good morning, and happy Tuesday! You've made it through the hardest part of the week... Monday.

Today we will be hosting a debate for the 131st Legislative District, between Rep. Justin Simmons (R) and Kevin Deely (D), Presented by the Southern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce. The debate will take place at 4 p.m. at DeSales University, so it's not too late to register to attend.

In local news, Jill Biden visited the Lehigh Valley yesterday to rev up the campaign staff in anticipation of Pennsylvania's voter registration deadline. Bethlehem Area Public Library successfully lobbied the city for federal grant money to apply renovations to the SouthSide branch.

In national news, soft drink manufacturers will begin displaying the calorie count of their sugary sodas on their vending machines ahead of regulations that will require them to do so in the near future. Walmart and American Express have teamed up to offer prepaid cards that promises no minimum balance requirements, no monthly fees, no annual fees, and no overdraft fees. The card is meant to benefit those that do not have a bank account.

Have a productive Tuesday!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Growing Your Business in 2012- Guts

We have a guest blog today from Carol Ritter of Carol Talks! Today's post focuses ways you can grow your business in the modern era.

I was sitting in a hotel lobby recently waiting to meet with one of my clients, checking my email and sipping on a warm cup of gingerbread coffee.  The General Manager, Jim, was behind the desk and it seemed a few of his golfing buddies from the past had come to pay a short visit.  “What happened to you.? What happened to your golf pro career?”  The GM replied, “I’m still teaching golf, I do it every day.”  His friend asked,  “How do you do it managing two hotels?”  “I teach every afternoon on my way home from work.  I leave work at 2:00 and my swing is better than it’s ever been.  I see retirement in two years and my wife and I are moving to Hawaii.”  I really starting to pay attention, asking myself,  “What’s this guy’s secret?” 

His buddies asked the same questions.  He proudly boasted, “Twelve years ago I was the happiest guy in the world.  Golf was my passion and I gave up a tiring career in hotel management and gave up a big salary to follow my dream.  One day a gentleman signed up for lessons and we started to chat.  He told me how he owns two hotels and needs a GM with a lot of experience, especially in handling people.  When he came back for his fourth lesson he asked me what would it take to leave here and run my hotels. I can’t think of a thing, I love my job.”  He then offered Jim an incredible salary with plenty of benefits.   Jim called him the next morning and said NO THANKS,  “I’m just love golfing too much.”

Two days later he brings his partner in to double team Jim.  “Jim, really, there has to be something we can give you to get you to leave and work for us.” He told Jim to write it down on a piece of paper and meet for lunch tomorrow.  So he did! 

Here’s what the note said - Buy me a house - I accept the salary and benefits - I work from 7-2 so I can still teach golf and I will sign a two year contract.  The partners said, “Congratulations Jim, see you Monday morning at 7am.” 

Now that takes a lot of guts, a little bit of luck and over the top courage.

Do you have guts and courage, both necessary as a business leader?  Are you willing to ask for something that seems impossible to take your business to the next level?  Are you able to identify lady luck when she plants her roots right in front of you?  And, do you surround yourself with people who would encourage you to at least consider those gutsy decisions?  Think about it....Next time it could be you!!

Carol serves as a featured writer for the Home News and the Lehigh Valley Chamber Blog

Carol is an accomplished professional speaker, coach and educational consultant specializing in innovative leadership, outrageous fundraising, million dollar marketing, and building organizational alliances throughout the country.  Carol’s creative  leadership with bullet proof ideas for recruiting MORE MEMBERS, MORE MONEY AND BETTER LEADERS. 610-442-4545  Visit Carol on Facebook at Caroltalks

Friday, October 5, 2012

Nazareth Business Council Elects President

The Nazareth Business Council, proud partner of The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, located on Main Street in Nazareth, Pennsylvania has elected Paul Luongo, Senior Advisor for Merchants National Bank and Manager of the Nazareth Branch of Merchants Bank as it’s founding President.  Also, Megan van Ravenswaay, Whitefield House Site Director for the Moravian Historical Society was elected as Vice President. 
Paul has extensive experience working with the Easton Business Association, the Greater Easton Development Partnership and the Board of Directors for The State Theatre. Paul has assisted in the development and institution of a number of programs attributed to the success of the new and improved Downtown Easton.  Paul believes: People have and will continue to go to the Box Stores for what they need but will go downtown for what they want and this is the fundamental basis for a revitalization effort and is excited to apply his experiences to this effort in Nazareth. His goal is to work with other organizations to develop Nazareth as a destination for what people want.  Paul and the Nazareth Business Council are excited to provide the leadership necessary to make a shared vision a reality.
When not working Paul has a passion for acting and has appeared in many feature films, television shows and commercials.  Paul resides in Tatamy with his two children. 
Paul and Megan will welcome guests at the Nazareth Chamber Office Grand Opening on Monday October 22, 2012. Contact Marlyn Kissner at to register for the event.
For more information regarding the Nazareth Business Council visit us at, click on Councils, click on “Nazareth”.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Daily Briefing. 10/4/12

Good morning and happy Thursday. Today is the 278th day of the year, and there are 88 days remaining in 2012.

In case you missed last night's Presidential debate, you can catch up on what happened here.

In local news, UGI Utilities and the city of Allentown reached a settlement over the 2011 natural gas explosion in Allentown that killed five people. UGI will speed up the replacement of the cast iron pipes and pay a fine of $386,000. "Bodies Revealed" opens this weekend at the Da Vinci Science Center, expected to attract more than 100,000 visitors during its run through February 10.

Facebook has exceeded one billion users, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced yesterday. The social networking site now reaches one out of every 7 people in the world.

Happy birthday to our Member Relations and Major Events Coordinator, Kara Johnson!

That's all for now, have a great and productive day!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Daily Briefing, 10/3/12

Good morning and happy hump day! You're almost halfway through the work week.

In local news, A state judge has blocked Pennsylvania's tough voter-identification law from taking full effect during the November election yesterday. Voters will be asked for proper ID, but will still be allowed to cast ballots if they don't have it. Allentown now has the money it needs to build the hockey arena at 7th & Hamilton after selling out the bonds yesterday in just 4 hours for nearly a quarter billion dollars. Beginning next month, the city of Bethlehem will consider the possibility of naming a single contractor to haul the city's trash, which could save residents money and eliminate the complications of having 19 different haulers collecting throughout the city.

In national news, the private sector added roughly 162,000 jobs during the month of September and mortgage applications rose to a three-year high.

Have a great day!D

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Daily Briefing, 10/2/12

Good morning and happy Tuesday!

The Chamber hosted the Lehigh Valley Energy & Environment Conference & Summit on Friday at the Mack Truck Customer Center. The event was well attended and there were various discussions detailing how businesses can go green to save money. The featured speaker was Patrick Collignon, Senior Vice President, Americas Cab & Vehicle Assembly Volvo Group Trucks Operation, who spoke on "Lean Manufacturing, Continuous Improvement and Waste Reduction." Our next major event is the Lehigh Valley Mayors’ and Municipal Officials’ Annual Reception at SteelStacks, which takes place on Tuesday, October 16, with Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia as the featured speaker. Register here.

In local news, the owner of the former Dixie Cup plant in Wilson is seeking KOZ approval to transform the property into apartments and office space in the next few years. Easton Mayor Sal Panto has unveiled a 2013 proposal that increases spending 8% without any raises in resident's property taxes.

That's all for now, we'll check in with you later. Have a great and productive day!