PA Department of Labor & Industry to Hold Free Safety Webinars in November

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Health & Safety Division will offer a series of free webinars on workplace safety throughout the month of November.  Titled PATHS (PA Training for Health and Safety), these webinars will cover subjects such as emergency action plans, behavior-based safety, safe driving in inclement weather, hazardous waste management, dealing with angry people, and much more. Each webinar lasts approximately one hour depending on course material and viewer participation. 

For more information, to register, and for a complete listing of each webinar, visit the PATHS training calendar

Construction of Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Gets Underway

Mike Atchie of Williams (standing) speaks with local officials about construction getting underway on the pipeline project earlier this month.

Construction of a natural gas transmission pipeline through Columbia County is starting in October. The Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project is divided into seven sections, and is expected to be completed in approximately one year. On Thursday, Oct. 5, representatives of Williams met with local officials to discuss construction logistics including soil conservation, road crossings, inspections, security, and land restoration. There will be approximately 45-50 inspectors and private security for each section of the project.

The project is expected to support over 1,000 jobs in Columbia County and have a value-added impact here of $85.5 million as a result of contractors utilizing local goods and services. The Chamber has already been receiving calls regarding campgrounds and lodging. To help workers find what they need in the area, Williams has developed the WillShop Local app, which is now available on the Google Play and Apple stores. There is no cost for businesses to be included in the app, and for those businesses that haven’t yet registered to be listed on the app, the Chamber is sending its membership list to be incorporated.

WILLShop Local app screenshot

Additional information about the project is available at the project’s website.

PA Chamber’s 27th Annual Economic Survey Shows Employer Optimism on the Rebound, Ongoing Concerns About Healthcare

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

As the nation’s economy steadily improves, employers are increasingly optimistic about the state of business in the Commonwealth, as well as projections for future growth in sales and hiring. However, their ability to offer healthcare to their workforce due to persistent uncertainty and rising costs in the market continue to be a chief concern. These indicators are among the responses from the PA Chamber’s 27th Annual Economic Survey, which was conducted in August 2017 by Susquehanna Polling and Research.

According to the survey, the rising costs of healthcare rank among employers’ top concerns; with 65 percent of respondents saying that “controlling the costs of healthcare” should be the Pennsylvania Chamber’s top policy priority in its dealings with lawmakers. In fact, while 61 percent of the survey participants said that they provide health coverage for their employees – a slight increase over last year but still far less than the 74 percent who offered health care in 2013 – a vast majority of them (73 percent) reported that premiums have increased. Also listed as problematic was the lack of clarity that exists within the state’s unemployment compensation system, as 64 percent said they’ve encountered situations whereby employees fired for good cause were awarded benefits; as well as workers’ compensation premiums that have increased for more than a third of respondents in recent years. Other leading barriers to growth that were noted in the survey included: over taxation; mandates and regulations; and workforce development.

The good news is that of the 654 employers surveyed statewide, a strong majority – 76 percent – believe that the state’s economy is “better” or “the same” as it was one year ago. Also, the percentage of employers who say the economy is the “most important issue” affecting their businesses is down to 10 percent – the lowest figure in nearly 10 years since before the Great Recession took hold in 2008-09. Additionally, 42 percent say they expect sales growth to increase in coming months; 22 percent expect to hire more workers; and 27 percent noted that they made “major” investments in machinery or technology over the last year, with 15 percent more pledging to make those investments in the coming months.

ChamberChoice to Offer Webinar on Successful Open Enrollment

ChamberChoice will offer a webinar on open enrollment titled “Guarantee a Successful Employee Open Enrollment” this Thursday, Oct. 12, at 10 a.m. It is available free-of-charge to all Chamber members as a benefit of membership through the Chamber’s affinity programs through ChamberChoice

To register for this webinar and for a list of other upcoming webinars on topics of workplace benefits, visit here.

You Just Never Know

Photo courtesy of North Shore Railroad/Joe Kantz

From Joe Kantz/North Shore Railroad

A few months ago, I received an email that appeared to be an invitation to a meeting at the White House from President Trump’s Administration. My first thought was “this must be a scam.”

The next day, I received a phone call from someone at the White House wanting to make sure I received the email. I assured them I did, and that I was excited to join them for this meeting.

Now, to be clear, I received this email in my role as an elected County Commissioner. The President’s team had invited all the County Commissioners from Pennsylvania to attend. This was my first time to our Nation’s White House, and after a quick tour of this historic “home” we headed to the Eisenhower Building for an all-day meeting. We were introduced to members of various departments of the federal government and met a few more noteworthy folks.

I relay this story – not to brag – but merely to remind us, we never know where the next phone call may come from – or lead us.

Now, on to a business example: I recently played in a golf tournament. I really didn’t feel like playing. I had a lot of work to do in the office and customers to visit, but I committed to play, so I did. While at this particular event, I ran into a man, whom I hadn’t see in seven years. A few weeks later, one of his customers called me. The gentleman told me of a project he and my golf buddy were working on, and how this new project could easily turn into unit trains of business for North Shore Railroad.

Resultant of my visit to the White House, I received contacts for many departments in the federal government who can now be a point of contact for me and my constituents. I had the opportunity to share real life experiences on certain issues that were discussed, and I also had the opportunity to talk to key people in the Administration about items related to railroads.

My visit to Washington, D.C. resulted in good things for my county, and this golf tournament resulted in good things for my company.

So, it is my hope that after reading this, you are encouraged to take that opportunity that may be out of your comfort zone. Your next new contact or customer may come from it. You just never know.