Members Check Out Aircraft, Learn About Numerous Services at Bloomsburg Municipal Airport at Business After Hours

Members had an opportunity to check out a few aircraft at April’s Business After Hours at the Bloomsburg Municipal Airport (owned by the Town of Bloomsburg), as well as check out the terminal, which was rebuilt following the 2011 flood, and learn about the various services and activities available from and that take place at the airport. 

The airport can offer its conference room, which can comfortably seat up to 12 board-room style and up to 30 theater style without tables, for rental on a full or half day basis. That fee is waived with aviation use. There is also a courtesy car available for use by pilots or passengers that stop in Bloomsburg. The airport is also home to the Bloomsburg Flying Club, which puts on a series of aviation education events through the year and also holds periodic Fly-In/Drive-In Days in which breakfast is served. The airport staff is also constantly working to make more private flying options available in Bloomsburg through a number of chartered air services. 

Attendees also had a chance to check out a few aircraft, including the gyrocopter (below). A brief video showing some aerial shots of Bloomsburg from up in the gyrocopter can be seen in the link below. 

Business After Hours provide regular opportunities to build business relationships while learning about the services offered by other Chamber members. The next Business After Hours will be held at the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, located at 226 Center St., Bloomsburg, on Wednesday, May 16, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. 

Geisinger Discusses Initiatives with Community Leaders

Leadership at Geisinger recently discussed a number of initiatives currently underway to deal with issues impacting the health system and the people it serves with community leaders. Among the issues are dealing with opioid abuse, better access to health care, and filling skilled positions at the system’s various facilities. Geisinger’s Chief Medical Officer, Jaewon Ryu, M.D., J.D. (in photo at left), led the discussion on behalf of Dr. David Feinberg.

Driving care initiatives is the recently updated Community Health Needs Assessment. Timely access to care, behavioral health issues, including substance abuse, and disease prevention were priority issues. Work teams have been formed and focus groups are being held to develop strategies. 

With 140,000 no shows for appointments annually, Geisinger is piloting a transportation program. The Chamber regularly hears from area human service agencies about the challenges of transportation among the low to moderate income population. While studies have shown that transportation does not improve medical visits, Geisinger is working with Rabbit Transit and other providers to provide transportation within a radius of the hospital.

Among the initiatives to help deal with opioid abuse, Geisinger has improved its prescription reporting system. In an 18 month period, the number of opioids prescribed was reduced by 50%. The system’s addition medicine department is also increasing its efforts in the area of treatment. 

The Fresh Food Farmacy being piloted at the Geisinger Shamokin Area Community Hospital is yielding significant positive results for patients with diabetes. With 300 people in the program, providing healthy food options with guidance is proving more effective than traditional prescription medicine. The successful program is being expanded to other Geisinger facilities. 

With the growth of the Geisinger system, so has the need for skilled positions. Bloomsburg University’s popular nursing program creates a valuable partnership for Geisinger, though clinical space remains a bottleneck. Initiatives to retain employees are showing success, though recruiting is a challenge. There was discussion among the group about the need for additional housing stock, and integrating new hires and their families into our communities. The Chamber has reached out to Geisinger representatives and other major employers to assist with these issues. Communities that are safe, vibrant, and welcoming are critical to the success and growth of area employers, as well as the health of its citizens. 

House Passes Several Tax Reform Bills to Help Small Businesses

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

The state House passed three PA Chamber-backed measures last week that would bring clarity to the state’s tax structure, improve competition and help level the playing field for small businesses.

House Bill 331, which passed by a nearly unanimous vote, aims to allow for “like-kind” exchange of tax deferrals when a property is exchanged with a similar property. This would put the Commonwealth in line with every other state, removing a disadvantage that Pennsylvania’s small businesses face when competing with businesses across state lines.

The House also passed H.B. 333, which would increase deductible amounts for qualifying small business equipment purchases. This move would bring Pennsylvania in line with the federal Internal Revenue Code, and with 33 other states that currently allow businesses to deduct the full purchase price of $1 million per year. To put that in context, under current law, businesses in Pennsylvania may only claim $25,000 for these purposes.  “Pennsylvania is unique in being the only state that allows for full Section 179 expensing for  larger businesses while not allowing small businesses to do the same,” PA Chamber Government Affairs Vice President Sam Denisco said in a memo to House lawmakers prior to the vote. “As we have all seen subsequent to the enactment of federal tax reform, employers are investing back into their companies, rewarding their employees, and hiring more workers. By coming into line with federal law, small businesses will have more resources and flexibility to grow and the PA Chamber asks for your support.”

Another important tax reform bill that House lawmakers passed unanimously last week was H.B. 994, which aims to bring clarity to the Gross Receipts Tax statute regarding wireless services.  Under current law, wireless services are subject to both of the Sales and Use Tax and GRT at 6 and 5 percent, respectively. However, while Pennsylvania follows clear and updated language under the federal Mobile Telecommunications Sourcing Act regarding the SUT on telecommunications, GRT definitions haven’t been modernized. This has created confusion as to whether wireless series are included in that tax base, which H.B. 994 would remedy by inserting the clear definitions from the SUT statute into the GRT statute. “This would bring consistency between the application of the sales and use tax and gross receipts taxes,” Denisco said in a memo to House members. “It would also eliminate confusion and uncertainty over which services were subject to taxation both now and in the future.”

Representatives Kurt Masser and David Millard voted in favor of all three of these bills.

All three bills now await further consideration in the state Senate.

Bloomsburg Town/Gown Relations Committee Announces Block Party Weekend Parking Lot and On-Campus Residence Hall Visitation Restrictions

From Bloomsburg University and Town of Bloomsburg

Bloomsburg University and the Town of Bloomsburg, Town/Gown Relations Committee, will again implement initiatives to increase security related to the annual spring event known as “Block Party.” Those initiatives are:

– Parking Restrictions – Bloomsburg University will temporarily close the Lightstreet Road Parking Lot and the ATM Parking Lot to all vehicles and temporarily restrict access to the First Street (Green) Parking Lot to permit-holders only from 12:00 p.m. Friday, April 20, 2018, through 12:00 p.m. Sunday, April 22, 2018.

– Residence Hall Visitation Restrictions – Bloomsburg University will temporarily restrict overnight guests in the residence halls to one visitor per student for the evenings of Friday, April 20, Saturday, April 21, and Sunday, April 22, 2018. A professional security company firm will assist in managing guest registrations and enhance front door security.

The Town/Gown Relations Committee also asks all participants to keep in mind:

– Neither the Town of Bloomsburg nor Bloomsburg University endorse the Block Party Event, and a large police contingency of both uniformed and plainclothes officers will be present.

– Parking Enforcement officers will be on duty, strictly enforcing all parking regulations.

– Town and University Police both have a “zero tolerance” policy for all violations during Block Party weekend. Parents and Bloomsburg University will be notified of all arrests, and university students will be subject to discipline for violations under BU’s Code of Conduct.

– The Town of Bloomsburg requires permits for “social gatherings” of 150 or more individuals. Students are reminded that they can be held responsible for ordinance and crimes code violations that occur on property they lease or control.

– The Town of Bloomsburg prohibits open containers of alcohol in public rights-of-way.

– Hosts are responsible for what takes place on the property and risk fines and university sanctions for any violations. Control how many individuals are permitted at your housing unit. If a DJ is present, anticipate large numbers of people to be attracted to your location.

– Bloomsburg University students and visitors to town are reminded that your actions and decisions can affect your safety, your future, and the safety of others around you.

The Town/Gown Relations Committee is a joint body comprised of representatives from the Town of Bloomsburg and Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. Bloomsburg University and the Town of Bloomsburg share concerns about recent Block Parties including safety, the large number of attendees, the number of out-of-town individuals participating in the event, and the reflection it has on both the university and the community. The Committee will continue to work together to develop new approaches.

Workforce Needs the Leading Issue for Members

From main street retail shops to non-profit organizations to the area’s largest manufacturers, finding skilled employees is a common need among employers. Within the last two weeks, the Chamber had meetings with a group of downtown Berwick businesses as well as one of the area’s largest manufacturing facilities, who all shared this issue. The Chamber and its Foundation are spending more resources than ever helping to build the workforce for the future while meeting the current needs of members so they can be successful and grow.

The Chamber Foundation has traditionally focused the majority of its attention supporting programs which develop good work ethics in K-12 youth. Ongoing programs include The Leader in Me, School Counts, and Student in the Work. For more information about these programs, visit the Foundation website.

The Foundation is also working with regional partners to help young people, and their parents, understand career opportunities that exist in our area. Thanks to support from the Arconic Foundation (Kawneer) and Williams, a website is being developed that will provide information about local career options in a wide variety of fields, to include education requirements and wage levels. Members will be able to post opportunities for job shadowing, facility tours, internships, career day speakers, etc. This website is being developed now to be ready for the start of the 2018-19 school year.

To assist members with their current workforce needs, the Chamber is working to leverage the substantial network of education providers in the region to provide employee testing and training in filling skills gaps, and within the next few weeks, we hope to be able to make an official announcement about a big new member benefit in this area that we’ve been working on for the last several months.

Additionally, a meeting with local employers and education providers is being organized to identify specific educational needs and opportunities. If you are interested in being a part of this conversation, or in learning more, please contact Fred Gaffney at the Chamber at 570-784-2522 or email.