Future Careers Expo Helps Students Explore Career Options

Middle and high school students from the region and their parents explored career options at the 3rd Future Careers Expo held Thursday, Nov. 9 at Bloomsburg University. Nearly 40 employers and education providers were on hand to talk to young people about opportunities that exist in our area. The event was held in the evening at the Kehr Union so that parents could be part of the conversation.

The event is a partnership between the Bloomsburg University STEM Magnet program and the Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber, and was supported by the Arconic Foundation and Williams. The Foundation works to support area employers through workforce development initiatives. In addition to this Expo, programs such as School Counts, Classroom on Main Street, and The Leader in Me develop employability skills in young people and provide exposure to a wide variety of career options.

Among the participating employer and education providers were Chamber members Arconic/Kawneer Company, Bloomsburg University, Columbia-Montour Area Vocational-Technical School, First Columbia Bank, First Keystone Community Bank, Geisinger, Maria Joseph Continuing Care Community, McTish, Kunkel & Associates, PA CareerLink Columbia/Montour Counties, Pennsylvania College of Technology, PPL Electric Utilities, SEKISUI SPI, Susquehanna Nuclear/Talen Energy and Williams

Bloomsburg University Business Conference Helps Students Prepare for Careers

Bloomsburg University’s Terry and JoAnn Zeigler College of Business (ZCOB) and the Zeigler Institute for Professional Development (ZIPD) hosted the 7th Annual ZIPD Business Conference, “Inspiring Future Business Professionals,” Nov. 2-3. Approximately 100 business professionals (including several BU alumni) participated. Over the two days, students had numerous opportunities to make valuable connections and gain knowledge in preparing for life after college through presentations, panel discussions, and networking events.

Chamber President Fred Gaffney once again participated in this year’s event. “The information and connections available to students through this conference is invaluable,” said Gaffney. “It is not only gratifying to help young people explore and pursue career options, but we hope that our involvement in events like this increases the awareness of career opportunities in our area.” Gaffney gave a presentation on communication skills and participated on panels discussing the importance of experiential learning, soft skills, and HR issues.

Williams Announces Grant Recipients, Which Include Four Chamber Members

Williams recently announced the latest recipients of the company’s Atlantic Sunrise Community Grant program. In all, 35 organizations in 10 counties will receive a combined $292,834 in funding.

Two cycles of Atlantic Sunrise grant awards are announced each year – spring and fall. This cycle’s grant dollars were dispersed in the following broad categories: emergency response ($169,500), education ($59,000) and recreation or community enhancement projects ($64,334) within counties traversed by the project.

This announcement represents the sixth grant awards cycle since the program’s inception in 2015, during which time Williams has granted more than $2 million to 268 organizations in Pennsylvania. 

Included in this latest round of grant recipients are three Chamber members. Those are the Columbia County Traveling Library, which received $3K for its Bookmobile Means Business program; the Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber, which received $5K for workforce development education; Hemlock Township, which got $81K for computer upgrades; and the Pennsylvania College of Technology Foundation, which received $10K for its Makerspace at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Other Chamber members that have previously received grants through the Atlantic Sunrise Community Grant programs include: Buckhorn Volunteer Fire Co., Camp Victory, Benton Rodeo Association, Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble and the Columbia-Montour Area Vocational Technical School

For complete lists of previous grant recipients, visit one of the links below.

1st round grants (spring 2015)
2nd round grants (fall 2015)
3rd round grants (spring 2016)
4th round grants (fall 2016)
5th round grants (spring 2017)

The deadline for the spring applications is March 1. Please visit the Atlantic Sunrise Community Grant program page to learn more about the application process, eligibility guidelines, and how organizations are utilizing grant funds to improve their local communities.

Leadership Central Penn Heads to a Special Place to Learn About Special Services and Leadership Development

Members of the LCP class listen to a presentation during October’s class meeting.

In Millville in northern Columbia County, you’ll find Camp Victory where the signs read a “A Special Place for Special Kids.” Tucked away in the countryside outside of Bloomsburg, among the trees clinging to summer green, refusing to give way to fall colors, is a truly amazing venue for learning about organizations trying to make a positive impact on those in need. Not only is Camp Victory one of those organizations, but, as a part of the 2017-18 Leadership Central Penn class’ monthly meeting two weeks ago on Oct. 19, it also hosted 10 others that are making Columbia and Montour counties a better place for everyone. Leadership Central Penn is sponsored by Bloomsburg UniversityKawneerSEKISUI SPI and USG

This year’s LCP Human Services day included presenters from The Columbia County Coalition for Human Services, The Women’s Center, AGAPE, Caring Communities, Columbia Child Development Program – Head Start, Community Strategies Group (formerly Columbia County Housing & Development Authority), Family Center, United Way of Columbia and Montour County, Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital and Danville Child Development Center’s Early Intervention Services. 

The morning presenters faced a monumental task of sharing all the good work their organizations do in 15 minutes presentations. After 10 presentations and two breaks, 21 professionals in the LCP program were emotionally and mentally drained. They learned about all the life changing work happening, in many cases unseen, with few resources and even fewer dollars, throughout the area to support people that need a helping hand.

To find out more about these organizations and how you can help please contact the Columbia County Human Services Coalition, the Montour County Human Services Coalition or the United Way of Columbia and Montour County.

Tina Welch from Welch Performance Consulting gives a presentation during the afternoon session.

The group then worked during the afternoon with Tina Welch, founder of Welch Performance Consulting (WPC), to focus on leadership development. The group discussed different philosophies on leadership and how to shape their own leadership skills and philosophy. It also used a personality assessment instrument to understand key aspects of communication, a critical leadership competency, by first understanding their own communication tendencies, how to identify the personality styles of others they work with and lead, and then how to modify their communication to meet the needs of others. The class was separated into their project teams where they were able to discuss the personality makeup of the team. They identified strengths and gaps in the team and will now go into their community service projects with a team strategy that will help accelerate their success.

Chamber Provides Input on Family Sustaining Jobs to Governor’s Task Force

A task force comprised of representatives of business, labor, education, and Governor Wolf’s cabinet are holding a series of panel discussions around the state to gather input on how to support and grow Pennsylvania’s middle class through family sustaining jobs. Following the conclusion of the meetings, the Middle Class Task Force will present recommendations to the governor later this year. Chamber President Fred Gaffney participated in one of the meetings held Monday, Oct. 30 in Pittston.

Issues discussed at the meeting echoed those voiced by local members. Transportation and basic skills training are challenges for individuals trying to get from low to middle income. Encouraging skilled trades is needed to meet the needs of manufacturing. Promoting opportunities in education and nursing statewide to students can help bridge the gap between supply and demand.  WBRE/WYOU was on hand to report on the discussion.

“As there are clear commonalities across the state, I am hopeful that recommendations to the Governor will result in the realignment of resources to address at least some of these issues,” said Gaffney. “There are plenty of good jobs available in our area. We look forward to greater collaborations with regional and statewide partners to help connect people with these opportunities.”

The co-chairs for the task force are: Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry President Gene Barr, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Assistant Vice Chancellor Dr. Sue Mukherjee and Pennsylvania Workforce Development Association Chairperson Susie Snelick. Other members include: PA Dept. of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin, PA Dept. of Labor and Industry Acting Secretary Jerry Oleksiak, and PA Dept. of Education Secretary Pedro Rivera.