Member News – May 18, 2022

SEDA-COG’s Housing Development Corporation Receives Historic Award

SEDA-COG’s Housing Development Corporation (HDC) was awarded the Housing Pioneer Award during the Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) Commonwealth Housing Forum – the first ever organization to receive the award.

The goal has always been the same for SEDA-COG’s HDC: provide and maintain quality, safe, and affordable housing options for our region’s elderly population. This award is a reflection of the leadership and dedication shown by the HDC for over 20 years.

High Street Manor in Selinsgrove was the first project completed by SEDA-COG’s HDC in 1998. Since then, the HDC has completed nine additional housing facilities in Dalmatia, Danville, Flemington, Lewistown, Montoursville, and Williamsport. The HDC coordinates projects to buy land, secures financing, and oversees construction of rental housing for the area’s elderly population, especially those on fixed incomes. They also manage the rental complexes. Once completed, the apartments allow senior citizens to safely downsize while maintaining their independence.

“We do everything we can to help them, from troubleshooting cell phones to setting up remote classes on health and wellbeing. At the end of the day, we are doing everything we can to help the 62 and older populations live their best life at an affordable price,” says Leslie Osgood, Chief of Rental Operations.

PHFA’s biennial Housing Forum provides professional development opportunities for people working in the housing field. Attendees participate in a variety of focused educational sessions and hear from nationally recognized speakers. The 2022 program of events included 21 educational sessions, two keynote presentations, an Abraham Lincoln presenter who spoke on the topic of leadership, a tour of PHFA’s Passive House and LEED Platinum office addition, and a popular networking event. The conference ran May 11-12 and drew more than 450 attendees. This year, PHFA celebrated 25 years of producing its housing forums.

In addition to SEDA-COG, two others were also bestowed the Pioneer Award:

  • Jane Downing, senior program officer, economic and community development, The Pittsburgh Foundation, Pittsburgh
  • Ira Goldstein, president of policy solutions, Reinvestment Fund, Philadelphia.

“Our Housing Pioneer Awards are not bestowed often, which makes them a special and distinct honor,” said PHFA’s Executive Director and CEO Robin Wiessmann. “The two people and one organization being honored today have distinguished themselves over decades as champions for affordable housing. This recognition is intended to honor and thank them, and hopefully inspire others to follow in their footsteps.”

Osgood reflected on the historic nature of receiving this award as an organization.

“This work would not be possible if not for the tireless dedication of Ben Gair and Vanessa Hartman, Rental Housing Managers, our on-site building managers, and our maintenance staff. Typically, this award goes to an individual in our field. I am so proud that the PHFA is recognizing the village that it takes to provide seniors a safe and reliable place to live.”

Kim Wheeler, Executive Director of SEDA-COG, said, “The SEDA-COG HDC has been an invaluable resource to our area’s seniors since day one. We are beyond honored to be the first organization receiving this recognition from our peers, and we look forward to continuing to provide affordable housing options for the seniors in our region for many years to come.”

SEDA-COG is a community and economic development agency in Lewisburg and is one of seven Local Development Districts in Pennsylvania. SEDA-COG enhances the quality of life and economic advantage for residents and businesses in the 11 central Pennsylvania counties through its vital partnerships and initiatives.


United Way of Columbia and Montour Counties to Hold May’s Community Conversation: How to Talk to Your Children about Differences and Diversity

Every third Wednesday at 7:00 PM, United Way holds monthly Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion conversations geared towards the needs of our community. Our hope is these workshops would be interactive conversations, and we invite you to participate. 

Guest speakers Tasha Snowden and Lisa Herrald-Doerschler will host this month’s Community Conversation. They will discuss how to talk with young children about differences and diversity. This event is appropriate for parents, caregivers, and community members who are interested in learning developmentally appropriate ways to address these subjects with toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary students. Children’s literature, plus additional tools and resources will also be shared

This presentation will take place via Zoom and there is a capacity limit of 100 attendees. Registration in advance is required.

Click here to register

Are You Thinking About Buying a Business? Here are Five Key Questions You Should Ask

From McKonly and Asbury, the five questions you should ask are:

  1. Is this going to be an asset purchase or stock deal?

A buyer should know what the seller is expecting so there are no misconceptions or miscommunications. In a stock deal, you are buying all the stock of a company which includes all of its assets and liabilities. The company continues to operate but with new ownership. In an asset deal, the purchaser is buying “selected assets” and is not necessarily assuming the liabilities of the selling Company. An asset sale is typically preferred by the purchaser because there are often tax benefits related to the amortization of new intangible assets (goodwill and others) resulting from the purchase.

  1. Are the add-backs of expenses made by the consultant reasonable?

Expenses incurred by a business that are discretionary or non-recurring in nature can be “added back” to arrive at the expected cash flow that the business can transfer to a new owner. I also asked, “Are there more discretionary expenses than what was shown by the consultant?” I noticed a few categories where expenses fluctuated and suggested reviewing the underlying reasons for the fluctuation and that they may need to investigate or seek further clarification. “Due Diligence” is the process of investigation and verification of a potential acquisition to confirm all relevant facts and financial information. In an acquisition, the performance of due diligence is critical for the purchaser.

  1. Did the owners perform any services for the company that would need to be replaced by a salaried employee?

The tax returns showed “guaranteed payments” that were made to the owners. These payments were included in the consultants add-backs, indicating that they would not be required going forward. If the owners performed any services that would need to be incurred or paid for in the future, then the fair value of those services should not be added back to net income but instead included as an ongoing expense of the business.

  1. What do you expect revenue to be going forward? The pandemic has caused significant decline in revenue and the baseline revenue expectation may have changed.

Upon closer examination, the financial information showed a revenue stream that was greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, revenue dropped 57% from the previous year as the business was partially shut down. In 2021, revenue grew 54% from the 2020 revenue total but was still only 66% of 2019 revenue. Cash flow is the lifeblood of any company. The decline in revenue, if deemed permanent, could change the cash flow, the outlook for the company, and its value.

  1. What are the terms of the loan to finance the purchase?

Once you have done your due diligence and arrived at what you think a business is worth, the process isn’t done. If you can’t pay for the business, or more importantly, if the terms of the financing are such that cash flow of the business is not sufficient to handle the debt service, you don’t have a workable deal! You could try to negotiate a new price, or just walk away. Knowing the terms of the financing available (length, interest rate, and amount financed) will allow you to model the businesses cash flow and debt service to ensure it works according to your projections.

The questions that were highlighted were focused on arriving at the estimated cash flow that would be available to the owner. Remember Cash is King! Cash flow is a primary factor that determines the value of the business. The due diligence process is a critical step in the purchase of a business and involves finding answers to questions like those highlighted above. The decision to purchase a business is not one that should be entered into lightly. A great deal of work and investigation needs to be done before a final decision can be reached

 

Updated Minimum Wage Act Regulations Protecting Tipped Workers Approved

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry announced regulatory changes to a decades-old law governing Pennsylvania’s minimum wage rules. The change is updating how employers pay tipped workers and ensuring that salaried employees with fluctuating schedules are appropriately compensated for overtime.

The final-form regulation covers five primary areas for tipped workers, including:

  • An update to the definition of “tipped employee,” adjusted for inflation since 1977, that increases the amount in tips an employee must receive monthly from $30 to $135 before an employer can reduce an employee’s hourly wage from $7.25 per hour to as low as $2.83 per hour.

  • Alignment with new federal regulations codifying long-standing policies that govern employer tip credits to allow employers to take a tip credit under certain conditions, including that the employee spends at least 80 percent of their time on duties that directly generate tips, commonly known as the 80/20 rule.

  • Alignment with updated federal regulations that allow for tip pooling among employees but in most cases excluding managers, supervisors, and business owners.

  • A prohibition on employers deducting credit card and other non-cash payment processing transaction fees from an employee’s tip included with a credit card payment or other non-cash method of payment.

  • A requirement for employers to clarify that automatic service charges are not gratuities for tipped employees. 

The regulations also update the definition of “regular rate” for salaried employees whose hours vary from week-to-week to note that overtime is to be calculated based on a 40-hour workweek.

The Department of Labor and Industry will host webinars to educate business owners and affiliated parties on the new regulations and allow them to ask questions. These webinars are scheduled to take place at 10 am on Tuesday, July 12, and at 10 am on Tuesday, July 19. Information on these webinars and how to register will be posted on the Department of Labor and Industry’s website:

You can click here to find out more information on how to register for one of the webinars.

Chamber Offers Comments Opposing Bridge Tolling

Chamber president Fred Gaffney expressed the Chamber’s opposition to PennDOT’s plan to implement tolling on the Interstate 80 bridge over Nescopeck Creek at a public hearing last week. As part of the growing statewide No P3 Bridge Tolling coalition, the Chamber is working to prevent excessive burdens on businesses and communities by stopping the plan to begin tolling on nine interstate bridges across Pennsylvania starting next year. The hearing, hosted by PennDOT and the Federal Highway Administration, was held Thursday, May 12th at the Nescopeck Township Social Hall.

While the hearing was specifically to receive comments on the environmental assessment, coalition members oppose the plan generally due to the belief that the Public-Private Partnership (P3) Board exceeded its authority by failing comply with statutory mandates when it approved the initiative prior to identifying specific projects, and that PennDOT and its Secretary lack the authority to identify, evaluate, and approve those projects.

Additionally, as of May 6th, PennDOT executed a pre-development agreement with Bridging Pennsylvania Partners LLC. Coalition members believe it is inappropriate to enter into any such agreements before the public hearing process is completed, and prior to the appropriate Federal authorizations, which could significantly change the scope of projects.

Spot tolling will increase costs for individuals and businesses that must use these bridges, at a time of high inflation and dramatically increasing fuel costs. The Chamber has heard concerns from a number of members about the current challenges with transportation costs.

The route PennDOT has identified for motorists to avoid the toll will increase traffic volume in several municipalities including Nescopeck and Berwick boroughs. The environmental assessment does not address the impacts on air quality, noise, safety, roadways, and businesses in these communities.

The Chamber is urging PennDOT to abandon this spot-tolling plan, and work with the legislature to identify sustainable funding sources that do not cause undue negative impacts to businesses, residents, and communities in and around project areas. “Pennsylvania just realized its most tax revenue in a single month in April at $6.5 billion dollars, $1.8 billion over projections,” said Gaffney. “Additionally, the Commonwealth has significant American Rescue Plan funds and new federal infrastructure funding to more than adequately address these nine most urgent projects. Moving forward with the Major Bridge P3 program is not only inappropriate, but unnecessary based on these facts.”

The environment assessment and other project details are available at www.penndot.pa.gov/i80Nescopeck. Written comments may be submitted through May 27th by mail to: PennDOT District 4, Attn: I-80 Nescopeck Creek Bridges Project, 55 Keystone Industrial Park, Dunmore, PA 18512, email to [email protected], or online at www.penndot.pa.gov/i80Nescopeck.

Premier Real Estate Agency Celebrates Grand Opening with Ribbon-Cutting

The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce helped celebrate the grand opening of Premier Real Estate Agency in Danville yesterday with a ribbon-cutting. Located on 1238 Bloom Road in Danville, Premier Real Estate opened its doors for the community.

The evening was filled with excitement and entertainment. DJ Gary Chrisman performed the entertainment for two hours, while Pour Choices Winery held a wine tasting during the event. The grand prize winner won $250 of gift cards to local Danville businesses including: PB&J Bar, Old Forge Brewing Company and Old City Bagel Company.

You can find out more about Premier Real Estate by visiting their official website at www.premierdanville.com. You can also reach them at 570-601-0774 if you have any specific questions.