Penn State offering new online master’s degree in marketing analytics

A new master’s in marketing from Penn State has been designed to help marketers leverage their company’s data to make the best business decisions. IMAGE: PEXELS.COM

From Penn State World Campus

Note: Employees of all Columbia Montour Chamber members, their spouses and dependents are eligible for a 5% discount on tuition through the PSU World Campus. 

In today’s business world, marketers have an abundance of data at their disposal. However, they can struggle to analyze this volume of information and maximize the data to their companies’ benefit.

A new master’s in marketing from Penn State can help with that challenge.

Penn State is accepting applications for the new master’s degree in marketing analytics and insights that can help marketers leverage data to drive successful business decisions. The degree is being offered exclusively online through Penn State World Campus and led by the internationally ranked Penn State Smeal College of Business.

“A lot of this data is flowing in toward the marketing group, about customers and prospects. The biggest skill gap currently for marketers is how to actually handle and analyze the data to make better decisions on what you get out of it,” said J. Andrew Petersen, associate professor of marketing at Smeal and the director of the new program. “This degree was designed to address that skill gap in the market.”

Petersen said marketers traditionally have relied on their past experiences and intuition to drive their decision making. In the era of big data, though, marketers can more accurately quantify the value they’re going to generate.

“What we’re teaching is how to turn a marketing or sales question into something that leads into what data you should look at and what tools you should use,” Petersen said. “You want to be able to go back to your business to say here’s the decision I want to make and quantify what needs to happen.”

Petersen said the 30-credit degree program is comprehensive, covering topics including but not limited to digital marketing analytics, customer analytics and brand analytics.

The curriculum includes eight required courses within the field of marketing analytics, such as driving business success using marketing analytics, customer acquisition and retention, and data visualization and integration. Other required courses are in ethical leadership and marketing in a global environment.

Students will choose two electives to complete the degree from courses in business analytics, supply chain management, corporate innovation, strategic management and more.

Students who complete the core marketing analytics courses can also earn the 12-credit graduate certificate in marketing analytics, which can serve as an additional credential for those marketers looking to advance their careers.

The degree is being offered by the Smeal College’s Marketing Department, which consistently ranks among the top 20 worldwide in research productivity in marketing, according to the University of Texas at Dallas Top 100 Business School Research Rankings.

“Students have the opportunity to learn from leading faculty in this field,” said Shubha Kashyap, director of academic affairs for World Campus. “We are pleased to offer this graduate marketing degree online to serve our working professional students who want to expand their education and skills.”

Visit the Penn State World Campus website for more information about the new master’s in marketing analytics and insights.

Dependent Care Assistance Program Compliance Basics

From ChamberChoice

The cost of childcare is a growing burden on families across the country, but employers can address this cost to some extent by making a Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP) available to employees as a benefit funded through pre-tax salary deductions through a cafeteria plan. DCAPs are also sometimes referred to as dependent care flexible spending accounts.

Eligible expenses for reimbursement through a DCAP include any amounts the employee pays for the “care” of dependents. These expenses may include day-care fees and amounts paid to in-home care providers. The DCAP can reimburse these expenses provided that the employee and spouse (as applicable) are gainfully employed – a DCAP may not be used to pay a spouse who provides childcare to his or her own children.

DCAPs funded through pre-tax payroll deductions must follow the requirements in the Internal Revenue Code Section 125 for cafeteria plans. Since they are generally not considered group health plans, they are not subject to HIPAA, ACA, and COBRA. Also, DCAPs that reimburse employees for their dependent care costs are not required to follow ERISA. For example, these benefits do not have to be listed or mentioned in the ERISA Wrap Plan Document, Wrap Summary Plan Description, or reported on the group’s Form 5500. Additionally, an employee participating in a DCAP benefit may also make contributions to a health savings account.

Employers who sponsor DCAPs or who are considering adding one to their existing employee benefit package will need to comply with the nondiscrimination requirements applicable to cafeteria plans and to DCAPs specifically. An employer needs to assure that the benefit is not discriminatory in favor of key employees and/or highly compensated employees. Discrimination generally will not jeopardize the overall tax-favored status of the plan; although egregious violations might cause a plan to be “disqualified”. In most cases, discrimination problems usually cause only the value of plan benefits to become taxable income to the affected key employee or highly compensated employee. There are generally three nondiscrimination requirements the plan must meet. Annual nondiscrimination testing can help to identify and remedy discrimination issues before they result in adverse tax consequences.

This article gives a basic overview of recent regulation as in effect on the date of the article. Please be aware that the determination of the requirements and the application of these rules to each employer may differ due to a number of variables. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice.

Arconic Foundation and Kawneer Partner with Central Columbia to Prepare Students for Careers in Manufacturing

Axel Heinrich, plant manager at Kawneer’s Bloomsburg facility, talked to Central Columbia students about the creative opportunities in modern manufacturing at a June 5 event at the High School.

The Arconic Foundation and Kawneer have partnered with the SME Education Foundation to make available education opportunities for students of Central Columbia High School, in a collaboration formed through the Foundation’s Partnership Response In Manufacturing Education (PRIME) schools initiative.

SME PRIME schools directly address the manufacturing and engineering talent shortage by partnering with industry to inform and provide modern equipment, tailored curriculum and hands-on training to high schools across the country. The national program provides students with practical experience, knowledge and skills using state-of-the-art technology and equipment, while allowing companies to support the career direction of youth through mentoring, internships and job shadowing. Central students have already received certification in precision measurement through the donation of Starrett tools. The most recent training tool for students is a FANUC robotic arm, which was recently set up at the school.

At an event to talk about the partnership on June 5t, Axel Heinrich, plant manager at Kawneer’s Bloomsburg facility, expressed optimism for the future of manufacturing in America. This program helps young people understand that modern manufacturing is a collaborative and creative environment, not dirty and repetitious. “After 27 years in manufacturing, I still get excited,” said Heinrich.

Other area manufacturers represented at the event included Bloomsburg Carpet, CSS Industries, Girton Manufacturing, and SEKISUI SPI.

“The launch of this partnership marks our continued commitment to preparing students for future opportunity in manufacturing,” said Harry Mathias, superintendent of the Central Columbia School District. “The support we’ve received from our business community and local leaders has been phenomenal, and we’re encouraged by this partnership to help our talented students thrive.” Since 2011, SME PRIME schools have reached more than 50,000 students in 47 communities across 22 states. 84% of graduating SME PRIME students intend to pursue careers in manufacturing, and 60% of those students planned to pursue postsecondary education in a field directly related to manufacturing.

Strong Revenue Collections Set Positive Tone for 2019-20 Budget Negotiations

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

The 2018-19 fiscal year is rapidly coming to a close. With four weeks to go before the June 30 Constitutional budget deadline, legislative leaders and the Wolf administration continue to emphasize finding common ground on the spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year, with both sides of the aisle expressing optimism that a final agreement will be reached on or before the constitutional deadline of June 30.

Compared to previous years, current budget negotiations have been relatively smooth, mostly due to several months of larger than anticipated revenue collections. In a revenue update briefing at the end of May, the state’s Independent Fiscal Office estimated that the Commonwealth will collect more than $860 million in revenue above what was originally projected. This increase in revenue is largely thanks to the corporate tax and sales tax, both of which have performed well throughout the year. (It’s important to note that much of the unexpected revenue has already been spent via a $500 supplemental appropriation request from Gov. Wolf to cover Medicaid costs and $200 million related to a proposed fund transfer that has been denied by the courts).

This positive fiscal news is being touted by both the governor and legislative leaders. The parties at the negotiating table seem to be in agreement that any additional revenue should go to the state’s Rainy Day Fund to help Pennsylvania withstand any future economic downturns. This pragmatic approach falls in line with warnings from the IFO that while the state is projected to see further growth in real GDP, jobs and private sector profits in the coming year, the Commonwealth is unlikely to see significant revenue surpluses as was the case this year. The PA Chamber is advocating for elected officials to enact pro-growth policies that will help to build upon this positive momentum and put the Commonwealth on a firmer fiscal footing. We are strongly urging lawmakers to take a page out of the federal government’s handbook and bring some much needed reforms and clarity to the state’s Tax Code, as well as supporting changes to the Commonwealth’s regulatory and legal climates. As elected officials discuss the state’s long-term fiscal outlook, we are reminding them that a thriving private sector is the driving force of a strong economy.

We are also continuing to monitor proposals that would impose a mandated wage hike on employers. We have cautioned lawmakers that numerous studies have found that such policies lead to a negative impact on jobs and that small businesses face the biggest hurdles when complying with government mandated wage increases. According to a recent IFO analysis, increasing the minimum wage to $12 an hour – as has been pushed by Gov. Wolf and certain elected officials – could lead to the loss of 34,000 jobs throughout the state.

With legislators scheduled to return to session this week, the timing is perfect for the 2019 Chamber Day at the Capitol, which took place June 4. We are proud to have joined our partners at the Pennsylvania Association of Chamber Professionals to host this annual event, which featured a dynamic day of thoughtful discussion with more than 90 state and local chamber representatives from around the Commonwealth. The program featured several panel discussions focusing on a wide range of topics, including workforce development; transportation and infrastructure in the Commonwealth; and community revitalization; as well as a budget update from the four appropriations chairs and a keynote lunch address by state Treasurer Joe Torsella.

Member News – June 5, 2019

  • Local motorists are advised that Norfolk Southern Railroad Co., plans to replace the railroad crossing on Route 54 (Elysburg Road) just off the Danville-Riverside bridge in Riverside Borough. The crossing replacement is scheduled to start Friday, June 14, at 9 a.m. Work includes removing existing concrete panels to inspect the track, and repaving. A detour will be in effect for all eastbound Route 54 traffic using Route 11, Route 42 and Route 487.Westbound Route 54 car traffic will use Third Street, Chestnut Street and South D&H Avenue. Westbound trucks will use Route 487, Route 42 and Route 11. Motorists should consider taking alternate routes, as heavy congestion and slow-moving traffic is expected in and around Riverside Borough. Work is expected to be completed by 5 a.m. Tuesday, June 18.


  • Autoneum’s Bloomsburg plant has been presented with a 2018 Supplier Quality Excellence Award by its long-standing customer, General Motors. GM certifies its top performing suppliers with this accolade, with only 15 percent of the manufacturing locations having successfully met the strict requirements in 2018. This is the second time the Bloomsburg plant has received the prize for quality excellence in addition to the 15 GM “Supplier of the Year” awards won previously.


  • Amy Shortlidge

    The Berwick Industrial Development Association (BIDA) is pleased to announce the recent hire of Amy J. Shortlidge, who joins the BIDA team as a marketing specialist. Within this role, Amy will be responsible for overall marketing strategy, researching and evaluating opportunities to promote the organization’s business support services and executing effective marketing communications to our current and potential tenants, clients and residents of the Greater Berwick Area. Amy comes to BIDA with over two decades of marketing experience and working within the community. Throughout the years, Amy has established endless relationships and contacts that will help her enable BIDA’s continued growth and success. Amy can be reached at 570-752-3612 or by email


  • The Berwick Industrial Development Association (BIDA) is also pleased to announce the recent promotion of Stacy Whitmire.

    Stacy Whitmire

    Within her new role, as bookkeeper, Stacy will ensure the efficient operation of BIDA’s business functions such as human resources, finance and accounting. Stacy has dedicated over seven years of service to BIDA and during that time, has striven to build relationships between the business development community. Stacy’s knowledge of the organization will be a true asset in its continued development and achievements. Stacy can be reached at 570-752-3612 or by email


  • The Children’s Museum will host Families with Special Needs Night on Friday, June 28, from 6-8 p.m. at the museum located at 2 West 7th St., Bloomsburg. This evening is specially for families with special needs individuals and features a reduced number of visitors, space and freedom to explore at your own pace, adapted exhibits, a quiet area, fun craft and sensory activities and an opportunity to network with other families. This quarterly event is free to all families with special needs members. 


  • The Regional Impact Fund of the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation recently announced its second competitive grandround of $50K for projects that address current areas of unmet needs throughout the CSCF’s service area, which includes Columbia and Montour Counties. This year’s grantround will consist of an exciting new application process and opportunity for the public to get involved. Interested nonprofits will first submit a Letter of Inquiry introducing their organization, needs, service area, and budgetary request. Those proposals selected by the CSCF Grants Committee will then be invited to submit a full application and participate in The Nonprofit Narrative on Monday, July 29, at 8:30 a.m. at the Danville Area High School auditorium. The Nonprofit Narrative is a platform for these groups to share their grant requests and stories of regional impact—the joys, challenges, dreams and requests each face as they serve our neighbors, communities, and region at large. For more information on the Regional Impact Fund, competitive grantround or The Nonprofit Narrative, visit