Hone Your Computer Skills with Free Online Training

Free online computer training will be available for another five months through SEDA-COG’ s Online Broadband & Technology Training (OBTT) program. To date nearly 300 individuals have registered for classes, and SEDA-COG can register another 300.

In addition to the online training, for which there are 13 categories, registered users will also have access to Books 24×7, which includes thousands of short videos on various aspects of computer use. Those interested may register at www.paobtt.com. After the registration is processed, a temporary password will be e-mailed to them, a process which may take 24-48 hours. Once an individual is registered, they will have access to all the courses and videos.

Registered individuals may take as many courses as they would like. Several courses are divided into units, which may each take 20 or 30 minutes to complete. Although the program is due to conclude at year’s end, those who begin an OBTT class will be able to complete it, even if that extends beyond December 31.

Additional information is available from Jim Baker, who may be reached at 570-524-4491, e-mail jbaker@seda-cog.org.

Loan Program Available to Members

Chamber members have access to a low-interest loan program that can provide up to $10,000 in funding. The interest rate is 3% for a maximum term of five years. Members have used the program to purchase inventory, renovate locations, or for other business investments.

The guidelines and application process are simple. Applications are reviewed by a three-person loan committee with recommendations made to the Chamber Board. Personal guarantees are required on all loans. For additional information, contact Fred Gaffney at the Chamber at fgaffney@columbiamontourchamber.com or 570-784-2522

Chamber Co-Signs Letter Opposing Minimum Wage Increase

As the debate on whether to increase the state’s minimum wage goes on, the Chamber joined a coalition of local chambers of commerce from across the Commonwealth and the PA Chamber in sending a letter last week to state lawmakers warning of the adverse effects on jobs and urging their opposition to a mandated wage hike. This is in addition to a letter the Chamber sent to our state and federal delegations last month opposing an increase at either level.

The letter was sent the same day that minimum wage proponents held a ‘Raise the Wage’ rally in the state Capitol. The PA Chamber continues to counter the minimum wage debate because those advocating for it aren’t considering the impact that a minimum wage hike would have on small business owners, who are the most common employers to pay minimum wage and would be most likely to halt hiring or cut jobs as a result of the wage hike.

In addition to the letter, the PA Chamber also issued a press release listing a myriad of problems that would likely arise for small business owners in the event of a wage increase. The release referenced a report by the Congressional Budget Office stating that a forced wage increase would jeopardize more than 500,000 jobs. Interestingly, the jobs that would be most at risk are held by the very people proponents of the wage hike claim they are aiming to help.

Montour County Seeking Possible Assistance for Storm Damage

As a result of the hail storm that affected parts of Montour County last Thursday, the County’s Department of Emergency Services is collecting information about the extent of uninsured damages that took place in the area. The intent of this data collection effort is to assess whether there is eligibility for the County to be included in a federal “Small Business Administration Disaster Declaration.” This program COULD result in the availability of low interest loans to assist affected businesses and homeowners.
Although the name of the program seems to suggest it is for businesses, in reality there is possible eligibility for private individuals also. Eligible applicants are those business or persons who suffered greater than 40% UNINSURED LOSSES.

These losses are able to be calculated in one of two ways, against personal property, or against real estate.

Personal Property – Estimate the pre-disaster value or fair replacement value (whichever is lower) of all owned property (clothing, appliances, vehicle, etc.). Then, determine if the UNINSURED loss is at least 40% of the total value.

Structure – Provide fair market value estimate of the home/business structure. Then, determine if the UNINSURED loss is at least 40% of the value.
If either of the above scenarios is true, it is recommended that the person(s) so affected complete an SBA Survey Sheet. Persons who do not have uninsured losses of at least 40% are asked to NOT submit a survey as they would not be eligible for assistance and these submittals will simply serve to add to the volume of paperwork that must be reviewed.

The survey sheet can be downloaded here, or a hard copy can be obtained at the Montour County Commissioners Office in the Courthouse.
This form should be completed and returned in one of three ways:

1. Faxed or hand delivered to the Montour County Commissioners Office, 29 Mill Street,Danville, PA 17821. Fax 570-271-3088

2. Scanned and emailed to wpeters@montourema.org.

3. Alternate Fax 570-271-3078

The form must be submitted no later than close of business June 6, 2014.

If a declaration is warranted, further information will be provided through the Chamber and local media outlets.

Carpool RideShare Program Available to Workers in Columbia and Montour Counties

Montour County Transit and Columbia County Transportation are pleased to announce the introduction of Rideshare, a new service to help area commuters save money and get to work reliably.
 
The service is intended to offer opportunities to individuals looking for mobility options that are environmentally friendly and reduce the cost of traveling to/from work or schooling. Anyone interested can register at http://ata.nextinsight.com/main.php) to find a carpool match for their commute. Employers are encouraged to inform employees of the service. For more information, call (570) 271-0833 or email commute@Montourco.org.