Member News – April 11, 2018

Member News

  • DRIVE recently announced that USG has received a $250,000 grant from PennDOT’s Rail Freight Assistance Program to improve its operations in the region. The funding will be used to add 2,000 feet of track to its facility in Washingtonville to accommodate longer trains and increase efficiency to unload railcars. This marked one of several improvement projects that were announced by Governor Tom Wolf recently as part of a broader effort to help strengthen the local economy and fuel business growth in the region. 


  • Penn College was recently awarded nearly $50,000 in a grant by the PA Department of Labor & Industry to support two registered apprenticeship programs, one each in mechatronics and computer numerical control. These two high-demand programs serve the needs of at least 40 apprentices from at least 14 companies, including fellow Chamber members Kawneer, SEKISUI SPI and Autoneum. Read the entire press release from Penn College for further information. 


  • North Branch Group/Thrivent Financial is seeking an office assistant to support the team at its Bloomsburg office located at 417 West Main St. Responsibilities includes handling incoming telephone calls,, routine administrative duties, and more. For more information, see the job description, or contact Kerry Maurer at 570-317-2111 or email


Saxophonist Melissa Aldana.

  • Jazz saxophonist Melissa Aldana will perform tonight, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Weis Center Atrium Lobby at the Weis Center For the Performing Arts. This performance is free and tickets are not required. Aldana is an acclaimed tenor saxophonist and native of Chile that NPR referred to as “one of the most compelling and prodigious saxophonists of her time. In 2013 she became the first female instrumentalist and the first South American ever to win the Thelonious Monk Competition. She is also a recipient of the Martin E. Segal Award from Jazz at Lincoln Center and a double recipient of the Altazor Award, Chile’s highly prestigious national arts prize.


  • North Branch Group/Thrivent Financial will host a tax reform workshop tomorrow, April 12, at 6 p.m. at the Bloomsburg Public Library. Find out how you and your family will fare under the new changes to the U.S. federal tax code, which was changed due to the new law passed in December. Learn about those tax law changes that could impact you, and get positive, professional guidance from the professionals from Thrivent. No products or services will be sold at this event. Light refreshments will be served and there is no cost to attend, however and RSVP is requested by calling Richard Keller at 570-317-2111 or email


  • French-Tunisian saxophonist Yacine Boulares

    World music from Tunisia will be featured in a performance titled “Suite for Abu Sadiya” on Wednesday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Weis Center Atrium Lobby at the Weis Center For the Performing Arts. The performance is free and tickets are not required. In this musical take on a North African myth, Brooklyn-based, French-Tunisian saxophonist Yacine Boulares and French cellist Vincent Segal will present an original suite of variations re-imagining the Tunisian healing trance music — Stambeli — for their trio with American drummer Nasheet Waits.


  • First Columbia Bank & Trust will holds its 8th annual Teen Star musical competition on Sunday, May 20 as Haas Auditorium on the campus of Bloomsburg University. Audition registration is now open through Friday, April 20. Auditions will be held at Millville Area High School on Wednesday, April 25 and Saturday, April 28. This annual competition is open to any freshman, sophomore, junior or senior that attends high school in Columbia County or the Danville School District, or that permanently resides in Columbia County or within the Danville Area School District but attends a school outside the county or district. For more information and to register, visit the Teen Star website


  • The Bloomsburg Area YMCA will hold Healthy Kids Day on Saturday, April 21 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. There will be games, activities and more to get kids thinking about healthy lifestyles. Snacks will be available, along with information about youth development programs at the Y, such as its upcoming summer camp. To give children an adventurous, active and healthy summer, the Y will be waiving its $35 camp registration fee on this day. For more information, visit the Facebook event page


  • Ken Pollock Ford Lincoln will host a ribbon cutting and grand reopening of its new showroom at the Berwick dealership on Saturday, April 21, from 1-3 p.m. After the Chamber joins the Ken Pollock Auto Group staff for a ribbon cutting at 1 p.m., enjoy food, beverages, prizes and outstanding entertainment from local musicians, as well as a special guest star. There will also be a cornhole tournament. There is no cost to attend and registration is not required. However, to participate in the cornhole tournament, registration is requested. See the flyer for more information. 


Double bassist Xavier Foley

  • Double bassist Xavier Foley will give a classical performance on Sunday, April 22 at 2 p.m. in the Weis Center Atrium Lobby at the Weis Center For the Performing Arts. The performance is free and tickets are not required. The classical repertoire will include a world premiere work and a Weis Center commission by composer Daniel Temkin. As a winner of the 2016 Young Concert Artists (YCA) International Auditions along with four Performance Prizes, Foley gave his New York and Washington, D.C. debut recitals this season, which included two of his own compositions. Foley is only the second double bassist in the 57-year history of YCA to win and join its roster.


  • State Rep. David Millard will host a drug forum on Tuesday, April 24 at Benton High School, from 6-8 p.m. Adults and children are invited to attend these events, which are designed to share information about drug abuse, the opioid crisis and how to avoid drug addiction. Speakers include Jeremy Reese, Columbia County coroner, representatives from Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital, and representatives from a local rehabilitation facility. These forums are free and open to the public, and registration is not required. Visit Rep. Millard’s website or call 570-759-8734 or 570-387-0246 for more information. 


  • The Bucknell Small Business Development Center will host a workshop on how to become an Amazon seller on Wednesday, April 25, from 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. at its location of 416 Market St., Lewisburg. Learn tips and best practices that will give you an edge rather than going it alone through trial and error. Amazon has surpassed Google as the starting point for online shoppers, making the Amazon Marketplace an appealing channel for sellers. A discount on the registration fee is available using the code “AMZN101LEWISBURG” when registering.


  • The local PA CareerLink centers have scheduled their 2018 job fairs. The local one in our area will be held on Wednesday, May 9, from 4-7 p.m. at Columbia-Montour Area Vocational Technical School, located at 5050 Sweppenheiser Dr., Bloomsburg. There will also be job fairs during May just outside of the area at Shikellamy High School in Sunbury on May 2 and at the Selinsgrove VFW in May 30. Later in the year, there will be one at the Best Western in Lewisburg on Sept. 6. The registration links for employers are now open for the three May events. See the flyer for more information as well as registration links. 


  • The Weis Center for the Performing Arts, in collaboration with the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau and the Susquehanna River Arts initiative, is hosting a free art exhibit and installation featuring the work of 10 local artists from now through Friday, May 25 in the Weis Center’s upper Atrium Lobby. The exhibit is free and takes place on the upper level of the Atrium Lobby, which is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Participating artists will include: Annie Barnhart, Robert Brown, Pete Grimord, Joan Grimord, Gail Fox, Glen Klein, Abigail Kurecian, Sara Mika, Pam Thomas and William Whitmoyer. Each artist will have several samples of artwork on display. 


  • Geisinger Health Plan and the Columbia-Montour Aging Office, Inc. are teaming up to bring “A Matter of Balance,” an award-winning program, to the area for a series of presentations in April and May. This program for older adults and is designed to manage falls and increase activity levels. It is available to the public at no cost and will be held each Monday, through May 21, from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at Maria Joseph Continuing Care Community, located at 1707 Montour Blvd. (Rt. 11), Danville. The program will also be held on Tuesday, May 29 due to Memorial Day, and this will be the last class. Attendees will learn to view falls as controllable, set goals for increasing activity, make changes to reduce fall risks at home and exercise to increase strength and balance. Registration is required, and to do so, call the GHP wellness team at 866-415-7138. 

Mini Casino Survey Results

Last month, we asked our members to respond to a brief, three-question survey regarding a possible casino in our area, which followed the Bloomsburg Town Council passing a resolution that would allow a “mini casino” to locate within the town. Several other municipalities in Columbia and Montour counties have also indicated they are open to consideration. 

As a part of the 2017-18 state budget law that was signed last fall, Pennsylvania made 10 Category 4 casino licenses available through an auction process, which is currently underway. Under the legislation, local municipalities have the option as to whether or not they would allow such establishments.

Here are the results of the survey:

1. Do you think a mini casino located in our area would benefit your business?
Yes          29      40%
No           32      44%
Unsure   11       15%

2. Would you be in favor of a mini casino locating in our area?
Yes          35       49%
No           23       32%
Unsure   14       19%

3. What type of organization do you represent?
Retail                               8       11%
Restaurant/Food          11       15%
Entertainment/Arts     3        4%
Service                            25      35%
Manufacturing              7        10%
Non-profit                      18      25%

Thanks to all that took the time to respond, and congratulations to the winner of the free month of ads in E-Biz, JDog Junk Removal & Hauling.

Leadership Central Penn Learns Why Nothing is as Black and White as We Think

Pallets of grocery flyers wait to be stuffed in the newspapers at the Press Enterprise.

The Leadership Central Penn’s morning for its March class date started out at Press Enterprise, where not even the business model is about black and white print anymore.  Press Enterprise has evolved over the years from a newspaper to a commercial printing operation that produces a daily newspaper. Thanks to forward thinking and a little luck, the organization has weathered the challenges of print news. 

The class was treated to a tour of the Press Enterprise facilities where workers were busily bundling weekly grocery ads for distribution and shipping. As the class looked at the line, it saw the layers of ink being added, which changed the white paper into brilliant colors and bright ads. The digital media team works to assist clients with content and presentation, allowing small mom-and-pop grocers to offer the same vibrant, eye-catching ads of larger grocery chains. 

Following the tour of the Press Enterprise’s facilities , the class headed to SEKISUI SPI for the remainder of the day, where the group was greeted by fellow classmate and VP of People and Culture for SEKISUI, Sharon Haverlak. The first speaker of the day was Ronn Cort, COO and president of SEKISUI, who introduced the group to the innovative vision and culture of the company. SEKISUI has capitalized globally on opportunities of the growing middle class and the infrastructure needs of this group and their communities. The company produces plastic sheet for thermoforming products used in aviation, mass transit, construction and farming vehicles, and equipment housings like MRI

Ronn Cort gives a presentation to the LCP class.

machines and ATMs. 

SEKISUI has global leaders as partners on environmentally-focused, cutting-edge technology for the future. These include projects with Tesla for charging stations and the Hyperloop public transportation system. Thanks to the light weight, strength and thermal properties of their products, SEKISUI has helped save fuel without compromising style or comfort.

Following Cort’s presentation, the class welcomed Mike Ferlazzo, director of media relations at Bucknell University, for a discussion on the importance of public relations in leadership. The class heard about the importance of media relationships and the value of transparency. Mike shared that if you don’t control the narrative and provide factual information, the story will continue in a direction of its own making. This might not be the best light or even an accurate depiction, but it is what the public will be left with if not for a sound PR approach.

Mike Ferlazzo of Bucknell University speaks to the LCP class about public relations.

Before a lunch break, the class was joined by Tina Welch of Welch Performance Consulting to discuss “Generations in the Workplace.” Tina shared that there are four generations at work currently, Traditionalist, Boomers, Gen X and Millennials.  Each group has unique work ethic, communication preferences, motivations, and expectations of rewards, feedback and work/life balance. The class then learned the three main strategies for managing this multi-generational workforce:

  1. Mold your Culture
  2. Become Gen-Mixers: Assess Your Team
  3. Teach Your Workforce

Arthur Breese, director of diversity at Geisinger, talks about everyday bias.

After its well-earned lunch break, it was time to introduce the class to a presentation titled “Everyday Bias” led by Arthur Breese, director of diversity at Geisinger, Jimmy Muwombi, from the Coalition for Social Equity, and Jabari Johnson, Bloomsburg University student and intern at the United Way of Columbia and Montour County.  The class learned that based on where, when and how we were raised, and what life experiences we have had, we are all prone to pass judgment with our fast brain. The class saw a variety of videos and had discussions to prove the point that we all have both unconscious and conscious bias. We have two brains that don’t always see eye to eye, the fast (emotional) and slow (thinking) brain. Understanding and controlling these two sides of our brain requires us to take a P.A.U.S.E. before we react or act. 

To conclude the day, the class was treated to a behind the scenes plant tour of SEKISUI. The class was shown production, development and corporate culture in action. This organization, that many in the class were unaware of prior to this day, impressed everyone with its approach, innovation and vision. If there were any preconceived biases about manufacturing, they were changed on this day and replaced by a new vision of the current state and future of this sector.

Chamber Board Welcomes New Members

With the start of the Chamber’s 2018-19 fiscal year on April 1, six new board members have officially taken their seats on and have been welcomed to the Chamber Board of Directors. Incoming board members are:

Donna Coombs, GordnerCoombs Insurance
Renee Gerringer, Ronald McDonald House of Danville
Sam Haulman, Service Electric
Vic Klein, Columbia Alliance for Economic Growth
Holly Morrison, Central Susquehanna Community Foundation
Tom Neal, Commonwealth Health-Berwick Hospital Center

2018-19 officers are:

Karen Wood, Chair, Service 1st Federal Credit Union
Dan Knorr, Vice Chair, Bloomsburg University
Denise Stone, Treasurer, Geisinger
Mark Gardner, Immediate Past Chair, M&T Bank
Fred Gaffney, President

Exiting the board are Jeff Cerminaro of Walker’s Jewelers and Diana Verbeck of Danville Child Development Center. Outgoing chair Mark Gardner expressed appreciation for their service at the March Board meeting, as well as at February’s Annual Meeting. 

Penn College and Focus Central Pennsylvania Representatives to Tout Region For Investment at International Plastics Showcase

From Focus Central Pennsylvania

Focus Central Pennsylvania will be joining several partners, including Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Plastics Innovation & Resource Center, in the Pennsylvania booth to promote the region for capital investment and company location expansion projects at the NPE Plastics Show, May 7-11. Focus Central PA is excited to be joined by the PIRC at Penn College because it is a powerful, value-add differentiator for making Central Pennsylvania a smart place for a company investment. The Pennsylvania booth will be located in the South Hall Level 1 – Expo Hall – S12037. The NPE Plastics Show brings together more than 65,000 business professionals from more than 20,000 companies in the plastics industry from across the world.

“The NPE show is a significant opportunity to put the Central Pennsylvania region on the radar of companies from across the world that are expanding and searching for locations for their investment and career generating projects” said Lauren Bryson, executive director of Focus Central Pennsylvania “We want quality companies that are expanding to consider this part of Pennsylvania for their investment project and we are looking forward to communicating the benefits our region has to offer those companies, like the PIRC.”

Why invest in attracting plastics companies and manufacturers to the Central Pennsylvania region? Focus Central PA has strategically chosen to target companies expanding in the plastics industry because it is an industry predicted to have strong, sustainable growth and provides high paying career opportunities. Central Pennsylvania is home to several successful, growing plastics companies that have the advantage of being located within 60% of US and Canada’s population and major US markets; extensive network of trade schools, technical colleges and universities; quality workforce; research and development resources; available industrial buildings and sites; world class rail infrastructure and service; low cost of living; high quality of life and much more. Pennsylvania’s natural gas resources are creating opportunities for growth in the plastics industry as well. Ethane and propane, two important feedstocks for plastics processing, are forecasted to grow in production in Pennsylvania. The abundance of natural gas resources in the region, in combination with specialized workforce training and plastics engineering programs, and proximity to key U.S. consumer markets can translate into significant competitive advantages for plastics companies located in Pennsylvania. In short, Central Pennsylvania has what it takes to make and move product and is a smart investment for quality companies looking to grow.

Focus Central Pennsylvania is a non-profit dedicating 100% of its time and resources to attracting corporate investment to the region to create jobs and is supported by partners in seven contiguous counties in the central part of Pennsylvania, USA including Columbia (Bloomsburg, Berwick); Montour (Danville); Union (Lewisburg, Mifflinburg); Snyder (Selinsgrove); Northumberland (Sunbury, Milton); Mifflin (Lewistown); and Centre (State College).