Welcome the Chamber’s Newest Members

More than 600 businesses and organizations belong to the Columbia Montour Chamber to receive benefits and support efforts to strengthen our region. Increased membership allows us to offer additional programs and benefits, have a stronger voice in advocacy, and be involved in more activities and initiatives in our communities. The Chamber welcomes six organizations that joined in March to help us fulfill our mission:

487 Rustics – 1549 State Route 487, Orangeville

Can U Xcape – 95 East 10th Street, Unit 1, Bloomsburg

Keystone Payroll – 355-C Colonnade Boulevard, State College

Resurrection Movement Studio – 1408 Montour Blvd, Danville

Sokol Quarries, Inc. – 3860 State Route 487, Stillwater

Susquehanna Valley Limousine, Inc. – 2225 Ridge Road, Northumberland

Additional contact information is available on the Chamber’s Online Directory.    A reminder that anyone who recommends Chamber membership will receive a $25 gift certificate when that organization joins.

Fiscal Code Veto Means Loss of Dollars to Education

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

The 2015-16 PA budget was finalized last week as Gov. Tom Wolf allowed various appropriations bills to become law. Of the number of bills sent to the governor’s desk, only one – the Fiscal Code – was vetoed. The veto reduces by $439 million the amount of money that Pennsylvania’s public schools will receive – an interesting result given that the Wolf administration continuously pushed for more education funding during the budget impasse. Senate Republicans say that a $150 million increase in basic education funding and $289 million in school construction reimbursements can’t be distributed due to the Fiscal Code veto – a fact the Wolf administration is trying to make up for by proposing $200 million in PlanCon funding in the 2016-17 budget. Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, decried the governor’s action as making the schools a pawn in a tax and spend agenda. “At the tip of the governor’s veto pen are schools left searching for ways to pay the interest on loans or school construction costs,” Corman said.

Capitolwire reports that the governor is defending his Fiscal Code veto by stating that the bill contained objectionable provisions including the funding formula for new money – which the governor agrees with, but only after more basic education funding has been distributed via the old funding formula – and a borrowing plan for school construction, which he claims would be too costly given the state’s current credit rating situation. It was further reported that the veto affects more than $25 million in agricultural funding, as the Fiscal Code bill would have allowed for spending from a restricted receipt account within the supplemental appropriations bill that became law.   House and Senate lawmakers returned to Harrisburg this week for session to examine the implications of Gov. Wolf’s veto and spending levels for the 2016-17 budget.

Chamber Board Welcomes New Members

With the start of the Chamber’s new fiscal year on April 1, several new members will be welcomed to the Board. Incoming members are as follows:

Martin Bowman, Columbia Alliance for Economic Growth

Diane Ljungquist, Berwick Hospital Center

Travis Petty, Borough of Berwick

Denise Stone, Geisinger Health System

Jeff Whitenight, First Columbia Bank & Trust

Sharon Wilkin, CSS Industries

Officers are as follows:

Mark Gardner, Chair, M&T Bank

Karen Wood, Vice Chair, Service 1st Federal Credit Union

Diana Verbek, Treasurer, Danville Child Development Center

Fred Gaffney, President

A complete list of Chamber Board members is available online.

Exiting the Board are Jim Nemeth, Autoneum, and Andrew Pruden, Inn at Turkey Hill. Chair Mark Gardner expressed appreciation for their service at the March Board meeting. Both continue to be active on the Partnership Board and committees.

Bloomsburg Parking Committee Organized

In February, the majority of Bloomsburg Town Council members voted not to advance an ordinance that would have expanded parking enforcement times in the downtown. That decision followed calls from the Chamber and dozens of business and property owners for a more comprehensive approach to managing parking. A sub-committee was formed by the Town’s Community and Economic Development Committee and is now meeting regularly to discuss the issues and make recommendations to Town Council.

The committee is comprised of representatives of Council, Police Department, Columbia County, the Chamber, DBI, Bloomsburg University, downtown merchants, the Bloomsburg Landlord’s Association, and residents. In the first two meetings, the committee agreed on areas of focus, and assessed the existing parking inventory in the commercial district. The committee is next scheduled to review data from parking studies conducted in 2009 and 2015. The members recognize that parking in the downtown is confusing and can be frustrating in certain areas, and are interested in proposing long-term solutions.

Downtown Revitalization Plan Suggests Many Improvements

A revitalization plan being spearheaded by Downtown Bloomsburg Inc. suggests a number of improvements to the downtown commercial district. Ideas include increasing the amount of green space, building improvements, incentive programs for businesses, and a roundabout in front of Town Hall. The phase 2 report of the 3-phase plan was presented last Thursday evening at the Greenly Center. Duane Greenly, benefactor of the Greenly Center, Mayor Sandy Davis, and Chamber President Fred Gaffney expressed support for the initiative.

The presentation and a list of major supporters to date is available on DBI’s website at www.visitbloomsburg.org. The DBI Board would like to move forward with phase 3 immediately upon securing funding.