Mini Casino Survey Results

Last month, we asked our members to respond to a brief, three-question survey regarding a possible casino in our area, which followed the Bloomsburg Town Council passing a resolution that would allow a “mini casino” to locate within the town. Several other municipalities in Columbia and Montour counties have also indicated they are open to consideration. 

As a part of the 2017-18 state budget law that was signed last fall, Pennsylvania made 10 Category 4 casino licenses available through an auction process, which is currently underway. Under the legislation, local municipalities have the option as to whether or not they would allow such establishments.

Here are the results of the survey:

1. Do you think a mini casino located in our area would benefit your business?
Yes          29      40%
No           32      44%
Unsure   11       15%

2. Would you be in favor of a mini casino locating in our area?
Yes          35       49%
No           23       32%
Unsure   14       19%

3. What type of organization do you represent?
Retail                               8       11%
Restaurant/Food          11       15%
Entertainment/Arts     3        4%
Service                            25      35%
Manufacturing              7        10%
Non-profit                      18      25%

Thanks to all that took the time to respond, and congratulations to the winner of the free month of ads in E-Biz, JDog Junk Removal & Hauling.

Penn College and Focus Central Pennsylvania Representatives to Tout Region For Investment at International Plastics Showcase

From Focus Central Pennsylvania

Focus Central Pennsylvania will be joining several partners, including Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Plastics Innovation & Resource Center, in the Pennsylvania booth to promote the region for capital investment and company location expansion projects at the NPE Plastics Show, May 7-11. Focus Central PA is excited to be joined by the PIRC at Penn College because it is a powerful, value-add differentiator for making Central Pennsylvania a smart place for a company investment. The Pennsylvania booth will be located in the South Hall Level 1 – Expo Hall – S12037. The NPE Plastics Show brings together more than 65,000 business professionals from more than 20,000 companies in the plastics industry from across the world.

“The NPE show is a significant opportunity to put the Central Pennsylvania region on the radar of companies from across the world that are expanding and searching for locations for their investment and career generating projects” said Lauren Bryson, executive director of Focus Central Pennsylvania “We want quality companies that are expanding to consider this part of Pennsylvania for their investment project and we are looking forward to communicating the benefits our region has to offer those companies, like the PIRC.”

Why invest in attracting plastics companies and manufacturers to the Central Pennsylvania region? Focus Central PA has strategically chosen to target companies expanding in the plastics industry because it is an industry predicted to have strong, sustainable growth and provides high paying career opportunities. Central Pennsylvania is home to several successful, growing plastics companies that have the advantage of being located within 60% of US and Canada’s population and major US markets; extensive network of trade schools, technical colleges and universities; quality workforce; research and development resources; available industrial buildings and sites; world class rail infrastructure and service; low cost of living; high quality of life and much more. Pennsylvania’s natural gas resources are creating opportunities for growth in the plastics industry as well. Ethane and propane, two important feedstocks for plastics processing, are forecasted to grow in production in Pennsylvania. The abundance of natural gas resources in the region, in combination with specialized workforce training and plastics engineering programs, and proximity to key U.S. consumer markets can translate into significant competitive advantages for plastics companies located in Pennsylvania. In short, Central Pennsylvania has what it takes to make and move product and is a smart investment for quality companies looking to grow.

Focus Central Pennsylvania is a non-profit dedicating 100% of its time and resources to attracting corporate investment to the region to create jobs and is supported by partners in seven contiguous counties in the central part of Pennsylvania, USA including Columbia (Bloomsburg, Berwick); Montour (Danville); Union (Lewisburg, Mifflinburg); Snyder (Selinsgrove); Northumberland (Sunbury, Milton); Mifflin (Lewistown); and Centre (State College).

Calling All Skilled Trade Students: Apply Now For a Scholarship Toward a Rewarding Career

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Starting this week, individuals with a goal of pursuing a career in the skilled trades can apply online for the 2018 Work Ethic Scholarship that will help to make this goal a reality. In 2017, through donations from Pennsylvania’s business community, the PA Chamber Educational Foundation and the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, $135,000 in scholarship dollars was provided to 47 deserving students across Pennsylvania. Some of those students were highlighted in the fall 2017 edition of Catalystthe PA Chamber’s quarterly magazine, and were also spotlighted on the PA Chamber’s new workforce-focused website.

Given the success of last year’s program and with a goal to expand the program’s reach, the PA Chamber is working to educate students, their families, educators and businesses throughout Pennsylvania about various good-paying skilled trade jobs that are waiting to be filled and the requirements necessary to enter into those occupations. We’re also telling business leaders that by contributing toward the scholarship, they aren’t just helping advance the lives of people in their communities – they’re helping to build tomorrow’s skilled workforce, which will better position Pennsylvania for a vibrant economic future.

Students with an interest in learning more about the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, applying for the scholarship and signing Mike Rowe’s famed S.W.E.A.T. Pledge (essentially, a promise that they will exhibit a hard work ethic if chosen for a scholarship) can visit the website,

This scholarship program, the mikeroweWORKS Foundation and the PA Chamber’s workforce-focused website all have the same goals as the Columbia Montour Chamber with regards to workforce development, which is educating young people about the various types of good-paying jobs available in our area in skilled trades, in which there is a shortage of qualified people, not just in our area but statewide and nationally. Later this year, the Chamber, in conjunction with several other partner organizations, will be launching a similar website as the PA Chamber’s workforce development website, but with a more local focus. 

PA Private Sector Integration Program Aims to Engage Businesses in Emergency Management Operations

From PA Emergency Management Agency

Pennsylvania is committed to resilient communities and Pennsylvania’s businesses are a critical part of that. The Private Sector Integration Program fosters important relationships to increase information sharing between the private and public sectors before, during and after disasters. The Private Sector Integration Program engages businesses through:

1. Private-sector driven planning and discussion sessions

2. The PA Business Emergency Operations Center (PABEOC), located at the Commonwealth Response Coordination Center, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

Resilient communities

Pennsylvania is susceptible to a wide range of threats and hazards ranging from severe weather and flooding to catastrophic acts of violence and terrorism. When disaster strikes, communities cannot truly recover until the businesses that citizens rely upon return to operations and the economy is restored.

In a crisis, close collaboration and open lines of communication between the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and the private sector is critical to protecting citizens and rebuilding communities. The PA Business Emergency Operations Center (PA BEOC) helps to maintain that connection for the private sector and emergency management.

PA BEOC Objectives
• Improved awareness of the situation, risks, and status through a two-way exchange of information.
• Support a direct pathway back to normal operations as soon as possible.
• Engage key stakeholders who bring resources, capabilities, and expertise to bear during disaster response and recovery efforts to determine impacts on their ability to provide services to the public.

Trusted and cooperative relationships

Through information sharing, situational awareness, and resource requests, the PA BEOC is a physical and virtual hub allowing information that adds to the common operating picture in the response.

Relationships that start before, continue through, and extend after a disaster

Participation and coordination is mostly virtual – via conference calls, email, and web platforms. As a member of the PA BEOC, you can expect the following

To help you prepare:
• Opportunities to participate in exercises.
• Access to helpful business continuity resources.

To help you respond:
• Access to information to help you understand the current situation regarding potential incidents.
• Awareness of what state agencies and other businesses are doing to assist with the response including road restrictions on state roads and Interstates in Pennsylvania.
• Ability to participate in weather conference calls.
• Contact information for the Virtual PA Business Operations Center (when activated) to assist with issues.
• Provides information directly to members and through the Virtual Operations Center.
• Conduct conference calls (if needed).

To help you recover:
• Access to information including situation reports, state agency closures, evacuations, power outages, recovery information.

Participation in the PA BEOC is voluntary and open to all members of the private sector including large and small businesses, associations, universities, think tanks and non-profits. If you have questions, please contact PEMA, External Affairs.

Bloomsburg University Business Competition Seeking Judges

Students from Bloomsburg University as well as high schools from across Pennsylvania will be competing in a “Shark Tank” inspired business competition on campus on Thursday, April 26. The second annual Husky Dog Pound is being presented by the Zeigler College of Business. Chamber members are being invited to help judge the high school competition.

Each team will make a brief presentation about their product or business idea before a panel of judges. Prizes totaling $25,000 will be awarded, which will include limited memberships in the Chamber and access to the Chamber’s revolving loan program.

The time commitment for judges is 7 a.m. through 1 p.m. on April 26. Breakfast and lunch will be available to all judges. A brief orientation meeting will be held first thing to review the rubric and expectations.

Anyone interested in being a judge should contact Dr. Christina Force by email