October is Local Chamber of Commerce Month in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (left) has officially declared October 2017 as “Local Chamber of Commerce Month” in PA. The below proclamation was issued by Gov. Wolf in recognition of the efforts of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry and the many local Chambers around the state, such as the Columbia Montour Chamber, in supporting business and economic growth and development. A PDF of the proclamation can also be viewed here.

Greetings:

It is my pleasure to join with the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry to support October 2017 as Local Chamber of Commerce Month in Pennsylvania.

Since its inception, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry has served and advocated for Pennsylvania businesses. By helping its members understand federal and state workplace regulations, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry helps to create a more prosperous future for the commonwealth and its citizens. Our local chambers of commerce play a critical role in supporting the needs of our vibrant business community, and are essential to the commonwealth’s continued economic growth and advancement. As my administration works hard to retain current and create new family sustaining jobs by supporting business and industry throughout the commonwealth, I am grateful for our local chambers of commerce for providing the invaluable role that they play in ensuring that businesses new and old can continue to prosper in Pennsylvania. I commend Pennsylvania’s local chamber of commerce for representing thousands of businesses, and I am certain their efforts to enhance our communities will serve as an inspiration across the commonwealth for years to come.

As Governor, and on behalf of all citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I am honored to support October 2017 as Local Chamber of Commerce Month. Please accept my best wishes for continued success.

Tom Wolf
Governor
October 2017

House Approves No Tax Increase Revenue Plan

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Budget negotiations took on a new dimension last week after the House approved a counter revenue proposal that would balance the 2017-18 spending plan through a series of special fund transfers, securitization of the Tobacco Settlement Fund and yet-to be enacted gaming and liquor expansions.

The proposal does not include any tax increases and limits borrowing. The specifics of the plan call for: a $20 million transfer from legislative reserve accounts; $630 million in Special Fund transfers; $400 million in multi-year agency lapsed funds; a $200 million transfer from the nonprofit Pennsylvania Professional Liability Joint Underwriting Association; a $15 million transfer from the Commonwealth Financing Authority’s New Venture Account; and borrowing $100 million from the Underground Storage Tank Indemnity Fund. The proposal would also sell a portion of the annual payments from the Tobacco Settlement Fund over a 10 year period – which is expected to bring in $1 billion. Finally, the plan banks on revenues from yet-to be enacted gaming expansion – which could include allowing for “mini casinos” and limited video gaming terminals – as well as additional reforms to the state’s alcohol laws.

The Wolf administration was quick to state its opposition to the plan late Wednesday night. In a written statement to Capitolwire, Gov. Wolf’s spokesman J.J. Abbott said: “Gov. Wolf and bipartisan members of the House and Senate understand that recurring revenue is necessary to solve the structural deficit and avoid a credit downgrade. The House Republican proposal does neither. After leaving bipartisan negotiations in July, House Republicans have demanded to go it alone. Hopefully, now, they can get serious about funding the spending they passed two months ago, fixing the structural deficit and avoiding further consequences.”

Meanwhile House Republican leaders viewed the vote as the next step in the negotiation process. Prior to the House vote, Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “We’re going to move forward with this with the expectation we get to 102 votes and then we’ll enter into the next round of negotiations and hopefully finish that in a very timely fashion.”

The House approved the proposal by a vote of 103-91. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Looking for Office Space? Chamber Seeking Partners for Office Building

The Chamber is exploring options to expand its offices in order to provide larger group meeting space and allow for future growth. Locations being explored in the Bloomsburg area would have good visibility, public accessibility, and space for additional organizations. Businesses or organizations that are interested in up to 2,000 square feet of office space should contact Fred Gaffney at the Chamber at 570-784-2522 or email.

EEOC’s New Pay Data Reporting Requirement Stayed

From ChamberChoice

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) collects workforce data from all employers with 100 or more employees through an annual EEO-1 Report. The report, in its current form, collects data about gender, race, and ethnicity of employees by 10 different job groupings. In 2016, the EEOC revised the form in order to begin requiring employers to provide employee pay data.

The EEOC’s goal in gathering this additional data is to identify businesses that may have pay gaps, and then target those employers who are discriminating on the account of gender — and possibly race or ethnicity —through enforcement actions. The EEOC plans to publish reports using aggregated data and to train its investigators to identify potential indicators of discrimination warranting additional investigation.

This new information was to be provided in the 2017 form, and to give employers time to collect that data, the deadline for 2017 was extended by six months from September 30, 2017 to March 31, 2018. The “workforce snapshot period” has also changed to any payroll period of the employer’s choice between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2017 (rather than, as previously, a payroll period between July 1 and Sept. 30).

Although the reporting deadline was extended to March 2018, there was indication that the new pay data reporting requirement may be further suspended or even canceled. As a reminder, President Trump signed an Executive Order in January addressing reducing regulation and controlling regulatory costs. Specifically the Order provided, “…it is important that for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination, and that the cost of planned regulations be prudently managed and controlled
through a budgeting process.”

To that end, on Aug. 29, the EEOC was informed that a review as to the new burdens that would be placed on employers under the pay data reporting regulations is being initiated. Furthermore, an immediate stay (suspension) was placed on the requirement for an employer to report pay information.

Therefore, the previously approved EEO-1 form which collects data on race, ethnicity and gender by occupational category remains in effect. However, employers may still plan on complying with the previously set filing date of March 2018.

Employers with 100 or more employees are required to file an annual EEO-1 report. A 2016 revision to the form would require an employer to report pay data information. However, this pay data reporting requirement has been suspended as of Aug. 29. However, employers should continue to monitor any further guidance from the EEOC.

SEDA-COG Offers Limited-Time, Ultra-Low Interest Loans for Businesses

From SEDA-COG

For a limited time, a 2% fixed interest rate is being offered for Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) loans, which are offered through SEDA-COG.

Those interested should contact SEDA-COG (contact info is below) before Nov. 15, as applications need to be received by Dec. 31 to get this excellent rate locked in.

The PIDA board approved this interest rate incentive to encourage businesses to make investments and grow jobs in Pennsylvania. For more information about PIDA and eligibility, click here.

Then, starting on Jan. 1, 2018, interest rates will be set quarterly on Jan. 1, April 1, July 1, and Oct. 1 of each year using the current 10-year U.S. Treasury rate as an index benchmark, as follows:

  1. Real Estate Loans: The borrowers will have four options:a. For term loans with a regular amortization, a fixed interest rate for the full term of the loan, set at the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point, plus 100 basis points.

    b. For term loans with a regular amortization, a fixed interest rate for the first seven years of the loan term, set at the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point. After the initial seven-year period, the rate will automatically reset to the then-current 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point. The reset rate is limited to a 200 basis point increase/decrease.

    c. For 10-year term loans with a 20-year amortization period, a fixed interest rate for the full term of the loan, set at the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point, plus 100 basis points.

    d. For 10-year term loans with a 20-year amortization period, a fixed interest rate for the first five years of the loan term, set at the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point. After the initial 5-year period, the rate will automatically reset to the then-current 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point. The reset rate is limited to a 200 basis point increase/decrease.
     

  1. Equipment Loans: A fixed interest rate for the full term of the loan, set at the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point, plus 100 basis points.
  1. Working Capital and Account Receivable Lines of Credit: A fixed interest rate for the 12-month term of the credit line, set at the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point, plus 100 basis points.
  1. Pollution Prevention Assistance and Energy Efficiency Loans: A fixed interest rate of 2% for the full term of the loan. 

To take advantage of this ultra-low interest loan, contact SEDA-COG at 570-524-4491 or email one of its senior relationship managers directly!

John Reichard, Senior Relationship Manager II

Ray Haden, Senior Relationship Manager I

The Columbia Montour Chamber also offers its own ongoing low interest loan program, which allows qualified borrows to take out between $5-20K for no longer than five years.