Shop Local All Year Long

By Fred Gaffney, President, Columbia Montour Chamber

The Saturday after Thanksgiving has become known as Small Business Saturday, thanks to a campaign started by the American Express credit card company in 2010 to encourage holiday shopping at small businesses. Indeed, small businesses should be patronized and celebrated, but not just one day a year. The vibrancy of our communities is dependent upon people supporting local businesses all year long.

When you spend money locally, more of that money stays in our area. Your dollars support local jobs. Those businesses pay local taxes, and contribute back to the community in other ways. Local businesses support non-profit organizations, youth sports, and cultural activities that enhance our quality of life. The parades, festivals, and visits with Santa that will help us get into the holiday spirit in the coming days are possible thanks to the support of local businesses.

Online shopping may provide endless options and convenience in checking items off your list, but think about the value of talking with someone in a store when trying to find a special gift, or how much you appreciate dining options when you need a break from that shopping. Local businesses also provide the choice and customer service that we often take for granted. They also are an important part of what makes our area a great place to live. 

Contact the Chamber of Commerce if you need ideas on how you can support local businesses this holiday season, and throughout the year. The Chamber offers special gift certificates in any amount that can be redeemed at any local business during the year. They can be purchased at the Chamber office at 238 Market St. in downtown Bloomsburg. 

 

Joint Venture Partnership Opportunities Available in Pennsylvania Through Department of Community & Economic Development

Pennsylvania’s Office of International Business Development (OIBD), part of the Department of Community & Economic Development, regularly receives economic development lead opportunities from its authorized international representatives concerning businesses that have expressed interest in locating in, investing in, trading with, contracting with, or partnering with businesses located in PA.

Visit DCED’s website to view the latest opportunities from international companies interested in working with a Pennsylvania-based company. If you or your partner(s) are interested in learning more, please use the contact information at the end of this email to send your request for consideration. All information received will be kept confidential.

Please follow this simple process first for any potential leads before sending inquiries to OIBD for consideration:

  • Contact your local company to confirm they are interested in initiating the conversation.
  • Once confirmed, provide Cindy Hostetler at OIBD with the proper company/contact information.
  • OIBD will then confirm with the international client that they are interested in initiating the conversation and will schedule the introductory conference call, including the local EDC when possible.

OIBD will make every effort to include the local EDC and/or referring contact in any and/or all forward movement with the potential prospect(s).

For information about the available opportunities and/or to be added to the email list, please contact:

Cindy Hostetler, International Marketing Executive
Office of International Business Development
Commonwealth Keystone Building
400 North Street, 4th Floor | Harrisburg, PA 17120-0225
Phone: 717.720.7370 | chostetler@pa.gov

 

Please submit any potential partner information as follows: 

  • Company Name, Address 
  • Phone, Fax, Email 
  • Website URL 
  • Principal Contact Name, Title 
  • Principal Contact Office Phone, Cell Phone, Email 
  • Project ID: JV#### 

All information received will be kept CONFIDENTIAL and should be sent to the OIBD contact listed above for consideration. These companies plan Pennsylvania visits when suitable partners are identified.

PA Public Utility Commission Working to Preserve Rural Broadband Funding

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is encouraging residents, businesses, local leaders and other concerned parties – especially in rural communities – to contact the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in support of efforts to preserve nearly $140 million in funding intended to increase access to high speed internet service in underserved areas in Pennsylvania.

Earlier this year, the PUC and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) filed a joint petition with the FCC as part of an ongoing effort to address Pennsylvania’s “digital divide” by preserving millions of dollars in federal funding intended to increase access to high speed internet service in rural communities across the Commonwealth.

Funding for the Connect America Fund Phase II program (CAF II) is drawn from the federal universal service surcharges paid by state residents and businesses. It is intended to support the deployment of broadband service in high-cost areas, including many rural communities. Most incumbent local telephone companies serving Pennsylvania’s high-cost areas accepted the CAF II funding, along with the commitment to meet federal benchmarks for broadband speed (10 Mbps download & 1 Mbps upload), but the Verizon companies did not, jeopardizing the continued availability of millions of dollars in broadband support throughout Pennsylvania. While this funding is currently only available to regulated utilities, there are other internet providers in the region willing to work with communities and businesses. The Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to state legislators in June asking for more flexibility in how these dollars can be allocated to expand broadband in rural areas.

“The FCC plans to conduct an auction to allocate the broadband funding that was not accepted by Verizon, and the PUC has been encouraging all concerned parties to work together to keep these dollars in our state,” said PUC Commissioner David W. Sweet. “We remain hopeful that the FCC will consider the joint petition by the PUC and DCED to approve a Pennsylvania-specific weighting factor to the upcoming CAF II auction.”

Information regarding how to submit comments electronically or by mail to the FCC on this issue is available on the PUC’s website

Additionally, the Commission continues to encourage state and local leaders to continue exploring mechanisms to enhance financial support for rural broadband projects – which could help influence the FCC’s decision about where funds should be directed.

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

ChamberChoice to Offer Pair of Webinars on Benefits-Related Issues in November and December

ChamberChoice will offer a pair of webinars about two separate topics related to workplace benefits administration in November and December. Both webinars are available free-of-charge to all Chamber members as a benefit of membership through the Chamber’s affinity programs through ChamberChoice

The schedule and topics of the webinars are listed below. Please visit the JRG Advisors website for more information or to register for one or both.

Thursday, Nov. 9, 10 a.m. – Add Value with Life and Disability Insurance

Thursday, Dec. 14, 10 a.m. – Avoid the Pitfalls of Plan Administration