Annual Bloomsburg Nationals Show Set for This Weekend, Aug. 8-11

Gridlock on Main St. in downtown Bloomsburg prior to the 2015 Bloomsburg Nationals.

The annual Bloomsburg Nationals car show will be held this Thursday-Sunday, Aug. 8-11 at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds. The event gets started on Thursday, Aug. 8, with Gridlock, the parade of cars down Main St. in downtown Bloomsburg, which will kick off the event and result in Main St. being closed from 6-8 p.m. to accommodate the event. Main St. will reopen at 8 p.m.

During Gridlock, there is also a Quaker Steak & Lube wing eating contest  that is held at the front of the Columbia County Courthouse to raise money for charities. Two of the charities supported by Bloomsburg Nationals are also fellow Chamber members Camp Victory and the Ronald McDonald House of Danville. Following Gridlock, the cars will cruise to Quaker Steak & Lube for a “welcome party.”

The main event begins on Friday morning, Aug. 9 and runs through Sunday afternoon. Gates open at 8 a.m. each day until the festivities end. Tickets for Friday and Saturday can be purchased at the gate or online. Children 12 and under are free. Sunday is by donation at the gate. 

Sponsors of the event include Chamber members Quaker Steak & Lube, Perkins, the Fairfield Inn & Suites, Ken Pollock Ford Lincoln, Commercial Stainless, A&A Auto Stores and Service 1st Federal Credit Union.

More information on Bloomsburg Nationals, including a complete schedule, is available on its website or Facebook page. 

Regional Emergency Call Center Partners with MePush to Implement Significant Tech and Surveillance Upgrades

By Lisa Z. Leighton

When a call is placed to 911 in Snyder, Union or northern Northumberland Counties, the end user doesn’t think about the behind-the-scenes infrastructure needed to quickly and accurately route the call to the appropriate responding agency.

For nearly two years, the dedicated teams at MePush and NRG Controls North have collaborated with the new regional emergency call center, Central Susquehanna Regional 911 (CSR911), to overhaul network, server, security and surveillance infrastructure.

“The merge between Snyder and Union 911 has taken years of planning.” remarked Cheryl Stiefel, Executive Director, CSR911.  “MePush and NRG Controls North have worked with us every step of the way by providing expert opinion and labor from design to implementation.”

The primary goal of the project was to update their existing server network after the merger of the two agencies, leading to more efficient routing and quicker response times for those placing a call to the 911 network.

The upgrades included four new servers in a high availability cluster (HAC), a 10 Gbps network backbone for server connectivity and data storage, and a new computer aided dispatch (CAD) vendor. Of particular note is the HAC, which is a group of hosts that act like a single system, providing continuous uptime – critical for an emergency response agency.

MePush handled the planning and installation of the new wiring, servers, and network infrastructure for the upgraded system.

Their partner in the project, NRG Controls North, managed the security needs including exterior and interior surveillance cameras as well as an access control system that includes RFID tags on all doors.

The upgraded system will have a tremendous impact on callers to the 911 system, as well as first responders who rely on timely communication when responding to an emergency. 

Join the Transportation Conversation with the Transportation Partnership on Mobility

From rabbittransit

You’re invited! Join us for Transportation Partnership on Mobility (TPOM) meetings on the second Thursday of each month, rotating throughout various counties within the rabbittransit service area. The groups meet to discuss solutions for issues related to local and regional public transportation. Individuals with disabilities, seniors, families, advocates, community members and service providers are all welcome to join us in improving mobility services. Meetings are held at various community agency locations. We also connect with community organizations and providers by conducting round table discussions in an effort to identify links and to streamline service between providers in an effort to create a more accessible environment for our consumers. To find out details of the next meeting including time and location, visit rabbittransit’s website or email.

Voluntary Benefits Cover the Needs Specific to your Employees

From ChamberChoice & Smart Business Pittsburgh

Voluntary benefits are in high demand as employers recognize that a robust benefits portfolio helps them meet the diverse coverage needs within today’s workforce. The demand is also driven by the popularity of employee choice and low cost.

“There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to meeting the needs of a multiple-generational workforce. Competition is fierce when recruiting and retaining the best talent. This makes voluntary benefits a must-have in today’s employee benefits packages,” says Michael Orangis, sales executive at JRG Advisors. “By offering a spectrum of coverage options, employers send the message, ‘We listen, we care and our company is worth working for.’”

Smart Business spoke with Orangis about how voluntary coverage options can enhance your overall benefits program.

What do companies need to know about voluntary benefits?

Voluntary benefits have proven to be a popular, cost-effective method for an employer to offer a broad palette of benefits that provide employees choice. These types of benefits feature guaranteed issue and simple enrollment. And because premiums are paid through employee payroll deduction, there are no checks to write, making these benefits easy to administer.

Further, difficult economic times in the wake of rising health care costs mean tough health plan design choices for business owners. For many, adding voluntary benefits to compensate for benefits cutbacks elsewhere or to enrich a health plan with a high deductible makes good sense.

How do these benefits work?

With a voluntary benefits portfolio, employees are encouraged to focus on their coverage and affordability needs. Instead of employer-sponsored group accident, critical illness, disability, life, vision and dental insurance, business owners see the wisdom of providing these benefits on a voluntary, a-la-carte basis for employees to choose.

Not only will offering voluntary benefits cost employers virtually nothing, it will also help to level the playing field with competing employers. And, employees gain access to unique types of insurance coverage at group rates that are lower in cost than buying on their own.

What should an employer consider when offering voluntary benefits?

First, employers must show their support for the benefits program if they want the employees to see the value of voluntary benefits for themselves and their families.

An employer should talk to employees to help determine what offerings would be most useful. Employers need to carefully examine their current benefits package to determine which benefits are popular and those that are not. Most importantly, employers need to determine the type(s) of voluntary benefits that offer the most value for the lowest cost. This is crucial to the success of the voluntary benefits program.

As the program is implemented, education is key. Employers should educate employees on what voluntary plans are available and the benefits of enrolling. Employers also should follow up with employees on a regular basis throughout the plan year to ensure they are satisfied, there are no problems and that no changes need to be made with the plans offered.

In the end, voluntary benefits are special because they meet the specific needs of the valued workforce. Employers can easily offer these benefits and keep costs down, while enhancing the complete package of benefits and coverages. Employees are able to make informed selections of benefits that meet their unique needs, ultimately increasing their engagement and satisfaction with the benefits program.

PA Chamber at Signing of Bill to Implement State-Based Health Insurance Exchange

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

PA Chamber President Gene Barr was in attendance at a Capitol event last week where Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law a bill that will allow Pennsylvania to establish its own health insurance exchange for the purchase of individual market plans under the Affordable Care Act. 

This legislation – which had strong bipartisan support – was made possible due to an Executive Order issued by the Trump Administration that allowed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to issue new guidance for states seeking more flexibility through waivers.  This encouraged greater innovation in finding tools and solutions to help reduce premium costs.  Act 42 of 2019 (formerly H.B. 3) does this by replacing the federally operated Healthcare.gov with a state-operated website in an effort to get more people into the system and lower their costs.  According to a story in the Associated Press, the Wolf administration expects that this change will lower premiums anywhere from 5 to 10 percent for the 400,000 people who buy policies in the marketplace – particularly the large segment of those people who currently buy policies through Healthcare.gov but whose incomes are too high to qualify for a federal tax subsidy.

As the bill was moving through the legislative process, the PA Chamber sent numerous memos to House and Senate lawmakers urging their support because it helps to achieve our organization’s goal of creating stability in the state’s healthcare market and making health insurance more affordable for the Commonwealth’s citizens. “The creation of a state based exchange couple with a reinsurance program that is properly managed and remains solvent can benefit many individuals,” the PA Chamber wrote.  “We commend the Administration and legislative leadership for their commitment and swift legislative action.”