Berwick Improvement Projects Discussed

Rick Vilello, DCED Deputy Secretary of Community Affairs & Development (left), recently toured downtown Berwick with local officials including Damien Scoblink, Borough Manager, and Paul Macknosky, DCED Northeast Regional Director.

A number of projects to enhance the downtown area of Berwick were discussed during a recent walking tour with state and local officials. Rick Vilello, Deputy Secretary of Community Affairs & Development with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), reviewed efforts to remove blighted properties and bring new development and investment to the community. Representatives of Berwick Borough, Columbia County, SEDA-COG, and the Berwick: The Next Step steering committee, including the Chamber, participated.

The Borough has been proactive in demolishing a number of blighted properties using available funds. Community Strategies Group, which received the Chamber’s Community Progress Award this year, has constructed new housing in formerly blighted properties in the Borough’s West End. The organization is also exploring other development, including commercial and recreational projects, in the downtown area.

Vilello and other officials on the tour suggested potential funding sources. The Deputy Secretary is experienced in these areas, having owned Vilello Building Inspections for over 17 years and having served as the Mayor of Lock Haven for 15 years before going to work for DCED in 2015. While the Department may not have the resources to assist with all of the projects discussed, Vilello pledged that agency staff would help to make the right connections in support the efforts to enhance Berwick.

NEPIRC Announces Grants for Regional Manufacturers


Through PA MAKES, an initiative funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission, NEPIRC is offering regional manufacturers grants of up to $10,000 to cover 50% of the costs of process improvement, industry certification, market diversification, advanced manufacturing technology and other growth-focused consulting engagements. Companies within NEPIRC’s 11 counties are encouraged to pursue these easy-to-qualify grants to expand and grow. NEPIRC Business Advisors stand ready to assist manufacturers with fewer than 250 employees in securing these grants.

For additional details, see below or check out NEPIRC’s website, and for more information, contact Eric Joseph Esoda, NEPIRC’s President & CEO, or Dale Parmenteri, NEPIRC’s Vice President of Consulting Operations, or at

The ARC PA MAKES Mini-Grant Program is funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission and features grants available only through local Industrial Resource Centers, including NEPIRC. The PA MAKES Mini-Grant Program is designed to assist manufacturers within regions of Pennsylvania that were once dependent upon the “coal economy” diversify and grow. As such, the mini-grants are intended to support small and medium sized manufacturers in their strategic efforts to increase production capacity, improve efficiencies and increase revenue. Ideally, those efforts will stimulate job creation and drive economic impact.

Funding Availability
Applicants may request a grant up to 50% of the total consultant costs, up to a maximum of $10,000 of grant funds, for eligible projects. This includes projects in Continuous Improvement, Industry Certification, E-Commerce/Security, Strategic Planning and other diversification and growth initiatives. Awards will be made on a first come, first served basis with priority given to first-time applicants. Mini-grant dollars may be used to support direct, project-related consulting costs, contracted services and similar one-time costs related to the implementation of the proposed project.

Program Eligibility
Applicants requesting mini-grant assistance through this program must meet all of the criteria listed below to be eligible for funding consideration:

• Be a privately held small to medium sized manufacturer, with fewer than 250 employees at the facility in which the project will be performed, located within NEPIRC’s 11 counties.
• Have not received a PA MAKES grant in the past.
• Have completed, or be willing to complete, a business assessment by NEPIRC to ensure that the proposed project will have strategic and meaningful impact.
• Provide at least a 50% match to total project cost. That is, applicants must be able to cover the total project costs until grant reimbursement is issued.
• Submit reasonable project paperwork upon request to allow reimbursement (ex: proof of payment to consultant, copy of consultant invoice, etc…).
• The proposed project must be complete by November 30, 2019.
• Participate in post-award survey to collect information on project status, economic impacts, and other information as requested.

Members Enjoy Cookout, Check Out Vehicles at Ken Pollock Ford Lincoln Business After Hours

Ken Pollock Ford Lincoln was the host for May’s Chamber Business After Hours on Thursday, May 9, and as they have done for previous Chamber and other community events (not to mention good deals on vehicles), they did not disappoint.

Attendees were once again treated to a cookout as well as drinks while enjoying a warm mid-spring afternoon of catching up with fellow members and checking out Ken Pollock’s large selection of new and preowned vehicles, which included the Ford Mustang on display in the main showroom (above). This was also the first Chamber event at the dealership since the completion of the remodel of the showroom, which gave it a new modern look and feel.

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 also be held in Berwick, at Atlantic Broadband, located at 911 North Market St., Berwick, on Wednesday, June 19, from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Northeast Environmental Partners Seeks Nominations for Northeastern PA Environmental Partnership Awards

Nomination Form

The Northeast Environmental Partners (Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s Northeast Office, PPL Corporation, Procter & Gamble Paper Products Company, and Wilkes University) are proud to announce that the 29th Annual Evening for Pennsylvania’s Environment will be held at the Woodlands Inn & Resort, Wilkes-Barre on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019.  Additionally, nominations are being sought for the 29th Annual Environmental Partnership Awards, the 25th Annual Thomas P. Shelburne Environmental Leadership Award and the 2019 Emerging Environmental Leader Award.

The Northeastern Pennsylvania Environmental Partnership Awards are presented annually to recognize the achievements of individuals or organizations that, through partnerships, have achieved excellence in environmental protection or conservation. The Evening showcases the Recipient of the Thomas P. Shelburne Environmental Leadership Award, which was established to recognize an individual who stands out for his or her long-term commitment to environmental quality through inspirational leadership, dedication and commitment to partnering.  The 2019 Emerging Environmental Leader Award will also be awarded to a youth who demonstrates young environmental leadership, creativity and dedication to inspire others to adopt similar actions to protect the environment.

“Northeastern Pennsylvanians have greatly benefited from the fruits of collaboration, which can be seen every day in our communities,” said Meg Welker, Sr. Environmental Professional at PPL and dinner planning committee chairperson. “Please help us identify those leading the charge so we can thank them for diligently working to improve our quality of life through environmental partnerships in our region.” 

The Awards are open to any group, individual, company, program, or organization whose work has had a positive impact on the environment in Northeastern Pennsylvania’s following counties; Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Pike, Schuylkill, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming.   

During the past 29 years, over 230 individuals and groups involved in agriculture, forestry, business, industry, education, science, environmental awareness, community service, and government have been honored. Nominations may be made by a person or persons involved in the activity, or by a third party. 

In order to be considered for the 2019 awards, nominations must be postmarked no later than June 30, 2019. Nominations received after June 30, 2019 will be considered for the 2020 awards. 

Member News – May 15, 2019

  • The Northern Tier Partners for the Arts, a partner of the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, will provide a free workshop this afternoon, May 15, at the Bloomsburg Public Library, from 2-3 p.m., on grant writing for arts programming. This workshop will educate attendees on grant guidelines, application processes and criteria. For additional information, call 570-268-2787 or email




  • This week, Penn DOT will begin a water main project along the southbound lane of Route 11 near Danville between Woodbine Lane in Mahoning Township and Ridge Drive in Cooper Township, Montour County. This work will be performed at night along the shoulder of the road. Traffic will be shifted away from the shoulder, but one lane will be maintained in each direction. Traffic patterns will return to normal during non-work hours. The contractor will work Wednesday and Thursday nights this week (May 15-16), beginning at 9 p.m. and ending at 6 a.m. the following day. The contractor will maintain the same hours Monday through Thursday night next week (May 20-23). Motorists should be alert, drive with caution and watch for changing traffic patterns in the work zone. Subscribe to PennDOT news in Bradford, Columbia, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga and Union counties at


  • Bloomsburg University’s IT Outreach Webinar Series has one more upcoming webinar on IT-related issues on Wednesday, May 22, at noon. Ronald Fussell, program manager at Zel Technologies, LLC, will present “Software Systems Design Considerations.” BU’s IT Outreach Webinar Series engages its local constituents in a purposeful manner about the trending topics in the IT field. Webinars are approximately 30 minutes in length. There is no cost to participate, however participants must register. For more information on these webinars or the series, visit BU’s dedicated website page.


  • BIDA, Luzerne County Community College and the other tenants in the Eagles Building, located at 107 South Market St., Berwick, will host an open house on Wednesday, May 22 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the building. There will be information regarding each of the organizations that have their offices in the building, including the dental clinic and VA Services. There will also be light refreshments and tours of the facility as well as the additional spaces that are currently available in the building. Employers, the general public and anyone interested in seeing available office space are welcome to stop by. 


  • The Central Susquehanna Community Foundation will hold its Berwick area luncheon on Friday, May 31, from 12-1:30 p.m. at Rolling Pines Golf Course & Banquet Facility. Twenty years ago, the Foundation made a commitment to invest in programs and projects that improved the greater Berwick area. Each year, this luncheon celebrates the continuation of this mission and recognizes the generous giving of local community members. Featured speakers will include fundholders, grantees, scholarship recipients, and board members who will reflect on the story of the Foundation and its 20-year history. See the invitation for more information, and to reserve your seat at this event, call 570-752-3930 or email by May 24. 


  • Bloomsburg University’s digital forensics certificate program classes have been added to the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies (NICCS) training catalog hosted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  NICCS is a national online resource for cybersecurity training that connects government employees, students, educators, and industry with cybersecurity training providers throughout the nation. The catalog listing also ties into an executive order by President Donald Trump meant to boost the government cybersecurity workforce, standardize and incentivize cybersecurity education, and get everyone working with a common cybersecurity “language.” It will also include an annual President’s Cup Cyber challenge to identify the best and brightest, awards programs for primary and secondary school educators, and more, all with an eye toward increasing the sense of urgency about closing the gaps in protecting critical infrastructure and plugging the many holes in the workforce. In addition to the catalog listing, Bloomsburg’s certificate program is featured on the NICCS CAE Highlight Page through June 30. Bloomsburg offers the only digital forensics certificate program in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and one of the only bachelor level digital forensics certificate programs in the country. Completing the program will qualify the certificate recipients to apply for abundant employment opportunities in the cybersecurity and digital forensics fields.


  • The Central Susquehanna Community Foundation announced the creation of a new scholarship fund in memory of Justin “Pete” Slusser. Created by friends and family, the fund will provide an annual scholarship to a graduating senior from Berwick Area High School who is attending a Penn State University campus.

    Justin “Pete” Slusser

    Special consideration will be given to students pursuing a career in engineering. A native of Nescopeck, Justin passed away a week shy of his 30th birthday after a battle with stage IV melanoma. He graduated from Berwick High School in 2007, and earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Penn State in 2011. At the time of his passing, he was employed as a highway designer for Borton-Lawson. Contributions can be made to this fund online at (click Donate and search “Slusser”), or mail to the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, Attn: Justin “Pete” Slusser Scholarship Fund, 725 West Front Street, Berwick, PA 18603.