2018-19 Printed Chamber Directories Now Available

The 2018-19 version of the Columbia Montour Chamber’s annual printed directory is now available. One copy has been mailed to each Chamber member, and in the coming weeks, additional copies will be delivered to selected members that have previously requested them for their business location(s). If any Chamber members that don’t currently have additional directories would like some, they can contact the Chamber office at 570-784-2522 or email and request to have more delivered. 

The annual Chamber directory, designed and published by Victor Koons Graphic Design, is one of the primary ways of promoting the Chamber’s 400+ members each year. All members are listed both alphabetically and categorically in the publication, which also contains several member-submitted ads and additional information about Columbia and Montour Counties. Special thanks to all of our members that purchased ads, which fund the project. 

The entire publication can also be viewed online

Welcome Rabbittransit

More than 400 businesses and organizations belong to the Chamber to receive benefits and support efforts to strengthen their businesses and 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 its newest member, Rabbittransit, to help us fulfill our mission.

Rabbittransit is dedicated to providing its constituents safe, reliable and customer-centered mobility services consistent with the stewardship of its resources. A regional public transportation provider, Rabbittransit offers a variety of transportation services to the residents of Adams, Columbia, Cumberland, Franklin, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Snyder, Union and York Counties. Nearly 8,000 people depend on Rabbittransit each day to get to work, medical facilities, school and other life-sustaining activities. Operated by the Central Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Rabbittransit operates under the authority of the Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Act of 1045. In Columbia and Montour Counties, Rabbittransit operates a Shared Ride program, a bus service that provides consolidated trips between customers’ origins and destinations that are not well served by fixed route bus service. Often referred to as “paratransit,” Shared Ride operates during limited hours and specific travel areas. There is a required application and reservation process. Rabbittransit is based in York, but has a local office in Bloomsburg at the Columbia Montour Aging Office at 702 Sawmill Rd., Suite 201 in Bloomsburg. It can be reached on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at 1-800-632-9063 or by email. Also visit its website and Facebook page for additional information and FAQs. 

Could Self-Funding be the Strategy For You?

From ChamberChoice and Smart Business Pittsburgh

Self-funding is not a new strategy. But while historically utilized for large employer groups, its availability for medium and small employers is new. And the concept is showing impressive results when it comes to giving employers greater input in health plan design and more control over rising medical benefit costs.

Smart Business spoke with Domenic Pascucci, consultant at JRG Advisors, about the benefits of a self-funded health plan.

Why is control of a health plan so important?

Employers need to focus on where their medical dollars are spent to accurately implement and assess a benefits strategy that stabilizes costs. Employers that cling to their fully insured plan must face the reality that they have no control. They wait until 60 to 90 days from their renewal, hoping for a favorable renewal offer, but they’re often slapped with an increase. And so, the last-minute scramble begins — they modify their plan design, switch insurance companies and shift costs to employees.

These methods are a temporary solution at best. They never serve as a long-term strategy to effectively or efficiently manage an employee benefits program. In a self-insured or self-funded health plan, the employer takes on direct financial responsibility for employees’ health care costs. Rather than being in a large, fully insured risk pool, the self-funding employer takes on the risk for its group.

Why do some employers hesitate to switch?

Self-funding has grown in popularity and proven to save money, but ‘taking on risk’ can be an uncertain and intimidating concept. Many employers are misinformed and hesitate to make the leap from fully insured plans. A Sun Life Financial study found that nearly 50 percent of employers were skeptical of self-funding because of the fear of financial risk and 40 percent were fearful of incurring catastrophic claims.

Most self-funded employers, however, purchase stop-loss insurance to cover catastrophic claims, which protects the employer and caps the financial risk exposure. Furthermore, self-insured health plans are exempt from most state insurance laws and mandates. Not having to pay regular premiums to an insurance company can produce substantial savings. An employer is only paying for claims that actually occur in the self-funded model.

How do employers know if their organization is a good candidate for a self-funded plan?

Self-funding is not the right fit for every employer. Some careful research and analysis should be conducted by an experienced consultant that specializes in this type of funding arrangement. Identifying an employer’s financial situation, risk tolerance, cash flow, historical performance of claims and coverage needs are all factors that will help an employer decide.

What do employers need to know about setting up a self-funded plan?

If employers are viable candidates, their broker should guide and educate them on making the transition. Once an employer is committed to a pre-determined strategy that meets the company’s needs and affordability, a financial model should be developed. It will help identify potential outcome scenarios that will not only reduce the employer’s concerns, but also reduce the risk of incurring a large financial pitfall from a costly claim. Various stop-loss deductibles and their impact should be modeled out.

Once the financial model is set up, the broker can examine plans and benefits to find those that best suit the needs of the employer and employees. This is also a good time to review the responsibilities for managing the cost and affordability of the self-funded plan. To make the transition as smooth as possible, the self-funded plan should be similar to the fully insured plan. Finally, employers need a clear understanding of a third party administrator’s role, the various levels of insurance, network availability and which networks are best suited for them.

What’s the takeaway for employers?

If your goal is to take control of your benefits program and rising costs, it’s worthwhile to examine if self-funding is a solution for you. Seek the guidance of an experienced insurance professional who can provide a detailed analysis of your liability — only then will you be informed and ready to decide whether this strategy is for you.

Members Check Out New Renovations at Rebranded Quality Inn Bloomsburg at September Business After Hours & Ribbon Cutting

Members had an opportunity to check out a near completely renovated hotel as the Quality Inn Bloomsburg hosted September’s Business After Hours following a ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of the yearlong renovations. The owner, management and staff of the Quality Inn were all on hand for the ribbon cutting, and then were able to greet several members that came to the After Hours to enjoy some tasty food from next door neighbor Quaker Steak & Lube, along with beer, wine and other beverages over a late summer afternoon. The event, held on Sept. 19, was likely the last quieter day for the Quality Inn before the Bloomsburg Fair got underway, as the hotel will be a busy hub of activity for the final week of the month as one of the closest area hotels to the fairgrounds.

The event was held in the main lobby and breakfast area of the hotel, which was completely redone to give a fresh and modern new look. Attendees were also able to take a tour and see the new exercise room and the newly remodeled guest rooms, which now feature all new bathrooms, carpets, beds and wallpaper. The renovations helped enable to hotel to be rebranded as a Quality Inn, a step up in hotel classification from Econo Lodge, the previous Choice Hotels brand that the hotel was branded as prior to the renovations.

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 Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital on Wednesday, Oct. 10, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. 


Congressman Barletta Touts Accomplishments, Priorities

Congressman Lou Barletta speaks to the Columbia Montour Chamber on Sept. 21.

Congressman Lou Barletta touted some of the numerous accomplishments from his near eight-year tenure representing the 11th congressional district and also looked ahead to some of the priorities remaining for the current Congress in the few remaining months until the new Congress is seating in January. The U.S. Rep. made his remarks to members of the Columbia Montour Chamber and Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau as part of an annual breakfast program, sponsored by PPL Electric Utilities, on Friday, Sept. 21 at the Greenly Center in Bloomsburg. This marked the final time that Barletta will address the Chamber in his current capacity at a U.S. Representative, which he has done each year since he was first elected to his current office in 2010, as he is running for a U.S. Senate seat this year. 

Barletta reminded attendees that the government has eliminated over 20 federal regulations for every new regulation under the Trump Administration, which has greatly reduced the regulatory burden on small businesses and business in general. This, along with last year’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, has helped stimulate the economy to record highs. The recent economic growth, which was 4.2% in the last quarter, has led to a demand for workers, and there are now currently more jobs available in the country than workers to fill them, which has led to a greater need for skilled job training, needs that several local organizations such as Chamber members Pennsylvania College of TechnologyColumbia Montour Area Vocational-Technical School and others are working to address. 

In light of the recent flooding locally, as well as Hurricane Florence, which devastated several areas on and near the North and South Carolina coasts with wind and flood damage, Barletta spoke about the need to be proactive in making improvements to structures to prevent or minimize the damage caused by natural disasters. For example, instead of just rebuilding old structures that are located in flood zones and have been damaged by floods one or numerous times, Congress has and should continue to provide grant funding for flood mitigation. A local example of this is the flood wall built to protect Autoneum and the former Windsor Foods facility, which was funded in part by a federal grant. Additional federal money will be spent in the coming years to help extend that flood wall for a large portion of the rest of Bloomsburg that is located in the flood plane. Barletta mentioned that each $1 spent to mitigate damage caused by natural disasters saves anywhere between $4-8 in disaster recovery funds. 

Tracie Witter, regional affairs director at PPL, speaks about PPL’s initiatives in the community.

School safety was also a topic, and Barletta relayed his disappointment that Congress has not acted on any legislation to give secondary schools any additional funding or guidelines to deal with school security after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. earlier this year. He compared with how Congress reacted following the shooting at the Congressional baseball practice in the summer of 2017, which took nine days for Congress to pass legislation that addressed some of the security shortcomings that were identified as a result of that incident, with what Congress has yet to do following the Florida incident. Referencing the hashtag the he started, #kidsbeforecongress, he said that legislation must be passed giving states and local school districts the resources and knowledge that they need to provide better school security. It will not be a one-size-fits-all solution, as different schools will require different security protocols, but the federal government must provide resources that will protect schools in the same way as federal buildings and critical infrastructure.

Prior to Barletta’s remarks, Tracie Witter, regional affairs director at event sponsor PPL Electric Utilities, gave an update on some of the initiatives that PPL has contributed to via the PPL Foundation. It has contributed to several local nonprofits, including Camp Victory and others, and through its Foundation, aims to make the communities in which it operates and its employees live, better places. PPL has also given back more than $300 million to its customers as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law last December.