Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Hellertown-Lower Saucon Chamber Updates

Thomas Rieger, Hellertown Borough Councilman, Hellertown-Lower Saucon Chamber Chair

Our local Chamber has always been community focused, and because of that we are excited to announce our partnering with the Borough of Hellertown. We are expanding the “Music in the Park” series with its kick off concert on June 11 featuring the Large Flowerheads. This event will also feature local restaurants serving/selling food and the finest locally made brews from the Lost Tavern Brewery, along with a Lehigh Valley Winery serving wine which will be available for purchase. This is a perfect night to come out and support local businesses and enjoy one of Hellertown’s greatest assets, Dimmick Park. Also, do NOT forget to register and come out for the annual Community Wide Yard Sale/Business Sidewalk Sale on the first Saturday of June (June 3rd). You can register by going to www.hellertownborough.org and clicking on the “Your Community” tab.


It is with great pride that Hellertown was spotlighted at the Annual Mayors and Municipal Reception at Steel Stacks on April 11. Our very own longtime HLSC Board Member and Hellertown’s Mayor Richard Fluck received a very special award honoring him and his service to the Borough, The Chamber, and the Business Community. The Mayor will retire at the end of this year after 48 years + in public service. We can honestly say he has made Hellertown a better place and has made the Chamber a better chamber with his insight and ability to connect us with the business community. Also at this event, Hellertown’s Cathy Hartranft received the Borough Manager of the Year Award from The Chamber, which recognized her hard work and dedication since coming to Hellertown in 2010. Cathy’s guidance and leadership has allowed the borough to flourish, receive millions in grant funding for many projects and has taken the borough to the forefront of local government. We congratulate Cathy on this momentous award and thank her for her years of service.


Fast forward to June and make note of two upcoming events. Come out to support and sip with us on Thursday, June 1 as we host a mixer at one of our newest members and businesses in the Lower Saucon area, Hop Hill Brewing Company. This event will be 5:30-7:30 p.m., featuring complimentary pizza and homemade pretzels from Hellertown Bakery. If you’re interested in sponsoring, contact Jessica at jessicao@lehighvalleychamber.org.


Monday, June 26 is our next Small Business Roundtable. Stay tuned for details on the location. These small business roundtable events are there for business owners to voice concerns, problem solve and work together to try and showcase our community. If you are interested in hosting one of these roundtables, let us know.

As always, keep a close eye on our Facebook page for upcoming event information.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

PA Auditor General visit to the Lehigh Valley



Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board (LVWDB)

Recently, the LVWDB and The Chamber hosted Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale to discuss workforce and job training in the Lehigh Valley.  The public forum was held at the PA CareerLink Lehigh Valley Center at 555 Union Blvd, Allentown.

We had an impressive turnout to discuss the power of partnerships that workforce and job training organizations experience in the Lehigh Valley as well working together to close workforce gaps for our residents.

Auditor General DePasquale Invites Public to Forum in Allentown on Job Training, Local Workforce Development Efforts
Says targeted job training is essential to keep Lehigh Valley’s economy prosperous
HARRISBURG – Auditor General Eugene DePasquale today invited local residents, along with the community, business and education leaders, to join him for a forum with a panel of experts to discuss job training and workforce development in the Lehigh Valley region.  
The forum will be held: Wednesday, April 26 from 10:30 a.m. to Noon in the PPL Room at CareerLink, 555 Union Blvd., Allentown, PA 18109.
The public is encouraged to attend and ask questions.
“Workers need the proper skills to succeed in today’s challenging job market,” DePasquale said. “We have to make sure we are getting workers the skills they need to get good jobs and earn a respectable wage.
“This will be my fourth public meeting to discuss workforce training. I have listened carefully to what people say is needed to help find and keep good jobs. I will use the information as I prepare to audit the effectiveness of state-funded workforce training and job development programs. We want to make sure we know what works, what doesn’t work and what we can improve.”
DePasquale will lead a discussion of panelists which includes educators, the trade unions, advocates for business and industry and the chamber of commerce. The panel is expected to include representatives from:
·         Nancy Dischinat, Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board,
·         Michelle Griffin Young, Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce,
·         Dr. Thomas Meyer, Lehigh Carbon Community College,
·         Paul Anthony,  International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers,
·         Lisa Williams, SEIU Health Care, and
·         R. Chad Paul, Ben Franklin Technology Partners.
So far, the auditor general has heard from hundreds of people who participated in public forums held in Beaver, Lancaster, and Luzerne counties this year.

More information about the Department of the Auditor General is available online at: www.PaAuditor.gov.
Check out the Lehigh Valley Coverage:
Morning Call
http://www.mcall.com/business/economy/mc-allentown-auditor-general-job-training-forum-0426-20170426-story.html

Morning Call
http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-pictures-auditor-general-visits-allentown-20170426-photogallery.html






Thursday, May 25, 2017

Initative underway to address truck traffic in Upper Macungie Township

Ron Eichenberg, Hanna Frederick Commercial, Western Lehigh Chamber Chair

Truck traffic appears to be a topic on the agendas of many municipalities throughout the Lehigh Valley. Our own Kathy Radar with her fellow Supervisors and the management of Upper Macungie Township are taking a proactive approach to the issue. In a continuing effort to address concerns about traffic problems in Upper Macungie Township, an initiative is underway to enjoin the trucking industry, local businesses and citizens with law enforcement in a strategic plan to affect positive changes through collaborative action.

Called the Good Neighbor Coalition (GNC), the initiative was developed over a two-year span. According to Chief Edgardo A. Colón, it is being “aggressively embedded” at all levels of the UMT community through a series of meeting exchanges with citizen groups, trucking firms, elected legislators, government officials and local leaders of business and industry.

The Mission of the Good Neighbor Coalition (GNC) is to enhance safety and improve community relations between law enforcement and the commercial and residential entities within UMT and beyond. This endeavor will be accomplished through education, awareness and mutual cooperation. This will be in keeping with the Department’s mission of being “Committed to Service.”

For more information on the GNC or if you’d like to participate in the establish Work-Groups, please e-mail either Chief Edgardo A. Colón at ecolon@uppermac-pd.org or Sergeant Cory S. Reader at creader@uppermac-pd.org. They can also be contacted via phone at 484-661-5911. Make sure to “Like” our Western Lehigh Chamber Facebook page to stay up to date on things happening in our area.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

EPCC hosts inside look into Uline Shipping Supplies

Thomas Capehart, Gross McGinley, East Penn Chamber Chair

The EPCC, in partnership with the Western Lehigh Chamber of Commerce, organized a wonderful breakfast and awe-inspiring tour of Uline Shipping Supplies, a leading distributor of shipping, industrial and packaging materials to businesses throughout North America. The 100 attendees enjoyed a morning filled with food, fun and inspiration from within Uline’s 1.6 million square foot warehouse and shipping facility located in Upper Macungie Township. We thank Uline for providing a wonderful program and for its contributions to our business community.


On May 17, the EPCC hosted a successful event on driverless vehicles. Attendees joined us at Brookside Country Club for breakfast and to learn how industries, drivers and residents are working together to improve traffic safety and how the future autonomous vehicles will impact our roadways. O
rganized in conjunction with the WLCC, the event featured George Kinney, Director of Transportation for the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, and Chief Ed Colon, Upper Macungie Chief of Police.

Keep an eye out for an EPCC joint HALO event with the East Penn Foundation to raise funds for the both organizations’ scholarship initiatives for East Penn students. We hope to see you at an upcoming EPCC event soon!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Phillipsburg Mayor Steve Ellis brings attendees "back to school" for this year’s State of the Town Address

Jim Swick, St. Luke’s Hospital - Warren Campus, Phillipsburg Area Chamber Chair

Attendees headed back to school for this year’s “State of the Town” Address with Phillipsburg Mayor Steve Ellis. The annual Breakfast with the Mayor was held at the newly constructed Phillipsburg High School on Thursday, March 30. As the exclusive presenting sponsor, St. Luke’s Warren Campus, provided everyone with official Hall Passes, which guests collected and donned as they made their way to the delicious breakfast being served in the Cafeteria.

Once the bells rang to signal the start of a new class period, guests finished networking and were ushered into the high school auditorium for the start of Mayor Ellis’ presentation. They listened attentively as Mayor Ellis outlined his plan for the revitalization of Phillipsburg, revealed exciting updates about the town, and shared personal stories. Finally, at the conclusion of the mayor’s address, the student council provided guided tours of the new high school facilities. Thank you to all who came out for this successful event.

The month of May is another busy one for the Phillipsburg Area Chamber. We look forward to our many upcoming events, including our Annual Awards Dinner on Tuesday, June 6th at Marianna’s Restaurant & Banquet Hall. We hope to see you there!

Coming Soon....Employer Engagement Center


Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board (LVWDB)

I recently held a media roundtable to discuss what is new here at LVWDB and the PA CareerLink Lehigh Valley.  We are excited to announce the Employer Engagement Center and other innovative programs that align with our vision, mission, and goals.

May 22, 2017
Of The Morning Call

To Nancy Dischinat, that's easy: finding workers in an era of falling unemployment.
But what isn't always easy is making connections between employers and job-seekers, said Dischinat, executive director of the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board.
To help bridge that gap, the organization will open an "Employer Engagement Center" around July 1 at the Workforce Development headquarters on East Union Boulevard in Allentown, Dischinat said Monday.
"It's a simple solution," she said of the center. "Tell us the jobs, skills and education you need, and we'll help you find the workers for you and get the engagement party started.
"It's going to be a stop-in center for employers that are looking for workers, looking for training, looking for training dollars, looking for data, looking for wage information, looking for a trained workforce," Dischinat said.
Dischinat organized a roundtable event Monday with her top administrators to give the public insight into that project and others. The board recently hired John Lamirand as director of data science and analytics to help bulk up its data.
William Bartle, strategic initiatives director, gave an update on a job-training program for inmates at Northampton County Prison, known as the LEAP Project. It has been used by the county for years, but officials bolstered it with a $500,000 federal grant that allowed the board to hire four employees to lead classes and guide nonviolent convicts toward jobs or training.
"Data kind of drove our decision," said Bartle. "Every year we saw more people coming to CareerLink with criminal backgrounds." Last year, he said more than 1,200 people with criminal records visited CareerLink facilities.
Since January 2016, Bartle said, 147 released inmates had enrolled in the program. Of those, 81 either found jobs or studied in vocational-training programs. He said 36 of the released inmates — about 24 percent — have been returned to jail, a recidivism rate that's about half of the jail's normal return rate.
"It's been a great program," said Dan Keen, the county's director of corrections. "The more that we can do to get these individuals prepared on the inside, the more likely they are not going to come back to jail," he said.
A 2014 federal law, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, provided governors with latitude on programs in their states based on industry needs and in-demand occupations. For the Lehigh Valley, it means such things as improving career services for those between the ages of 18 and 24, said Cindy Evans, director of youth initiatives.
"We need to get those youth working," she said, "and a lot of our youth don't have good role models to push them along and ... put them into a good path."
Expect to see more promotion of services available at Workforce Development. Dischinat was taping a video about the board's work after the roundtable, and plans are in place to upgrade its website.
"There is so gosh-darn much service available to individuals," she said. "I want to make sure they know it."

Monday, May 22, 2017

Forks Business Association kicks off new website with Website Launch Party

Lori Metz, YMCA, Easton Area Chamber Chair

On Thursday, April 27, the Forks Business Association hosted their official Website Launch Party outside the beautiful Park Plaza on Sullivan Trail. Forks community members and business owners came out to celebrate both the launching of the website and Forks Township itself. The highly-anticipated site was showcased onscreen to an eager audience.

The new FBA website offers an inside look into everything Forks Township has to offer its visitors. The site includes a directory of Forks businesses, special offers and events, and the latest township news. With Forks at their fingertips, users can easily access a breadth of information on dining, shopping, playing, and more. Be sure to check it out at www.ForksBusiness.org!

Even after the new website was unveiled, guests at the Launch Party lingered to peruse displays by Park Plaza businesses and enjoy an evening of free food and activities. Children were entertained by the Lafayette Leopard and Bethlehem Steel FC’s Soccer inflatable, while parents enjoyed beer and wine tasting courtesy of Weyerbacher and Blue Mounain Vineyards. Delicious food was provided by the Culinary Institute of Technology.

The Easton Area Chamber looks forward to our Annual Awards Reception on Thursday, June 15 at the newly renovated View at Morgan Hill. Please contact Lauren Spence at laurens@lehighvalleychamber.org if you would like more information on these upcoming Easton Chamber events!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Allentown Chamber - And the winner is...

Charles Thiel, Thiel Strategic Communications LLC, Allentown Chamber Chair

The City of Allentown has certainly seen its fair share of economic growth over the years and one thing the Allentown Chamber is really good at is recognizing our members. This year at our annual meeting on May 24, we honor four great businesses that have created jobs and vibrancy for our city.

NEW COMMITMENT – Union & Finch
is an American style bistro located at 1528 West Union Street in the former JP O’Malley’s location in the West End of Allentown. They offer quality food and drinks on a daily basis with a mature sense of hospitality and playful vibe. They combine the nostalgia of a long-lost neighborhood joint with a modern bistro setting to create the area’s newest destination for relaxed, casual dining.

DOWNTOWN COMMITMENT – Digital Feast, Inc.
is a digital marketing and branding agency located in the heart of Allentown. They are a full service agency with a talented team of creatives who produce websites, videos, digital ads, photography, logos and designs.
Digital Feast also creates and manages social media accounts and HTML e-mail campaigns.

GOOD NEIGHBOR – Joe Schaeffer of Allentown Appliance
is the recipient of this year’s Good Neighbor Award. Joe has served on the board of the Allentown Chamber, was the past president of the West End Alliance, and has been a good neighbor to the Allentown community for many years. Allentown Appliance is a family-owned discount appliances store based in Allentown since 1987. They serve customers throughout the entire Lehigh Valley.

DEDICATION – Jack’s Glass.
With over 100 years of experience in the Greater Lehigh Valley, Jack’s Glass has the reputation for being the best in the business. From custom shower doors and enclosures to storefronts and windows, Jack’s Glass is constantly being recognized by its customers and partners for doing each job flawlessly.

I hope you will join us on May 24 and help celebrate this year’s Joseph Daddona awardees.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Trailblazing Women of the Lehigh Valley

Laura Azzalina, Firstrust Bank, Women’s Business Council Chair

“Our History is our Strength, Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business” was the theme for National Women’s History Month. The 2017 theme honored women who have successfully challenged the role of women both personally and in the work force. In the Lehigh Valley, we are incredibly blessed to have many women who have made their mark in their work and in the community. They have served selflessly as community leaders and volunteers, connectors, sponsors and mentors. They have shared their experiences with the next generation of leaders and have offered guidance and advice when needed.

In October, the Women’s Business Council is proud to honor two deserving Women with the ATHENA Leadership Award and the Young Professional Leadership Award. These women demonstrate the attributes listed, serve as role models and actively assist other women in the attainments of professional excellence and leadership.

The ATHENA Organizational Leadership Award recognizes businesses and organizations that support develop and honor women leaders. These companies create a culture that encourages women employees to achieve their full leadership potential.

Consider nominating a women leaders that has made a difference in your life. Nominations are now being accepted for our 2017 ATHENA Award Program, for additional information, please contact Danielle Joseph.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Passion drives excellence at Small Business Council’s Excellence in Business Event

Barry Diehl, Your Neighborhood Drycleaner, Small Business Council Chair

I always find the Small Business Council’s Excellence in Business event very inspirational. Who wouldn’t want their company to be recognized for excellence? Each year I get something out of it that I apply to my business, and I also feel there is one message rings through loud and clear. Every winner has a deep abiding passion for what they do. That passion is evident whether their business is accounting, insurance, or jewelry, and clearly drives them to excellence.

Webster defines passion as a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something. We all have seen someone that exudes passion for what they do. Perhaps it is easiest to see it in athletes who wear their passion for everyone to see. While it might not sustain them to excellence every time, talent born out of hard work, driven by passion will usually lead them to a successful career. Children also have passions in abundance for things that excite them and make them endlessly happy. Some pursue their passions into careers. Others keep them as something to turn to when they are not working. I do believe that those who can engage their passions at work will be the happiest and achieve excellence.

My purpose is not help you define your passions, but to realize that you have them. Perhaps they are a part of what you do for a living. If they are not, maybe I can convince you to introduce them to your work life. I think it will make things a lot more fun, and who wouldn’t want that?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Nonprofit & Business Partners Council puts on stellar Collaboration Conference

Matthew J. Pye, Just Born, Nonprofit & Business Partners Council Chair

The Nonprofit & Business Partners Council put on another amazing Collaboration Conference on April 19 at the beautiful Miller Symphony Hall in Allentown. This was the 4th Annual Collaboration Conference and over 200 people came out to network, listen to inspiring speakers, meet with Lehigh Valley Funders and take away key personal and organizational insights. The theme of the conference was “Making Choices That Move Us Forward.” Melba Tolliver shared her story how she became the first black person ever to anchor a network news program and made a choice not to cover up her afro at the request of network executives. John Dodds, former Air Products Global Brand & Marketing Communications Director, shared five ways to build a purposeful partnership that we can choose to follow. Seth Price, Brand Expert & author of The Road to Recognition, talked about why trust matters to becoming successful and how people choose to partner with certain organizations and people who are trusted. The speaker's content and insights reinforced how our community can collaborate and collectively make the right choices to move forward on building a more vibrant Lehigh Valley Community.

The Bel Canto Children’s Chorus of The Bach Choir of Bethlehem performed for the conference and most attendees stuck around after the conference to attend the Funder’s Fair. Foundations and for-profit companies who have grant programs were available to network and discuss their funding requirements with nonprofits. Congratulations to Building 21 of Allentown who received this year’s Community Collaboration Award. Many people on our council contributed to make this event a success, but in particular I would like to thank our event chairperson Andrew Cassano, Administrative Director of Zoellner Arts Center and Lorie Reinert, our Chamber Staff Liaison for the NPBP Council.

Monday, May 15, 2017

LGBT Business Council - Summit Recap and Gala Details

Randall S. Kimble, Air Products Retiree, LGBT Business Council President

Before I mention our “Evening in Paris” Gala on June16, I want to sum up (brag) about the success we had at our inaugural LGBT Business Summit.

We had 26 awesome sponsors including our platinum sponsor, the Bennett Automotive Group, who graciously lined up the Muhlenberg College entrance with a few Maserati’s. There were 162 attendees, four awesome breakout sessions, morning address speaker Tony Iannelli, and our Keynote speaker, Lea DeLaria.

As always, Tony killed it with the audience who had the opportunity to hear firsthand highlights regarding the 7th largest Chamber of Commerce in the US and shared the background in forming the LGBT Business Council in 2012. Thanks Tony and the Board of Governors!

Our keynote speaker, Lea DeLaria, famous for her role as Boo in “Orange is the New Black,” is the first gay comic on television, having worked in countless TV and film roles as well as being an author. She is also a featured jazz vocalist in opera houses in the U.S., U.K. and Australia... and started with singing jazz leading up to her hysterical comedy during the Summit. She had everyone ending the day on a light note of laughter.

If you missed the Summit this year, please look for information about next year’s event which we are already planning.

Come celebrate our accomplishments with us at our annual GALA on Friday, June 16 at Bear Creek Mountain Resort! This year’s theme is “An Evening in Paris” presented by NOVUS ACS and Capital BlueCross. Enjoy the atmosphere, beautiful setting and venue, silent auction, and DJ Brad Smith. It’s also not too late to sponsor the event.

Contact Jessica for tickets, silent auction donations and/or to sponsor the GALA at jessicac@lehighvalleychamber.org.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Hispanic Chamber Updates

Luis Campos, City of Easton, Hispanic Chamber of the Lehigh Valley Chairman

Thank you to everyone who joined us this month at our Cinco de Mayo celebration in Easton, Pennsylvania! This year’s Cinco de Mayo celebration was held on Tuesday, May 2 at the Crayola Experience. The family-friendly event included a variety of food trucks, live music, and of course plenty of activities for children.

In June, the Hispanic Chamber will be participating in the Excellence in Business Awards. We are currently accepting nominations for the Hispanic Business/Person of the Year. Nominations should be sent attention to Samantha Cartageña. This is a great way to highlight an individual or member who has earned the right to be acknowledged by their community.


In 2009, the Hispanic Chamber launched the FE (Future Entrepreneurs) Foundation, which  provides corporate internships as well as social and academic training for primarily Lehigh Valley Latino high school students. Since FE’s launch, 218 students have participated in the program. This year’s class is expected to enroll over 30 students. FE’s annual reception took place at Lehigh Country Club on March 31, where Nacho Abia, President and CEO of Olympus North America, emphasized the importance of giving back to the community and in particular programs such as the FE Foundation. The Hispanic Chamber is grateful for the support received by not only Olympus, but all the Lehigh Valley companies that have and continue to sponsor this great program.

For more information on our events, or how you or your business can be involved with the Hispanic Chamber of the Lehigh Valley, please contact Samantha Cartageña at samanthac@lehighvalleychamber.org.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Leadership and Culture

Charles Everett, Lehigh Valley International Airport, African American Business Leaders Council Chair

In a recent book, People First Leadership by Eduardo Braun, the impact of culture and emotion on organizational performance is explored. According to Braun, there are five key roles of leadership. They are to inspire a vision, to be all about people, to communicate, to make decisions, and to create and manage culture.


Culture has numerous definitions. According to Webster, culture is the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations. In organizations, culture is a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs, which governs actions. These shared values have a strong influence on the people in the organization and dictate how they dress, act, and perform their jobs. Every organization develops and maintains a unique culture, which provides guidelines and boundaries for the behavior of the members of the organization. Culture governs the ways in which the organization conducts its business, shares information, treats employees, serves customers, and even interacts with the broader community.


It is easy for those who lead organizations to be consumed by elements of business strategy, like operations, marketing, and finance, while failing to invest the necessary amount of time and energy in the underlying culture of the organization. One could argue that it is the culture that provides a solid foundation for operational results.

To stay abreast of all AABLC activities and events visit the Facebook page on Facebook @GLVAfricanAmericanBusinessLeadersCouncil.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

How to Get the Value out of Your Chamber Membership

Julie Knight, Financial Advisor - Morgan Stanley, Chair, Ambassadors Council

Interview with Trevor Scarlato, Branch Manager, Wells Fargo

Why did you originally get involved with the Chamber?
I grew up in the Lehigh Valley which gave me great opportunities. I wanted to continue to network and give back to the community I live and work in. The Chamber brings communities together and makes the Lehigh valley a better area to be.

How did you originally get involved with the Chamber?
I had amazing mentors through Wells Fargo and Moravian College that are very involved in The Chamber. They spoke with me regarding involvement and I was able to get my foot in the door.

How have you benefited from being a Chamber member?
I have been able to make a positive name for myself and company in the community. Whether we are sponsoring or hosting events everyone sees how we put in the extra time and resources to support the Valley.

How have you gotten the value out of your membership?
I have connected to start up small businesses in our area, generated money for non-profits such as school district’s and parks/stadiums, and volunteered time for many great charities.

How do you recommend others get involved to get the value out of their membership?
Attend as many events as possible!!

What is your favorite aspect of the Chamber?
Making a difference in the communities we live and work in.

What do you hope to gain from your continual involvement with the Chamber?
Continued growth, meeting new people, creating positive impressions, and growing business throughout the Valley.

What do you wish new members knew about Chamber Membership?
It’s a great way to not only get involved but to make a difference. If you’re not sure about current events or happenings in your local area’s it’s a great way to learn and branch out of your company to the larger community.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Bridging the Skills Gap in Manufacturing

Jack E. Pfunder, Manufacturers Resource Center Chair, Manufacturing Council

The skills gap in manufacturing will not get fixed for a long time. That is the general consensus. So, if your manufacturing company is waiting on the sidelines for the problem to go away, it will be a long wait.

With the low unemployment rate and a steady stream of baby boomers retiring, most companies are having a hard time identifying employees they need for growth. Along with the “hard” technology skills, local businesses are seeking employees who are also adept at soft skills like communication and critical thinking. Finding people with both sets of skills might be a key reason why so many manufacturing jobs are going unfilled.

Growing demands from other industries in our region are also intensifying the competition for the skilled talent manufacturers need. The bottom line is simple. It is time for manufacturing companies to become more proactive in solving this problem or lose your competitive advantage.

One of the main solutions rests with the younger generation. Manufacturing companies can become partners with the career and technical schools and the community colleges to help those students understand the opportunities and advantages companies have to offer. Manufacturers can work with these schools to help with course design or educate teachers about their unique needs. As a manufacturing company, you should think about providing tours, mentorships, internships or apprenticeships for the students that will give you a leg up on hiring the best of the best.

Join us at the Chamber’s next Manufacturing Summit. We will brainstorm with our panel of experts about ways your company can influence the day-to-day training of these students and ways to inspire young people. Manufacturers can help students understand that STEM skills give them a strong foundation and can apply to all facets of your manufacturing environment. Now is the time to step up your game and get engaged.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The true value of LED technology is yet to be realized.

Neil Schroder, Synergy Electrical Sales, Energy & Environment Committee Member

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a revolution going on in the lighting world. Walk down any light bulb aisle in America and you can’t miss it. It’s interesting to note that LED’s (light-emitting diode) have been around since the ‘80’s; however, it wasn’t until TV manufactures began producing LED flat panel televisions that the price in individual components became economical enough to provide LED’s as a lighting source for the masses.

However, there is far more value to this emerging light source than just pure energy savings. A recent study found that Color Rendering Index (CRI), more simply -- how good something looks under artificial light- plays a much higher role in productivity and general wellness than brightness of that light. LED’s produce a light much closer to the full spectrum light from the Sun…meaning greater productivity and LESS WASTE, which pays huge dividends to our environment.

Furthermore, in the commercial world LED technology is allowing manufactures to piggyback other building systems onto the light fixtures themselves. In the very near future you will see light fixtures that also provide space utilization, carbon monoxide levels, security data, temperature readings, high speed internet, etc. This merging of building systems means commercial buildings will run 30-50% more efficiently and the elimination of numerous redundant systems in the construction process, further reducing the impact on the environment from start to finish. In the end, LED technology will continue to push the efficiency envelope, but look for these additional benefits to really drive impact.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

MENTOR, MENTOR ON THE WALL-DO WE HAVE THE MOST DEVELOPED WORKFORCE OF THEM ALL?


Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board

MENTOR, MENTOR ON THE WALL
DO WE HAVE THE MOST DEVELOPED WORKFORCE OF THEM ALL?
As we continue to talk about skills and knowledge gaps, it is time for each of us to step up to the mentoring plate! What if you created an experience for just ONE middle or high school student that bridges the skills and knowledge gaps?

“Mentoring is defined as a relationship in which an experienced person assists someone in developing specific skills  and knowledge to enhance their personal and professional growth.”

While attending the recent Annual National Association of Workforce Boards conference in Washington D.C., mentoring programs were just one of the workforce areas we discussed with Congressman Matt Cartwright.  During our visits, we expressed to Congressmen Cartwright and other Lehigh Valley legislators that through work experience, mentoring, and career development, we help young people enter the workforce with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to be successful in a 21st-century workplace setting.

Please join me in a new Mentoring Model that opens doors, develops skills, and keeps young adults engaged academically, and focused on jobs right here in the Lehigh Valley. In the Metropolitan Statistical Area we currently have an estimated 99,000 youth population between the ages 16 and 24 of which 8,400 are not in school and not working.

Let us work with you to design an individualized mentoring experience customized to you and your work environment for just ONE of those 8,400 youth. Please help us develop the pipeline with the employability, academic, and technical skills needed in Lehigh Valley’s workforce. 


Call for a free consultation on mentoring within your business.






Chamber Public Policy Committee meets State Representative Justin Simmons

Dorota Gasienica-Kozak, Esquire King Spry Herman Freund & Faul, LLC

State Representative Justin Simmons recently visited with the Public Policy Committee, as part of the committee’s mission to meet with every Lehigh Valley legislator on Chamber’s policies and how we can continue to make a meaningful impact for our members.

Simmons serves the 131st Legislative District which covers parts of Lehigh, Montgomery and Northampton counties. He was born in Pennsylvania, raised in the Lehigh Valley and graduated from Southern Lehigh High School and Saint Joseph’s University. Serving his fourth term as Representative for the 131st Legislative District for the 2017-18 session, Simmons serves on the Children and Youth, Human Services, Liquor Control and Transportation committees.


“Finalizing a budget before the June 30 deadline that doesn’t raise taxes and spends less than last year is a top priority,” said Rep. Justin Simmons (R-Lehigh/Montgomery /Northampton). “Our goal is to reinvent Pennsylvania government by consolidating departments and enacting pro-growth policies that enhance the lives of residents. We’re also focused on implementing meaningful changes to the public pension systems that lessen the burden on taxpayers and additional liquor reforms that offer further convenience for consumers.”

Rep. Simmons indicated he will focus on two key items: Pensions and Privatizing Liquor Stores. Public Policy members were thrilled to hear that Representative Justin Simmons supports the business community by fighting to lower the Corporate Net Income Tax and eliminate the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax. Additionally, Rep. Simmons favors reducing the size of the state Legislature and eliminating wasteful spending. He also supports part-time status for members of the General Assembly and operating on a two-year budget cycle.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Spring Economic Updates

Dr. Kamran Afshar, Chamber Chief Economist, The Chamber’s Finance Committee

The FED raised its overnight lending rate by a one quarter percent on March 15. This is the second increase in this rate in three months, and it came with a promise of further rate increases in 2017.

The economy has shown steady growth in the last two years. Employment growth has been phenomenal and by now it is approaching the so-called full employment level without, as of yet, having much effect on inflation. Since the end of the recession unemployment has dropped from 10 percent to 4.6 percent while inflation, instead of rising, dropped to less than 1 percent in 2015. It recovered somewhat and ended 2016 at 2.1 percent. All of this is happening in an environment of extreme low interest rates ushered in by the FED which also more than quadrupled the supply of high powered money. Based on historical references this should have created, if not a triple digit, at least a double-digit inflation rate. Yet here we are with inflation rate of around 2 percent.

The 21st century global economy is very different from the first half of the last century’s national economies. Back then, there were a lot more stringent trade and currency barriers which significantly reduced the flow of goods and services across borders. Inflation happens when a lot of money is chasing a few goods, and open trade and exchange policies solve the problem of “few goods” since the globe is becoming the market place. This significantly reduces the chances of high inflation in a single country.

However, despite low inflation, the FED is not only raising its rates, but it is also promising more increases to come.

The reason the FED is acting now while inflation is still quite tamed is because it cannot wait for high inflation to hit before taking action. Some of us still remember Paul Volcker’s strong armed attempt to deal with the 14 percent inflation in the early 1980s. He hiked the Federal Funds rate to more than 19 percent, some 18 percentage points higher than the current rate of close to one percent! Of course, almost all economist blame Volcker’s actions for the devastating double dip recession that ensued. However, to be fair, it should be acknowledged that Volcker’s actions also did reduce the rate of inflation, however, at a very high cost to the economy.

The FED has not only abandoned its expansionary monetary policy of the past, it has been practicing a soft contractionary monetary policy since October 2014, siphoning out some of the excess money that it pumped into the economy for six years. In the face of high employment and increasing wages, and an inflation rate that has more than doubled since the election, the FED is poised to exercise tight monetary policy, to keep inflation in check.