Chamber and Chamber Foundation to Host PA Free Enterprise Week Information Session

Over the past 21 years, the Columbia Montour Chamber and its members have been supporters of the Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW).  This unique educational summer program provides students from across the state the unique opportunity to learn about business and manufacturing.  Thanks to continued generous support of Chamber members through The Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber, 167 local students have been able to experience running their own simulated company.

For those who may be interested in learning more about the program, the Chamber will host a PFEW information session at on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, at 7:30 a.m. at the Greenly Center, located at 50 East Main St., Bloomsburg. A free continental breakfast will be served at 7:30 a.m.

We are inviting students who participated from local schools, their teachers, and PFEW sponsors. We also want to extend the invitation to all Chamber members to join us in hearing about the experiences of our students and what PFEW has meant to them.

Hearing the stories from the students themselves is truly inspiring. Please join us to hear what PFEW does in opening a young person’s eyes to the possibilities of their own future and how it might relate to our free enterprise system. It is crucial that the future workforce has an understanding and appreciation of the challenges that face the business community. At PFEW, myths about business unravel as students and business people work together, gaining fresh insights into the intricacies of our free market system.

The meeting will be held from 8 a.m. to approximately 9:30 a.m., and there is no cost to attend.  Please RSVP to the Chamber at 570-784-2522 by email or online.

Preparing for Windows 7 End of Life

From MePush

January 14, 2020. 

Why is this date important? That is the date that Microsoft has listed as the “End of Extended Support” for both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008R2. 

This is important to note because of the the security risks that become extremely severe after support is dropped. The dropping of support from Microsoft means that no NEW security patches will be released and because of that, no open vulnerabilities in the operating systems will be patched.

What to do next

There are two approaches that can be taken to get your infrastructure to a more modern platform/operating system. Replace or upgrade. Most workstations and servers that are running either Windows 7 or Server 2008R2 are old enough that they should be outright replaced but there are exceptions. 

Contact MePush or one of the other IT service providers among our membership for more information on what to do to prepare for the end of Windows 7 in 2020. 

Saving Energy and Money Through Increased Efficiency; Rebates Available For Old Appliances

From PPL Electric Utilities

Imagine 282,000 homes – ranches, split-levels, Colonials, even mansions. Houses as far as the eye can see.

Now imagine all those homes going completely off the grid for a year — as in, not using any electricity. Not running the dishwasher once. Not baking a single cake or loaf of bread. Not turning on the TV to watch a single Phillies, Eagles, Pirates or Steelers game.

That would be a pretty remarkable energy savings, wouldn’t you think?

Many people don’t know it, but that level of savings is actually happening every year in central and eastern Pennsylvania.

A quarter-million homes aren’t literally unplugging from the grid. But the homes and businesses in PPL Electric Utilities’ service area have reduced their energy use by more than 2.7 billion kilowatt-hours per year over the past seven-and-a-half years. That’s the same savings you’d get if about 282,000 houses didn’t use any power at all.

In case you’re wondering, that reduction in energy use translates to a financial savings of almost $300 million per year, based on 10 cents per kilowatt-hour. That’s a pretty remarkable number as well.

Another noteworthy thing: At PPL Electric Utilities, we support the fact that people are using less electricity. In fact, we applaud it.

That comes as a surprise to some people too. After all, we’re in the business of delivering electricity. But, we recognize that using less energy is good for your wallet, and good for the environment.

In fact, those 2.7 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity that people aren’t using each year are being saved through energy efficiency programs offered by PPL. This includes rebates for heating and air conditioning equipment, insulation, smart thermostats, appliances, business lighting, business refrigeration equipment, food service equipment, compressed air systems, discounted LED bulbs we make available through retailers, and more.

Another example you might have heard of: We’ll haul away your old refrigerator for free and pay you $35, to make it easier for you to upgrade to a more energy-efficient appliance (Some conditions apply: For instance, the fridge has to still work. See the specific information and conditions on fridge recycling).

Additional information on residential efficiency programs as well as efficiency programs for businesses is also available.

If you’re among the people helping to make a big difference in energy use, we congratulate you. It makes sense to save.

If you haven’t really thought about energy efficiency, now’s a great time to start. It doesn’t take a major investment to make your savings start to add up.

That 2.7 billion kilowatt-hours of saved energy per year is a pretty impressive number. But it’s really just a start.

Attendees Learn About State’s New Medical Marijuana Law, How to Apply it to Workplace Drug Policy

A large crowd of area professionals, including those that work in human resources, security, administration, small business owners and more, attended a lunch seminar on Pennsylvania’s new medical marijuana law and how it relates to workplace drug policy on Thursday, Nov. 15 at the Columbia Mall. The workshop, which was organized by the Chamber and PA CareerLink Columbia/Montour Counties and sponsored by PPL Electric Utilities, featured Juan Mayo, a workers’ compensation health & safety training specialist from the PA Department of Labor & Industry. Lunch for the event was provided by Steph’s Subs

Among the topics of the presentation were the basics of the law, which allows medical marijuana to be prescribed by a licensed physician for a limited number of conditions. Smoking of marijuana, for medical or recreational purposes, remains illegal in Pennsylvania. The differences between THC and CBD, two of the chemical components of marijuana, were also discussed, as was a clarification on the differences between hemp and marijuana. Most importantly, some guidelines and suggestions for how employers should accommodate medical marijuana in the workplace were also presented. Employers should be able to treat medical marijuana just like any other drug that is prescribed to an employee for a specific condition and could have side effects that could make it difficult or unsafe to do certain jobs, such as operate heavy machinery, etc. It was recommended that employers, if they don’t already do so, designed any specific positions as safety-sensitive, which makes disclosure of any medical prescriptions that could affect one’s ability to satisfactorily perform a job necessary on the part of the employee. 

For those that may have been interested in the seminar but were unable to attend, the entire presentation, which runs just over an hour, can viewed below or on the Chamber’s YouTube channel. 

What HR Services Does Your Business Need?

Members often call the Chamber with human resource questions related to policies, compliance with state and federal regulations, employee management issues, etc. Recognizing that many small and medium-sized organizations do not have dedicated HR staff, the Chamber is exploring a program that would offer expanded resources. While members can currently contact ChamberChoice for some issues, this potential bundled program could provide access to forms, on-call access for quick questions, or representation in more in-depth issues.
The Chamber is working with local human resource consultants to determine interest in a group program. Members are asked to provide their input on their HR needs by completing a brief multiple-choice, 12-question survey by Wednesday, Nov. 14 (we estimate it shouldn’t take you more than five minutes to complete it). Based on the level of interest, we will move forward in developing a program. As a thank you for your time, all members that click on the link above and complete the survey by Nov. 14 will be entered into a drawing to win a free month of ads for their business or organization in E-Biz. The winner will be notified after the deadline to complete the survey. 

Thank you for your time.