Monday, August 14, 2017

Academy Award nominated documentary "I’m Not Your Negro" spurs conversation

Marc Troutman, Met-Ed, a FirstEnergy Company
African American Business Leaders Council Vice Chair

On June 22, the African America Business Leaders Council hosted a screening of the academy award nominated documentary film I’m Not Your Negro. The event was held at the Civic Theatre in Allentown. The event was more than just a screening; guests were also participants in a panel discussion that followed the film. The discussion panel was special in the sense that it consisted of people with ties to the film as well as its subject matter. Guests on the panel included Pamela Brook, the mother of a young man mentioned in the film who was killed in a police pursuit at the age of 17; Trevor Baldwin, Nephew of the activist James Baldwin who was the main character in the film, was skyped in for the panel discussion from California; and Allentown police officer Luiz Garcia.

The event started with a brief meet and greet followed by the screening and panel discussion. The film is a documentary on race relations in the United States covering the impact and demise of several leaders such as Martin Luther King , Malcom X and Medgar Evers. James Baldwin participated with and documented experiences with these leaders over a period of time. The audience was mainly African American but included many others who were interested in the film as well as the betterment of our Lehigh Valley community. The panel discussion was interactive, not only between panelists and the moderator, but  also the audience. The piece is considered unfinished and the participants picked up on that during the discussion. It is unfinished in the sense that we still have work to do across the nation as well as the Lehigh Valley.

At the end of the evening, the common request from the audience was, "What’s next?" We need to keep the conversation going. All agreed that more discussions like this should take place but also agreed you can start the conversation any time at any place. Overall, the event was very meaningful and insightful for all involved.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Networking 101

Nate Kline, Infradapt, Ambassadors Council Committee Member

As Ambassadors, one of our goals is to assist new members in getting the most out of their Chamber membership, and we provide tips on how to maximize the value of your membership. One of those tips is to regularly attend networking events. The Chamber has eight business and diversity councils that regularly host business networking events every month. Get closer to the councils that you feel are aligned with your business, and actively participate in their events. Get to know the council  members and see if they need volunteer assistance! The truth is that networking does not happen overnight. Relationships do not happen overnight. Like any relationship, successful business relationships take time to develop. And, as they say, you get out what you put in to it.

Maybe you are shy, or maybe you think that networking is a waste of time. Here are a few networking tips to assist you at your next event.

Networking is about being genuine and authentic, building trust and getting to know other local business-minded people. Become a powerful resource for others and help others, so they learn to turn to you for suggestions, ideas, etc. Keep the dialogue interesting, and do not turn it into a sales pitch. The conversation will naturally turn to what you do for a living, but that does not translate into a sales pitch. Try to keep the conversational flow without making it awkward, even if that means talking about non -usiness related topics. Get to know the person that you are talking to, and see how you may be able to help them out. Lastly, create actionable takeaways, and make sure you execute on them. Whether that is a follow up meeting, or phone call, make sure to keep your word.

Please visit the Chamber calendar for this month’s events list. And, if you are at an event, look for the gold Ambassadors badge. We will gladly introduce you to as many contacts that we have in
the room!

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Chamber’s Transportation Forum attracts 300 attendees

This year’s Transportation Forum proved the vital importance of this topic to the Lehigh Valley business community. To further reinforce how critical transportation is to our quality of life, a good number of elected officials and staff representing the full range of Federal, State and Local constituencies showed their much appreciated support. Many thanks to the businesses and organizations who generously sponsored to make the event possible.

To kick things off, Lehigh Valley Traffic Club past President Bill Fritchey presented much-deserved Scholarship Awards to students Baylee Zimmerman and Jacob Mann, and Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board Executive Director Nancy Dischinat informed and entertained as only she can. Lehigh Valley Planning Commission Executive Director Becky Bradley then did the honors of introducing esteemed keynote speaker Edward Humes, author of the must-read book “Door-to-Door.” Mr. Humes, drawing from his extensive research into our nation’s complex transportation system, challenged conventional and long-accepted car-centric planning and encouraged us to open our minds to a future less and less dependent on human-piloted vehicles. Mr. Humes then participated in a panel discussion with Ms. Bradley, PennDOT District 5-0 Executive Michael Rebert, Lehigh Northampton Airport Authority Executive Director Charles Everett and Lehigh and Northampton Transit Authority Executive Director Owen O’Neill, expertly introduced by Langan Engineering’s AnnMarie Vigilante and facilitated by non-other than Tony Iannelli.

The panel session was taped as a Business Matters episode which aired on July 3rd on WFMZ and can be watched at WFMZ website The Chamber’s Transportation Committee looks forward to your feedback- what topic do you want see next year?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Does your business help inspire girls in STEEM?

Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director

For our youth summer, is the time for fun, exploration and memorable experiences.  Our STEEM CareerLinking Academies offer this and more for girls between the ages of 10 - 12 years old in the Lehigh Valley.

Through the support of the Bosch Community Fund, the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board, Inc. developed week long CareerLinking Academies to increase the awareness of Science, Technology, Engineering, Environment, and Math (STEEM) career pathways through project-based learning and activities. 

The curriculum includes: career exploration, educational field trips, tours of manufacturers, educational institution visits, hands-on science/environmental/conservation projects, and leadership, life skills, problem-solving and critical thinking activities led by female mentors in STEEM-related occupations.

As participants complete daily STEEM CareerLinking Academy activities, they work towards a final student showcase presentation for parents, guardians, families, and mentors at the end of the week.  This final day celebration highlights STEEM CareerLinking Academy activities from the week and showcases participants’ achievements.

These CareerLinking Academies are aligned to the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Career Education and Work and are designed to develop a future workforce pipeline in high demand, high growth industries such as manufacturing.

If your business is interested in hosting these a group in summer 2018, please contact us.  I know that you will gain as much perspective as these future leaders do through your participation.  To see more photos please visit my facebook page that captured all the education and fun!

2017 June and July STEEM CareerLinking Academies 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Mamufacturing Council's 13th Summit Recap

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

On Thursday, June 29, the Manufacturing Council held the 13th Summit at the Bethlehem ArtsQuest Center. The topic of interest was how manufacturers are taking a proactive approach with the various Career and Technical Schools and Community Colleges to build a skilled workforce for their specific needs. Several companies in the Lehigh Valley have partnered with the local schools and are finding a tremendous benefit with a more skilled and engaged workforce.

The event had two panels of experts discussing these issues. The Resource panel, moderated by Gina Kormanik of the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board, discussed the different educational resources available to help solve the talent shortage. The panel members were: Christopher Gaylo, Director of Advanced Technology Center at Northampton Community College; Dean Terri Keefe, Director of Business Development at Lehigh Carbon Community College; Jim Kester, Technology and Engineering Teacher at Parkland School District; and Dr. Tim Rushton, Executive Director of Lehigh Career & Technical Institute.

The Industry panel, moderated by Scott Palochik of Enterprise Systems Partners, Inc. (espi), spoke on the specific programs they have developed in conjunction with the schools. They shared how they identified the skills gap and coordinated with the career and technical schools, as well as developing micro-credential programs and Pennsylvania’s first accredited electro-mechanical apprenticeship program. Our industry experts were: Brenda Diehl, Human Resources Manager at Bracalente Manufacturing Group; Richard “Mac” McMahon, Performance Excellence Supervisor at Ocean Spray Cranberries; Joseph Hammond, Director, Component Manufacturing Business Unit, Allentown Operations at B|Braun Medical Inc.; and Carlos Valdes, U.S. Director of Human Resources at Victaulic.

If you have any topic suggestions, questions or to be added to the e-mail list please contact Scott Palochik – for more information.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Climate Solutions Caucus in House of Representatives offers bipartisan conversation on climate change

Randy Gyory, PA Co-Coordinator for Citizens’ Climate Lobby
Energy & Environment Committee Member

Healthcare, taxes, and Presidential tweets - it’s no secret we live in highly polarized times. In this highly polarized Congress, however, one new caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives offers a new way forward: the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus.

Wait... Respectful, bipartisan conversation, and action? On climate change? Yes. Members of Congress purposefully join the Caucus in pairs of one Republican and one Democrat.

The Caucus then offers a safe and welcoming space for conversation about how climate change will impact the citizens of this country, and which policies will best address the challenges we face. The Caucus was founded by two Floridian Representatives, Republican Carlos Curbelo and Democrat Ted Deutch, who share concerns about the risk to south Florida from rising seas and worsening storms. There are now 46 Members of Congress who have chosen to engage in this productive, respectful and bipartisan conversation about our future, including Pennsylvania Republicans Brian Fitzpatrick, Ryan Costello, and Patrick Meehan.

I believe that it is crucial that the Lehigh Valley have a seat at the table as Congress discusses economically viable ways to protect our national security, infrastructure, agriculture, and public health from climate related destruction. It is my personal belief that Representatives Charlie Dent (R) and Matt Cartwright (D), who each are comfortable working together and across the aisle, should strongly consider joining the Climate Solutions Caucus together to ensure that the voices of the Valley are heard.

As Representative Fitzpatrick said recently about the Caucus, “We need to get beyond this Hatfields versus McCoys brand of politics.” The Climate Solutions Caucus offers one small but important way to do just that.

As this article was going to press, Rep. Matt Cartwright joined the Climate Solutions Caucus with Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ).

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Public Policy Committee welcomes two new members

John Hayes, New Tripoli Bank
Public Policy Committee Chair

Welcome to two new members of the Chamber’s Public Policy Committee: John Pruzinsky and Donald Flad.

John Pruzinsky of New Enterprise Stone & Lime will be our representative for Whitehall Chamber of Commerce. He is a current board member of the Western Lehigh Chamber. As Area Sales Manager for New Enterprise, he has extensive experience in construction materials and services. He is a graduate of Lehigh University and has previously served as Planning Commissioner with Whitehall Township.

Donald Flad, Jr. will be our representative for the LGBT Council where he is a Council member. He is Community Outreach and Membership Team Leader with Sam’s Club in Bethlehem. Donald has extensive community experience, currently serving as Phillipsburg Rotary Club President as well as other civic organizations. He is a graduate of Penn State University.

As we all enjoy summertime (and get those snow blowers ready), we are in our planning phase now for where we would like to see the committee active in 2017-2018. In addition, we are actively partnering with other organizations, such as the Pennsylvania Bankers Association and Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, in areas of mutual interest. This is all designed to ensure that your Chamber has the strongest voice possible and increase our ability to serve you, our membership.

In addition, we encourage our local chambers and councils to be active in their communities. You have a voice in local issues, use it!

Thanks to all of you for your support and confidence in us.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Main Street Foundation support continues Hamilton District beautification efforts

Laurie G. Hackett, Air Products
Chamber Foundation Chair, Main Street Lehigh Valley Grant Program

What a memorable way to celebrate the Tenth Anniversary of the Chamber Main Street Foundation! In a wonderful ceremony on the steps of the Butz building in Allentown, the BB&T Economic Growth Fund and the LV Community Foundation shared the outstanding news that we were awarded a $50,000 grant to beautiful the Hamilton District Main Street. For a decade, the Chamber Foundation has worked together with hundreds of community partners to improve and enhance our business areas and this grant announcement is further proof that the Chamber Main Street Foundation is making a positive difference.

With the support of this grant, the Hamilton District can continue its beautification efforts between 10th and 12th streets in downtown Allentown to include additional plantings, seating and bike racks. Special thanks to Scott Fainor, Dave Kennedy and Bernie Story for the grant opportunity. We cannot wait to get started with the street beautification under the leadership of Chamber senior VP Miriam Huertas. Be sure to join us at the Hotel Bethlehem on Wednesday, August 23rd for the 2017 Chamber Awards which will spotlight the 25 community projects to receive Main Street Foundation support. For more information, contact Executive Director Lorie Reiner at

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Our national debt is now larger than our GDP

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

National debt is now more than $19 trillion and appears to be continuing to rise for the foreseeable future. This puts the National Debt at 105% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. For the first time since the end of WWII, national debt has topped the GDP. It should be added that at the end of WWII, National Debt stood at 121% of the Gross Domestic Product. However, the interest payment on that debt then was only 1.8% of the GDP. Which was due to the very low interest rates of the time.

In the early 1980s, debt level was around 35% of the GDP. However, the interest on the debt was around 2.3% of the Gross Domestic Product - a significantly higher interest rate environment compared to the mid-1940s. By the end of the 1980s, debt levels rose to 51% of the GDP and the cost of interest on the debt rose to 3% of the Gross Domestic Product - the highest percentage in the last 70 years.

The question is: how does this affect me? As interest payment on national debt takes a larger percentage of the GDP, more of national income is diverted from everything else to paying that interest, which will eventually mean higher interest rates, higher taxes, higher inflation, and cut back in government investment and larger deficits.

Since the start of the Great Recession, national debt as a percentage of the GDP rose. However, interest payment on the debt as a percentage of the GDP has dropped below 1.3 by 2016, the lowest ratios since the late 1940s.

Major concerns have been expressed about repayment of the national debt and potential for bankruptcy. Let’s look at the repayment mechanism. How did the country pay back the huge debt created during WWII which was 121% of the GDP? The answer to that is very simple; it was never paid back. Surprised? Actually, total debt rose by $700 billion between 1946 and 1981 while the debt to GDP ratio dropped from 121% to only 32%. Magic? No, the GDP increased 13-fold during the same period.

Also, since the national debt is in US dollars, unlike the Greeks who could not print as much Euro as they needed, the US can print as many dollars as it wants and then some. Therefore, bankruptcy is a technical impossibility for the US on its own national debt.

This does not mean that the size of the national debt does not matter. It simply means that as long as the debt level stays within historical boundaries, it will not become an economic issue.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Community Development through Main Street Lehigh Valley's Grant Program

Dorota Gasienica-Kozak, Esquire
King, Spry, Herman, Freund, & Faul, LLC
Board of Governors Chair, The Chamber

Your Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce is committed to providing traditional chamber services like business-to-business network building and marketing opportunities, government affairs and public policy advocacy, training and informational programs, and exclusive money saving services and discounts, all designed to make you more efficient, your job more rewarding and to help grow your business and save you money.

In addition, we are also dedicated to community development because we believe that it promotes our mission to improve the economy and quality of life in the Lehigh Valley.

Fundraising efforts at key events throughout the year, along with a growing number of street fairs and festivals produced by our affiliated chambers of commerce, bring major focus to the business districts and improve traffic to local stores. These events create communal pride as communities are showcased, celebrated and brought to life! Upcoming fairs and festival promotions can be found in the pages of the August issue of Connections.

Now in its 10th year, Main Street Lehigh Valley is The Chamber’s 501(c)3, charitable arm. MSLV uses donations from the private sector to directly fund community development projects and targeted investments in visual enhancements in every city, urban core, downtown, small town and borough. We believe that this is the key to a thriving economy.

To date, MSLV has granted more than $375,000, leveraging more than $7 million, to support 225 projects in 30 communities. Funded projects include bike racks, pavilions, murals, flower baskets, trail signage, farmer’s markets, benches, lighting, security cameras, water fountains, playgrounds and other streetscape and beautification projects.

Of course, it takes resources to accomplish these goals. The Chamber and MSLV continue to seek members and affiliates with the same dedication and the time, talent and treasure to contribute to help make every Lehigh Valley community all that it can be - On Every Main Street! 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

YOUR comments for OUR local plan welcomed!

Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board.

On behalf of Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director of the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board, Inc., doing business as Workforce Board Lehigh Valley, in partnership with the Chief Elected Officials of Lehigh and Northampton Counties, is seeking public comments on its new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Multi-Year Plan for the 2017-2019 program years.  The Multi-Year Plan is consistent with guidelines issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

The draft Multi-Year Plan has been posted on the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board, Inc. website for comments. 
The Plan will remain available for comments for 30 days (through August 24, 2017).  The final plan will be submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry on or before September 1, 2017.

To access the plan, or for information on where and when you can view a hard copy of the plan, visit

Public comments should be emailed to Nancy Dischinat at within the 30 day public comment period with the subject line LOCAL PLAN COMMENTS.

For those who would prefer to provide comments in person, two public meetings will be held on Wednesday, August 9, 2017: at 11:00 am at the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce/Bethlehem Chamber office, 1 E. Broad St. (5th Floor), Bethlehem, PA 18018; and, at 6:00 pm at PA CareerLink® Lehigh Valley, 555 Union Blvd., Allentown, PA 18109.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact me at or by telephone at 610-841-1122.