Penn National Declares 10 Percent Dividend This Year for Business Insurance Program

Chamber members that utilize the ChamberChoicebusiness insurance program through Penn National Insurance will receive a 10% dividend delivered back to them for policies written and retained during the program’s sixth year (May 1, 2016 – April 30, 2017), as Penn National recently announced a 10% dividend for this year. Members enrolled in the program that remained chamber members and policyholders through the end of the program year should expect to receive their checks in June or July. 

Since the program’s inception in 2011, over $9 million has been returned to member businesses in dividends out of over $31.5 million in paid premiums. The average annual dividend return in the six years of the program has been 7.8%. Columbia Montour Chamber members enrolled in the program have received over $173,000 in dividends over the last five years. 

“This program is not only a great benefit to our members, but has made a significant economic impact by putting dollars back into our local community and member businesses,” said Columbia Montour Chamber president Fred Gaffney.

An important aspect of this group insurance program is preventing loss and controlling claims costs. Because dividends are based on the group’s collective loss experience, a business that may have had a significant loss may still be eligible to receive a dividend.

The program is sold exclusively through local, independent agents who can offer chamber members a variety of coverages and pricing on property and casualty insurance, including business owners, commercial auto, general liability, inland marine and workers’ compensation. Dividends are paid on all of these coverages. In addition, through safety consulting, Penn National Insurance and local independent insurance agencies encourage member businesses to develop safety practices to substantially reduce or eliminate workplace injuries.

To see if this program could be a good fit for your business, contact Chamber members Associated Insurance Management at 570-275-0100 or Hutchison Insurance Agency at 570-784-5550, for a no-obligation quote. 

First Keystone Shows Off Spacious Headquarters, Offers Great Food and Drink at June Business After Hours

The staff at First Keystone Community Bank welcomed Chamber members to its headquarter branch in downtown Berwick on Wednesday, June 20, for the Chamber’s June Business After Hours. Held in and around its spacious main lobby, the event offered attendees an opportunity to get out of the late afternoon rain and humid air on the last official day of spring and network with a large group of fellow professionals from throughout Columbia and Montour Counties, while also enjoying a tasty spread from Lucy’s Kitchen & Catering, beer from Berwick Brewing and other refreshments. There was also an opportunity to speak with several staff members from the bank, including representatives from customer service, business and consumer lending, investment, accounting, management and more. 

Business After Hours provide regular opportunities to build business relationships while learning about the services offered by other Chamber members. The next Business After Hours will be held at Frosty Valley, located at 1301 Bloom Rd., Danville, on Wednesday, July 18, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. There will be a ribbon cutting for Frosty Valley’s new Iron Fork restaurant and The Barn at Frosty Valley beginning at 4 p.m. 

Chamber Welcomes ALTERA Life to Bloomsburg With Ribbon Cutting

(L-R): Chamber president Fred Gaffney; ALTERA Life co-owner Shannon Koch; ALTERA Life co-owner Christian Force

The Chamber helped welcome one of its newest members and one of the newest businesses in Bloomsburg to the area on Thursday afternoon, June 21, with a ribbon cutting at ALTERA Life, located at 332 East 2nd St. in the Husky Corners building directly across the street from Bloomsburg Town Hall. Following the ribbon cutting, attendees had an opportunity to check out the facility and programs offered, as well as try some of the tasty, plant-based snacks on hand, which included a fruit bowl, black bean sweet potato cake with avocado, lemon quinoa vegetable salad and more. 

ALTERA Life is a locally-owned nutrition and wellness consulting company that help its clients transition to and maintain healthy lifestyles through proper nutrition and physical activity. There is no membership commitment, and clients can participate as often as they choose. For more information on ALTERA Life’s products and services, visit its website or stop by the its facility in downtown Bloomsburg. 

 

Local Nonprofits Gather at Regional Impact Symposium

On Wednesday, June 6, the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation (CSCF) hosted an Impact Symposium at Bucknell University.  The goal was to bring together nonprofit partners to identify and evaluated unmet needs, network, learn and collaborate.  The Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce director, Jeff Emanuel, was one of the nearly 125 nonprofit participants in the event.  There were representatives from organizations that span the six-county footprint served by CSCF. 

The program began with an introduction and welcome by Holly Morrison, president/CEO of CSCF, and Chamber board member, who introduced John Kurelja, regional impact fund campaign chair. Kurelja shared the story of a widowed mother with 10 kids and asked attendees what they thought happened to these kids as they grew. No one expected the results and the successes these children would have as they became adults.  All of them are successful and that success ranged from Phds, lawyers and executives. Kurelja’s story seemed so personal when he told it, and eventually, the crowd why. He was one of those children. The point was made — with with the right programs to assist families in this region, the sky is the limit for them.

Following Kurleja was the keynote speaker, Brad Ward, director of the community philanthropy with the Council on Foundations.  Ward interacts with hundreds of community foundations and place-based institutions across the country. He has directed, merged and witnessed the impact of community foundations first hand.  “Getting at the heart of nonprofits through community foundations” was the topic of his presentation. By the time he was done, there was no doubt of the sustainable impact and legacy that community foundations offer. 

Once the presentations were wrapped up it was time for the first of two breakout sessions.  The morning session was a county breakout of Columbia and Lower Luzerne Counties, Montour County, Northumberland County, Snyder County and Union County. The groups were tasked with identifying unmet needs in their counties and discussing how these relate to needs being served by the individual organizations. Everyone in the rooms got to learn from one another, and begin to envision how collaboration would benefit each county. 

The afternoon breakout sessions were focused on the program areas of arts and culture; civic and community development; education; health; human services; and youth and recreation. Again, the attendees were asked to speak about needs they are addressing, and identifying unmet needs in their program area. Everyone had the opportunity to offer suggestions of programs they offer that could benefit other organizations, and were again offered the opportunity to envision collaborative efforts. All the organizations have limited resources, but everyone strives to have maximum impact. There was a great deal of discussion about how pooling resources and increasing communication about efforts could increase the positive impacts on those served.  

At the conclusion of the program, Christine Pangelinan, CSCF program officer, shared a unique grant opportunity with those in attendance. Everyone in the room waited to hear the strings that were attached, but they never came.  CSCF’s first unrestricted grant round through the Regional Impact Fund was announced.  This grant round is open to the entire 5 ½ county service area. There are no geographic restrictions within counties for this grant opportunity. Charitable organizations investing in community programs and projects benefiting Lower Luzerne, Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Union and Snyder Counties are encouraged to apply. This year, the Regional Impact Fund is granting a total of $50,000 through this competitive grant round. Grant requests up to $10,000 are being considered. 

Grant requests must be submitted online by 11:59 pm on Thursday, July 12. Grant decisions will be announced in October 2018.

CALL TO ACTION: Wolf Administration Proposes Overtime Eligibility Changes

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Employers have the opportunity to provide comment on new rules regarding overtime eligibility standards.  The Governor’s proposed changes are similar to a proposal put forth by former President Obama in 2015 which was widely opposed by the employer community and ultimately struck down by a federal court.

In January 2018, the Wolf administration announced its intent to implement changes to the Commonwealth’s overtime eligibility rules for employees.  The proposal, released this week, would dramatically change overtime eligibility rules imposed on Pennsylvania employers by requiring a wage threshold for “exempt status”  that is more than double the current rate set by the federal government.  The proposed changes further include significant revisions to the so-called “duties tests,” which are also used to determine eligibility.  Finally, the rule establishes an automatic update to the salary threshold every three years beginning in 2023.

When President Obama proposed this rule in 2015, the response from employers was swift and deeply negative, particularly among small businesses, nonprofit organizations, higher education institutions and the health service industry, among others. Employers not only described significant increases to the cost of providing services or doing businesses, but also the reality that this dramatic change would damage workplace culture and morale, as employers would be forced to shift employees from earning a salary to being paid by the hour. This transition typically requires employees to start clocking in and out, along with more burdensome record-keeping, less flexibility, a rigid work schedule and fewer training opportunities and benefits.

Governor’s Wolf’s proposal has prompted the same concerns; and since it would only apply to Pennsylvania, it would further harm the Commonwealth’s competitiveness in relation to other states.

If you are concerned with the negatives consequences this proposal would have on your business, you have an opportunity to have your voice heard. Governor Wolf’s proposal is pending with the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, which will accept comments through July 23, after which it will proceed to final rulemaking.  Employers are encouraged to email the commission and offer their feedback on this ill-advised policy.  IRRC is required to review all feedback and has previously taken action against a proposed rule based on the volume and nature of comments it receives.

For more information or questions, contact Alex Halper at 717 720-5471 or email.