Calling All Skilled Trade Students: Apply Now For a Scholarship Toward a Rewarding Career

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Starting this week, individuals with a goal of pursuing a career in the skilled trades can apply online for the 2018 Work Ethic Scholarship that will help to make this goal a reality. In 2017, through donations from Pennsylvania’s business community, the PA Chamber Educational Foundation and the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, $135,000 in scholarship dollars was provided to 47 deserving students across Pennsylvania. Some of those students were highlighted in the fall 2017 edition of Catalystthe PA Chamber’s quarterly magazine, and were also spotlighted on the PA Chamber’s new workforce-focused website.

Given the success of last year’s program and with a goal to expand the program’s reach, the PA Chamber is working to educate students, their families, educators and businesses throughout Pennsylvania about various good-paying skilled trade jobs that are waiting to be filled and the requirements necessary to enter into those occupations. We’re also telling business leaders that by contributing toward the scholarship, they aren’t just helping advance the lives of people in their communities – they’re helping to build tomorrow’s skilled workforce, which will better position Pennsylvania for a vibrant economic future.

Students with an interest in learning more about the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, applying for the scholarship and signing Mike Rowe’s famed S.W.E.A.T. Pledge (essentially, a promise that they will exhibit a hard work ethic if chosen for a scholarship) can visit the website, profoundlydisconnected.com

This scholarship program, the mikeroweWORKS Foundation and the PA Chamber’s workforce-focused website all have the same goals as the Columbia Montour Chamber with regards to workforce development, which is educating young people about the various types of good-paying jobs available in our area in skilled trades, in which there is a shortage of qualified people, not just in our area but statewide and nationally. Later this year, the Chamber, in conjunction with several other partner organizations, will be launching a similar website as the PA Chamber’s workforce development website, but with a more local focus. 

PA Private Sector Integration Program Aims to Engage Businesses in Emergency Management Operations

From PA Emergency Management Agency

Pennsylvania is committed to resilient communities and Pennsylvania’s businesses are a critical part of that. The Private Sector Integration Program fosters important relationships to increase information sharing between the private and public sectors before, during and after disasters. The Private Sector Integration Program engages businesses through:

1. Private-sector driven planning and discussion sessions

2. The PA Business Emergency Operations Center (PABEOC), located at the Commonwealth Response Coordination Center, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

Resilient communities

Pennsylvania is susceptible to a wide range of threats and hazards ranging from severe weather and flooding to catastrophic acts of violence and terrorism. When disaster strikes, communities cannot truly recover until the businesses that citizens rely upon return to operations and the economy is restored.

In a crisis, close collaboration and open lines of communication between the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and the private sector is critical to protecting citizens and rebuilding communities. The PA Business Emergency Operations Center (PA BEOC) helps to maintain that connection for the private sector and emergency management.

PA BEOC Objectives
• Improved awareness of the situation, risks, and status through a two-way exchange of information.
• Support a direct pathway back to normal operations as soon as possible.
• Engage key stakeholders who bring resources, capabilities, and expertise to bear during disaster response and recovery efforts to determine impacts on their ability to provide services to the public.

Trusted and cooperative relationships

Through information sharing, situational awareness, and resource requests, the PA BEOC is a physical and virtual hub allowing information that adds to the common operating picture in the response.

Relationships that start before, continue through, and extend after a disaster

Participation and coordination is mostly virtual – via conference calls, email, and web platforms. As a member of the PA BEOC, you can expect the following

To help you prepare:
• Opportunities to participate in exercises.
• Access to helpful business continuity resources.

To help you respond:
• Access to information to help you understand the current situation regarding potential incidents.
• Awareness of what state agencies and other businesses are doing to assist with the response including road restrictions on state roads and Interstates in Pennsylvania.
• Ability to participate in weather conference calls.
• Contact information for the Virtual PA Business Operations Center (when activated) to assist with issues.
• Provides information directly to members and through the Virtual Operations Center.
• Conduct conference calls (if needed).

To help you recover:
• Access to information including situation reports, state agency closures, evacuations, power outages, recovery information.

Participation in the PA BEOC is voluntary and open to all members of the private sector including large and small businesses, associations, universities, think tanks and non-profits. If you have questions, please contact PEMA, External Affairs.

Bloomsburg University Business Competition Seeking Judges

Students from Bloomsburg University as well as high schools from across Pennsylvania will be competing in a “Shark Tank” inspired business competition on campus on Thursday, April 26. The second annual Husky Dog Pound is being presented by the Zeigler College of Business. Chamber members are being invited to help judge the high school competition.

Each team will make a brief presentation about their product or business idea before a panel of judges. Prizes totaling $25,000 will be awarded, which will include limited memberships in the Chamber and access to the Chamber’s revolving loan program.

The time commitment for judges is 7 a.m. through 1 p.m. on April 26. Breakfast and lunch will be available to all judges. A brief orientation meeting will be held first thing to review the rubric and expectations.

Anyone interested in being a judge should contact Dr. Christina Force by email

Department of Homeland Security Offers Bombing Preparedness Resources

From U.S. Department of Homeland Security

As result of the recent bombings in Texas, many organizations are reviewing their preparedness plans & procedures for prevention, response and recovery to bombing incidents. Individuals and organizations are encouraged to review their emergency plans and procedures and make sure they are up to date and cover bombing incidents, suspicious packages, and proper mail procedures.  The information below are resources available from the U.S Department of Homeland Security.

How to React Quickly and Safely to Suspicious Packages and Bomb Threats:

Bomb threats are a rare but serious event. How quickly and safely you react can save lives, including your own:

  • DO report suspicious activity, unattended packages, or a potential bomb threat to authorities immediately, follow instructions, and evacuate the area
  • DO provide as much detail as possible to authorities
  • DO seek distance and cover – they are the best means to reduce the risk of injury
  • DO NOT approach or inspect suspicious items or unattended packages
  • DO NOT congregate near the incident scene – it may impede first responders and there could be a risk of secondary attacks

Be Prepared for IEDs and Play a Role in Prevention!

Below are counter-IED resources appropriate for individuals, families, travelers, educational and religious institutions, and businesses, as well as law enforcement, emergency services, or security professionals, which provide insight to help increase preparedness and reduce risks associated with potential bombings.

Bomb Threat Guidance:

Awareness Materials:

Virtual Training:

These web-based courses provide general awareness-level, counter-IED information to a broad audience via an online virtual training experience with a live instructor, using Adobe Connect through the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN). These courses are designed for small group instruction of 15 to 25 participants.

A FEMA Student ID (FEMA SID) is required to participate in all VILT OBP course offerings. To obtain a FEMA SID, visit FEMA’s website to apply.

To view the VILT training schedule and register for a course, please visit the VILT website.

Computer-Based Training:

Homemade Explosives and Precursor Chemicals Awareness for Public Safety Computer Based Training  (AWR-349)

This one-hour, awareness-level, computer-based course, available through TRIPwire, educates law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and other public safety personnel about homemade explosives—commonly referred to as HME—the precursor chemicals that are used to manufacture HME, and actions to take if HME precursor chemicals or equipment are thought to be present during a routine service call.

Improvised Explosive Device Awareness and Safety Procedures Computer Based Training (AWR-341)

This one-hour, awareness-level, computer-based course, available on TRIPwire, provides foundational knowledge concerning improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and proper safety precautions and procedures for reacting and responding to unattended and suspicious items.

 

If you are a law enforcement, emergency services, or security professional, much more information is available through free registration to the full TRIPwire website. Inside you will find valuable resources and much more detail on IED threats and counter-IED activities.

Find more information on the DHS Office for Bombing Prevention.

For additional information on how to identify suspicious activity, safety and effectively react to bomb threats, or get additional counter-IED awareness, or planning resources, contact your local Protective Security Advisor.

Bloomsburg University Working to Reverse Enrollment Trend

Dr. Bashar Hanna, Bloomsburg University President, recently provided an overview of the University’s budget, construction projects on campus, and other issues of interest to the local area and public.

Enrollment at Bloomsburg University has been on a slow but steady decline since the fall of 2013. The lower number of students, combined with flat funding from the state, is resulting in a projected revenue shortfall for the current fiscal year and a deficit for 2018/19 of over $7.4 million. University President Dr. Bashar Hanna discussed efforts to increase enrollment at a breakfast meeting held recently with community leaders.

Enrollment at BU for this past fall semester was 9,287, down 8% or 840 students from the fall of 2013. Summer numbers have dropped from 3,378 in 2013 to 2,854 last summer. These decreases are not exclusive to Bloomsburg, reflecting a general decrease in younger demographics across the northeast. One semester that has seen an increase is the winter semester, up from 517 students in 13-14 to 1,324 during the most recent session.

The University has been working on a strategic enrollment management plan to reverse this trend and support the long-term financial stability of the institution. Pennsylvania’s appropriation to Bloomsburg for the current fiscal year is $37 million, essentially the same as it was in FY 2007/08. The funding provided by the state represents 25% of the University’s total revenue, with the remainder representing student tuition and fees. In FY 07/08, the state appropriation was 36% of the University’s revenue. 

Having an inviting campus and Town are important components to attracting students, according to Dr. Hanna. A “one-stop shop” for student services will be located in a new building that will be constructed on the site of the Centennial Parking Lot. The project, which will house several offices including those currently in the Waller Administration Building, is scheduled to begin this spring and be completed by December 2019.

The intersection upgrade at Lightstreet Road and Country Club Drive is scheduled to begin in May and be completed in August. That project will provide turning lanes in both directions to increase traffic flow. Funding is being provided through a grant received by the Town as well as the University.

The Town/Gown Relations Committee continues to meet regularly to maintain a positive relationship and identify ways to enhance the Town. Topics of discussion include parking, code & zoning regulations, student housing, student behavior, and town/university partnership opportunities. One issue Hanna has received significant input on is the annual spring Block Party. He noted that steps taken last year helped to reduce the number of incidents with police, admitting that one year does not make a trend. On campus visitation was limited to one guest during the weekend last year and several campus parking lots were closed or carefully monitored. Participation in the on-campus alternative event, Springfest, has also increased. Citations issued last year were down significantly from the 2016 event, and only 20% of which involved students enrolled at Bloomsburg University.

Among the issues raised by those in attendance were increasing positive interactions between the Town and University, and helping students feel more welcome in the community.