Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What comes next in the Republican race for President

The Florida Primary is being held as I type this; if polls are any indication, Mitt Romney is expected to cruise to an easy win.  However, the race won't end after tonight, no matter what happens.  So, what comes next in the race for the Republican nomination?

  • On February 4, Nevada is holding their Presidential caucuses.  Given its proximity to Utah and high Mormon population, Mitt Romney is expected to win, though Ron Paul's campaign has shown a high degree of organizational prowess in caucus states.  
  • Next up is the Maine caucuses, to be held on February 4 - February 11.
  • On February 7, three caucuses are held:  Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota.
  • February 28 sees the next two primaries held - Arizona and Michigan.  As the son of the former Governor, Romney is the likely favorite in Michigan.
  • On March 3, Washington State holds their Caucuses.
  • March 6 is the big day: Super Tuesday.  Primaries will be held in Georgia, Massachusetts, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia & Vermont, with caucuses held in Alaska, Idaho and North Dakota.
How about the never-ending series of Republican debates?
  • Believe it or not, there are no debates for three weeks.  The next debate is February 22, in Arizona, sponsored by CNN and the Republican Party of Arizona.
  • The next debate is before Super Tuesday on March 1, in Georgia, sponsored by CNN and the Georgia Republican party.  
But, here is the real question - will the primaries go this long?  What do you think?

Daily Briefing, 1/31/2012

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

The Valley added 1,300 jobs in December, lowering the unemployment rate to 8.4%.  The Florida Republican is today; final polls all show Mitt Romney with a significant lead.

That's it for now (yes, I know, slow news day!).  We'll be back later.

Monday, January 30, 2012

What could blow up the economy in 2012

As we previously blogged about, we held our Economic Outlook event last week.  The event reviewed likely global, national and local economic trends and was extremely informative for anyone who has an interest in how the economy turns out in 2012.

The consensus of the event was continued, if gradual, economic recovery in just about every sector, even the labor market.  However, according to Dr. Jay Bryson of Wells Fargo, three items have the potential to destroy the economic in 2012.  We wanted to review what those three possibilities are:

  • Increasing geo-political tensions: The entire world is a hotspot, but political and military actions have the potential to seriously hinder economic recovery.  Iran, for example, has been threatening to block off the Straits of Hormuz, and US officials have not ruled out military action to keep the Straits open.  If the Straits are blocked, however, that could drive oil up to $150 a barrel - which would be a $50 increase from where it is today.  That is not something our economy could absorb.  
  • Possible shut-down of federal bond market:  Our debt has, without question, grown sustainability over the past few years, and the time may come where investors refuse to by U.S. bonds.  However, according to Dr. Bryson, this remains unlikely in the immediate future, as the U.S. continues to be viewed as a solid investment.  This issue must be addressed in the long-term, however.
  • Europe debt crisis:  The European debt crisis "blowing up" is the item here that is most likely.  There are numerous European countries in which debt default is some level of possibility.  Greece is the country most likely to default, but other countries have that risk as well, including Spain and Italy.  Italy could cause the biggest problem - if it were to default, that's $3 trillion in debt down the tubes.  The U.S. itself does not hold a huge portion of the debt of any of these countries - but many of our trading partners do - and if these countries go down, the domino effect could hurt the U.S. as well.
So, what do you think?  Any threats that we missed?  Let us know in the comments!

Daily Briefing, 1/30/2012

Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing...on a very slow news day!

In state-wide news, Pennsylvania has begun to seek funding to plan and implement a state-wide insurance exchange.  The Pennsylvania GOP met over the weekend and endorsed Steve Welsh for Senate, David Freed for Attorney General, Diana Irey Vaughn for Treasurer and John Maher for Auditor General.

We have one Chamber event today: a grand opening at Antonella's Bakery in Easton.

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

Friday, January 27, 2012

Daily Briefing, 1/27/2012

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

In Allentown, acting Superintendent Russ Mayo has had the acting removed from his name and is now the Superintendent of the Allentown School District.  In Lehigh County, County Executive Don Cunningham has said that he will veto the property tax reassessment passed unanimously by the Board of Commissioners.

In state-wide news, legislative redistricting is now in a holding pattern, with districts now still in the old 2001 lines - something that may remain through the 2012 election.

In national news, Republicans debated for the final time before the Florida primary.

We have one Chamber event today: the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is holding an event on networking.

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

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Chamber has taken another public policy position - and we're pretty confident that this is one that everyone in the Valley can pretty much get behind.

There are currently two full-times Federal judges serving the Lehigh Valley area - but there should be three.  As a result, clients who are in federal court, as well as their attorneys, must travel to Philadelphia, wasting much time, energy and money that could be spent here, in the Valley.  The lack of a third judge is a disservice to the Valley.

As a result, Tony Iannelli, our President & CEO, as well as Dan Labert, Executive Director of the Lehigh County Bar Association, sent the letter below to Senators Casey (D), Toomey (R) and President Obama.  The lack of a third judge hinders our legal system and does not favors to justice or the legal process.  A third federal judge could also result in a reopened facility in Easton.

Check out the letter below for more info:

Federal Judge Letter - Senator Toomey

Daily Briefing, 1/26/2012

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

Joe Paterno's funeral was held yesterday.  Lehigh County Commissioners voted to proceed with reassessment, over Executive Don Cunningham's objections.  Commissioners also appointed Mike Schware to the vacancy on the Board of Commissioners.  Ryan Mackenzie announced that he will seek the Republican nomination in the 134th Legislative District, Doug Reichley's old seat.

In state-wide news (and this is a big one), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court invalidated the state legislative redistricting maps.  That being said, no opinion has been released yet, so it is still unknown how this will affect candidates.

In national news, the Federal Reserve yesterday said that it expects to keep interest rates low through 2014.  Republican Presidential candidates debate tonight, one last time before the Florida primary on 1/31.

Today's is a busy day in Chamber world, with three events: a mixer at Braveheart's Highland Pub in Hellertown, a mixer at Allentown Symphony Hall with the Lehigh Valley Easy Pages and a President's Roundtable with Jim Koch of the Boston Beer Company.

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

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The economy in 2012

As you may have read, the Chamber held its annual Economic Outlook event yesterday.  In front of 550 people, local and national experts discussed the likely state of the economy in 2012.  In case you missed it, here's a recap of the event in the media:
Yes, the headlines tell it all: the economy is actually slowly recovering.  Hiring has averaged 150,000 for the past three months and GDP continues to slowly grow.  Corporations are sitting on more cash than they have in years and the business-to-business sector continues to grow phenomenally.  When it comes to hiring, however, the local picture remains cloudy - the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton area has the 2nd highest rate of unemployment of any area in Pennsylvania, and the real unemployment level is closer to 16% when you factor in those who have stopped looking for work (that number is NOT factored into the unemployment numbers that you hear about regularly).

For a look at the live tweets of the event, check out the hashtag #ChamberEO.

And, of course, let us know what you think about the state of the economy in 2012!

Daily Briefing, 1/25/2012

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

In Lehigh County, County Commissioners are set to vote on whether or not to proceed with a property tax reassessment.  The Chamber held its annual Economic Outlook event, and the verdict was a good one - the economy isn't doing THAT badly!  In the Parkland School District, a preliminary agreement with the teacher's union calls for a pay freeze for teachers.  The preliminary budget also contains a 4.96% tax hike.  Matt Cartwright of Scranton has announced that he will challenge Congressman Tim Holden in a Democratic Primary.

In state-wide news, a state government panel voted to approve legislation that would shrink the size of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

In national news, President Obama delivered his State of the Union address yesterday; the Republican response was delivered by Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana.  Here's some good news; economic confidence is at the highest its been since May.

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

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Daily Briefing, 1/24/2012

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

Phil Mitman announced his resignation from the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation yesterday, effective April 30.  North Whitehall Township formally hired Jeff Bartlett as the Township's first ever manager.  Jim Smith, a lawyer from Berks County, announced his candidacy for State Representative in the 134th Legislative District.  That seat was formally held by Doug Reichley.   In school board news, the East Penn School District's and Whitehall-Coplay School District's preliminary budget calls for a 3.2% tax increase, while the Nazareth Area School District calls for a 2% hike.  In the Bethlehem Area School District, the tax hike is 4%.

President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address today.  The four Republican candidates remaining for President debated yesterday in Florida.  Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) suffered a stroke yesterday.

We have one Chamber event today, and its a big one: our annual Economic Outlook.  Make sure to follow the event live on twitter at #ChamberEO.

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

Friday, January 20, 2012

Growing Your Small Business in 2012 - Reinvent Yourself

Hello everyone!  Another day, another guest blog entry, again from Carol Ritter of Carol Talks.

I recently walked into Starbucks for my usual, a small cup of coffee.  I walked  toward the gal who would take my order.  Wasn’t paying much attention then I looked up and I saw “YELLOW”.  It was so obvious it made me curious, so instead of ordering my coffee I went to see what the “YELLOW” was all about.  It was the new Starbucks Blonde campaign, blonde coffee, blonde travel mugs, blonde ceramic mugs and new blonde packaging.  What a great idea!  When we walk into Starbucks we generally see green and during the holidays we see red.  As customers we are used to the consistent brand Starbucks offers.  But we are not used to “BLONDE” and “YELLOW” it’s not the normal color you see when you stop in for your cup of Joe.

Reinventing yourself is as critical as creating a sense of urgency for your business.  Consumers get tired of the ‘same old same old’ real quick.  It doesn’t matter if you are a dentist, an auto repair business or whether you are a small bank, you can and must reinvent yourself a minimum of once a year.

6 Basic Reinvent Yourself Ideas for Any Business- Give-em a HOOK

  • A Dentist can - take his or her practice on the road - network & sponsor events
  • Auto Repair can begin- BIG Inspection Thursdays - $10 off if you bring car in on Thursday or give away free lunch to first appointment of the day
  • A Bank can start Charity months, pick a charity each month and match what your customers donate
  • Restaurants - Mad Mondays - Create a Monday menu with meals you don’t usually carry
  • Printing - offer free business cards for every new customer on Fridays
  • Any business can partner with another like business, if you buy from me get a coupon to shop with a partner biz

Who would have thought that “YELLOW” could be so prominent and create so much curiosity.  My guess is that the coffee is the same, the travel mug style has been sold before but now that’s it’s the ‘blonde’ campaign and packaged so uniquely; it’s new and exciting.  Maybe you could take your business “BLONDE”; I heard it’s more fun!!

Daily Briefing, 1/20/2011

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

Weather incoming: 2.5 inches of snow may hit the ground by Saturday morning.  In Upper Macungie, planners approved a new plant for Ocean Spray.

In national news, Republicans debated before the South Carolina primary, which is tomorrow.  Texas Governor Rick Perry dropped out of the race yesterday and endorsed Newt Gingrich.  Kodak has filed for bankruptcy.

We have one Chamber event today: the Small Business Council is having an event on positioning your business for future excellence.

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

Thursday, January 19, 2012

This Week With Tony - Buy Lehigh Valley Expo!

We have another major Chamber event coming up - our annual Buy Lehigh Valley Expo.  In the video below, Tony, Joellen and Liz talk about the upcoming event and what makes this year's special.  Enjoy!

Daily Briefing, 1/19/2012

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

In Bethlehem, possible replacement candidates for Controller have until January 31 to submit their resumes to City Council.  In Allentown, the head of the city's EMS has resigned after guiding through controversial new changes.  In the Allentown School District, taxes may rise as much as 7.37%.  The Sands in Bethlehem had the best revenue growth of any Pennsylvania casino.  Northampton County recommended the approval of a new contract with the County's Social Services Union.

In national news, official results of the Iowa caucuses will be released today; the end results may show that Rick Santorum won.

We have two Chamber events today: a Young Professionals event on stress relief and a grand opening at SourceOne Accountants.

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

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Five tips for a great webinar

The other day, I met with Chamber Members Wolper Subscription Services to discuss their upcoming webinar.  We've used webinars, with great success, let others know the benefits of Chamber membership and allow our Chamber members the opportunity to speak with others on areas of their expertise.  Webinars can be great tools, if done right; they can also be insanely boring if done wrong.  Here are some tips on the right way to host a Webinar.

1.  Data collection - do it right:  When you register for any Webinar, you have to fill out basic information - but, most webinars allow you to ask for more.  Get someone's position in the company.  Ask what kind of business their company does.  Make sure to collect data that is related to your objectives for holding the webinar, be it sales info, accounting, etc.  You can also usually have somone answer a pre-webinar question or two that can help you create the content that they are looking for.

2.  Short slides, brief bullets:  It is much better to have twenty slides with two bullets each than five slides with eight bullets.  To keep someone's attention, you have to make webinar slides brief and bullets short.

3.  Make it interactive:  One of the problems with webinars is "drift."  Someone can be sitting at their computer, their attention can wander and BOOM, they're on Facebook and no longer paying attention to what you have to say.  To limit that, make your presentation interactive...have numerous poll questions and surveys.  Use the highlighting and pointer features to try and grab someone's attention.  Don't just give a power point presentation...odds are decent you will lose your attendees.

4.  Practice and prepare:  Nothing looks worse than being unprepared for a webinar...having slides out of order, having animation that doesn't work right, etc.  It makes it look like you didn't run through your presentation first...something you'd never do in a real world presentation.  Treat your webinar the same way - practice it and proof the slides ahead of time.  Make sure that everything looks the way it should and that nothing will appear on the presentation that surprises you.

5.  Follow up right:  Most webinars allow you to send out a pretty standard follow-up, thanking your attendees for coming.  Don't settle there; send them a white paper.  Ask them to fill out an evaluation.  Give them a special offer for attending.  Make sure that there is some wort of benefit to the attendee that goes beyond having just attended the webinar.

Daily Briefing, 1/18/2012

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

In Allentown, teachers approved a three-year contract that called for a one year pay freeze.  At Allentown City Hall, Managing Director Ken Bennington announced his resignation.  In the Bethlehem Area School District, the preliminary budget hikes taxes 4%.  The Wilson Area School District's preliminary budget raises taxes 1.8%.  In Emmaus, Shane Pipe was hired yesterday as the new Borough Manager.  In Macungie, Council voted to restore funding cuts made earlier - this will likely result in a larger tax increase.

In state-wide news, Congressman Todd Platts (R-PA) announced yesterday that he will retire from Congress.

We have two Chamber events today: a review of the latest in Social Media rules & regulations and a tour of the Nestle Pure Life Facility.

That's it for now!  Have a great day and we'll try to get back to you later.  Have a good one!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Daily Briefing, 1/16/2012

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

In local news, a WFMZ story notes that Valley libraries are now offering eBooks for borrowing.  In national news, Jon Huntsman is dropping out of the Presidential race and will be endorsing Mitt Romney later this week.

That's about it...yes, slow news day.  Anyway, have a good one, and we'll see you either later today or tomorrow!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Job Opening

Hello, everyone!  Another job opening to share.  As always, if you have a job opening that you'd like published on the blog, please E-mail it to me at mikes@lehighvalleychamber.org.

Have a great weekend!

Position Description
January 2012

The Editor is a critical member of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley staff, responsible for the publication of the organization’s monthly community newspaper, HAKOL (the Hebrew word for “the voice”).

The only Jewish newspaper in the Lehigh Valley area, HAKOL serves as the primary source of Jewish news and information for 4,000 families in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. It is published 11 times a year (one summer issue) and averages 28 to 32 pages in the main section. Six special sections are published each year, ranging from 12 to 16 pages.  HAKOL is advertiser supported. It is mailed directly to homes for free and is also published in its entirety online.

In addition to providing general Jewish news, HAKOL serves as a primary communication vehicle for the Jewish Federation, as well as other affiliated Jewish agencies. The tabloid serves to promote the mission of the Federation, a non-profit organization that helps Jews in the Lehigh Valley, in Israel and around the world.

HAKOL is governed by an Editorial Board.  Production is supported by a layout/graphic design associate and an advertising salesperson.  The Editor reports directly to the Director of Marketing.  HAKOL is a member of the American Jewish Press Association.

The Editor is a hand-on project manager who works independently and in coordination with staff and community resources to deliver the newspaper and other publications on deadline.


Coordinate and manage content, layout and design of newspaper – allocating print space for story text, photos, advertising, and illustrations according to space parameters and copy significance, using knowledge of layout principles and aesthetics
Work in conjunction with director of marketing and other Federation staff
Interact with community and agency/synagogue representatives to collect, edit, fact check newsworthy articles and information listings
Review and select articles and releases from wire service (JTA) or other national sources (JFNA, JAFI, JDC, etc.); edit article length as needed
Responsible for checking copy for spelling and grammar errors, inconsistencies, incorrect facts, day/date consistencies
Develop special feature sections and assign or source feature articles from volunteers and freelance writers
Create annual editorial and special features calendar
As determined, attend Federation and other community programs to cover them as news articles; may be responsible for photography at specific Federation events
Recruit and manage volunteer and freelance writers
Responsible for publication of Shalom Lehigh Valley, a Jewish Guide to Life in the Lehigh Valley (This is a free standing, comprehensive directory of local Jewish resources)
Work in coordination with the Advertising Representative to oversee advertising sales, content, contract questions, resolve advertiser issues
Evaluate earnings, revenue streams for appropriate decision making; work with appropriate staff to develop analysis and evaluation tools
Serve as a liaison to the Editorial Board
Work with print vendors, mail house and post office


This is an exempt position and may require some evening and weekend hours


BA, or equivalent, preferred
Excellent writing skills
Ability to organize and schedule work effectively and efficiently, juggling multiple projects at once
Maintain attention to detail and the big picture
Ability to work well with and manage others
Oversee each issue/publication from content, to design layout, through production and distribution
Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods
Sound editorial judgment
Ability to work on deadlines, staying focused and calm under pressure
Creativity and intellectual curiosity a plus
Must be computer literate; preference for expertise in using Adobe InDesign; familiarity with PhotoShop and Illustrator a plus
Knowledge and understanding of Jewish practices, customs, history, and community organization is helpful, but not required

HAKOL can be viewed online at:  http://www.jewishlehighvalley.org/hakol.aspx

Daily Briefing, 1/13/2012

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

Be careful outside today, as a wind advisory is in effect until 6pm.  In state-wide news, Pennsylvania has the 2nd highest rate of air pollution in the entire U.S. when it comes to pollution from power plants and refineries.  Vice President Biden will be in neighboring Bucks County today to discuss college costs.  Two marines have been identified in the video that features four marines urinating on Taliban corpses.

We have one Chamber event today - the kick-off of our LGBT business initiative.

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

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Guest Blog Post: Growing Your Small Business in 2012- Grow Your Business - Be Outrageous

We have a guest blog post today from an outstanding Chamber Member, Carol Ritter of Carol Talks.  The topic is incredibly timely - how can you grow your business?

Read on for more!
This is the first in a series of articles with bullet proof, completely tested ideas for growing your small business.  I remember when I coached softball many years ago.  I just wanted to be a coach and help kids learn about softball, team work and, most importantly, build character.   When I took on the sport, I didn’t realize, I needed umpires, I needed a team mother, I needed to attend meetings and I needed to gather a team to work on the fields.  I liken that to running a small business.

As an example, let’s take Angela who loves to cook and is really good at it.  Will she grow her business simply by the overwhelming aroma of fresh made bread and the wonderful taste of her Italian specialties.  Possibly, but probably not.  She will build her business by strategically positioning herself in the community, offering outrageous deals and consistently driving people through the doors.

The secret to her success is her ability to handle and explore risk not necessarily the taste of her food.   You cannot see outrageous growth without risk.  If Angela or you are content with middle of the road success and just paying the bills then don’t read the following Top Ten Ways to Grow Your Business Outrageously.
1. Design and implement an outrageous marketing plan
2. Be willing to spend money to make money
3. Hire talent with personality (this is huge for customer service)
4. Create a sense of urgency for your buyer (they can’t live without your product)
5. Teach your customer many reasons why they should shop with you (Valentines Day offer Dinner for Two created by Angela) (Wild Wednesdays with wild discounts)
6. Know your competition - and be outrageously bigger and better (an example of this is the home of the mile high lasagna)
7. Ask your customers what they would like to buy (consider new things on your menu)
8. Reinvent yourself at least every two years (let your customers see new and exciting)
9. Create an atmosphere of outrageous service (so lacking in this world, be known for service, when customers feel great they will purchase and pay for your product)
10. Don’t be afraid of free (always be willing to do something or give something for free, the world loves that, maybe recipe of the month online, customers can submit their recipes and vote on best recipe win dinner for two once a month)

I used an Italian restaurant as an example but this could work for most small businesses.  Don’t be the ho hum, run of the mill business in your community.  BE THE MOST OUTRAGEOUS IN PRODUCT, IDEAS AND CUSTOMER SERVICE.  Wishing you a very prosperous and outrageous New Year
Carol is an accomplished professional speaker, coach and educational consultant specializing in remarkable leadership, outrageous fundraising, million dollar marketing, and building organizational alliances throughout the country.  Carol’s innovative strategies provide leadership with bullet proof ideas for recruiting MORE MEMBERS, MORE MONEY AND BETTER LEADERS. www.caroltalks.com 

From the Nazareth Patch

This great article ran earlier today in the Nazareth Patch about an upcoming Chamber initiative - a Lesbian, Gay, Transgender & Bisexual (LGBT) Chamber.  We are holding a kick-off event tomorrow.

Check out the article below:

By Margie Peterson

Those in the Lehigh Valley who would like to turn back the clock on gay rights can pack it in right now. Game over. The fat lady has sung.

I say that because the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce – not exactly a charter member of Queer Nation -- is holding a kick-off event Friday morning for its new Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) Business Initiative. Doors open at 7:30 a.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn Allentown Bethlehem Airport at 1787-B Airport Road in Allentown.

It’s the first step toward starting an LGBT council within the Chamber that would provide networking and other opportunities and resources for LGBT business owners and employees.

I can think of few more solid indicators that the gay rights movement has arrived than to have such a bastion of the establishment embrace it. The LGBT council will join other groups within the Chamber, such as the Women’s Business Council and the Young Professionals Council, as a sort of chamber within a Chamber.

Tony Iannelli, president of the Lehigh Valley Chamber, which he says is the ninth largest in the nation, acknowledged that establishing an LGBT council has “raised a few eyebrows.” But he said it is both good for business and the right thing to do.

“What has made us successful is when we feel there’s a demand…we try to recognize that market and build a partnership with it,” he said.

Some of the larger companies in the Valley, such as PPL and Air Products, already have gay and lesbian resource groups that meet in the workplace.

“When PPL created domestic partnership benefits for their employees it really came out of requests from this group,” according to Adrian Shanker, president of Equality Pennsylvania, a nonprofit advocacy group for the LGBT community. “It’s not controversial anymore to say that the business community supports the idea that people should be employed based on their talent, not their sexual orientation. It’s in their best interest to have a top, talented workforce.”

If only Harrisburg would catch up. “Just about everyone else is leaps and bounds ahead of our state Legislature who has yet to vote on a non-discrimination law,” said Shanker, who worked with the Valley Chamber on Friday’s LGBT council kick-off.

A poll last year showed 69 percent of Pennsylvanians support prohibiting discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation, yet the Legislature drags its feet.

Iannelli told me that many Chambers around the country don’t join forces with groups representing a certain demographic, as his organization does with the Lehigh Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “You have got to be open and flexible to building partnerships to these varying communities,” he said.

Maybe that’s how the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber got to be among the largest in the country – by avoiding backward thinking.

Daily Briefing, 1/12/2011

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

The Easton Area School District is looking at a $7.6 million deficit this year.  The Bethlehem Area School District will likely see taxes rise 4%.  Also in Bethlehem, the city is letting ArtsQuest pay its 2011 bill late as a result of ArtsQuests' financial difficulties.  State Representative Joseph Emrick announced yesterday that he will run for reelection.  In Lehigh County, County Commissioners may proceed with reassessment, despite a request from the County Executive not to do so.

In state-wide news, Republican State Senator John Rafferty has dropped out of the Attorney General's race,  leaving Cumberland County DA Dave Freed as the only GOP candidate.

In national news, foreclosures are at their lowest rate since 2007.  Natural gas is at its lowest price in a decade.

We have one Chamber event today: a free mixer at Chianti's Restaurant.

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

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

This Week With Tony - Your Chamber Membership Plan

You've heard me say it before - by joining the Chamber, you qualify for multiple benefits, including:

  • Access to 20-30 events a month, with at least five of those being completely free.
  • Over $4,000 in free marketing value.
  • Multiple discounted purchasing & insurance programs.
One of the things we have found that some struggle with, however, is knowing which programs to take advantage of.  To that end, we have an outstanding group of Chamber volunteers, the Ambassadors, who work with members to make sure that they are getting the most out of their Chamber membership.  Our Ambassadors are now able to work with any member and develop a customized Chamber Membership Plan, designed to help that member use their Chamber membership to the fullest.

For more info, watch the video below, or E-mail me at mikes@lehighvalleychamber.org.

Daily Briefing, 1/11/12

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

Citing a volatile real estate market, Lehigh County will be scraping its reassessment plans for now.  In Allentown, Jaindl properties has announced that it will look to engage in development along Allentown's waterfront.  Also in the city, Allentown's planning board approved work on the arena project.  In Easton, City Council heard a presentation on red-light cameras.

In state-wide news, Pennsylvania is changing the way in which it gives out food stamps, creating an asset test which would bar those who have over a certain amount in assets from receiving stamps.

In national news, Mitt Romney won big in New Hampshire yesterday.  The next race is the South Carolina primary on January 21.  The CEO of Fannie Mae, Michael Williams, is going to resign.

We have one Chamber event today: a municipal update from the Southern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce.

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

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

When is the best time to share something on a Social Network?

Recent studies show that Social Networking is the most popular activity on the internet today, with 23% of all time spent online spent on a Social Network of some kind.  Of course, this makes perfect sense, and as we have said repeatedly in the past, this leads to ample opportunity for your business to make more money.

Now, all of that being said, like everything else in the world, social media use for your business comes down to timing.  When should you share information on a Social Media site in order to make the most impact?  The answer may surprise you.

Check out this infographic.  According to the research done by Kissmetrics:

  • The best time to tweet if you are trying to get Retweeted, is in the afternoon - the most retweets occur at 5pm.
  • Wednesday is the most popular day of the week to tweet when it comes to click-throughs.
  • The best time to tweet for click-throughs is at noon or 6pm.
  • For Facebook, it's a different story - Saturday is when the most articles are shared.  Most shares are done at noon (no data on click-throughs though...to bad).  
  • If you are trying to get likes, you should share no more than once every two days.
Also, this is completely to anecdotal, so take it for what it's worth, but some time ago, we analyzed our blog hits and discovered that 12pm was the most popular time for this blog to be read.  Accordingly, we started publishing our second posts of the day at noon.  Now, for this blog, that makes intuitive sense - it tends to be work and business oriented, so most of our hits will occur during the work day - but for your blog, it may be different.  My point is this: check out your analytics and see what makes the most sense for you.

Daily Briefing, 1/10/12

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

The fate of the bi-county Lehigh Valley Health Board is still up in the air, with the possibility existing that the board could still be formally established.  Lehigh Valley housing sales rose 10% in the month of December compared to the same time last year.

In national news, Bill Daley is stepping down as Chief of Staff to President Obama - Jack Lew, the President's Budget Director, will take his place.  The New Hampshire primary is today - Mitt Romney will likely win easily, and the real race is for second between John Huntsman and Ron Paul.

We have two Chamber events today: an employer update with the Pennsylvania Secretary of Labor & Industry, Julia Hearthway, and a Harrisburg update with the Greater Northern Chamber.

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

Monday, January 9, 2012

Uncertainty Reigns: A look at some of the tax cuts that expired on Dec 31 (but may come back!)

As this story so accurately points out, on December 31, 50 tax cuts (for both individuals and businesses) expired.  Okay, fine, so what's the problem?

The issue here is that Congress may choose to reenact any or all of these taxes - and do so retroactively.  For the average individual, the uncertainty may not mean all that much, but for those in the financial planning, accounting, investing or tax sector, this presents a nightmare - planning is very difficult, if not flat out impossible.

Among the tax cuts that are set to expire -

Individual tax cuts:

  • Tax break for employees who use mass transit and had their expenses subsidized by their employers.  
  • Option to deduct income tax or state and local taxes.  
  • Certain mortgage insurance deductions.
  • School teacher tax deduction for teachers who use their own money to purchase supplies for their classrooms. 
  • Tuition deduction on higher education.
  • Larger deductions for those who file the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).  
  • Conversion credit for plug-in cars.

Business tax cuts:

  • Tax deductions that would allow businesses to speed up depreciation deductions.
  • Tax credit for ethanol.
  • Tax credit for R&D expenses.
  • Tax credit for construction of some "new energy" homes.

Job Openings

We have one Job Opening today, just read on.  As always, if you are a Chamber Member and have a job opening you are looking to advertise, just E-mail it to me at mikes@lehighvalleychamber.org.  Thanks!

Administrative Support Specialist
Salary: $12.54/hr.
Hours:  35 hrs/wk.  8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Flex)
Description: Front desk receptionist for busy children’s services organization in Allentown.  Also, providing administrative support services to staff. Responsibilities include answering phones, greeting clients, word processing, data entry, mail handling, and special projects.
Requirements: High School Diploma or GED.  Front desk and multiline phone system experience a must. Basic MS Suite computer skills, including Excel, Word and Outlook.  Ability to multitask. Must be customer service oriented. Experience with office equipment. Bilingual (English/ Spanish).  Must be able to work a flexible schedule for staff coverage. Car and valid driver's license, and reliable transportation.
Submit Resume at  www.cscinc.org  EOE

Daily Briefing, 1/9/2012

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

In local news, Easton has officially taken over its very successful Weed and Seed program after the state cut the funding for the program.  In state-wide news, WFMZ runs a story on what the state legislature is expecting to deal with in 2012.  In national news, the New Hampshire primary is tomorrow, with final polling showing Mitt Romney well ahead of the rest of the pack.

We have two Chamber events today, both in downtown Allentown:  today is First Monday and the beginning of Restaurant Week.

That's basically it for now; another slow Monday.  Have a great day, and we'll see you later!

Friday, January 6, 2012

A closer look at the unemployment numbers

A report just released shows that unemployment decreased again in December, dropping down to 8.5%, with 200,000 jobs created in December and a total of 1.6 million jobs created in 2011.  This, of course, is good news (though certainly not fast enough for the 8.5% still employed).  Unemployment is at its lowest rate in almost three years, since February 2009.

That being said, the recession's aftermath is absolutely hurting some groups greater than others:

  • Among teenagers, unemployment is 23.1%.
  • Among blacks, unemployment is at 15.8% and 11% among Hispanics.  Whites are facing unemployment of 7.5%, while Asians are at 6.8%.   This month saw little change.
  • 42.5% of the unemployed had been so for more than 27 weeks.  This month saw little change.
The numbers this month were positive, but stubborn challenges remains.

Daily Briefing, 1/6/2011

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

In local news, Senator Bob Casey spoke yesterday at a Chamber event.  North Whitehall township is set to hire their first full-time manager.  In Allentown, graves near the site of last week's sinkhole will not have to be exhumed.  In state-wide news, Senate Democrats are filing a lawsuit to stop the movement of a Senate seat from the western part of the state to the east.  In national news, a possible vote discrepancy has arisen that may result in Rick Santorum actually having won the Iowa caucuses.  A new jobs report will be released at 8:30am today; the report is expected to show that the economy added 150,000 jobs in December.

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

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Do you need to be on Google+? Well, maybe............

Google+ is the latest Social Media service to enter the fray, and it is a major player in the field, with at least one analyst saying it could hit 400 million users by the end of the year.

So, the first question: what the heck is Google+?

It is, of course, a social network, sponsored by Google.  It's key features:

  • Circles: You can put all of your friends & contacts into different circles, then use those circles to determine what information to share and with who.
  • Integration with Google: If you use any number of Google services, like GMail or Google Reader, you can easily integrate them with your Google+ account.
  • Hangouts:  You can have a video chat with two or more contacts on Google+.
  • Droid Integration:  Droid phones are now being seemlessly integrated with Google+ - this is a very big deal for mobile addicts (like myself).
Currently, about fifty million people are on Google plus, with massive increases believe by many to be coming.

The biggest downfall to being on Google plus?  As far as I'm concerned, it's time fatigue, as this video below perfectly demonstrates.  

So many business people are already stretched to the limit when it comes to their time - how on earth are they supposed to handle yet another Social Network when they can barely manage the ones they already have?

The answer may be as simple as: well, you don't really have a choice.  Google+ isn't really mainstream...not yet...and it's membership is still well short of Facebook (over 750 million), Twitter (over 200 million) and LinkedIn (over 100 million).

Still, we've seen these numbers change before.  MySpace was once the kind of the Social Media heap...and now it is in the trash-bin for the majority of people.

Look out world, here comes Google+!

Daily Briefing, 1/5/2011

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

Congressman Tim Holden visited yesterday with Northampton County leaders as he prepares to represent the area.  The Lehigh Valley Health Network is apparently looking at space within Allentown's new NIZ zone.  In Allentown, Democrat Mike Schlossberg (full disclosure: that's me) announced that he is running for the State House of Representatives, seeking to replace Jennifer Mann, who announced her retirement last month.  The Sands Casino saw their revenue increase this year.  J.B. Reilly, who is helping to lead the arena development in downtown Allentown, resigned from the board of the Lehigh Valley Health Network.  Bill Hecht, former PPL CEO, is the new Board Chair.

The state is looking at wave to reduce the number of district judges - according to the currently plan, one judgeship would be eliminated in Northampton County.  In national news, President Obama will be using his recess appointment power to appoint three individuals to the National Labor Relations Board.

We have one Chamber event today, but it's a big one: a lunch & live Business Matters with Senator Robert Casey.

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

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Daily Briefing, 1/4/2012

Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing on what was unquestionably a busy day.

Most local governments swore in 2011's election winners and held reorganizational meetings.  In Lehigh County, newcomer Brad Osborne was elected Chair after five deadlocked ballots.  In Northampton County, John Cusick was reelected chair.  In Bethlehem, Eric Evans was elected Council President.  In Allentown, demolition has officially started for the arena project.  The city did, however, see less Earned Income revenue than previously budgeted.  Kevin Deely (D), former President of the Easton Area School District teacher's union, has announced his candidacy for the State House of Representatives in the 131st District, against Representative Justin Simmons (R).

In national news, Mitt Romney won the Iowa Caucuses over Rick Santorum by an astonishingly close eight votes.  Ron Paul finished third, Newt Gingrich fourth, Rick Perry fifth and Michelle Bachmann sixth.  Rick Perry was flying back to Texas to determine whether or not he would stay in the race, while Michelle Bachmann vowed to press on.  Meanwhile, former rival John McCain will endorse Romney in New Hampshire today.  In other news, the manufacturing sector showed significant improvement in the end of 2011.

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

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How does the Iowa Caucus work?

As you probably know, the Iowa Caucuses are held today - this is the first actual nominating contest to determine who will be the Republican nominee for President (Democrats are holding a caucus as well, but President Obama is uncontested).

However, these caucuses are different than primaries that we have in Pennsylvania.  A primary is like any other election - you just go into the voting booth and vote - caucuses, however, are very different animals.  Here is how they work:

  • Voters show up at designated locations and the formal meetings begin.
  • Representatives speak on behalf of their selected candidates.  
  • Voters vote by secret ballot.
  • Results are sent in to the state party, who then sends the results to the media.
Voters are actually voting on delegates to district conventions - at the district conventions, a vote is taken to send delegates to the state convention, where National Delegates are ultimately selected.

Yipes.  Confusing.  Anyway, for caucuses, you must be in attendance - no absentee voting - and you must be able to dedicate a couple of hours to the process for your vote to count.  This tends to skew voters in caucuses to more dedicated and passionate voters - and voters who actually have the time to participate.

Daily Briefing, 1/3/2012

Good morning everyone, and Happy New Year!  Welcome back to work!  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

A Morning Call story looks at Northampton County's investment in Commerce Center Boulevard, noting the economic development that has taken place there.  Another story also looks at what comes next in the political career of Ron Angle.

In state-wide news, a memo obtained by the Harrisburg Patriot News and written by Governor Corbett's staff contrasts the accomplishments of Governor Corbett with previous Pennsylvania Governors and other Governors across the country.

In national news, today is the Iowa Caucuses - final polling generally shows Mitt Romney with a slightly lead, closely trailed by Ron Paul and Rick Santorum.  The federal government has begun to enforce a new law banning the use of cell phones by truck drivers while driving.

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