The 71st Annual Membership Dinner & Awards: A Great Success!

Member businesses and individuals of The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce were recognized during the organization’s 71st Annual Meeting on Thursday, February 2nd.  The event was held at Rolling Pines Golf Course & Banquet Facility in Berwick, and was sponsored by PPL Corporation. 

More than 190 people attended the dinner meeting which celebrated outstanding member achievements, elected members to the Board of Directors, highlighted Chamber activities of the past year, and previewed the year ahead.

During the event, four Chamber Member Awards were presented for their significant contributions to the business community.  The Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by First Columbia Bank & Trust, was presented to Walker’s Jewelers of Berwick.  The Large Business of the Year Award, sponsored by the Columbia Alliance for Economic Growth, was presented to Kawneer Inc. / Alcoa Foundation.  The Community Progress Award, sponsored by Berwick Hospital Center, was awarded to Service 1st Federal Credit Union of Danville.  And the Outstanding Citizen Award, sponsored by the Berwick Industrial Development Association, was presented to Eileen Chapman.

Featured from left to right: Joe Scopelitti of PPL (Chamber Board Chair) , Axel Heinrich of Kawneer/Alcoa Foundation, Jeff Cerminaro of Walker’s Jewelers, Karen Wood, Tom Rambo, & Linda Brown of Service 1st Federal Credit Union, Eileen Chapman of AGAPE, and Fred Gaffney (Chamber President)

The Road to Recovery: We Can All Play a Role

By Fred Gaffney, President

The impacts of the flooding in our area will be felt for weeks, months, and, likely, years. Thousands of people were displaced from their homes, with many wondering where their next home will be. Roads, bridges, and other infrastructure is being repaired. Businesses, parks, and other public places have been decimated. One has to wonder when life might feel “normal” again.

There is at least one silver lining in this tragedy, the community spirit which has helped carry us through. There cannot be enough praise for the emergency responders and officials who were engaged from the earliest hours of the emergency until all were out of harm’s way. Human service providers including the Red Cross, Salvation Army, AGAPE, and other groups worked tirelessly to provide essential services to those directly affected. And the response by thousands of friends and neighbors who have stepped up to volunteer and make donations has been remarkable.

While the toil in the early days was exhausting, the work, as well as the need for assistance, is far from over. Homes, businesses, and properties are still rebuilding. Human service agencies need financial support to pay for the food, lodging, cleanup supplies, medicine, and many other ongoing needs. Everyone in the area can help in some way.

In addition to the thousands of homes that were damaged, dozens of businesses, including our area’s largest manufacturers, small retail and service businesses, and non-profits agencies, were also flooded. The loss of power and running water forced the shut down of many more for days. The subsequent cancellation of the Bloomsburg Fair dealt another blow to hundreds of local businesses that rely on the event. While the total economic loss as a result of the flooding cannot be fully calculated, it is staggering just to consider. Among the many ways to help rebuild our communities is to support the local businesses that provide our economic base in the form of jobs, taxes, and other resources. Eat at local restaurants, shop for goods and holiday gifts, and utilize them for services. We can all play a role.

Our ability to fully recover relies on an ongoing spirit of community. Your friends, family and neighbors are also people who work at or own these local businesses. Remember them as well, and utilize them whenever possible.

NLRB Unionization Posting Rule Takes Effect

Rule fails to describe consequences of exercising the rights to unionize.

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Last week, the National Labor Relations Board issued its final rule requiring most private-sector employers to notify employees of their rights to form, join or assist a union and engage in collective bargaining. The rule takes effect on Nov. 14, 2011.

The notice of rights will be provided at no charge by NLRB regional offices or can be downloaded from the board website and printed in color or black and white. Translated versions will be available, and must be posted at workplaces where at least 20 percent of employees are not proficient in English.

More information about the new requirements is available here.

In February, the PA Chamber sent a letter to the NLRB expressing opposition to the rule, which the business community views as biased, in conflict with the National Labor Relations Act, and as presenting numerous practical problems.

Specifically, the PA Chamber voiced concern that the rule failed to describe any of the consequences of exercising the rights to unionize, such as giving up the right to deal directly with the employer. It also does not mention the important right to object and refuse to pay union dues or fees for political purposes, nor does it describe the right to decertify or leave a union.

There are also questions as to whether NLRB has the statutory authority to adopt such a rule, which is yet another example of the agency’s over-reaching agenda that favors the interests of big labor over private-sector employers.

Chamber Launches Business Connect, Brings Businesses to Consumers

The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce is offering local consumers a new way to shop for services. As part of a recently completed website renovation, The Chamber’s site has incorporated Business Connect, an on-line service that makes it easier for shoppers to request information on products or services from local merchants. Business Connect offers a local version of increasingly popular websites designed to assist consumers in locating products and services. 

Similar to the popular website Angie’s List, Business Connect provides consumers with the ability to contact multiple businesses with one message. After filling out a simple request form, the site uses an advanced content management database to relay the consumer’s message to every Chamber member in the business category specified by the user.  This new service streamlines the process of ‘shopping’ for products and services by linking consumers with the local businesses offering the services they are seeking. The advantage of Business Connect is that, unlike Angie’s List, it is a free service that only uses local companies and no registration is required.

“Our goal is to make it as simple as possible for people to request information from our local businesses,” says Fred Gaffney, President of The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce. “Establishing this connection not only provides consumers with easier access to our members, but it also encourages local spending.”

“The consumer – business relationship is changing, particularly with younger generations,” explains Gaffney.  “Business Connect brings businesses to the customer, instead of the other way around.”

Business Connect is located in the Business Directory section of the Chamber’s website, www.columbiamontourchamber.com.  For more information, call 784-2522.

Chamber Members Receive Discount from Constant Contact

The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce has teamed up with Constant Contact, a well-established email marketing service, to provide members with an economical way to stay in contact with customers.

Members of the Columbia Montour Chamber qualify for a special discount from Constant Contact:  prepay for six months of service and receive a 20% discount, or prepay for a year and receive 25% off.

Constant Contact can help members grow their businesses with great-looking email newsletters, promotions and announcements.  Constant Contact also makes it easy to manage multiple email databases and track who is opening emails.

If you already have a Constant Contact account and would like your discount, please send an email to chamberprogram@constantcontact.com with your user name telling them you are a member of The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce.

If you haven’t opened an account yet, you can start with a 60-day free trial. To begin your trial click here.