Ground Broken on Second Phase of Jacob’s Landing, Presented by Villager Realty

(L-R): Bob Dressler, president, Danville Business Alliance Board of Directors; Fred Gaffney, president, Columbia Montour Chamber; Jim Wilson, executive director, Danville Business Alliance; Tom Forrestal, plant manager, Merck Cherokee; Todd Ross, president, T-Ross Brothers Construction; Sabra Karr, Villager Realty; Tim Karr, president and CEO, Villager Realty; Jay Reed, board member, Danville Business Alliance; Dennis Witmer, foreman, T-Ross Brothers Construction (Photo courtesy of T-Ross Brothers Construction)

On Wednesday, Aug. 9, Columbia Montour Chamber president Fred Gaffney joined a handful of other local business leaders to break ground on Phase Two of Jacob’s Landing, presented exclusively by Villager Realty, an upscale community of luxury townhomes adjacent to the Susquehanna River in Danville. This second phase will add a total of 16 new housing units to the already-existing 12 townhouses in the development. The new units will consist of eight brownstone units and eight riverfront condominiums in a total of three buildings. The contractor for the project is T-Ross Brothers Construction and the architect is ArchCentral Architects

Located on the north shore of the river, Jacob’s Landing enjoys spectacular views of the river from every one of the new condos. Downtown Danville is a five-minute walk and Geisinger Medical Center is just a five-minute drive away.

“The continued development of Jacob’s Landing will help the continual improvement of the character of Danville and provide an additional much-needed housing option for people in the area,” said Gaffney.

“We are very excited about going forward with this project,” said Tim Karr, president and CEO of Villager Realty. “We are just replicating what you already see on this site from Phase One.”

WNEP-TV was also at the groundbreaking event and filed this report

(Information from a T-Ross Brothers Construction press release was used in this story)

(Video courtesy of T-Ross Brothers Construction)

Members Learn About Business Opportunities Surrounding Upcoming Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline

Mike Atchie from Williams gives attendees at Tuesday’s Learn at Lunch an overview of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project. He also spoke about the WILLShop Local mobile app, which will encourage workers to patronize local businesses and which local businesses and sign up to be listed on for free.

An engaged group of individuals from Chamber member organizations heard the latest updates on the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project and also about the many opportunities for business development that will be brought about by the pipeline project once it gets underway later this year. Mike Atchie, director of community outreach for Williams, spoke to the group at the August Learn at Lunch, held on Aug. 8 at Wesley United Methodist Church. He began the presentation by giving the audience a brief summary of how and why the project came about and everything that has happened in the three-plus years to get the necessary approvals and permits. Williams is awaiting a few final permits and then plans to get the project started in the fall, taking a about a year to complete. The purpose of the pipeline is to add additional transmission capacity for gas coming out of the Marcellus Shale region in north central Pennsylvania so that the gas can be more easily exported to other states and areas up and down the east coast through the Transco pipeline. According to statistics released last month by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, PA ranked second in the nation in natural gas production for the fourth straight year in 2016. 

The Atlantic Sunrise pipeline will run through Columbia County on its way to connect with the Transco pipeline in southern Lancaster County. Some workers that will construct the pipeline in Columbia County will be from outside the immediate area and will therefore need to locate goods and services. In order to encourage its contractors to patronize local businesses during their time here, Williams has developed a mobile application called WILLShop Local and all local businesses are encouraged to sign up, free of charge, to be listed on this app. 

The next Learn at Lunch is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 10, from 12-1 p.m. (location TBA) and will feature a speakers talking about the ChamberChoice affinity programs that are available as benefits of Chamber membership, specifically the Penn National business insurance program and the OnDemand Energy program. 

Member News – August 9, 2017

Member News

PFCU’s new Bloomsburg branch.

Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting at PFCU Tomorrow

Philadelphia Federal Credit Union (PFCU) will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony tomorrow, Aug. 10, at 11 a.m. at their new branch office located in the Route 11 Marketplace, 1615 Columbia Blvd. (Rt. 11), Bloomsburg. The ribbon cutting will be followed by a public grand opening featuring free food and giveaways, which will run until 2 p.m. 


Next First Step Seminar in Bloomsburg Aug. 11

Have you ever thought about starting your own business, but weren’t quite sure if it would be right for you? Or maybe you want to know what paperwork you need in order to open your doors? These and several other common questions for small businesses will covered at the next First Step Seminar given by the Wilkes University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) this Friday, Aug. 11, at noon at the Downtown Bloomsburg, Inc. Business Incubator, 151 E. Main St., Bloomsburg. Laura Haden of the SBDC will speak about the different legal structures a business can be, how to write a business plan and create financial projections, and much more. Cost is $15 for the First Step book. Walk-ins are welcome but pre-registration is preferred. Register by calling 570-408-4334, email or online


Bucknell SBDC Hosts Cybersecurity Workshop

Are you as secure as you think? Join Michael Frauenhoffer of MePush as he talks about compliance vs. actual security at StartUpLewisburg, 416 Market St., Lewisburg next Tuesday, Aug. 15 at noon. Hosted by the Bucknell Small Business Development Center, this event will also feature local pizza, networking and tours of StartupLewisburg, Bucknell University’s home for innovators and entrepreneurs in downtown Lewisburg. Register here.


Mandated Child Abuse Reporting Training Session Available

Montour County Children and Youth Services will host a free training for individuals who are mandated by law to report suspected child abuse next Thursday, Aug. 17, from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. The training program is put together by the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance. Though this training is free, pre-registration is required. For more information or to register, fill out this form on the PFSA website. Those registering will receive an email once their registration has been processed, which will include the address for the training location. 


Wild For Salmon Hosts Annual Fishtival Aug. 19

Help the crew at Wild For Salmon celebrate the return of its fishing team from its record-breaking season in Bristol Bay, Alaska as it hosts its annual Fishtival on Saturday, Aug. 19, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. outside its Bloomsburg store at 521 Montour Blvd. (Rt. 11). Owner Steve Kurian and his crew caught over 100,000 pounds of wild salmon during this year’s fishing season, and with harvest numbers so high, they want to share some with the public. There will be free samples of salmon cooked by Chef Josh and the Wild For Salmon crew, and several other visitors will be on hand to free tastings, including beer and wine samples from fellow Chamber members Turkey Hill Brewing and Freas Farm Winery. There will also be an educational booth this year discussing the importance of preserving the lifeblood of the business, Bristol Bay. 

FLSA Overtime Rule Revisited Again

From ChamberChoice

In December 2016, employers faced one of the most dramatic changes in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in over 42 years. As a brief background, the FLSA establishes the federal minimum wage for all hours worked (currently $7.25 an hour), and overtime premium pay at one and one-half times an employee’s regular pay rate for worked hours exceeding 40 in one work week. The FLSA also exempts from overtime payments “any employee employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity”, generally referred to as the white collar exemption. Two of the three criteria for an employee to meet the white collar exemption is that the employee must be paid on a salary basis, and the salary must meet a minimum specified salary amount. The latter is known as the salary level test. The salary level test has been set at $455 weekly or $23,660 annualized, for some time.

In 2016, the Department of Labor under the Obama Administration increased the salary level test, more than doubling it, to $47,476 per year. This new salary threshold would have drastically expanded the number of employees eligible for overtime pay. Although scheduled to be effective December 1, 2016, causing a panic attack with employers, it was blocked from enforcement, when a nationwide preliminary injunction was issued by a federal court in Texas (which is in the Fifth Circuit). The preliminary injunction was appealed and is still pending today.

However, what the Trump Administration’s Department of Labor has decided to do is ask the Court not to address the validity of the 2016 rule and salary level test. This will give the DOL an opportunity to revisit the issue through new rulemaking. This request is in line with President Trump’s charge for federal agencies to review regulations with a focus on lowering regulatory burden.

On July 25, the DOL 25 issued a Request for Information (RFI). An RFI is an opportunity for the public to provide data and information that may be used to revise a rule. The RFI seeks comments on a variety of topics under the FLSA, but basically focusing on the salary level test which has been on hold.

Some of the issues for which the RFI seeks comment are:

  • Whether the salary test should be updated based on inflation;
  • Whether there should be a multiple salary level test and whether differences in employer size or locality should matter;
  • What the impact of the 2016 rule was and did employers make changes in anticipation of the rule;
  • Were specific industries/positions impacted more than others;
  • Was the provision permitting 10% of the salary level test to be satisfied with bonuses appropriate; and
  • Should the salary levels be automatically updated?

Of course, the merit of these comments will be dependent on the Fifth Circuit’s decision on whether the salary test is permissible to begin with. A favorable determination will provide the Department with information to proceed on a new rulemaking. Employers should continue to watch this issue until finalized.

Senator Casey Hears from Local Business

U.S. Senator Bob Casey heard about the challenges of local businesses at a roundtable meeting held Monday in Danville. Common themes among the participants included the cost of health insurance, challenges of recruiting employees, lack of broadband in rural areas, and burdensome regulations. The meeting was organized by the Danville Business Alliance and held at Old Forge Brewing Company.

The approximately 30 attendees represented a cross-section of business types including members: Bason Coffee Roasting, Pine Barn Inn, G.S. Woods Financial Solutions, U.S. Gypsum, and Danville Child Development Center. Recruiting quality employees continues to be a challenge for all sizes and types of employers. Specific issues cited at the roundtable included the need to support skilled trades education, wages levels, and the inability for small businesses to afford health insurance coverage for their employees.

Following the recent failed attempts at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, Senator Casey stated that there have been “more positive discussions about health care in the last ten days than in the last ten months.” He expects that targeted reforms to the existing legislation will advance in September. Improving the affordability of health insurance for small business owners and their non-subsidized employees will take longer, he admitted.

Another widespread hindrance to business growth is burdensome regulations. Larger employers talked about excessive environmental regulations while smaller employers asked for clarification on how certain rules might apply to their businesses. Legislation has already passed the House and has been introduced in the Senate (S. 951) which would require more public input and transparency in government agency rulemaking. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and PA Chamber of Business and Industry are supporting this legislation. Senator Casey did not express his opinion on the bill.

Lack of broadband internet access in rural areas such as northern parts of Montour and Columbia counties also prohibits business development. The Senator has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to keep federal dollars intended for infrastructure expansion in Pennsylvania. He feels that a long-term solution is a nationwide infrastructure enhancement package. The Columbia Montour Chamber has advocated for improved broadband and telecommunications infrastructure to both federal and state legislators.

Senator Casey thanked the participants for their input and pledged follow up on a number of specific questions.