Friday, October 13, 2017

East Penn Chamber updates

Thomas Capehart, Gross McGinley, East Penn Chamber Chair

We have a lot going on in the EPCC!

Our September event in partnership with WLCC was hosted by ATAS International Inc., a leading manufacturer of metal roofing, wall cladding, ceilings, perimeter edge metal, and accessories located in Allentown. With sustainability at the forefront of modern building design, ATAS proudly supports green building objectives with high performance solutions, such as solar-ready roof panels, insulated metal panels, ENERGY STAR® qualified cool roofing products, and solar air heating wall panels. Thank you to all who attended and a big thank you to Executive VP, Jim Bus and Jim Bush, VP of Sales and Marketing for speaking to our group.

Our Mixer with the East Penn School District Education Foundation held at the House & Barn Restaurant in Emmaus was successful, with teachers, administrators, parents, and local businesses uniting to raise money for the Foundation’s scholarship fund and the East Penn Chamber Scholarship Fund. Thanks to all who participated and help raising money for the scholarship funds, and a special thank you to Carl Billera and the staff at the Barn for hosting, Spillman Farmer Architects for sponsoring the event, and to Jordan White for his live music performance.

We are looking forward to the joint luncheon with the WLCC concerning the role of business and community volunteers in public safety hosted by the Cetronia Ambulance Corp. at its education center, featuring speakers from state and local emergency response organizations, with food provided by Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza.

Don’t forget to check us out at on Facebook and Twitter @EastPennChamber

Hope to see you at an upcoming EPCC event soon!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Audience raves about new Phillipsburg documentary

George Chando, Phillipsburg Area Chamber Chair

Last month, Phillipsburg High School transformed into a red carpet affair for the premiere of the new Phillipsburg Movie – a brand-new documentary created by Lou Reda Productions. This 19-minute film captured the spirit of Phillipsburg through historical footage of many of our town’s beloved traditions and interviews with current residents. At the same time, the documentary pointed toward the bright future of our growing town. By showcasing everything Phillipsburg has to offer, the short film will serve as a marketing tool to attract new businesses, homeowners, developers, and investors to town.

Phillipsburg public officials, business owners, community members, and families flocked to the September premiere of this film. The free event included a reception, a brief presentation by the Mayor and Chamber representatives, the movie premiere, and concluded with a discussion with the filmmakers. Audience members raved about the impact of the film, its artistic portrayal of the town, and their renewed pride in our community.

Thank you to everyone who made this film possible, as well as all those who came out to celebrate Phillipsburg’s past, present and future at the premiere of this documentary. We hope to see you all at our upcoming Phillipsburg events, including the inaugural Pork Roll Palooza, Easton-Phillipsburg Halloween Parade, and Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Easton welcomes 3 new Forks Township restaurants

Lori Metz, YMCA of Easton, Phillipsburg, and Vicinity
Easton Area Chamber Chair

Easton is proud to welcome three brand-new dining establishments to Park Plaza in Forks Township. The three restaurants – Alfie’s Kitchen, Red White & Que Smokehouse, and Sam’s Bagels & Deli – celebrated their grand openings within days of each other. All three new businesses are exciting additions to Park Plaza that contribute to the array of dining options offered by the shopping center.

Alfie’s Kitchen is operated by father-daughter duo Al and Dominique Crivellaro. The menu is full of delicious breakfast and lunch items made each day from scratch. Patrons will absolutely find something they love on the menu, and there are always specials to try out.

Red White & Que, owned by husband and wife Dan and Katie Misuraca, specializes in cooked-daily meats: Texas-style brisket, Carolina pulled pork, St. Louis ribs, chicken and sausage. The meat is delicious on its own or paired with one of their six homemade sauces, along with mouth-watering sides like mac and cheese, potato salad, baked beans and coleslaw. This BYOB restaurant is one of six locations owned by the couple. The couple is also planning to open another new restaurant called Soup or Bowl, which offers handcrafted soups and smoothie bowls, right next door.

Last but certainly not least, Sam’s Bagels & Deli is a delicious new breakfast and lunch spot which offers over fifteen different types of bagels, including the Instagram-famous Rainbow Bagel, as well as deli sandwiches made with Boars Head cold cuts. His New-York-style bagels are boiled to perfection. Compared to other bagels, these have a fraction of the calories.

We hope you will stop by and enjoy these new dining establishments during the month of October!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Strengthen your business as the seasons change

It seems the seasons change quick these days… where in the world did summer go? We are so busy with everyday life; keeping up with family, work and technology. Can we fit in much else?

I thought I would break it down for you with the beautiful seasons we experience in our area; try a new activity and take a new approach to business:

~ The crisp cool air is upon us. Time to pull out the sweaters and fleece jackets. This is a time to take in the beautiful colors that nature brings us without a doubt, every year. Get up an hour early and take a walk or bike ride on the D & L trail before work. Enjoy the pristine lakes throughout the county by taking a stroll on the beach, kayaking or simply sit on the water’s edge and take it all in. Let your mind wonder and think about creating a brand new 30 second commercial – to promote yourself and your business. Once you have created a script, practice. Get excited when you begin to use it! For help creating your commercial visit:

~ Get ready for the chill in the air, winter coats and snow! Try cross country skiing, snow shoeing or tubing. If you are not that adventurous, bundle up and take an easy walk after a snowfall and enjoy the beauty and peaceful experience of Mother Nature. When you get back inside, make yourself a hot cup of tea or cocoa and write a press release on something about your business – it can be as little at 50 words, and then send it our way. This is a free way to get your word out – let us do the work by sending to businesses and the media! If you need help, contact our office and we will help you write it up.

~ The snow has melted and the trees are budding - there is warmth in the air! Time to shed the heavy winter clothing and get moving. Check out a local gym, take a dance lesson or get involved with a non-profit organization. Take a few hours to donate your time to help others. Spring is also a great time to look in the mirror, check out your wardrobe and make sure you are at your best! It only takes 10 seconds for someone to size you up … be polished and professional, have a great handshake and make sure your posture is good…stand tall!

~ The sun is shining bright and our county has much to offer over the summer months! Fish, hike, bike, kayak or take a walk through our many quaint towns, shop and grab a great lunch. Treat yourself to a massage at one of our many spas or take a yoga class – even on the Blue Mountain! Challenge yourself to meet ten new people over the summer who can support you and help you grow your business. There is so much to do in the area! In addition, take time over the summer and plan a staff retreat… whitewater rafting is a great way to bring your employees together for a fun day of team building.

There you have it … we have explored the seasons in Carbon County to help your mind, body and spirit – with a plan to strengthen your business!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Education in Allentown: Caring for Our Future Leaders

Patrick McNealis, Patrick McNealis Insurance and Financial Group, Allentown Chamber Chair

Having reached the start of fall, the school year has officially begun. The most prevalent consideration many of us have as parents, educators and students is: are we ready to excel during this upcoming school year? Each day, walking routes will be filled with children eager to engage in new experiences with the chance to acquire skills and obtain information that will allow them to grow. We hope that these children are excited for their days ahead where they will be given the opportunity to learn and be challenged.

The Allentown Chamber of Commerce and the African American Business Leaders Council are joining together to prepare for the Education in Allentown: Caring for Our Future Leaders event to be held on October 19. Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera and Allentown School District Superintendent Thomas Parker will be presenting to Lehigh Valley business and community leaders. It is important for our youth to develop the necessary skills to sustain our current business community into the future. The importance of education not only allows our children to mature and learn new skills, but it also ensures that our businesses succeed in the future. Every child should have the opportunity to learn in a compassionate, safe and stimulating environment.

The cliché "knowledge is power" cannot hold true enough when it comes to our children and youth in Allentown. The Allentown Chamber and our many partners will continue to work with educational leaders to ensure the best learning opportunities are available to all children. Preparing children to develop and advance into future employees, business leaders and upstanding community members is vital to our society. We are thrilled to partner with the African American Business Leaders Council to start this important conversation. I hope you will make plans to us on October 19.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Bethlehem: the City of Festivals

Bob Begliomini RPh, Pharm D, MBA , FASHP
Lehigh Valley Health Network, Bethlehem Chamber Chair

Although Bethlehem’s nickname is Christmas City USA, we have another moniker that is used often; the City of Festivals. It used to be that “Festival Season” in Bethlehem was from the June to the first week in October. The South Side Film Festival, Blueberry Festival, Musikfest, the Celtic Classic and Harvest Festival were the festivals that people traveled to Bethlehem to attend. Once the ArtsQuest Center was built, the amount of festivals in Bethlehem increased ten-fold. Sabor! Latin Festival, Oktoberfest, Blast Furnace Blues, RiverJazz and so many more were added. You cannot shake a stick in Bethlehem without finding a festival. There were fears that the amount of new festivals would affect attendance in the old festivals, but that has not proven to be the situation.

Take the case of Harvest Festival on Main Street and Oktoberfest at Steel Stacks. Both festivals are held on the same weekend; the second weekend in October (although Oktoberfest occupies both the first and second weekend of October). Both have plenty of beer to purchase and sample, food to buy and both have music to enjoy….and both festivals thrive. It takes a few years to build an audience and to have the word spread about any festival. It usually takes five years before you can decide whether or not it is going to make it. So what is great about both festivals is that they have their own committed audience, but there is also cross-pollination…which is great for both the Downtown Bethlehem Association and Artsquest. Everybody CAN get along.

The DBA’s Harvest Festival is in its 14th year and will be held Saturday, October 7. It is a lovely one-day festival that has attractions for children, millennials, empty-nesters and everyone in between. You can purchase beer, wine and soup tasting passports by going to Proceeds from this festival go to help fund marketing efforts for our Historic Moravian Downtown Shopping District.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Talking Business with Tony Iannelli: Don't be afraid to get a job that uses your hands

Tony Iannelli - Special to The Morning Call

I'm gonna tell it like it is: I was a bad student.

In my high school era, you started with college prep courses and if you found those difficult, you shifted to business curriculum. Neither of those two options motivated me. I crawled toward graduation in the rather lightweight “general” curriculum. Don't get me wrong, I loved high school. I just had zero idea why I was there, other than to have fun. Not a good legacy.

The good news is that I met a lot of friends from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Rich kids, poor kids, brilliant kids, troubled kids, but mostly pretty happy kids who were content with having a lot less than people have today.

So while all my friends were off to college, I was working to save a failing family business. That didn't end well and, thankfully, I found myself mounting tires on the Mack Trucks assembly line. It was the jump-start I needed, and it got me a car and a house in short order. I was living the life on a whopping $8 an hour (real money in the early 1970s) and working overtime whenever I could. I was a full partner in the country’s greasy hands, factory-working, labor union, softball after work, middle America, industrial revolution crowd.

One day, my chain-smoking supervisor suggested I get a job using my mouth instead of my hands. While I had to mount about 200 truck tires a day, I still found time to gab with all my co-workers. It humored him and drove him crazy at the same time. I knew I wasn't a very mechanical guy, but I knew I liked humans. I liked them for all of their varied backgrounds, nuisances and idiosyncrasies. After a lot of thinking, I took his advice and walked out of the absolute secure world of that plant to begin a great run of working his suggested approach — more mouth, less hands.

So here's my point. Everyone has differing talents and it takes time to find them. You can't give up on yourself. You're a work in progress, and in due time you'll discover your talents. If your eyes are wide open, they'll take you to good places. Enjoy the moment while keeping your eyes on the prize. But work and work relentlessly.

News flash, not everyone is college material for a variety of reasons. The one thing I hear most from employers is, "I can't find the right people to fill the jobs." Some of the top “in-demand jobs” for the Lehigh Valley prove you don’t need a four-year college degree to get a good-paying job. We are in great need of health care workers, auto techs, truck drivers, equipment/machine repair types, plumbers, electricians and the list keeps going.

During the past year, the Valley’s trade, transportation and utility industries offered more than 3,200 jobs and the leisure, and the hospitality industry had 2,000 available jobs. Talk about the Lehigh Valley being a desirable place to live, work and play.

On national TV last month, the good people at Lehigh Career & Technical Institute in Schnecksville were featured. They’re doing great work in preparing our workforce for the jobs that our local employers need to fill tomorrow. Like LCTI, Career Institute of Technology in Easton and Bethlehem Area Vocational School are ready, willing and able to get our future workforce ready for great-paying jobs. Speaking of great-paying jobs, my friends at The Lehigh Valley Building Trades are purchasing buildings and developing them into local training centers. They need people willing to commit to the training in order to get and maintain family-sustaining jobs.

Did you know that for every five older workers that retire, only one stands ready to fill that slot? It's sad, yet telling. There's a good job waiting for you if you're willing to jump in with both feet.

Here's the message: College is fantastic not only for the education but also for the experience. Very few people have nothing but great memories of their college days and the lifelong friends they've made. Not to mention the serious money they're making as a result of that degree.

But if college doesn't look like it's in the cards, the game is not even close to being over for you. Pursue a trade. Parents, consider all the options for your child and let them pursue their dream, not yours. But most importantly, don't get stuck in neutral. Learn a skill, commit to a serious work ethic, seek lifelong learning opportunities and be thankful for a job. If you do that, I'll guarantee you’re on the path to living a good life.

Tony Iannelli is president and CEO of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

LGBT Business Council hosts first annual Rainbow Bar Crawl in celebration of National Coming Out Day

Jonathan Huerta, Esq., King, Spry, Herman, Freund, & Faul, LLC
LGBT Business Council VP

Thank you to all who attended our Celebrity Bartending event at Apollo Grill. Without the support of this fine community, we would not be able to do what we do. I am saddened that I was not able to be your celebrity bartender as originally planned, but the changed date meant I was out of town and unavailable. Nevertheless, I am thankful to my colleagues who were willing to step-up and bartend in my stead.

Speaking of support and community, Wednesday, October 11, 2017 is National Coming Out Day which celebrates the anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. One of its founders, Robert Eichsberg, once said, “Most people think they don’t know anyone gay or lesbian, and in fact everybody does. It is imperative that we come out and let people know who we are and disabuse them of their fears and stereotypes.” So mark your calendars, call the sitter, and plan to come out with the LGBT Business Council on October 11, 2017, for its first Rainbow Bar Crawl. We will hop around downtown Bethlehem, supporting local bars and restaurants that have signed our council’s LGBT Support Pledge – keep an eye out for our decal. The Events Committee has worked tirelessly to plan and coordinate a fun night of networking, patronage, and mixology. There will be signature drink specials, a bar crawl cup, complimentary appetizers, and rainbow popcorn. Proceeds benefit the council. Tickets are $25 per person and limited to the first 50 people, so sign-up early! Once again, a big thanks to the Events Committee for what promises to be a fun night.

Speaking of committees, at the end of every fiscal year, our council holds an annual planning meeting. During the meeting a consistent theme is, “Where do we get fresh blood.” No we aren’t doing the Vampire Dinner Theater again (at least not yet), but we are constantly searching for new people interested in getting more involved in our council. If you are interested, please reach out to one of our members or one of our Chamber Liaisons: Angela DelGrosso or Jessica Collazo.

As a last note, if you ever are interested in coming to one of our events, but you don’t want to go alone, please feel free to message me and let me know of your interest. We have an amazingly accepting and loyal following and I can assure you by the time you leave you will have made at least one new friend.

Step Into School to Retool

As youth across the Lehigh Valley step into their school classrooms, employers are stepping up their search for upcoming qualified job candidates within Lehigh Valley’s educational pipeline.  Lehigh Valley’s unemployment is below five percent and the number of job openings outweighs the number of available candidates. Competition for workers is increasing!  Every day our three Career and Technical schools cry out for help in determining what “College and Career Ready” really means to employers. At the same time, more than 15,000 local employers continually ask “are we teaching employability skills in school?”

Just as you hear your English teacher’s voice in the back of your mind when you use a comma instead of a period, your voice needs to be heard by educators so that what teachers are teaching, and what students are learning, and what equipment is being used in the classroom, mirrors your expectations. 
Industry changes happen rapidly, but education needs time to respond.  By working together and adding industry workforce expectations into the classrooms, we can formulate real solutions.  The sum of our workforce development efforts can become the solutions to your workforce problems.
You can step into education by serving on an Occupational Advisory Committee (OAC).  OACs usually meet two times a year, typically during the Fall and Spring.   Your role will be to:
·         Provide recommendations to update, modify, expand, and improve the quality of the occupational program.

·         Support and strengthen the relationship between business, industry, the community, and education.

·         Make recommendations to strengthen and expand the curriculum, and provide assistance in implementing these recommendations.

·         Articulate long-term goals and objectives of the occupational program to parents, employers and the community.

·         Assist in identifying needs, determining priorities and reviewing and evaluating curriculum.

Contact me at 610-841-1122 or and I will connect you to the career and technical school of your choice.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and Capital BlueCross encourages everyone to know the signs and symptoms, since early detection is key to increasing the survival rate.
According the American Cancer Society, the most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or a mass. Breast lumps can sometimes be detected by performing a self-breast examination (SBE). While performing a SBE regularly has not shown a clear benefit of cancer detection in research, all women should be familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to a health care provider right away.

The American Cancer Society advises that other possible symptoms of breast cancer include:
• Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)
• Skin irritation or dimpling
• Breast or nipple pain
• Nipple retraction (turning inward)
• Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
• Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)

Some women with breast cancer have no symptoms. This is why regular screenings, such as a mammogram, are so important. Capital BlueCross encourages all women over 40 to schedule a yearly screening. All mammograms, including 3D mammograms, are a covered benefit for Capital BlueCross customers and considered an important part of preventative health care.

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Capital Blue Health and Wellness Center located in the Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley is hosting a special Women’s Health Care Presentation focusing on breast and overall women’s health on October 13 and October 27, from 5:00 to 6:30 pm.

Participants will learn how to perform proper breast self-examinations and what various types of lumps may signify. Important breast cancer information, as well as reminders about self-examination and mammogram screenings will be provided. You can also enjoy a complimentary pink smoothie and snack during the presentation.

For more information, visit

Monday, October 2, 2017

Lehigh Valley business sentiment down 2nd quarter in a row

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

Lehigh Valley business sentiment recorded its second drop in as many quarters in July 2017. The Kamran Afshar- Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce survey of the Valley businesses is a quarterly survey that we have been doing since 1997. According to the index, local business sentiment gave back almost all of its January gains and is now in statistical tie with its October 2016 level.

The index of actual hiring over the last six months is the only indicator in the model which is still above its January level. This indicator is also within the range which is historically associated with faster growth in the Valley. And, this is despite the fact that local employers are facing a smaller pool labor with rapidly thinning skills and expertise. Many positions still remain vacant for lack of qualified applicants.

Among those who are hiring, transportation and warehousing industry has the lead in the number of new employees hired per company in the last six months.

The index of plans for future hiring has dropped significantly this year, down three percent since January, and more importantly, it has dropped below the expansion range that it entered last October.

Construction and accommodation and food industries lead among those planning to hire in the next six months. 

The index for actual purchasing over last six months recorded the largest drop in the model, falling six percent below its April’s level. This index which has been in the expansionary range since January, is now almost out of that range.

Purchasing plans for the future also recorded a decline, falling five percent below its April level. This index, which has also been in the expansionary range, has now dropped below that range.

The percent of businesses participating in the survey which expected higher revenues over the next six months has also dropped in 2017 and more interesting is that the expectations of seven or eight percent increase in revenues earlier this year has collapsed to four and five percent in July.

The survey of Lehigh Valley Businesses shows that their general optimism which exploded up in January, is gone and we are almost back to where we were last October. In July expenditure indices as well as the index for expectation of future revenues dropped significantly. It is very clear that local businesses have lost the enthusiasm they gain in January.