Tuesday, February 28, 2017

2017 Lehigh Valley Flower Show Highlights the Gardens of the World

David Kerper, Ballantine Management Group

The annual Lehigh Valley Flower Show, scheduled for March 10-12 at the Allentown Fairgorunds, is now in its fifth decade of dazzling gardeners, flower lovers and home owners from the Lehigh Valley and beyond.  This year’s Flower Show,  sponsored by Belgard and ABE Fence and ABE Landscape Supply has been the talk of the Lehigh Valley since the theme of “Gardens of the World” was unveiled.

The participating Landscapers each picked a country from around the world to represent. Each will celebrate that nation's flowers as well as offering attendees a chance to walk through a condensed version of that country's cultural influences, including natural habitat, unique architectural features and so much more. The countries you can expect to see are: United States, Brazil, Holland, Lithuania, Switzerland, Japan, Canada, France, United Kingdom and Norway.

There will be a whole lot more than the refreshing fragrance, invigorating colors, textures, sights and sounds of the Lehigh Valley Flower Show to prepare you for spring!  Two presentation stages will be in continuous use during the show with Garden and Floral Seminars and Demonstrations, including the return of National Public Radio Garden Guru, Mike McGrath.

Many of the Lehigh Valley’s Garden Clubs and Garden related enthusiasts such as Emmaus Garden Club, Kutztown High School Agriculture Program,  Lehigh Valley Garden Railroaders, and the Master Gardeners program from Penn State will be on hand providing valuable information along with their beautiful garden related displays.

Visitors will be encouraged to reimagine their own backyards, and be invigorated by the sights and sounds of spring inside the Lehigh Valley Flower Show. Dozens of merchants will be on hand, offering a plethora of products for the home, garden and so much more.  The Peep Mobile and Peep mascot will help us usher in Spring at the show all day Sunday by offering attendees free Peeps samples!

Head on over to the Lehigh Valley Flower Show, March 10-12 at the Allentown Fairgrounds.  Admission is $8 for Adults, $7 for Seniors with Kids 12 and under Free.  Friday, March 10 is $5 Senior Day.  For more info or to buy advanced discounted tickets visit LehighValleyFlowerShow.com or check us out on Facebook.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Trump Administration Brings Changes to Healthcare

Bill Bloss, Regan Levin Bloss Brown & Savchak, P.C., Chamber Healthcare Committee Chairman

On January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America. The candidate who promised to “Make America Great Again” has also promised major healthcare reform. So what can we expect during the next four years from President Trump’s administration as it pertains to healthcare? If the President’s nomination of six-term Republican Congressman Tom Price to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services is any indication, significant change is on the way.

Mr. Price has previously introduced “The Empowering Patients First Act” that would repeal the Affordable Care Act, to be replaced by a completely new plan. The main features of this new plan include incentives to utilize Health Savings Accounts, age-based tax credits for health insurance, provisions to allow insurance providers to sell plans across state lines, and reforms making lawsuits against physicians more difficult, among other things. For his part, Mr. Trump had campaigned on the promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act as well. His plan mirrors much of Mr. Price’s, including required price transparency from all healthcare providers.

So what can you expect in the coming months? In a word…change. For small business owners, healthare costs have been a major source of pain over the last several years. Just know that the Chamber’s Healthcare Committee is dedicated to keeping you informed of any changes through regular communication and education.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Global Warming Regulatory Activities

James M. Policelli, P.E., Consultant Energy & Environment Committee Member

The 2016 presidential election was a turning point for global warming regulatory activities to force fossil fuels out of our energy mix.  The premiere initiative to do this is the Obama era “Clean Power Plan,” designed to shut down hundreds of powerplants.  Now tied up in the courts, the CPP will likely be withdrawn and not defended in court by the Trump administration.  Reversing this initiative will be complex and will take time.  Activist groups are preparing to obstruct the move.  Meanwhile, its implementation remains halted by a U.S. Supreme Court order.

If the CPP were fully implemented and worked as planned, it would prevent a global temperature rise of only 0.007 degree Celsius.

Germany already has in place an equivalent to the CPP.  It produces over 30 percent of its electricity from renewables.  This resulted in a destabilized power grid, extremely high electricity prices and a growing segment of its population known as “energy poor.”  It is a major factor in companies looking outside of Germany to reinvest earnings.

The state of South Australia gets 40 percent of its electricity from renewables.  Recently, major wind farms failed during a storm triggering a statewide blackout that caused at least $367 million in losses.

The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce advocated our opposition of the CPP to both the Environmental Protection Agency and to our U.S. Senators and Congressmen.  Our Chamber also became a signatory to the Amicus Brief filed by the U.S. Chamber in the suit by 27 states and numerous other interested parties against the CPP.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Public Policy Committee Meets with PA Legislatures

Dorota Gasienica-Kozak, Esq., King Spry Herman Freund & Faul, LLC, Public Policy Committee Chair

The Public Policy Committee once again met with our legislators for further discussion about the Chamber’s policies and how we can make a greater impact for our members.  Pennsylvania State Representatives Peter Schweyer and Mike Schlossberg joined us to review our policies, discuss upcoming new legislation and describe their biggest goals for 2017. 

Per Representative Peter Schweyer, “2017 will prove to be a difficult year as Pennsylvania is facing a significant budget shortfall that will require us to reimagine how government works while still investing in our communities and our future.  I believe that we can craft a responsible budget that invests in our schools and provides responsible human services without harming the business and job climates.  Partisanship has not prevented us in the Legislature from working with Governor Wolf to accomplish meaningful change as we did by legalizing medical marijuana, modernizing liquor sales and addressing the heroin epidemic.”

Per Representative Mike Schlossberg, “During the 2017-2018 session, I will continue my efforts on mental health, fighting for resources to deliver critical care and working to break down stigmas that cause people to not seek the health care they need.  Community schools will also be a priority, as we make do with what is necessary to support our students.  Pennsylvania voters told us loud and clear that we need to build a stronger economy.  I look forward to continuing the fight for workers, our neighborhoods, taxpayers and small businesses. We have a lot of difficult decisions to make this year. It is up to all of us to do this together and find solutions that work and deliver for Pennsylvania.” 

The Committee will continue in its efforts to meet with our legislators to discuss our continued three policy goals in 2017 which are transportation, workforce development and the pension crisis.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Employers Did you Know?

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

Employers....Did You Know?

We have programs that can help your workforce...either current or future!  If you have not used our services- you don't know what you are missing.

For all the programs available to your business please visit the link below- or better yet call me 610-841-1122 and we can discuss how we can help.


Recruiting a trained, reliable workforce can be a real challenge for any employer. Let us be your strategic partner in developing and implementing the most effective recruitment plan that offers a wide range of services to assist you in making the right hiring choice.
Our trained workforce development professionals are members of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals (NAWDP).
The Lehigh Valley Chapter of SHRM exists to promote the highest level of professionalism in Human Resource Management. It offers members professional development opportunities, shares Chapter resources with the communities served, and fosters awareness of the role of Human Resource Management in creating high performance organizations.
NAWDP is the national voice for the professional and meets the individual professional development needs of the membership.
The PA CareerLink staff is focused on the employment issues that are important to you and can assist you in designing a customized menu of services that will meet your recruitment and training objectives. To obtain additional information, contact a workforce development professional at 610-437-5627, extension 136, or email us at BEST@careerlinklv.org.
Lehigh Valley Targeted Industry Clusters
These clusters were targeted because we believe that they will:
 •     Provide above-average wages and be less reliant upon low-wage labor. •     Incorporate a high-technology, knowledge, skill-set component. •     Have synergy with existing Lehigh Valley workforce, infrastructure, educational and other institutions.•     Leverage existing Lehigh Valley assets to minimize land, energy and other resources. •     Expand upon established competitive positioning in the U.S. and globally. •     Have a high value-added component in the local economy. •     Be classified as growth industries at the state and/or national level.  
PA CareerLink Lehigh Valley sponsors regional job fairs that bring together over 150 employers that draw an audience of 5,200 job seekers. View the Job Fair Schedule to get the date for our next fair, as well as information on how you can participate.
When your business is gearing up, you may not have time to wait for the next regional job fair. PA CareerLink Lehigh Valley understands this and works with employers by hosting specialized job fairs. Our staff is highly skilled and can organize and coordinate your customized job fair by providing:
a location to host your job fair
assistance in advertising and marketing your job fair
workforce professionals to assist at your job fair
screening of applicants and applications
scheduling of employment interviews
employer assessments
and whatever it takes to meet your workforce needs

Staff  Development
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) OJT
Drastically Reduce New Employee Training Costs.
The cost of training a new employee can amount to many thousands of dollars due to lost productivity and supervisory time alone. On-the-job training (OJT) has been proven to be one of the most successful means of training new employees in the skills and performance levels required.
PA CareerLink® Lehigh Valley’s On-the-Job Training (OJT) Program can help in defraying those expensive costs. For new, full-time, eligible employees, your company may be reimbursed 50-90% of their wages during an initial training period.
To find out how this program can meet your hiring and training needs, call PA CareerLink® Lehigh Valley at 610-437-5627, extension 136 or email us at BEST@careerlinklv.org.
Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) OJT
Reduce New Employee Training Costs AND Increase the Diversity of Your Business at the Same Time.
OVR’s On-the-Job Training (OJT) program can offer employers reimbursement through the PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR).  OJT helps businesses reduce hiring costs and provides a job opportunity for OVR qualified job seekers with disabilities.
The program is flexible - you may be eligible for a significant percentage reimbursement of wages paid to new employees during their initial period of training. Also, OVR can provide technical support and certification of additional business tax credits when employers hire job-ready OVR customers.
Any business in good standing with local, state, and federal laws and is able to provide on-the-job training at the work place may be eligible for this hiring incentive.
If interested, call OVR Business Services at 610-821-6441; ask for either Ann Burke at extension 3119 or Jonathan Santana at extension 3118.
We have the people and the funds to help you hire qualified workers!  
For further information, click: OVR - OJT

Lehigh Valley's 2017 Economic Outlook

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

Twenty-sixteen was a great year for people looking for work. Nationwide 2 million new payroll jobs were created during the first 11 months of the year, for a total of 15 million new jobs over the last 6 years. Lehigh Valley, however, was not that lucky. The total number of payroll jobs dropped by 3,000 in the Greater Lehigh Valley area, which also includes Carbon and Warren counties. This is despite the fact that layoffs are exceptionally low and the labor market is tight. To add to the puzzlement, all of this is happening when employers are telling us that they want to hire more people. There appears to be a large gap between the needs of the local employers and the skills and expertise of the remaining labor pool in the Valley. 

Twenty-sixteen was also a great year if you were selling a property. The number of residential units sold in the Valley rose by a healthy 7% over last year’s level, while the average sales price of local residences gained a modest 2% over its previous year. However, considering that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate in 2016 averaged at 3.65%, housing affordability was still pretty reasonable.

The headline grabber for 2016, however, was the jump in stock prices. The DJIA rose by 13% in 2016. Most of the increase came after the election in November. Of course, it should be added that DJIA rose by 107%. It more than doubled between December 2008 and October 2016, just before the election. The average price of gasoline in 2016, despite its recent increase, was lower than 2015. On average, we paid $2.15 for a gallon of gas in 2016, well below the $2.42 that we paid in 2015, and significantly cheaper than its $3.36 average price in 2014. For the first three months of last year, price of gasoline averaged at $1.89, something that we will not see again anytime soon!

And of course, the major economic event of 2016 was Donald Trump’s election. As much as can be discerned from the president’s campaign promises, two major economic policies will be in the lead: a trillion-dollar infra-structure plan, and a sizable reduction in corporate taxes. Both policies, should they become law, would be beneficial to the corporations, particularly for those involved in the construction industry. The 1,500 points jump in the DJIA after the election clearly reflected those expectations. The infra-structure plan, however, will significantly increase the federal budget. The accompanying huge tax cuts will reduce revenues, thus a major spike in deficits is unavoidable, at least at the beginning. This is also reflected in the market as both the short and long term interest rates vaulted by significant amounts right after the election. This data indicates that the market anticipates most of these policies to take effect. Based on that, the market expects a period of higher growth as well as higher government expenditures and borrowing.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Chamber Main Street Foundation Celebrates 10 Years

Laurie Hackett, Air Products, Chamber Main Street Foundation Chair

Ten years is a great reason to celebrate! We are proud that 2017 marks the tenth year that the Chamber Main Street Foundation has been making a difference and improving Main Streets throughout the Lehigh Valley. Since 2007, we have been able to support our townships, municipalities, cities and neighborhoods through grants and support for much-needed projects and programs. And because it has been a decade of work, the Foundation board is excited to make this year of grant-making the best one yet!

If you are interested in applying for support for improvements on your Main Street, let us know! Applications will be available beginning next month and we cannot wait to see the opportunities for the Chamber Main Street Foundation. Lorie Reinert (lorier@lehighvalleychamber.org) can give you all of the details – we look forward to celebrating 10 years with our Chamber communities across the region

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Upcoming Events with the Bethlehem Chamber

Scott Babashak, GFP Investment Services Inc., Bethlehem Chamber Chair

Please be aware that the date of our State of the City Address with Mayor Bob Donchez has been changed from February to March. The event’s new date is Thursday, March 9 - and as before – will be in the Musikfest Café at the ArtsQuest Center on the SteelStacks Campus. The breakfast will be served at 7:30am and the program will be over by 9:00am. In the last few years, this has become the Bethlehem Chamber’s highest attended event. It is not only informative and entertaining, but it is also a great networking opportunity.

In late January, we released a new Dining, Shopping and Nightlife video for Bethlehem. It has gotten a ton of views:  reaching close to 50,000 people with over 250 shares on social media in just two weeks! We’ve been planning the year and have been working on everything from festivals to a new visitor’s website to informational events and …. yes, even Christmas 2017.

Three upcoming events:
Manufacturing Momentum in Bethlehem
This event will have a panel discussion about manufacturing in Bethlehem, including the “new” manufacturers of today. The event will be held in the Foundry Room of the Sands Casino Bethlehem Hotel on Thursday, April 12 at 4:00pm. Cocktails and appetizers will be served.  Stay tuned for more details.

Bethlehem Chamber’s Annual Dinner
On Wednesday, May 3rd we will be holding our Bethlehem Chamber’s Annual Dinner. This event honors certain individuals and businesses/organizations and highlights a few of the Bethlehem Chamber’s initiatives from the past year. The Bethlehem Chamber staff’s favorite event, it will be held in the Musikfest Café at the ArtsQuest Center at 5-8 p.m.

The Second Annual Bethlehem Italian Festival
This festival will be held on Main St. and the Sun Inn Courtyard on Saturday, June 17. Food, music, a Meatball Contest, a Wine Trail and a Pasta Trail will all be featured. More details will be forthcoming.

For more information on any of these ventures, please contact Lynn Cunningham at lynnc@lehighvalleychamber.org.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Opportunities to Serve on Board of Governors

Barry Fisher, 2016-2017 Executive Committee Chair 

The Chamber Board of Governors (BoG) nominating season is upon us, and there are numerous opportunities to serve for dedicated members in any business from any part of our Greater Lehigh Valley.  Every one of our members is a potential board member, and each new board member brings a unique skill set and focus to The Chamber, giving us a wide set of talent and experiences from which to draw. 

Many BoG members rise up through one of the 31 chambers, councils, and committees that make up your Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce or from the Chamber Foundation Board.  The Chamber BoG consists of members selected for their prominent roles in businesses and communities, large and small, throughout the greater Lehigh Valley.  Ultimately, you are limited only by your own desire and involvement, and The Chamber BoG would be honored to have your voice present, should you pursue this course.

The Nominating Committee is now accepting member referral nominations and self-nominations for consideration from those who feel they would be an asset to the Chamber Board.  We urge you to get involved, serve your community, and make positive changes for the future of our Valley.

Nominations are open to active and supportive members in any business classification. Nominees are selected based on their broad involvement with Chamber, business, and civic activities in the Valley. The Nominating Committee will consider the composition of the current BoG in making nominations. They will work to ensure the BoG represents individual, business, civic and geographic diversity of the Greater Lehigh Valley.

So raise your hand.  Step up.  And help us make a difference at the 21st Century Chamber!

All nominations must be submitted by Friday, March 17th to Lorie Reinert at lorier@lehighvalleychamber.org.

A complete listing of The Chamber’s officers and board members can be found at lehighvalleychamber.org/board

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Do your employees need training?

Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board

ATTENTION: Lehigh Valley Transportation, Warehousing and Logistics Industry Partnership

Please attend the next Lehigh Valley Transportation, Warehousing and Logistics Industry Partnership meeting on Wednesday, February 15, 2017, 1:30pm-3:00pm, at the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board/PA CareerLink® Lehigh Valley, 555 Union Boulevard, Allentown, PA 18109.

As announced previously, the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board (LVWDB) received a Lehigh Valley Transportation, Warehousing and Logistics Industry Partnership grant for $200,000 from the PA Department of Labor and Industry, which provides access to valuable incumbent worker training resources for training occurring between October 16, 2016 and June 30, 2017.

If you have training needs occurring between October 16, 2016 and June 30, 2017, please submit your training request forms including application and trainee roster, CWDS signature form, company match, and training template which can be found at
www.lvwib.org under Industry Partnerships.  Forms and additional information can be found at www.lvwib.org under Industry Partnerships.  Training to be aligned with the attached Training Plan, as well as the High Priority Occupations list found at www.lvwib.org; training must result in credentials/ certificates; training to occur between October 16, 2016 through June 30, 2017; and, reimbursement considered for 50% of training cost. 

Please call 
Gina Kormanik, Business Relations Director 610-841-1006 or email gkormanik@lvwib.org to answer any questions and/or discuss your workforce needs.  

We look forward to seeing you on February 15!

Thank you,

Things are Moving & Shaking in Whitehall

Elizabeth Martell, Whitehall Chamber Chair

Whitehall Area Chamber of Commerce is so excited to be bringing on five new board members, Lorraine E. Faccenda, LaFarge-North America; Tim Jones, Mutual of Omaha; Jim McConnell, Sams Club; Korbin Rice, Keller Williams Allentown and Daniel Mensch, Geico Insurance.

We had a successful event with the Northampton Chamber at the Blue Monkey.  Thank you to Blue Monkey and Keller Williams Allentown for your sponsorship!  .

We hope to see you on March 9th at Bravo for our breakfast networking event with an amazing speaker.  Thank you to Mary and the entire team at Bravo for hosting our event.   Also upcoming is Restaurant Week in April.  Thank you to our sponsors thus far: Advertising Sponsors iHeartRadio and Adams Outdoor Advertising, Silver Sponsor Sam’s Club, and Presenting Sponsor WFMZ.

Things are moving and shaking here at WACC and we hope you find some time to get involved.  We will be opening up nominations again in May for additional board members for the 2017/2018 term.  Also, contact Jessica or Greg if you would like to know more about how to get involved in our many exciting committees!  If you are interested, please email your resume to Jessica jessicao@lehighvalleychamber.org & Greg gregy@lehighvalleychamber.org
I also want to take the time to thank everyone at GLVCC and all the WACC board of directors and members who have been so supportive.  This will be my last article as sitting president as I will be turning the reigns over to Larry Kacyon, owner of L-A Advertising.
Wishing you all many years of great networking and many great connections.  To quote one of my mentors over the years as a GLVCC Ambassador, Bob Friedman, “You don’t win because you collected the most business cards.  You create connections through net-weaving and building trust through lasting relationship!”

It has been my honor to be of service to the Whitehall Area, to have the opportunity to be part of the planning and implementation of our partnership with GLVCC, and to have the distinct pleasure of working with Jessica O’Donnell and Greg “Y”!

Friday, February 10, 2017

African American Business Leaders Council Kicks Off Mixer Series

Charles R. Everett Jr., Executive Director of Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, African American Business Leaders Council Chair

One of the program areas for the African American Business Leaders Council (AABLC) is Networking, Collaboration and Partnerships. Networking for business is an activity by which business people and entrepreneurs meet to form relationships and to recognize, create and act on business opportunities, share information and seek potential partners for ventures.  Collaboration is the process of two or more people or organizations working together to successfully realize or achieve something.  Partnerships are arrangements where parties agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests.  The AABLC believes that through these activities, the vision of diversity in business can be achieved.  The other program areas are advocacy and recognition, capital resources, education and entrepreneurship.

On February 2nd at the Hotel Bethlehem, the AABLC kicked off their Mixer Series. The purpose of the Mixer Series is to bring people together to network, collaborate and seek partnerships to further their mutual business interests in the Valley. The featured guest speaker was Tanya Wright, actress in the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black and entrepreneur owner of HAIRiette products.

The Mixer Series will continue on March 2nd at the Sugar Hill Jazz House in Allentown from 5pm-7pm.  On April 6th, the Mixer Series event will be held at the Edge in Bethlehem at 5pm.  In May, the Mixer Series event will be held at Queen City BBQ.  More information to follow.

To stay abreast of all AABLC activities and events visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GLVAfricanAmericanBusinessLeadersCouncil/.

Spring in Hellertown & Lower Saucon

Tom Rieger, Hellertown Borough Councilman, Hellertown Lower Saucon Chamber Chair

Spring is right around the corner, and Hellertown & Lower Saucon have it all! 

Our mixer with the Young Professionals Council on 
Wednesday, February 15th at Lost Tavern Brewing was a big hit with a packed house of both community and business leaders from across the Lehigh Valley! This was an exciting event featuring one of Hellertown's newest businesses partnering with the Chamber’s Young Professional Council. Events such as this particular one allow us as a community to showcase what we have to offer. I would like to personally thank our local sponsors for participating in this event. Many thanks to The Holiday Inn and Suites, Falk Funeral Homes & Crematory, the Hellertown Bakery and PBS 39. Also, thank you to our great local food sponsors Limon Authentic Turkish Kebap House & DiMaio’s Family Ristorante and Pizzeria for providing delicious appetizers. As you can see, our businesses really are the life blood of this community - without them, our community would not be as strong as it is.  

Calling all Hellertown & Lower Saucon Business owners! Our next Small Business Roundtable is on Monday, March 13th at Braveheart Highland Pub. Please take note that this is a evening roundtable, starting at 5:30 pm. We will begin to rotate this important networking roundtable between mornings and evenings to accommodate the many different business owners in our community. With that being said, the Hellertown Lower Saucon Chamber would like to congratulate Andy Lee and everyone at Braveheart for decade of service in the Hellertown Community! We wish you many more years of success and appreciate your continuous support!

Please ‘Like’ and follow us on Facebook, as many new exciting programs and partnerships are on the docket for the late spring and summer! Remember, this is your Chamber and if you need us please reach out. We are your voice and support.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Moving Forward with the LGBT Business Council

Randall S Kimble, President LGBT Business Council

We are a few days away from the inaugural LGBT Business Summit on Tuesday, March 7th at Muhlenberg College. We have awesome sponsors lined up and keynote speaker, Lea Delaria, actress, comedian, and Orange is the New Black’s, Big Boo.

Tony Ianelli, President/CEO of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, will set the stage for a great day.

The workshops lead by local business professionals, are Inclusion in the Work Place, The Power of the LGBT Dollar, Being an “Out Professional” and LGBT Entrepreneurship. 

The LGBT Business Summit is ideally situated for you to come away with new skills to use during these turbulent times for members and allies of the LGBT community.

I have heard over and over again “Get over it Randy and give it time!” Bigotry presented itself during the campaign and now we have civil rights issues and concerns with President Trump, VP Pence, Mr. Bannon, the Supreme Court nominee (Judge Gorsuch), and the cabinet. This is not about partisan politics, but it is about respect, diversity, inclusion, civil rights, qualifications and equality for everyone.

Three times since the election, bigotry has surfaced and impacted me and my husband, all from customers in a local store and two restaurants.

Really? Apparently, some people have received the message that it is now okay to be bigoted and hateful. This is not the America that I know.  We must go forward together, not one step back!

Join us to discover new knowledge and skills to move us all forward with respect, diversity, inclusion, civil rights and equality for everyone.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Spring in Southern Lehigh

Josh Dodd, Univest Bank and Trust Co., Southern Lehigh Chamber President

Spring weather will be coming soon to Southern Lehigh!   The Saucon Rail Trail and our parks will welcome increased usage by our residents.  Tilly’s Nursery will soon be in bloom and, literally, selling tons of mulch to help people maintain their properties.   Spring also brings great weather for starting construction.

There are many projects planned for 2017.  They include new housing developments, commercial buildings, expansion of our college campuses and, as always, road construction.   To learn more about what is happen in Southern Lehigh, we invite you to attend our annual Municipal Update on March 22nd at Penn State Lehigh Valley.   Doors will open at 7:30 AM with a breakfast programs which includes:
                Tim Paashaus, Coopersburg Borough Manager
                Donna Wright, Chair of the Lower Milford Township Supervisors
                Joseph Geib, Special Project Manager, Upper Saucon Township
Registration information is included in this issue of Connections.  At the breakfast, we will announce the recipients of our 2017 Shining Star Award for an outstanding business and our Volunteer of the Year Award. 

A New Director of Data Science & Analytics is in Town

A New Director of Data Science & Analytics is in Town

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

The Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board hired John Lamirand to help us understand the vast amounts of data available, to assist in making smart data-driven decisions, and designing workforce products we can all use.

His primary responsibility will be to utilize data science and analytic techniques to communicate Lehigh Valley’s workforce data story for employers and stakeholders who can use these insights to develop strategies and policies. His goal is to make data meaningful and analytics more relevant and interesting to the Lehigh Valley community.

Seven ways our Data Scientist will assist Lehigh Valley employers:
1. Conduct a comprehensive inventory of labor market and associated data sources
2. Design data-driven labor market resources
3. Monitor current labor market conditions and assess future labor market projections
4. Conduct economic impact studies
5. Analyze, interpret, and market local labor market data
6. Conduct research on labor market conditions, hiring requirements, and talent availability
7. Explore labor market forecasting and predictive modeling methodologies…and much more.

John Lamirand previous worked at Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp.  Prior to his time in the Lehigh Valley, Lamirand spent 10 years as an operational analyst and project manager with the defense contractor Northrop Grumman/TASC in Washington, D.C., where he worked on new market campaigns, competitive intelligence analysis, capabilities analysis, and open source data. John Lamirand previous worked at Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp

Lamirand also served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a logistics officer. He has a Master of Science degree in Management Information Systems Technology from George Washington University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Oklahoma.

What Data Do You Need? Please contact me at ndischinat@lvwib.org and let us know how our data can help you!

Monday, February 6, 2017

We Continue to Learn & Grow with YPC in 2017

Stephanie Yachim, Corporate Recruiter and Human Resources, Crayola
The Young Professionals Council has been hard at work delivering some great events that have helped us push forward into the New Year. We continue this trend as we prepare for our 3rd Annual "Lead to Succeed" event on Thursday, March 23rd at the Civic Theater 514 in Allentown. This event has been a huge success for us each year. We will present yet another impressive panel of area leaders who will offer up their words of wisdom and advice to our young professionals. We strive to make the panel diverse, so no matter what industry or field you are in, we promise that you will take away some key knowledge from their experiences.  Be sure to come with questions for our panelists – there will be Q&A from the audience.
Ready to be a homeowner? Stay tuned for details about our April 6th "Home Buying 101" event at the National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem. If you are thinking about taking that step to buy your first home or are in the midst of your search, this is an event you do not want to miss!
Springtime will be here before you know it (we hope), and so will our 1st Annual Kentucky Derby Benefit! We cannot wait to party with you all while raising a generous donation for the Children’s Home of Easton.  See you in your big hats and bow ties on May 6th at Iron Lakes Country Club! Get your tickets now at the early bird price before it is too late!
Look for our YPC Benefit Cards for sale at every event ($5).  The card comes with many great discounts on local businesses and enters you in a raffle for a pair of Kentucky Derby Benefit tickets. Next chance to purchase: the March 15th Meet & Greet at Tocci’s Tailgaters in Bethlehem.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Parkland Superintendent Shares Thoughts on School Property Tax Reform

Ron Eichenberg, Associate Broker, Managing Director, Commercial Sales & Development, HANNA Frederick Commercial

There is growing concern that both chambers of the General Assembly (particularly the Senate) have indicated that school property tax elimination will be a priority issue in the new session. The Governor has also indicated his interest in school property tax reform.

Richard Sniscak, Superintendent of Parkland Schools and fellow WLLC Board member, is highly regarded locally and on a state wide basis shares his thoughts.

What are the concerns with this tax shift plan?

The plan is being touted as a victory for homeowners and a better way of funding public education, but the truth is that it is not a panacea for taxpayers or school districts. Instead, the elimination of the property tax merely serves to create additional, higher tax burdens for other taxpayers and destabilize funding for public education.

Tell your senator to oppose a tax elimination plan because:

School funding inequities will be exacerbated.  The plan will undo the work recently completed to enact a new basic education funding formula and provide a fair financial investment for school districts. Instead, districts will be placed in a system that lacks financial equity and predictability. The property tax provides a stable foundation for local communities to use as needed to support their schools. School boards need to be able to use a mix of local taxes and the development of available funding bases that are suitable to each school district’s unique economic capabilities and conditions.

It does not address the factors driving school costs. Eliminating property taxes without addressing the factors driving districts’ budgets does not help contain the cost of mandates such as: pension, regular and special education costs paid to charter schools, special education, health care and other areas.  The provisions in the bill to send tax dollars back to districts do not take into consideration these mandated costs and is largely why this plan never will fully replace projected property tax revenue amounts needed by school districts.  

It eliminates local control; creates a state takeover of public schools. School boards are accountable for spending decisions and student performance. By abolishing local ability to raise revenue or make financial decisions, the state will be responsible for the financial health of all 500 school districts. Who will be accountable to students, parents, teachers and communities for the performance and safety of our schools?

Tax burdens are shifted disproportionately. The use of income taxes shifts the local tax burden away from large businesses to individual taxpayers, allowing some businesses to benefit from the elimination of their school property taxes without paying a penny more. Out-of-state vacation homeowners who live in our communities do not pay personal income tax and now will not pay property tax either. Expanded sales taxes more heavily impact middle-class and low-income families. Tax agreements made with large businesses will also be worthless to districts under this plan. The burden is inequitably shifted to make up for the loss of revenue.