Looking for Office Space? Chamber Seeking Partners for Office Building

The Chamber is exploring options to expand its offices in order to provide larger group meeting space and allow for future growth. Locations being explored in the Bloomsburg area would have good visibility, public accessibility, and space for additional organizations. Businesses or organizations that are interested in up to 2,000 square feet of office space should contact Fred Gaffney at the Chamber at 570-784-2522 or email.

EEOC’s New Pay Data Reporting Requirement Stayed

From ChamberChoice

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) collects workforce data from all employers with 100 or more employees through an annual EEO-1 Report. The report, in its current form, collects data about gender, race, and ethnicity of employees by 10 different job groupings. In 2016, the EEOC revised the form in order to begin requiring employers to provide employee pay data.

The EEOC’s goal in gathering this additional data is to identify businesses that may have pay gaps, and then target those employers who are discriminating on the account of gender — and possibly race or ethnicity —through enforcement actions. The EEOC plans to publish reports using aggregated data and to train its investigators to identify potential indicators of discrimination warranting additional investigation.

This new information was to be provided in the 2017 form, and to give employers time to collect that data, the deadline for 2017 was extended by six months from September 30, 2017 to March 31, 2018. The “workforce snapshot period” has also changed to any payroll period of the employer’s choice between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2017 (rather than, as previously, a payroll period between July 1 and Sept. 30).

Although the reporting deadline was extended to March 2018, there was indication that the new pay data reporting requirement may be further suspended or even canceled. As a reminder, President Trump signed an Executive Order in January addressing reducing regulation and controlling regulatory costs. Specifically the Order provided, “…it is important that for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination, and that the cost of planned regulations be prudently managed and controlled
through a budgeting process.”

To that end, on Aug. 29, the EEOC was informed that a review as to the new burdens that would be placed on employers under the pay data reporting regulations is being initiated. Furthermore, an immediate stay (suspension) was placed on the requirement for an employer to report pay information.

Therefore, the previously approved EEO-1 form which collects data on race, ethnicity and gender by occupational category remains in effect. However, employers may still plan on complying with the previously set filing date of March 2018.

Employers with 100 or more employees are required to file an annual EEO-1 report. A 2016 revision to the form would require an employer to report pay data information. However, this pay data reporting requirement has been suspended as of Aug. 29. However, employers should continue to monitor any further guidance from the EEOC.

SEDA-COG Offers Limited-Time, Ultra-Low Interest Loans for Businesses

From SEDA-COG

For a limited time, a 2% fixed interest rate is being offered for Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) loans, which are offered through SEDA-COG.

Those interested should contact SEDA-COG (contact info is below) before Nov. 15, as applications need to be received by Dec. 31 to get this excellent rate locked in.

The PIDA board approved this interest rate incentive to encourage businesses to make investments and grow jobs in Pennsylvania. For more information about PIDA and eligibility, click here.

Then, starting on Jan. 1, 2018, interest rates will be set quarterly on Jan. 1, April 1, July 1, and Oct. 1 of each year using the current 10-year U.S. Treasury rate as an index benchmark, as follows:

  1. Real Estate Loans: The borrowers will have four options:a. For term loans with a regular amortization, a fixed interest rate for the full term of the loan, set at the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point, plus 100 basis points.

    b. For term loans with a regular amortization, a fixed interest rate for the first seven years of the loan term, set at the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point. After the initial seven-year period, the rate will automatically reset to the then-current 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point. The reset rate is limited to a 200 basis point increase/decrease.

    c. For 10-year term loans with a 20-year amortization period, a fixed interest rate for the full term of the loan, set at the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point, plus 100 basis points.

    d. For 10-year term loans with a 20-year amortization period, a fixed interest rate for the first five years of the loan term, set at the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point. After the initial 5-year period, the rate will automatically reset to the then-current 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point. The reset rate is limited to a 200 basis point increase/decrease.
     

  1. Equipment Loans: A fixed interest rate for the full term of the loan, set at the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point, plus 100 basis points.
  1. Working Capital and Account Receivable Lines of Credit: A fixed interest rate for the 12-month term of the credit line, set at the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point, plus 100 basis points.
  1. Pollution Prevention Assistance and Energy Efficiency Loans: A fixed interest rate of 2% for the full term of the loan. 

To take advantage of this ultra-low interest loan, contact SEDA-COG at 570-524-4491 or email one of its senior relationship managers directly!

John Reichard, Senior Relationship Manager II

Ray Haden, Senior Relationship Manager I

The Columbia Montour Chamber also offers its own ongoing low interest loan program, which allows qualified borrows to take out between $5-20K for no longer than five years. 

From Danville to Rwanda: Chamber Member Completes Coffee-Planting Feasibility Study

Brad Bason, owner of Bason Coffee Roasting, and Elisa, one of his guides in Rwanda.

 

By Lisa Z. Leighton

Twenty years after the genocide that devastated Rwanda, families continue to put their lives back together. Children have lost fathers and women have lost husbands, but the strength and perseverance of the Rwandan people was recently witnessed by Bradford (Brad) Bason, owner of Bason Coffee Roasting, and his sixteen year old daughter, Elizabeth, on a recent trip to Rwanda.

The excursion wasn’t a pleasure trip, but rather an opportunity to complete a feasibility study and draft a business plan that might assist local families with increased and more efficient coffee planting and production.

The Bason family isn’t a stranger to the region. In fact, Elizabeth traveled to Rwanda twice before this trip and served as a guide of sorts for her father. Over the years, through their home church, Bloomsburg Christian Church, the Basons have supported the City of Joy Rwanda mission and the ministry of Todd and Andrea Ellingson

For a week in August, Brad and Elizabeth traveled to Gatagara, about two hours south of the Rwandan capital of Kigali, and met with local farmers and government officials to see how their experience with coffee planting and production might serve the Rwandan community. They analyzed soil samples, climate, rainfall, harvesting techniques and production methods to see how operations might be improved.

Now that the feasibility study has been completed and the varieties of beans have been selected based on the trip’s findings, Brad is writing a business plan that will be presented to the City of Joy Rwanda board of directors. Upon approval, a fundraising effort for $15,000 will be launched; once $10,000 is secured, the project will take root.

Funds raised will be used for additional land acquisition as well as fair labor rates for coffee farm workers. Brad hopes that the coffee farm will largely be women-run, with a particular emphasis on employing widows who continue to suffer from the loss caused by the genocide decades ago.

Because the beans will be sold to a co-op, the Basons will likely never see the beans that they will help to grow, but the impact of their research will be felt one-thousand fold.

To learn more about the effort, contact Brad at 570-764-2740, or email.

Lisa Z. Leighton is a marketing professional and freelance writer who lives in Columbia County.

 

Green coffee cherries hang full on coffee plants. They are picked when they ripen to red.

This machine pull the hulls off of the ripe red cherries, exposing the coffee bean inside.

Women carrying full sacks of picked coffee beans in Rwanda.

 

 

 

 

Member News – September 13, 2017

Member News

  • Co., a social and professional networking group that is run by the United Way of Columbia and Montour County, will host a mixer tonight, Sept. 13 at Old Forge, located at 298 Mill St., Danville, from 5:30-7 p.m. Co. was founded to give area residents the opportunity to take advantage of all the great things this area has to offer. This group is for everyone, which means any age, ability, or area of residence. It holds multiple events each month. For more information about Co., including future events, visit its Facebook page. Co. will also host a networking event on Thursday, Sept. 28 at Three Dogs Vino, located at 129 Hidlay Church Rd., Bloomsburg, from 5:30-7 p.m.

 

  • Angela Slusser of Peters Consultants, Inc.

    Angela Slusser, project manager at Peters Consultants, Inc., recently became certified as an Asbestos Building Inspector following training and testing. Training for asbestos professionals is required under the EPA Asbestos Model Accreditation Plan (MAP), which the EPA issued under the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act of 1986 (AHERA). The MAP requires the use of trained and accredited asbestos professionals when conducting asbestos inspections or designing or conducting response actions at schools and public and commercial buildings. MAP provides guidance to states on the minimum training requirements for accrediting asbestos professionals. Pennsylvania also requires asbestos inspections for demolition of residential structures. Angela works in the Berwick office of Peters Consultants, Inc., and can be reached by email or at 570-752-4433. For more information on Peters’ asbestos inspection and other services, visit its website.

 

  • Students enrolled in a web design class in the mass communication program at Bloomsburg University are offering to provide website design services free of charge during the current fall semester to businesses in need of a website or a redesign of their current website. Students will arrange a meeting with clients during the week of Oct. 23 to discuss the project and will then complete the website in about five weeks. Last year, this class redesigned or designed from scratch websites for the Coalition for Social Equity, McBride Library, Ponduce Farms, Zarm Farm and Nannycakes. If interested in the services being provided by this class, please email Professor Dennis Frohlich or call him at 701-541-3608. Please contact him by Sept. 25 if you are interested.

 

  • The Bloomsburg University Department of Exceptionality Programs and the Jones Center for Special Education Excellence will host a screening and discussion of Mimi and Dona tomorrow, Sept. 14, from 5:30-8 p.m. at the Greenly Center, rooms 116 & 117, located at 50 E. Main St., Bloomsburg. This film by Sophie Spartain is an “unforgettable story of love and tough choices, exploring issues of disability, long term care and the realities of aging.” This event is free and open to the public but due to limited seating, pre-registration is encouraged. To register, call Tammy Pursel at 814-270-5556 or email

 

  • McBride Memorial Librarylocated at 500 N. Market St., Berwick, will host its next Entrepreneur Breakfast this Friday, Sept. 15, from 8-9 a.m. These breakfasts provide an opportunity for entrepreneurs and small business owners to network, get support, collaborate on projects, trade problem-solving stories and challenges, and much more. Attendees will also have an opportunity to learn about the services that McBride can offer small business owners and that they are able to take advantage of. There is no cost to attend, but pre-registration is requested. To register, call 570-752-2241 or email.

 

  • The Bloomsburg Municipal Airport, which is operated by the Bloomsburg Municipal Authority, will host a Fly-In/Drive-In Community Day this Saturday, Sept. 16, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Municipal Airport, located at 301 Airport Rd., Bloomsburg. It will feature food, fun and family activities, including several demonstrations involving things such as first aide, fire building, crime prevention, finger printing and many more. Some of the demonstrations and participants include: Fire Dept. ladder repelling; aviation/remote controlled aircraft demonstration; Red Cross and Bloodmobile; SWAT Team; the Bloomsburg Public Library and Children’s Museum; the Columbia County Historical Society; the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble; Life Flight; the National Guard and State Police Helicopter, AGAPE; DCNR Forestry; PA Game Commission; and EOS Riding Center. 

 

  • Have you ever thought about starting your own business, but weren’t quite sure if it would be right for you? Or maybe you want to know what paperwork you need in order to open your doors? These and several other common questions for small businesses will covered at the next First Step Seminar given by the Bucknell Small Business Development Center next Tuesday, Sept. 19 at the Albright Center, 450 Chestnut St., Sunbury. Cost is $25. Register online or by calling Shelley Gadoury at 570-577-1249. Topics discussed at both events will include different legal structures a business can be, how to write a business plan and create financial projections, and much more. 

 

  • The Central Susquehanna Community Foundation will host one more presentations titled “Planning Ahead: The Importance of Planning for the Future,” featuring local elder law attorney Marianne Kreisher, on Wednesday, Sept. 20, also from 8:30-10 a.m., at Susquehanna University’s Benjamin Apple Meeting Rooms in the Charles B. Degenstein Campus Center. Both events will feature a complimentary breakfast at 8:30 a.m., followed by the presentation. Attorney Kreisher will discuss the importance of open communication and collaboration between the investment advisor and attorney to achieve the best results for clients; well-drafted estate planning documents including power of attorneys, wills and trusts; understanding the lifetime and after death wishes of individuals; and examining the interplay of “gifting” on long-term care, taxes and asset protection. RSVP to Karri Harter by email or call 570-752-3930, ext. 6. 

 

  • The Bucknell Small Business Development Center will host a three-part workshop titled “HR 20/20” that will provide an opportunity for small business owners to clearly understand and develop strategies for recruiting employees, reducing employee turnover, promoting employee development and retaining a talents, flexible and diverse workforce. The first part of this series will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 20 from 8:30-10:30 a.m. at the DeWitt Bldg. 3rd Floor, 416 Market St., Lewisburg. It will feature Tina Welch, the founder of Welch Performance Consulting, a human resources consulting firm. She will speak about developing a structured recruitment and selection process that will help small business owners find talent with skill and corporate culture fit. Topics include: the importance of structured recruitment and selection and how to develop one for your organization; maximizing your employment brand to attract and retain talent; and a special focus and attracting and retaining millennials/young professionals. Cost is $40 for one session, or $100 when registering and attending all three in the series. Register online or by calling Shelley Gadoury at 570-577-1249. 

 

  • The Hutchison Insurance Agency and the Bucknell Small Business Development Center each will host a presentation from the Rural Business Innovation titled “Personal Credit Repair & Establishing Business Credit.” One presentation will be in Bloomsburg next Wednesday, Sept. 20, from 9-11 a.m. at the Ben Franklin Tech Center, large conference room, 240 Market St., Bloomsburg. The other will occur on Wednesday, Oct. 4, from 9-11 a.m. at the Bucknell SBDC in the DeWitt Bldg., 416 Market St., Lewisburg. This credit boot camp type discussion will explore your personal credit, its effects on your business, establishing and keeping good business credit and what all these scores mean. The featured speaker will be John Yoder from the Hutchison Insurance Agency. Cost to attend is $10. Register for either event on the RBI website

 

  • The Montour County Historical Society will open its newly renovated Boyd House Museum on Sunday, Sept. 24, from 2-4 p.m. Two rooms – the Military Room and the Parlor – will be open for viewing. This event is open to the public and there is no cost to attend. The Boyd House Museum is located at 5 Bloom Rd. (Rt. 11), right next to the Montgomery House in downtown Danville. It was closed earlier this year for renovations. Both the Montgomery House and Boyd House Museums will be open on Sundays 2-4 p.m. throughout the month of October. 

 

  • State Rep. David Millard will host a Senior Caregiver Support Forum on Thursday, Oct. 5, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, 725 West Front St., Berwick. Intended for people that help care for aging loved ones, this forum will provide attendees with an opportunity to learn about important resources available to them. It will feature some brief informative sessions, along with a chance to get questions answered. Organizations scheduled to be on hand include the Columbia Montour Aging Office, Commonwealth Home Health and Hospice of Berwick, which is affiliated with Berwick Hospital Center, and an elder law attorney from the Law Office of Lutz & Petty. RSVP to Rep. Millard’s office at 570-759-8734 or on RepMillard.com

 

  • Geisinger Health will hold its inaugural Dream Big Hot Air Balloon Festival on Saturday, Oct. 7, from 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Spyglass Ridge Winery, 400 Plum Creek Rd., Sunbury. Proceeds from this event will benefit Geisinger’s Comprehensive Breast care Program. Activities include balloon rides (weather-permitting), live bands and food trucks, children’s activities and family fun, professional and amateur photo competitions, performances by local dance groups, a fresh food farmers market and family photo sessions in front of the balloons. Admission is free. For more information, read this flyer.Event organizers are also seeking donations of small items (approx. $10-20 in value) from area businesses and individuals for an auction. If interested in making a donation, please contact Linda Vaji at 570-214-2581 or email

 

  • PA CareerLink of Columbia/Montour Counties, along with the Innovative Manufacturers Center (IMC), will host a collaborative robot workshop on Monday, Oct. 30, from 9-11:30 a.m. at the Pine Barn Inn, Danville. There is no cost to attend and a light breakfast will be served. Around the world, thousands of robots work collaboratively alongside humans with no safety guards and no problems. Come and learn about universal robots, robot programming, end effector solutions, stands and protective covering, and participate in hands-on activities. Visit online to register or learn more about this event. 

 

  • Innotek Computer Consulting will host its annual Technology and Security Expo on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at Sand Springs Country Club, 10 Clubhouse Dr., Drums. This annual event, billed as “Northeast Pennsylvania’s biggest technology and security expo,” brings together IT managers, executives and business owners to discuss the impact of technology and security on business. There is no cost to attend. For more information or to register, visit the event page on Innotek’s website, or the Facebook event page.