Thursday, June 28, 2012

Obamacare upheld

Well, this has been an interesting morning.

Here is what is available at the moment.  In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld almost all of Obamacare.  Justices Roberts, Breyer, Sotomoyer, Kagan and Ginsburg voted in the majority, while Justices Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas and Alito were in the minority.

In essence, here's what the ruling comes down to (understanding that it came out half an hour ago and there is still much parsing to be done).  First, in an opinion delivered by Chief Justice Roberts, the five majority justices ruled that, regardless of the Commerce clause, that the individual mandate provision IS valid under Congress' taxing powers.  As such, there was no need to rule on the constitutionality or severability of most of the rest of Obamacare.  The critical quote from the opinion:  "Nothing in our opinion precludes Congress from offering funds under the ACA to expand the availability of health care, and requiring that states accepting such funds comply with the conditions on their use." (p. 55) (and thanks to the SCOTUSblog for its guidance on this one)

Justice Roberts did find, however, that Congress could not take away Medicare funding for states that chose not to participate in Obamacare; what could be taken away, however, is new funds.  This is the only section of Obamacare that appears to have been affected by the Supreme Court.

In a concurring opinion delivered by Justice Ginsburg, Justice Ginsburg found all of Obamacare to be Constitutional, including the individual mandate and Medicare removal clause - this opinion, however, is not controlling (only Chief Justice Roberts opinion is).

Quite a historic day for the Supreme Court.

Daily Briefing, 6/28/2012

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

In local news, Easton City Council has officially introduced a measure that would add a .75% commuter tax to fund the city's unfunded pension liability.


In state-wide news, debate is set to begin on the Pennsylvania budget in the full House of Representatives.  


In national news, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected today to rule on the constitutionality of Obamacare.  The Mitt Romney campaign sought a retraction of a Washington Post story on the alleged practices of Bain Capital, Romney's former company; the Post yesterday said that they stand by their story.  The House of Representatives is set to vote today on holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for the Attorney General's refusal to turn over documents related to the Fast & Furious scandal.  Congressional leaders came to a compromise on two key issues: student loan interest rates and transportation programs.


We have two Chamber events today: a mixer at the Courtyard by Marriot and the Easton-Phillipsburg golf tournament.


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

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Daily Briefing, 6/27/2012

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

A "sting" on Lehigh Valley realtors showed that realtors treated clients that were identical in every way, save for race, differently, with Hispanic families steered towards Allentown and white families guided away from the city.  The reporting done on the Amazon warehouse in western Lehigh County has earned the Morning Call and reporters Spencer Soper and Scott Kraus national recognition.  The Easton Area School District decided yesterday not to renew its Superintendent's contract.  Lehigh Valley International Airport cannot sell land fast enough to pay off $16 million in court mandated debt.  Christopher Thomforde, President of Moravian College, has announced that he will retire at the end of 2013.  


We have one Chamber event today: the Northampton Area Chamber of Commerce is holding their annual Iron Pigs night.


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

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

School District Tax Increases

With the passage of the East Penn School District budget yesterday, every Lehigh Valley public school district has now passed a tentative or final school district budget, and the results of those budgets are shared below:

Tax Hike
Allentown School District 4.80% 2.60%
Bangor Area School District 2.20%
Bethlehem Area School District 4.80%
Catasauqua School District 0.00%
Easton Area School District 2.20%
East Penn School District 1.30%
Nazareth Area School District 1.90%
1.80%
Northampton Area School District 1.97%
Northern Lehigh School District 1.50%
Northwestern Lehigh School District 0.00%
Parkland School District 3.67%
Pen Argyl School District 1.67%
Salisbury Township School District 4.06%
Saucon Valley School District 0.00%
Southern Lehigh School District 1.00%
Whitehall - Coplay School District 1.64%
Wilson School District 1.50%


And here's a graph that lays it out:



A few notes about this:

  • First, and this should come as no surprise, the two highest hikes were in predominantly urban districts: Allentown and Bethlehem Area.  
  • Only three districts managed to hold off any property tax hike: Catasauqua, Northwestern Lehigh and Saucon Valley.
  • The average tax hike was 2.01%.
  • Traditionally suburban school districts were hit hard here as well, with Parkland and Salisbury having the highest non-urban rates.

Also, please note that tax hikes don't tell the whole story; many of these districts dipped into their fund balances in order to balance their budgets, and multiple districts laid off positions or cut programs as well.  This was a bad year for just about everyone.

Daily Briefing, 6/26/2012

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

Lehigh Valley unemployment remained at 8.1% in May.  Musikfest has agreed to cut back on City of Bethlehem services and thus reduce its costs.  The East Penn School District has agreed to raise taxes 1.6%.  A new report says that local realtors are steering minorities into the City of Allentown while keeping whites away from it.  Mayors Panto, Hozza and Callahan all attended a Chamber Board of Governors meeting yesterday and encouraged the Board to continue to fight for pension reform.

In budget news, Governor Corbett continued his push to revamp human service funding into block grant format with a 10% funding cut.

In national news, the Supreme Court yesterday ruled that most of Arizona's controversial immigration reform legislation is unconstitutional, though it did uphold the "show your papers" portion of the legislation.  The U.S. House of Representatives has scheduled a contempt of Congress vote against Attorney General Eric Holder for Thursday.

We have two Chamber events today: our Women's Business Council and Young Professionals Council are holding a joint event on presenting yourself for the workplace and Tommy Hilfinger is holding a Grand Opening.

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

Monday, June 25, 2012

What's next for Sandusky

As you are most likely aware, Jerry Sandusky was found guilty on 45 of 48 charges related to child molestation, rape and sexual abuse.  The saga is, sadly, not over, and despite the guilty verdict, we will likely be hearing about the case for some time.  Here is what happens next.

Sandusky is currently in jail and awaiting sentencing, which will likely come at some point in the next ninety days.  He faces a minimum of 60 years in prison and a maximum of 442 years in prison; either way, barring an appeal, the 68 year old Sandusky will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Speaking of an appeal, Sandusky's legal team has vowed to appeal the verdict; apparently, the crux of one of those appeals is an interview with Bob Costas that was shown during the trial.  Defense attorneys allege that an errand version of that interview was shown to the jury that did not give jurors a fair view of the interview or Sandusky.  Defense attorneys also tried to withdraw as Sandusky's council, arguing that they were unprepared to litigate the case because of the speed at which it went to trial; this will also likely form a basis for an appeal.

That being said, the charges are possibly not over for Sandusky; he could face new charges related to his alleged abuse of his stepson and others that did not take place in Pennsylvania.  Meanwhile, in jail, Sandusky has been placed on suicide watch, though the move does not necessarily indicate that Sandusky is at risk to attempt suicide.

Daily Briefing, 6/25/2012

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

According to the latest figures, the Sands Casino is the busiest in the Commonwealth for table games.  The Supreme Court may issue its Obamacare ruling today; or it may wait until Thursday.  The ruling will come around 10am if it comes today.  In international news, Syria shot down a Turkish fighter jet over the weekend, a move likely to escalate international tensions there.

That's it for now - sorry, its the usual slow Monday.  Have a good one, and we'll see you later!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Credit downgrades: What do they mean and why are they so important?

As we noted earlier today, 15 major, world-wide banks and financial institutions found their credit rating downgrades by Moody's yesterday.  These are major institutions, including Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Citigroup.  This will cost these banks millions in added interest rates.

Now, here's an important question that we've gotten today: what the heck are credit ratings, and what do they mean?

Let's start here.  There are three major credit agencies:  Moody's, Standard & Poors and Fitch.  All three provide ratings on private and public entities.  They use slightly difference scales but all essentially have the same meaning - the higher the rating, the more credit worthy your agency/country is.

Credit ratings are essentially gauges of the risk that an investor would take by making an investment.  They serve as independent verification of that risk.  Agencies with a lower credit rating are charged higher interest when borrowing, and the reverse is true as well - better rating = less interest.

These ratings are not foolproof, of course.  In the past, agencies have been criticized for being too slow to make ratings chances (Enron is a prime example) and for contributing to the housing bust of the late 2000s; many agencies gave multiple high ratings to mortgage securities that then went bust.

For the most recent downgrades of the 15 banks, the downgrades were a result of these banks having "risk management" problems (such as JPMorgan, which just announced a $2 billion trading loss and found its credit rating cut three levels) or lacked sufficent capital to buffer against the economy.

Job Opening

We have one job opening today, this one from Sally Ullman Photography.  As always, if you are a Chamber Member and have a job opening to share, please E-mail me at mikes@lehighvalleychamber.org.
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WANTED – Dependable P/T Assistant to help Photographer in Emmaus, PA

Photographer located in Emmaus is looking to hire a part-time assistant to help with basic administrative duties.

YOU MUST BE RELIABLE!  We need someone we can count on and who has:

Excellent Computer Skills (MAC & PC)
Data Entry Experience
Phone Skills (is personable on the phone)
Superior Organizational Skills
Minimal lifting may be required (assist in prepping for shoots)
Photoshop, Powerpoint , Blogging  skills a bonus but not required
Email Marketing & Social Media skills a double bonus – but not required

This person will be available on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s to work (time is negotiable, not days), and may include other days during the week – as needed.  This is the perfect situation for someone needing to get home in time for kids or likes the idea of a little extra cash.  You can expect approximately 10-15 hours a week.

Please send your resume to sallyullmanphotography@gmail.com with your interest.  No phone calls please.

Daily Briefing, 6/22/12

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

In School District news, taxes in the Salisbury School District will rise about 4%, while taxes in Northwestern Lehigh will remain steady.  Northampton County Council voted on a plan yesterday that would end the County's swaption bonds.  In statewide news, the Jerry Sandusky trial concluded yesterday and will enter its second day of deliberations today; this comes on the heels of new abuse allegations by Sandusky's adopted son.  In national news, fifteen global banks had their credit rating cut by Moody's yesterday, a move that will dramatically increase all of their costs.  A new survey shows that the recessions has exacerbated the previously existing wealth gap between whites and other races, with whites making more than 22 times as much as blacks.  Gas prices have fallen 5% in the month of June.


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

Thursday, June 21, 2012

PA Budget: What's done, and what isn't

As you may have read by now, there is apparently an agreement in Pennsylvania between the Governor, Senate Republicans and House Republicans on the Pennsylvania budget.  The agreement isn't total.  The biggest difference has been resolved: that is the overall budget number, which has apparently come in at about $27.7 billion.  The Governor's office wanted $27.1 billion, while the Senate Republicans had earlier passed a $27.7 billion budget.

The budget itself actually involves the passage of multiple bills, and not everything has been agreed upon.  Here's what was agreed to, in addition to the overall number:

  • Spending increase of less than 2%, with no increases on taxes or fees.
  • Business tax cuts of $275 million.
  • 10% cuts to social services traditionally operated by counties, totaling about $84 million.
  • Elimination of $150 million General Assistance cash benefit.
  • Flat funding for public education.
  • $1.65 billion tax credit, over 25 years, for the Shell cracker plant in Western Pennsylvania.
That being said, many specifics beyond the above noted points have yet to be delineated.  Budget spreadsheets are not yet available, though they should be tomorrow; we'll know more then.

Meanwhile, Republican leaders have to go back and sell the budget to their members.  You'll note that Democrats weren't very involved in this process--they were, in fact, shut out of budget negotiations, as their votes were not needed.

SOURCES:  WFMZ, Capitol Ideas

Daily Briefing, 6/21/2012

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

The controversial language of the Allentown NIZ, including the use of EIT money and language that limits the NIZ to Allentown, appears set for removal, clearing the way for the continuation of construction of the Allentown Arena.  Home sales rose but prices dropped in May.  Today will be another hot one, with temperatures bordering on triple digits.

In statewide news, Governor Corbett and Republican legislators have agreed to a $27.656 spending number for the Pennsylvania budget.  At a press conference yesterday, the Governor also defended his use of a $1.65 billion tax credit for the creation of a Shell cracker plant in Western Pennsylvania.  Auditor General Jack Wagner has released a report saying that taxpayers are overcharged $365 million for charter reimbursements every year.  The Sandusky trial will likely go to the jury today.

In national news, a House of Representative Judiciary Panel recommended that Attorney General Eric Holder be found to be in contempt of Congress for his refusal to turn over documents related to the Fast and Furious investigation.  Congress appears set to ban bath salts.

We have one Chamber event today: Party on the Deck in downtown Allentown.

And that's it!  Have a great day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Grow Your Business: Goin Hog Wild

Another Wednesday, another Grow Your Business entry from Carol Ritter of Carol Talks.  This one is about...pig races.  Yup.  Just read it.  :)
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Now I have seen it all! I recently was invited to the Boyertown Fair, an event to trump all other events.  The usual stands were selling cotton candy, funnel cake, lemonade and sausage sandwiches.  The buzz in the crowd was, “The Pig races start at 1pm, are you going to the pig races?”   My first response was, “I’m NOT going to a pig race.”  But, the gang wanted to go so I succumbed.  Well, we can learn a lot from the “PIGS”.  This is one  heck of a small biz.  As you walk up to the race you will hear the PIG announcer drawing you in to the heart of the festivities.  Every PIG has a nickname (Lindsey LoHAM) and the race is about to begin.  The gate is opened and these 6 little piglets run run as fast as they can.  Those little speed demons were willing to bump anyone out of the way to get the golden ring.  What might that ring be....grub at the finish line.  The crowd roared and the “PIG” race began.  Winners then competed in a human “PIG” race riding these hugh blow up “PIGS” to the finish line.

Of course, I’m thinking, “What is going on here?”  This is a well- oiled machine, a successful business.  The announcer was their secret weapon, he just was hysterical. The marketing for the event was extraordinary with sponsors from all over the community.  The “PIGS” were the long awaited stars of the show and I guarantee you every single person who attended was sending chatter throughout to their friends and family and maybe even their social media.

Is your business a well oiled- machine attracting people from all walks of life?  Do you have a secret weapon, something that makes you extraordinary and over the top?  Who is the star of your show? Is it you, your staff or maybe your service?  And is your customer doing your marketing for you by telling everyone they know how great your business is?Think about it, make changes necessary to meet the three strategies and do what you do best...run the race, give it all you have and there will be a golden ring at the end of the race.  BTW, in case you are wondering Lindsey LoHAM was the loser!!

For a good time, visit your local “PIG” race, catch them on Facebook Rosaire’s Royal Racers. 

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 e leadership with bullet proof ideas for recruiting MORE MEMBERS, MORE MONEY AND BETTER LEADERS. www.caroltalks.com 610-442-4545

This Week With Tony - Downtown Allentown

In today's This Week With Tony, Leslie & Mike talk about what's happening in downtown Allentown, including Party on the Deck (www.allentownpa.gov/rooftop) that is TOMORROW, the Summer in the Plaza Concert Series and the Hamilton District Main Street's recent accreditation as a National Main Street Community.

As always, This Week With Tony is sponsored by our friends at M&T Bank.

Daily Briefing, 6/20/2012

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

Be careful out there today; a heat advisory is in effect for most of the afternoon and into the evening.  Season tickets for the Phantoms are now on sale for the 2013-2014 season.  The Parkland School District has raised taxes 3.67%.

In national news, Jamie Dimon, Chief Executive of JPMorgan, testified in front of Congress yesterday about his company's two billion trading loss.  Attorney General Eric Holder may face contempt of Congress charges for not turning over documents related to Operation Fast and Furious.

In international news, Greece appears to be on the verge of forming a new governing coalition.

We have three Chamber events today: our Excellence in Business Awards, presented by the Small Business Council, an event on doubling your income and an event on the status of the Parkland & East Penn School Districts, hosted by the Western Lehigh & East Penn Chambers of Commerce.

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

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

No, you cannot see who viewed your Facebook profile. Not now. Not ever.



We all want to see who is looking at our Facebook profile - after all, wouldn't it be neat to see who is "Facebook stalking" you?  At the same time, I think its safe to say that no one ever wants the world - or anyone else, for that matter - to be able to see whose profiles they have been checking out.  Every one of us is "guilty" of looking at someone's Facebook profile that they probably shouldn't have (exes, that girl in high school that you totally had a crush on, etc).


There are also plenty of apps out there that claim to be allow you to see who had viewed your Facebook profile.  Wow!  That's awesome!  All you have to do is click on a few buttons, like an App or two, and WHAM, you can see who has viewed your profile.  Great!

Yeah, it's totally a lie.  According to Facebook themselves, you cannot see who has viewed your profile.  No app can allow you to do that - not now, not ever.  There is no way anyone can ever see whose profiles you have viewed, and you can never see who has viewed your profile.



So, what are those links?  Spam or viruses.  Approving an App likely gives the App creator access to information that you probably didn't want to give away to them - contact information, your friend list, etc.  


Make your life easier - don't click on these links!

That being said, some social networks are different.  On LinkedIn, for example, you can see who has looked for your profile - just go to your profile, scroll down and look at the "Who's viewed your profile" sidebar.

Daily Briefing, 6/19/2012

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

Taxes will increase 4.8% in the Bethlehem Area School District, while they will remain steady in the Catasauqua Area School District.  In Bethlehem, ArtsQuest has renegotiated their contract with the city and will be using less services while paying less for Musikfest.  In national news, Microsoft has unveiled its new tablet computer, the Surface.  A new report shows that health care spending in America has slowed.  


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

Friday, June 15, 2012

Guest Blog Post: Beware of the Energetic Vampire!

Okay, I can't say I ever thought I'd see a Guest Blog Post with a title like that.

Anyway, this entry comes to us courtesy of Eric & Rebekha Armusik, two outstanding motivational speakers.  They are promoting our upcoming June 20 event, "How to double your income in one year."

Enjoy!

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As the husband of a successful paranormal fiction writer, I understand the subject of vampires rather well.  I am also well versed in the legends and folklore of these energetic beings that prey on the blood of their victims. For centuries, these demons have instilled a healthy fear in people for good reason. No one wants their blood, their life-force and energy sucked from them; it would result in certain death. Yet, we subject ourselves daily to far more dangerous and ferocious creatures. These people feed on our dreams and ambitions. And tragically, they can be family, friends, or worse, significant others. These energetic vampires walk amongst us every day. They feed on our self-esteem; they destroy our self-worth and dreams. And when they have crumbled us to ashes, they move on to their next host. They are emotional pariahs.

Have you ever received “free advice” from someone? Sadly, the fee offered for this advice usually equals its value – beware of being bewitched by this trickery. Most people who force opinions and limitations on people are the very ones who live within these self-imposed limitations. They have mastered the art of playing it safe. And most times, playing safe is not a lucrative endeavor.

At a young age I knew I would be an artist – this has always been my passion. Despite my drive and enthusiasm, I was continually told that this career would surely yield negative results in the financial realm. However, my stubborn nature needed to prove these people wrong.  The more I was told that I would be poor, the harder I worked. I chose to recycle their negative banter and use it as fuel for my career.

Fortunately, I found out early that problems arise when we give attention to these people and their negative beliefs and suggestions. Think of the last time someone squashed your dream and you allowed it.  Where did this person derive their “expert” opinions from? Their failure perhaps? This is the modus operandi of the energetic vampire.  They feed off the life and dreams of others because they no longer are amongst the living.  

As entrepreneurs, we must realize we’ve made the conscious decision to expand our lives and by doing so, we’ve chosen life.  Those that tip toe safely through life, never taking any chances, have made a decision not to live life to its fullest and therefore, are emotionally deceased. By expressing your dreams you expose your vulnerability to them and you will forever be their prey until you’ve become one of them –empty and self-loathing.

Take a good and clear look at the relationships you have in your life.  If they are helping you expand then continue to engage in them.  If they draw from your energy, if they make you doubt your intuition or greatness, then cease to engage in them! In order to keep your dreams achievable, you must be able to visualize that dream with absolute certainty. The vision cannot be tainted by negative beliefs or poorly crafted and unsubstantiated advice. You should never allow anyone to project their failures on you because this can murder any chance of achieving your goal. Think of yourself as a repellant to the suggestions and opinions of the energetic vampire. By doing this, you will a clear and positive energy about you. And when you are high on life, when you are so certain that you are on your path to success, success with naturally gravitate towards you – it is the law of nature. 

The great Napolean Hil oncel offered a bit of advice should you find yourself in the company of someone attempting to cut your dreams down.  When they finish offering you advice, respond by saying, “how do you know.”  It is the equivalent of a stake through the heart.

To learn more about overcoming adversity and talking your business to the next level join me as I present "How to Double your Income in One Year" on June 20th at the Nazareth Center for the Arts.  to register email colleend@lehighvalleychamber.org


Eric Armusik is a world artist and motivational speaker:   ericarmusik.com   |   noartistshouldstarve.com
Rebekah Armusik - rebekaharmusik.com

Daily Briefing, 6/15/2012

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

Some Lehigh Valley lawmakers are pushing to have the NIZ funding law removed.  The Catasauqua Area School District approved a tax-hike free budget.  A coroner's report confirmed that Charles & Adrienne Snelling died in a murder-suicide.

Believe it or not, that's it for now - so, have a good one, and we'll see you later today!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Today is Flag Day: What does that mean?

Yes, today, like every June 14, is Flag Day.  It's also my wife's birthday, so that's an easy one to remember.  But, okay, back on topic: today is flag day.  What on earth does that mean?

The day does actually have a relatively long and storied history.  On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress formally adapted the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States.  Incidentally, on the same day in 1775, the Army was "formally" formed.

The day was never really publicly referenced until 1861, in an encyclopedia about Kansas by George Morris.  That being said, the day continued on in relative obscurity until 1916, when President Woodrow Wilson issued a formal proclamation declaring it Flag Day.  Congress followed suit in August of 1949 (insert joke about Congress working slowly here).

The day is not a "formal" federal holiday that requires any sort of government closures.  Typically, during Flag Day and Flag Week (which is the same time), citizens are urged via proclamation to fly the flag and celebrate everything that it represents.

So - enjoy your Flag Day!

Daily Briefing, 6/14/2012

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

For the 11th straight month, Lehigh Valley home sales increased.  Saucon Valley School District approved a budget that did not raise taxes.  Glenn Eckhart, Lehigh County controller, argued his eligibility to serve as Controller in Court yesterday.  A new study shows that the Lehigh Valley generates $208 million annually from arts and culture related activities.  The Easton Area Chamber of Commerce will honor six businesses later tonight.  Speaking of Easton, the city is looking to enact a new tax on commuters as soon as this July.  In state-wide news, Governor Corbett has proposed a $27.4 budget that roughly splits the difference between the Governor's proposed budget and the one approved by the State Senate.  In international news, Spain has found its bond status downgraded.

We have a busy day in Chamber world today, with three events: our Easton Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting their annual dinner, we have a Grand Opening at the new Dan's Camera City in Nazareth and the Southern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce is hosting a benefit for the Southern Lehigh Public Library.

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

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why you should (almost) never delete negative feedback

One of the more common concerns I hear among business owners who are debating whether or not to get active on Social Media is the concern about how to handle negative feedback.  Many are afraid that having a Social Media presence will just make it easier for individuals to complain about their business.

I can certainly see their point, but it makes a faulty assumption: it assumes that people aren't already complaining.  They are.  Saying that someone won't complain about you on Social Media if you don't have a page is like saying that a no one talks behind your back because you aren't in the room - it just isn't realistic. People will complain about you - and your business - regardless of whether or not you have a Social Media page.  In fact, having a Social Media page tends to channel the feedback and put it in a forum in which you can respond positively to it.

Which leads me to my next point - you should never, ever delete negative feedback on your Social Media page (except in the most extreme of circumstances).  Here's why.

Transparency
Transparency in the Social Media age is vital.  People want to know that they are dealing with a business that isn't afraid to hide their mistakes or dirty laundry, and if you delete negative feedback, it makes it look like you are afraid of criticism and unwilling to fix problems.  It's a cultural thing - deleting negative feedback is just not done.  You lose credibility.

You can fix a problem...
Say someone complains about you publicly.  You can address it constructively - tell someone you are sorry for their issue, ask for more information and offer a discount/some other incentive to get that customer back. This will likely help to solve the problem - particularly if the person wasn't just looking to complain and whine, but was actually looking for a real resolution.


...for all to see
If it's at all possible, make a point of trying to solve an issue in public, in front of everyone.  Yes, that's right - wash your dirty laundry in front of the crowd.  Why?  Because everyone will see you trying to clean it.  Trying to make amends for an issue will show that you are truly customer-service oriented and care about your customers satisfaction.  Most people are rational and understand that no business can be executed perfectly.  That being said, if you try to fix a mistakes, they'll see it - and realize that you value your customers.


When to delete
All of the above being said, there are some times where deleting a nasty comment is really your only option: when legal issues are involved, when someone is insulting, cursing or vulgar.  Sometimes that's a fine line to walk, but try to err on the side of not deleting, if you can.

Those are our thoughts - how about you?  What do you think?  Let us know in the comments!

Daily Briefing, 6/13/2012

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

In local news, Air Products has been awarded a $1.2 million grant to develop manufacturing processes that will save energy.  The Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission has scheduled five hearings on a proposed PPL rate increase.  WFMZ runs a story on Dr. Arthur Scott, who is retiring as the President of Northampton Community College after 36 years with the school.  In state-wide news, negotiations continue between Republicans and Governor Corbett on the state budget.  A new poll shows President Obama with a 46-40 lead over Mitt Romney.  In national news, Democrat Rob Barber defeated Republican Jesse Kelly in the special election for Gabbie Giffords former Congressional seat in Arizona.

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Grow Your Business: Paul Anka Did It

Come on, with a title like that, you cannot possibly go wrong!

Anyway, here's the latest in our Grow Your Business series from our friend Carol Ritter at Caroltalks.  This one focuses on making sure that you are walking in your audiences shoes.
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I’ve heard most of us don’t change until staying the same becomes too difficult.  It’s just too hard and the changes sometimes affect others who gripe and moan about it.  However, if you want to grow your business, CHANGE is not only necessary it’s vital.  Maybe we will call it reinventing yourself. 

I was sitting at the new Sands Event Center recently anxiously awaiting the famous and fabulous Paul Anka.  He made a grand entrance from the back of the room and, of course, was belting out ‘Diana’. The crowd stood up, began to sing along and before you knew it, we were under the Paul Anka spell.  After completing his first song on stage he came back down into the audience, jumped up on a table and started his medley of magnificent songs.  Everyone was amazed and one question was coming from the audience, “How old is he?”  His voice was unbelievable, his jokes were funny and, best of all, he knows the secret; walking in his audience’s shoes, that is the key to reinventing yourself!

When presenting a product or service the first thing we need to think about is your audience and what do they need or how can you solve a problem for them.  In order to do that you must embrace change and understand that it’s part of the business.  We found out that Paul Anka is 72 and he has reinvented everything about his performance, his show and he understands what we Anka fans want to see at a show.  Can you imagine a 72 year young man singing for 2 hours straight and never missing a beat? 

Three tips for walking in your audiences’ shoes.

1.   Trial and Error, if no one is buying your service or product, you do not have your finger on the pulse of your audience

2.   Be a Change Agent - change it up monthly, audiences love new and exciting, it can be a small change

3.   Check out the Successful Competition - research what they are doing and see what might work for you

Paul Anka, still a superstar at age 72.  You can be one too! “Just stay by me --- Diana”

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 e leadership with bullet proof ideas for recruiting MORE MEMBERS, MORE MONEY AND BETTER LEADERS. www.caroltalks.com 610-442-4545

Daily Briefing, 6/12/2012

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

A new survey by Manpower shows that the number of employees planning to hire in the upcoming quarter is down to 15%, compared to 26% from the same time last year.  In state-wide news, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has released a report slamming UGI for multiple safety violations and fining the company $386,000.  The Jerry Sandusky trial began yesterday in Centre County.  In national news, US Secretary of Commerce John Bryson will be out on medical leave following a seizure that resulted in him getting into two car accidents.  A new survey shows that the average families' net worth dropped a stunning 40% between 2007-2010.

We have two Chamber events today: our LGBT Council is holding an event on Best Practices for Workforce Equality, while the Greater Northern Lehigh & Palmerton Chambers are holding a joint event on a municipal update from many local communities.

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

Monday, June 11, 2012

Folks, it's Monday - here's some videos of cute kittens and other funny things

It's a beautiful mid-June day - the sun is shining, there's no rain (for now), there's a nice breeze...and, here we are, stuck in an office.  Ouch.  Oh, and it's everyone's favorite day: Monday.  Even better.

Anyway, being Monday, I think we all need a pick-me up.  Here are some videos of cute cats.

First, a cat fight:



Cat fighting - never has been so cute, and probably never will be again.

Next up - a small child disappearing underneath a pack of German Sheppard puppies:



I mean, let's be honest...if you are going to be chased...being chased by a dozen German Sheppard puppies is the way to go. Oh, and speaking of adorable pets, this is one of my favorites - pets greeting their solider owners after the soliders return from overseas:



If you weren't touched by that, congrats, you may not be human! Oh, and if you really want to cry, click on some of the related videos - they show soldiers surprising family members when coming back from war - it might be impossible not to cry while watching those.

Christian the Lion is one of my favorites - the story of a lion who was raised by humans, released to the wild and then remembered the humans years later - and gave them a big hug! Just watch:



Anyway, I hope these videos have brightened your Monday. Have a good one, and we'll see you tomorrow!

Daily Briefing, 6/11/2012

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

A Morning Call story takes a look at the upcoming Jerry Sandusky trial.  Another story takes a look at women's pay in the Valley, noting that it still lags behind men's pay and that the Valley pays women, on average, less than in other areas of the Commonwealth and in the US.

In state-wide news, the Pennsylvania Legislative Redistricting Commission approved the newly redrawn legislative maps by a 4-1 vote.  The question now becomes whether or not the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will approve the maps.

In national news, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson has been accused of hit-and-run after being involved in two accidents in California.

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

Friday, June 8, 2012

Daily Briefing, 6/8/2012

Good morning everyone!  Here is your Friday Daily Briefing.

Gloria Steinem spoke at our Lehigh Valley Women's Conference yesterday.  Manslaughter charges have been filed in the aftermath of a April 29 shooting at the Allentown North End Republican Club that killed Michael Randolph.  In Whitehall, Township Commissioners said no to paying a private firm to market the former Lehigh Valley Dairy site.

In state-wide news, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives agreed to taking out bonds that would repay a nearly $4 billion debt to the federal government for unemployment benefits.  The legislation also changed the eligibility requirements for unemployment.

In national news, Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee outraised President Obama and the Democratic National Committee in May.  Secret talks among Senators to revamp the United States' fiscal policy have allegedly begun.

We have one Chamber event today: a Free Webinar on making your website mobile ready.

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

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Chamber Op-Ed: Binding Arbitration Reform Needed


As you may be aware, The Chamber is very involved in the urban cores of the Valley, all of which are, without a doubt, under significant distress for a variety of reasons.  One of the issues that they face is the constant fiscal cliff caused by rising pension, legacy and staff related costs.  As a result, The Chamber, along with the Mayor's of our three biggest cities, is strongly advocating for desperately needed pension reform.  Our President & CEO, Tony Iannelli, wrote an op-ed with Mayors Pawlowski, Panto and Callahan - the op-ed is below.  Let us know what you think!


--

mcall.com

YOUR VIEW

Binding arbitration reform can aid distressed municipalities

June 6, 2012


Decades-old municipal laws have become dated, inflexible and uncompetitive, hampering municipal leaders from approaching modern-day problems with innovative solutions. Many of these outdated laws are pushing our communities to the brink of collapse, threatening basic municipal services, while impeding regional economic recovery. And ultimately, taxpayers will be on the hook.

This may sound like a stretch, but anyone who lives in or near an older, full-service community — a core community — knows of the budgetary struggles. While this dire situation is not intractable, fixing it will require strong leadership and political courage from the state Legislature and the Corbett administration.

Today, nearly half of all Pennsylvanians live in financially distressed municipalities. The costs associated with mandated personnel and pension laws contribute heavily to this statistic. Pension and personnel costs can count for more than half of a municipal budget. These costs are unyielding and unsustainable and municipal revenue sources to pay for such costs remain static at best. This imbalance is causing a downward spiral of fiscal distress that permeates many aspects of community life, including our competitiveness as a commonwealth and communities' abilities to provide vital public services.

Public safety personnel are a valued and respected workforce in our communities. The goal in calling for reform is not to undo the collective bargaining protections afforded to police and fire personnel, but to reduce and control costs moving forward. It is critical that communities have the ability to restructure benefits for future employees to a fair, affordable level.

Without such reform, public safety personnel — as the largest, most expensive budget category — will find positions cut or vacancies left unfilled. The safety of our communities will be compromised. Municipal leaders realize this is no way to encourage investment in their communities, but the mandated costs of binding arbitration and municipal pension laws leave few options.

The Coalition for Sustainable Communities — a growing alliance of chambers of commerce, local government associations and other business, community and municipal leaders — has come together to push several reform measures that will help to stabilize municipal fiscal distress, thereby promoting fiscally sustainable communities that are properly staffed to provide essential services. To date, the coalition has amassed many members, including 22 chambers of commerce and business associations; the Pennsylvania League of Cities & Municipalities and its 75 member communities; the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Commissioners, an organization of 70 first class townships; and the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors and its 1,455 member townships.

The coalition's immediate focus is support for Senate Bill 1321 and House Bill 1988. Both bills reinstate long-established controls on public safety unions' binding arbitration awards in distressed municipalities. These controls were taken away by the state Supreme Court last year in a case involving Scranton. This decision will cost Scranton $30 million in back pay and benefits it does not have and cannot afford. This decision affects not only Scranton but also every present and future distressed municipality.

Additionally, the coalition is focused on reform of the outdated binding arbitration and pension laws that promote inevitable fiscal distress.

Simply put, uncontrolled costs eventually require layoffs, service cuts and/or tax increases. These options harm the very workers, residents and businesses needed to sustain and grow a community. No one wants to live, work or grow a business in an overtaxed, underserved, unsafe and fiscally unstable community.

The coalition stands ready to work with the governor's office and Legislature to move meaningful reform legislation. Ultimately, the members of the General Assembly must step forward and support passage of legislation to correct these costly inequities.

Tony Iannelli is president and CEO of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, John Callahan is mayor of Bethlehem, Sal Panto is mayor of Easton, and Ed Pawlowski is mayor of Allentown.

Daily Briefing, 6/7/2012

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

A Morning Call report notes that expansion within the Allentown NIZ continues despite the various legal issues surrounding the zone.  Allentown City Council voted yesterday to fire a police officer who was accused of theft from Coca Coal Park. East Stroudsburg University will soon be offering courses in Bethlehem.  DayTimers will be closing its Lower Macungie plant, costing the area 300 jobs.  Residents of Lower Macungie are now suing to stop a Jaindl development project in the Spring Creek section of the township.

In state-wide news, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved new regulations that will allow for payday lending.  A new poll shows Barack Obama with a 48-36 lead over Mitt Romney.

In national news, the stock market posted its biggest gain of 2012 yesterday.

Today is a big day in Chamber world, with two events: our Women's Summit, featuring Gloria Steinem, and a Social Media breakfast in Allentown, featuring Mayor Ed Pawlowski.

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

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Facebook in decline?

Yeah, it is way, way to soon to believe a question like the title of this blog entry is actually true...but, there are some uncomfortable warning signs for Facebook as a business.  Consider the following information:


Is this a blip for Facebook or the start of a more serious trend for the organization?  Impossible to say, of course.  Still, Facebook has DOMINATED the Social Media marketplace over the past few years, but they may be becoming a victim of their own inability to capitalize on the latest trends: mobile.  Facebook users are spending more time accessing the site via a mobile device - and Facebook has yet to monetize this trend.  Before the company went public, this wasn't as big of a deal, as long as they were still turning a profit - but with the company now having an obligation to tens of thousands of shareholders, they have a fiduciary responsibility to generate more and more revenue.  If Facebook cannot fully capitalize and monetize the mobile device - look for other Social Networks that can.

Daily Briefing, 6/6/2012

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

St. Lukes University Health Network made more money this year than last year.  In the Southern Lehigh School District, taxes will increase 1% after School Directors approved the 2012-2013 budget.

In state-wide news, Governor Corbett defended his decision to give Shell Oil a $1.7 billion tax break, over 25 years, to bring a cracker plant to Western Pennsylvania.  Pennsylvania casino revenue increased 3.4% over the same time last year, with the Sands showing the largest growth.

In national news, Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker has survived a recall attempt, defeating Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett 53-46.  Senator Casey and Congressman Dent are trying, once again, to ban bath salts.  A new survey shows that North Dakota's economy grew faster than any other state's last year.

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

Monday, June 4, 2012

Welcome, New Members!

We wanted to take a moment to welcome the new Chamber Members that joined in May.  We are thrilled that fifty businesses have decided to become part of The Chamber and are always happy to provide anyone with membership information.  Make sure to visit our website if you want to join The Chamber!

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Above the Standard Procurement Group
(855) 271-1700
P.O. Box 686
Middlesex, NJ 08846
www.ATScostreduction.com
Category: Business Consultants, Developers & Incubators

Aetna Medicare
(610) 730-9498
980 Jolly Road, U11E
Blue Bell, PA 19422
Category: Health Care Services

AmeriServe
(610) 258-2591
10 Hilton Street
Easton, PA 18042
www.ameriservenow.com
Category: Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning

Amped Up Traffic, LLC
(484) 818-7088
1874 Catasauqua Road, Suite 311
Allentown, PA 18109
http://www.AmpedUpTraffic.com
Category: Internet Services & Training

ARISE
(347) 276-3384
1408 Garden Avenue
Allentown, PA 18103
Category: Social Services

AshMor Systems
(610) 351-1870
607 North 19th Street
Allentown, PA 18104
www.ashmorsystems.com
Category: Computer Networking/PC Services Consultants & Training

Beautiful by Susie
(610) 625-5515
226 West Broad Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018
www.beautifulbysusie.com
Category: Salons, Spas & Beauty Supplies

Blown Color Studio
(610) 694-8989
597 Main Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018
http://www.blowncolorstudio.com
Category: Salons, Spas & Beauty Supplies

Bookstore Speakeasy
(610) 570-9890
336 Adams Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015
www.thebookstorespeakeasy.com
Category: Restaurants & Cafes

Clever Boy Pet Care
(610) 419-8505
4128 Washington Street
Bethlehem, PA 18020
http://www.cleverboypetcare.com
Category: Pet Sitting & Training Services

Dating Accessory LLC
(610) 966-5836
260 Chstnut Hill Road
Emmaus, PA 18049
www.datingaccessory.com
Category: Dating Services

Day Vision Marketing
(610) 403-9999
2222 South 12th Street
Allentown, PA 18103
www.dayvision.com
Category: Web Design, Consulting & Hosting

Defeo and Lilly, DPM
(610) 821-0444
3131 College Heights Boulevard, Suite 1500
Allentown, PA 18104
Category: Podiatrist & Foot Case

Delserro Engineering Solutions
(610) 253-6637
3900 Broadway Road
Easton, PA 18040
www.desolutions.com
Category: Engineering

Doctor TattAway, LLC
(610) 882-8837
3303 Bath Pike, Suite 1
Bethlehem, PA 18017
www.drtattaway.net
Category: Tattooing

DR Vitamins LLC
(610) 285-2888
1623 Kramer Road
Kutztown, PA 19530
www.drvitaminsolutions.com
Category: Health Products

Edward Jones  - Paul Barry Financial Advisor
(610) 250-7808
101 South 3rd Street, Suite 203
Easton, pa 18042
www.edwardjones.com
Category: Financial Services

Edward Jones Investments - Emmaus
(610) 965-9734
16 South 4th Street
On The Triangle
Emmaus, PA 18049
www.edwardjones.com
Category: Financial Services

Freecycle LLC, a Division of GER Solutions
(484) 866-0927
795 Roble Road
Allentown, PA 18109
http://www.gersolutions.net
Category: Waste & Recycling

Fringe Stylz Salon
3606 A Nicholas Street
Easton, PA 18045
Category: Salons, Spas & Beauty Supplies

George A. Reppert & Sons Garage, LLC
(610) 262-2278
1934 Lincoln Avenue
Northampton, PA 18067
Category: Automobile Repairs, Services & Detailing

Greater Lehigh Valley Music Association - Lehigh Valley Music Awards
(610) 462-5943
PO Box 21330
Lehigh Valley, PA 18002
www.lehighvalleymusicawards.org
Category: Entertainment & Festivals

Hair Cuttery
(610) 797-0260
3060 Center Valley Parkway
Center Valley, PA 18034
www.haircuttery.com
Category: Salons, Spas & Beauty Supplies

Hairotic
(610) 266-7773
1101 4th Street
Catasauqua, PA 18032
Category: Salons, Spas & Beauty Supplies

Home Town Diner
(610) 395-7316
8732 Hamilton Boulevard
Breinigsville, PA 18031
http://www.thehometowndiner.com
Category: Restaurants & Cafes

JEL Solutions
(484) 239-0379
89 Kutz Road
Fleetwood, PA 19522
http://www.jelsolutions.com
Category: Consulting Services & Training

Jewish Day School
(610) 437-0721
2313 Pennsylvania Street
Allentown, PA 18104
www.jdslv.org
Category: Educational Institutions & Organizations

Just A Dream Frozen Yogurt
(443) 794-5400
289 Town Center Boulevard
Easton, PA 18040
http://www.justadreamfrozenyougurt.com
Category: Restaurants & Cafes

Keystone Fabricating
(610) 868-0900
1220 Win Drive
Bethlehem, PA 18017
Category: Metal Working, Welding Equipment & Supplies

Knightsbridge Group, Inc.
(610) 691-2267
552 Main Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018
www.clearlifeplan.com
Category: Career & Outplacement Counseling

Lauer & Sletvold Law Offices
(610) 258-5329
701 Washington Street
Easton, PA 18042
www.lauersletvold.com
Category: Attorneys, Judges & Legal Services

Moe's Southwest Grille
(610) 443-1450
3211 Schoenersville Road
Bethlehem, PA 18017
www.moes.com
Category: Restaurants & Cafes

No Limits Hair Boutique
(610) 625-2577
1816 Stekfo Boulevard
Bethlehem, PA 18017
Category: Salons, Spas & Beauty Supplies

Old Brewery Tavern
(610) 691-9406
138 West Union Boulevard
Bethlehem, PA 18018
Category: Restaurants & Cafes

Oppenheimer & Co. Inc
(610) 867-8631
1525 Valley Center Parkway,  Suite 160
Bethlehem, PA 18017
www.opco.com
Category: Investment Services

Otorhinolaryngology Associates
(610) 824-5050
217 Franklin Avenue, Suite 5
Palmerton, PA 18071
Category: Physicians & Surgeons

Pammer Chiropractic Office
(610) 264-3344
1104 Sixth Street
North Catasauqua, PA 18032
Category: Chiropracters

Peer Pressure Creative
(610) 657-6810
561 Main Street, Suite 255
Bethlehem, PA 18018
www.peerpressurecreative.com
Category: Web Design, Consulting & Hosting

Pratt Industries
(484) 232-7012
7533 Industrial Parkway
Macungie, PA 18062
www.prattindustries.com
Category: Packaging, Shipping & Products

Rea.deeming Beauty
(610) 419-1690
3864 Courtney Street, Suite #280
Bethlehem, PA 18017
http://www.beautyblender.net
Category: Salons, Spas & Beauty Supplies

Rehrig Pacific Logistics
(610) 258-1631
200 Hilton Street West
Easton, PA 18042
www.rehrigpacificlogistics.com
Category: Logistics

Rockin Stylist
(908) 454-8270
499 South Main Street
Phillipsburg, NJ 08865
http://www.rockinstylist.com
Category: Salons, Spas & Beauty Supplies

So Fun! Yogurt - Bethlehem
3859 Nazareth Pike
Bethlehem, PA 18020
https://www.facebook.com/sofunyogurtbethlehem
Category: Restaurants & Cafes

Sole Mio Italian Grille
(610) 330-2770
204 West Madison Avenue
Easton, PA 18042
Category: Restaurants & Cafes

Spa'lon
(484) 951-7607
2002 Union Boulevard
Allentown, PA 18109
www.spalonlv.com
Category: Salons, Spas & Beauty Supplies

Studio Fitness
(610) 419-3500
683 East Broad Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018
http://www.studiofitnesslv.com
Category: Health Prevention & Fitness

Sugar Babe Cupcakes
(610) 462-0660
14 West Broad Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018
http://www.sugarbabecupcakes.com/
Category: Bakeries & Supplies

The Green Pepper
(610) 709-8899
2845 Center Valley Parkway, Suite 602
Center Valley, PA 18034
Category: Restaurants & Cafes

The Swain School
(610) 433-4542
1100 South 24th Street
Allentown, PA 18103
www.swain.org
Category: Educational Institutions & Organizations

ViSalus
(484) 264-9345
6602 Mine Drive
Macungie, PA 18062
http://myvi.net/nancymitchell
Category: Weight Management