In January, Leadership Central Penn (LCP) focused on green. The color and word green are often associated with growth, environmental responsibility, money, ambition, renewal and rebirth. That was the focus of this month when LCP learned about green energy, economic development and tourism, and boardsmanship. The program was sponsored and hosted this month by Talen Energy at the Susquehanna Nuclear Power Plant. This location allowed the class to learn about the most efficient green energy on the planet from a few feet away from the awesome power contained inside the plant.
To educated everyone on the reality of nuclear energy the class was introduced to Derrick Jones, plant manager, Andrew Rogers, training team, and Taryne Williams, media relations manager. Worldwide nuclear energy accounts for 30% of the electricity produced. In the U.S. 20% of electricity is generated with nuclear power, resulting in 63% of the carbon free (green) energy in the U.S. Additionally, thanks to industry safety and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), nuclear is safe. The media and many others focus on the disasters that have occurred at Three Mile Island and Fukushima, but these are rare and plants are built and upgraded to avoid issues of the past and future.
The facts are that nuclear power in the 21st century is safe and good for the environment. As with all things, there are risks, but with Talen’s safety-first approach, and the oversight of the NRC, nuclear energy in our community and the U.S. is not a public risk, but a benefit. The facility is secure and meets the highest standards with rigorous training metrics. The class got to see the preparedness of the facility and staff first hand via a perimeter tour and walk through of the simulator for nuclear training. The class observed a simulation with engineers that challenged them as a team and individuals to ensure safety and professional growth. Simulations can include load needs, meltdown preventions, system failures and more to ensure safety of the plant, employees and community. Their philosophy is simple, if one safety step is good, two is better, and three is necessary.
During the perimeter tour the class challenged James Gorman, security and emergency preparedness manager. The class asked about security and preparedness upgrades since September 11th and after Fukishima. Members also asked about drone attacks and cyberattacks. Talen has a plan for every scenario the class could question. The plant has had a quiet existence historically and the most extreme incident was solved with a Snickers Bar. To learn more join us next year in LCP.
The class was treated to a delicious lunch from Mayberry Hospitality before being joined by Fred Gaffney, president of the Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce to discuss economic development in the region. The group learned about the successes and challenges of economic development efforts in our area related to government support, workforce development, and impact on public works. One example that was shared is the ongoing Columbia County Business Park. Additionally, the class learned about the economic development organizations that include Downtown Enhancement Groups, Industrial Development Corporations (IDCs), Industrial Development Authorities (IDAs) and various regional organizations.
Fred shared with everyone that economic development is many times thought of only as job creation. The reality is that it can be about job preservation just as often. This can come during economic downturns, advancements in technology, or societal shifts. Focusing on a vibrant and diverse business community, ensuring a well skilled and flexible workforce, and educating the next generation of workers are the cornerstones for success.
The final presenter of the day was David “Otto” Kurecian, executive director of the Columbia-Montour Visitor’s Bureau. First, Otto elaborated on the Visitor’s Bureau’s role in economic development and why a thriving tourism industry is crucial for economic success. Everyone is aware that tourism is a large business for our area, especially during the spring, summer and fall seasons with fairs, wine and craft beer trails, outdoor activities and more. In Pennsylvania, tourism is the #1 segment for economic impact with a local return on investment of $37 for every $1 spent. Visitor spending on entertainment, transportation, recreation, retail, food and beverage, and accommodations had a direct, indirect and induced effect on production, jobs, wages and taxes. In 2016 visitors spent $627 million in the region that includes Columbia and Montour counties. This region is #1 in food and beverage, and #2 in recreation spending of all 11 tourism regions in the Commonwealth.
After discussion about tourism, Otto discussed boardmanship, what it means to serve on a local Board of Directors or Board of Trustees. The presentation focused on how to decide if when and how to serve on these boards. First, you never, ever say yes when initially asked to join a board. Even if it is by your employer, and strongly encouraged, or your best friend, neighbor, etc. There are questions you need to ask yourself and the organization. The first thing is why you want to join this organization in this capacity and what you offer them with your skills and interest. You’ll be asked to express these very things when you formally apply to join and are being vetted. You also need to ask to see the organization’s by-laws, financials, and strategic plan. What is your expected time commitment, how long are you expected to serve, what is the financial situation of the organization, and where are they headed. If you can’t be at the first Tuesday of each month meeting, then don’t join. If you don’t agree with strategic plan, or finances worry you from the organization, don’t join. This is much like looking for a job, and should be scrutinized as such.
When you find the right fit, you will get extreme amounts of personal satisfaction from your service. The organization will benefit from your skills and passion. The community will be impacted positively. This is the goal of boardsmanship, and the LCP class in general.
LCP is sponsored by Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital, Kawneer, PPL Electric Utilities, SEKISUI SPI, USG and Williams.