New Kiosks in Danville Showing Results

On March 1st, the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau unveiled two new interactive kiosks located in the Danville area. The first kiosk was placed at Geisinger Medical Center in the Atrium Café, which is a heavily trafficked area of the hospital complex.  The other kiosk is located in the lobby of the Pine Barn Inn.  These displays are linked to the Visitors Bureau website to assist users in finding information about local businesses, upcoming events in the area, dining and shopping options, local attractions and other activities in Columbia and Montour Counties.  Jim Wilson, Executive Director of the Danville Business Alliance, highlighted the impact of the new technology on the area. “The kiosks are strategically placed in two of the busiest pedestrian locations in Danville and Montour County:  Geisinger Medical Center and the Pine Barn Inn.  Literally thousands of people (patients, their families, visitors) will pass by them every day.  They will provide an unparalleled opportunity to promote the many natural, historic, cultural and commercial assets of both Columbia and Montour Counties.”

Data trends show that the new kiosks are indeed having an immediate impact on the area.  In the months preceding the installation of the new kiosks, the Visitors Bureau website averaged 300-400 unique page views from the Danville area every month.  In the one month after the kiosks were placed, this number dramatically increased to reach nearly 2,000 unique page views in the month of March.  Several local business owners have expressed their excitement about the new installations, and hopes are high that downtown Danville will see greater foot traffic in the upcoming summer months.

Welcome the Chamber’s Newest Members

More than 600 businesses and organizations belong to the Columbia Montour Chamber to receive benefits and support efforts to strengthen our region. Increased membership allows us to offer additional programs and benefits, have a stronger voice in advocacy, and be involved in more activities and initiatives in our communities. The Chamber welcomes six organizations that joined in March to help us fulfill our mission:

487 Rustics – 1549 State Route 487, Orangeville

Can U Xcape – 95 East 10th Street, Unit 1, Bloomsburg

Keystone Payroll – 355-C Colonnade Boulevard, State College

Resurrection Movement Studio – 1408 Montour Blvd, Danville

Sokol Quarries, Inc. – 3860 State Route 487, Stillwater

Susquehanna Valley Limousine, Inc. – 2225 Ridge Road, Northumberland

Additional contact information is available on the Chamber’s Online Directory.    A reminder that anyone who recommends Chamber membership will receive a $25 gift certificate when that organization joins.

Fiscal Code Veto Means Loss of Dollars to Education

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

The 2015-16 PA budget was finalized last week as Gov. Tom Wolf allowed various appropriations bills to become law. Of the number of bills sent to the governor’s desk, only one – the Fiscal Code – was vetoed. The veto reduces by $439 million the amount of money that Pennsylvania’s public schools will receive – an interesting result given that the Wolf administration continuously pushed for more education funding during the budget impasse. Senate Republicans say that a $150 million increase in basic education funding and $289 million in school construction reimbursements can’t be distributed due to the Fiscal Code veto – a fact the Wolf administration is trying to make up for by proposing $200 million in PlanCon funding in the 2016-17 budget. Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, decried the governor’s action as making the schools a pawn in a tax and spend agenda. “At the tip of the governor’s veto pen are schools left searching for ways to pay the interest on loans or school construction costs,” Corman said.

Capitolwire reports that the governor is defending his Fiscal Code veto by stating that the bill contained objectionable provisions including the funding formula for new money – which the governor agrees with, but only after more basic education funding has been distributed via the old funding formula – and a borrowing plan for school construction, which he claims would be too costly given the state’s current credit rating situation. It was further reported that the veto affects more than $25 million in agricultural funding, as the Fiscal Code bill would have allowed for spending from a restricted receipt account within the supplemental appropriations bill that became law.   House and Senate lawmakers returned to Harrisburg this week for session to examine the implications of Gov. Wolf’s veto and spending levels for the 2016-17 budget.

Chamber Board Welcomes New Members

With the start of the Chamber’s new fiscal year on April 1, several new members will be welcomed to the Board. Incoming members are as follows:

Martin Bowman, Columbia Alliance for Economic Growth

Diane Ljungquist, Berwick Hospital Center

Travis Petty, Borough of Berwick

Denise Stone, Geisinger Health System

Jeff Whitenight, First Columbia Bank & Trust

Sharon Wilkin, CSS Industries

Officers are as follows:

Mark Gardner, Chair, M&T Bank

Karen Wood, Vice Chair, Service 1st Federal Credit Union

Diana Verbek, Treasurer, Danville Child Development Center

Fred Gaffney, President

A complete list of Chamber Board members is available online.

Exiting the Board are Jim Nemeth, Autoneum, and Andrew Pruden, Inn at Turkey Hill. Chair Mark Gardner expressed appreciation for their service at the March Board meeting. Both continue to be active on the Partnership Board and committees.

Bloomsburg Parking Committee Organized

In February, the majority of Bloomsburg Town Council members voted not to advance an ordinance that would have expanded parking enforcement times in the downtown. That decision followed calls from the Chamber and dozens of business and property owners for a more comprehensive approach to managing parking. A sub-committee was formed by the Town’s Community and Economic Development Committee and is now meeting regularly to discuss the issues and make recommendations to Town Council.

The committee is comprised of representatives of Council, Police Department, Columbia County, the Chamber, DBI, Bloomsburg University, downtown merchants, the Bloomsburg Landlord’s Association, and residents. In the first two meetings, the committee agreed on areas of focus, and assessed the existing parking inventory in the commercial district. The committee is next scheduled to review data from parking studies conducted in 2009 and 2015. The members recognize that parking in the downtown is confusing and can be frustrating in certain areas, and are interested in proposing long-term solutions.