Friday, December 21, 2012

Today's Business News in the Lehigh Valley, 12/21/12

Good morning, and happy Friday Lehigh Valley! Today is the first day of winter, and luckily for all of us the world has not ended! Today is the first day of the winter season.

Bethlehem's city council adopted a budget of $71 million for 2013, which includes a 7% property tax hike and an entertainment tax on certain concert tickets. Much of the debate around the budget focused on the rising pension costs the city is facing.

Air Products has expanded their operations in China, opening a new lab within its Asia Technology Center in Shanghai. "The advanced gas applications laboratory will further strengthen the center's research and development capabilities to support the increasing needs in China and across Asia, officials said."

Speaker Boehner's "Plan B" to avert the fiscal cliff failed to gather enough Republican support and was taken off the table yesterday. His proposed plan would have extended tax cuts that are set to expire at year's end for most people while allowing rates to increase to 1990 levels on income over $1 million.

Don't forget the Coca-Cola Caravan tomorrow in downtown Bethlehem, right in front of the Main Street Commons building. The truck will be decorated with 25,000 twinkling lights and will be parked on Main St. from 2 - 8 p.m. More information in the flyer below.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Today's Business News in the Lehigh Valley, 12/20/12

Good morning and happy Thursday, Lehigh Valley. Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice, and no, it will not be the end of the world! However, tomorrow will have the longest night and shortest day of the year.

PA state and federal Democratic lawmakers are calling for increased gun control legislation in the wake of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday. There are plans for a Democratic task force that will examine "a comprehensive approach to reducing gun violence, including a better system of background checks for gun purchases and expanding mental health services."

Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE) will begin offering direct international flights as early as 2014. On Tuesday the airport authority endorsed a $5 million plan to add a U.S. Customs station that would allow LVIA to have flights out of the country.

NYSE Euronext, the operator of the New York Stock Exchange, will be sold to IntercontinentalExchange in an $8.2 billion cash and stock deal. IntercontinentalExchange operates commodity and derivatives markets around the world and has a larger market value than NYSE.

The United States Treasury will be selling its remaining shares in General Motors over a 15-month period, with plans to sell the 500 million shares bought during the bailout back to GM for $5.5 billion.

Today's Member of the Day is Copperhead Grille, with locations in Allentown and Center Valley. Copperhead Grille is offering a $10 voucher when you buy $50 in gift cards, perfect for the last minute shoppers out there! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Today's Business News in the Lehigh Valley, 12/18/12

Good morning Lehigh Valley! On this day in 1958, The world's first communications satellite was launched by the United States aboard an Atlas rocket.

In recent news, Lehigh County was named among the Top 10 counties in the United States to attract future growth and investment, ranking 7th in the "large sized counties" segment with populations between 150,000 and 499,999 people. A key factor was the regional cooperation regarding community and economic development.

The city of Allentown recently broke ground on the American Parkway Bridge over the Lehigh River, a $46 million project that will  provide drivers with immediate access to Airport Road and Route 22 and Downtown Allentown. Construction of the bridge will begin very soon, but could take up to two years to complete.

The mobile advertising market in the U.S. is growing at a rapid pace, much more quickly than originally anticipated, expected to reach around $4 billion. It will nearly triple in the upcoming year, with companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter expanding their mobile advertising markets.

After the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, gun control is a topic that is getting discussed in great length. According to CNN, "Over the past few days, several lawmakers have promised to introduce or reintroduce gun control legislation, ranging from a reinstatement of a federal ban on assault weapons to banning the sale of high-capacity magazines."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Growing Your Business in 2012 - HO-HO-HO

Today's Guest Blog is from Carol Ritter of

Ho, Ho, Ho, Santa Claus is coming to town, he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake. Oh, you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I’m telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town! 

Let’s face it, we are counting down 'til the big day and our focus is shopping, baking, hosting, attending office parties, decorating, celebrating, seeing musicals, the list goes on and on. 

I have a very special gift for you.  I was thinking about some of the most precious gifts I have received over the years and the ones that were most special were the ones that took a lot of thought and, many times, not much money. My gifts to all the entrepreneurs and non-profits who are working so hard to be successful is the gift of resources. I work with some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country, their ideas and success will inspire you and give you concrete ideas for 2013.  - Todd is an expert in Sales. His book, “Everyone’s in Sales” will take your sales to the next level! - Rocky & Julia Urich are award-winning media experts - in the next 5 years your business will be viewed more online than anywhere else - You Tube and Facebook - Download a free strategic marketing e-book -Sign up for the song of the month - A former Nashville Songwriter, Patrick shows audiences how to create extraordinary customer, client, and coworker experiences.

My gift to you is my friends and colleagues who can give your business just what it needs. Santa Claus is coming to town and he can fill your stocking with resources for the upcoming year.  Lifelong learning is one of my secrets to success. Check them out today. HO HO HO!

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

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

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Today's Business News in the Lehigh Valley, 12/13/12

Good morning and happy Thursday, Lehigh Valley. There are 18 days left to finish up your 2012 resolutions!

Small businesses have found a new way to prosper during the holiday season, not by stiff competition but rather by a method of community cooperation. Business owners in Lehigh Valley have been able to boost their sales through special promotions and events, including Christmas City Village in Bethlehem, Men's Shopping Night in Easton, and other promotions throughout the region.

Easton City Council has approved their 2013 budget, wherein the property taxes will remain the same and drivers will see an increase on the city's parking meters, from 50 cents/hour to $1/hour, which is still relatively low compared to most cities. They will supplement their revenue through other means as well, including the increasing income from their cut of the table games in neighboring Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem.

Nationally, there has been little to no progress regarding the impending fiscal cliff. Vast differences still exist in the way the White House and the Republicans would like to handle the tax increases and budget cuts that once implemented could send the country back into a recession. "If a deal is not reached, taxes will go up for almost all working Americans at the start of the New Year and steep government spending cuts will kick in."

For users who bought the iPhone 5 and miss having the functionality of Google Maps, then worry no more. Google Maps has made its way back into the App Store, this time offering turn-by-turn navigation that was not available on iOS before now.

Have a great, productive Thursday!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Growing Your Business in 2012 - Cash Flow is King

Today's Guest Blog is from Carol Ritter of 

Number one, cash is king... number two, communicate... number three, buy or bury the competition.  I didn't say this, Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric said it.  That was advice given from one of the most successful leaders and author of the books, Jack, Straight from the Gut and Winning

Number one cash is the end of your day when the lights go out your business is checking to see if the cash came in or what checks arrived. All the customer service in the world and the most fabulous product is now measured by the revenue of the day!

Number two...communicate - possibly the most over used word and under used verb.  My experience has been that communication is the number one problem facing most small businesses.  Whether it be intentional or accidental, it is usually an after thought.  I walked into a school in North Carolina, politely introduced myself and said, “Hello, I’m the speaker tonight, can you tell me where to go?” He replied, “Nobody tells me anything around here.”  What a greeting! Your staff is the first point of communication and they can make you or break you!

Number or bury the competition.  I was thinking, “How can we do that?”  It sounds so harsh yet your competition can easily impact your cash flow.  I was asked recently how I would feel if a competitor moved in next to your business?  My answer was quick, I would up my game, get better at what I do.  Jack’s three ideas for being successful can be your three ideas for 2013.

Increase Cash Flow....
1.  Host events at your place of business - get creative and drive new folks into your business
2.  Partner with a charity - host charity nights, again driving folks to your biz
3.  Position yourself as an expert - write a blog

Increase and Enhance Communication
1.  Design an extravagant communication plan
2.  Earmark incentives for those who practice extravagant communication
3.  Set the example by increasing and enhancing your communication efforts

Bury the Competition
1.  Take ideas and turn them into action, one-up the competition
2.  Engage the ideas of your staff, listen more-act more
3.  Do what you do best while you up your game

2013 can be your year for change, it can be your year for an extravagant business model and it can be your CASH IS KING year, just do it!

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

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

Monday, December 10, 2012

First Generation Acquires TechniCom, Expands A/V Production Services

ALLENTOWN, PA In what continues to be a challenging economic time for the Lehigh Valley, First Generation, a full service integrated marketing communications company headquartered in Allentown, PA, continues to thrive in its 25th year in business, announcing its acquisition of TechniCom, an Audio/Visual production services and events company in Orefield, PA.
The acquisition allows First Generation to grow its already thriving A/V production business, utilizing TechniCom’s 30 plus years of expertise to strengthen First Generation’s equipment rental offerings, meeting and live event services, and system design and installation solutions.  Bill Carmody III, First Generation’s VP of Production Services, will serve as the President of TechniCom.
“TechniCom is a great complement to First Generation’s Audio/Visual services,” says Carmody. “Both our local and national clients will benefit from this acquisition, receiving additional business offerings, an expanded equipment list and greater technician capabilities. First Generation looks forward to concentrating its focus on its core marketing and creative services, while still providing live event services to its clients, as well as TechniCom’s clients.”
TechniCom’s Orefield office location and employees will remain in place, in close proximity to First Generation’s Allentown headquarters.
“This is a great opportunity for TechniCom and its clients,” says Jerry Deane, founder of TechniCom. “First Generation offers a wealth of marketing and creative expertise that will accompany and enhance the Audio/Visual services we offer.”

About First Generation
Celebrating 25 years in business, First Generation defines, develops and delivers marketing campaigns for federal government and private sector clients. Services include strategic communications, integrated marketing and advertising, multi-media production, interactive design and programming, event planning, web design, programming, instructional design and training, media relations and social media integration. A service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB), First Generation also provides full-time on-site media consultants for several global organizations. First Generation is headquartered in Allentown, PA; FG also has offices in Washington, D.C., and Vicenza, Italy.  For more information, please visit

Friday, December 7, 2012

Today's Business News in the Lehigh Valley, 12/7/12

Good morning and Happy Friday, Lehigh Valley! There are 24 days remaining in 2012, so get on those resolutions if you haven't already!

The U.S. Government announced today that 146,000 jobs were added in November and the unemployment rate dropped to 7.7%, the lowest since December 2008. Economists were surprised that Hurricane Sandy did not affect hiring as negatively as anticipated.

House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama continue to work on the fiscal cliff negotiations, and this time they are going into the negotiating room alone, increasing the chances of finding a suitable deal quickly. President Obama has stated that any deal on must ensure that there will not be another crisis over the debt ceiling early next year.

A medical device tax that was adopted as part of the 2010 health care reform will take effect at the end of the month, which will cut into the profit margins of multiple Lehigh Valley companies that make medical devices. The tax applies primarily to devices that are used by medical professionals and will not affect those sold over the counter directly to the consumer.

The Christmas season is in full swing in Bethlehem to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of being named "The Christmas City." On the North Side, Christmas City Village has been up for a few weekends now and Christkindlmarkt is underway on the SouthSide.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Business News in the Lehigh Valley, 12/4/12

Some of the area's hospitals have been awarded specific letter grades from the Hospital Safety Score run by an independent group. The purpose of these is to recognize their commitment to patient safety. Lehigh Valley Health Network's Allentown and Muhlenberg campuses both received an A, and St. Luke's University Health Network received two B's and an A.

Emmaus residents learned that they will not see a tax increase in 2013, but they will face a slightly higher costs when it comes to water, sewer and trash fees. The proposed budget for 2013 is scheduled to be approved at the borough's next meeting on 12/17.

State Representative Mike Fleck (R-Huntingdon) publicly acknowledged on Saturday that he is gay, making him the first openly gay lawmaker in Pennsylvania and the only currently sitting openly gay Republican state legislator in the entire country. He also added that he is still a person of faith and his party affiliation remains strong.

Sales of automobiles in the United States skyrocketed in November after Hurricane Sandy and the Presidential election, up 15% from last year.
Get into the holiday spirit and adopt a tree in downtown Bethlehem to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the "Christmas City." Find out how you can help.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Business News in Lehigh Valley - 12/3/12

Good morning and happy Monday! We hope everyone had a relaxing weekend, because it's time to get back in the swing of things! Today is the third day of December, and there are 28 days remaining in 2012.

In local news, Blue Mountain opened up for the ski season this past Saturday with limited runs and long lift lines, but that didn't stop hundreds from coming out and enjoying the first chance they could get to hit the slopes.

There's good news for those that heat their houses with natural gas: UGI announced that natural gas prices will drop about 4% this winter, reflecting declining wholesale prices across the industry.

Over the next three years, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said it will begin accepting grants for its Natural Gas Vehicle Grant program, which will provide up to $20 million for the purchase and conversion costs of heavy-duty natural gas vehicles.

In national news, Congress is looking at the possibility of eliminating the $1 bill from production and replacing it with a coin, a move that could save the government about $4.4 billion over the next 30 years. The average dollar bill has a life is four or five years, whereas the life of a coin could be around 30 years.

Fiscal cliff talks seem to have gotten nowhere in recent weeks, with both sides of the aisle sticking firm to their beliefs. Democrats are not budging on the notion that taxes on the wealthiest Americans must rise, while Republicans want to fight that and instead they want to extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts, which expire at the end of the year.