Annual Award Winners Announced at Chamber’s Annual Meeting

Member businesses and individuals of the Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce were recognized during the organization’s Annual Meeting on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, at Rolling Pines Golf Course & Banquet Facility in Berwick, and sponsored by PPL Electric Utilities.

More than 200 people attended the dinner meeting, which celebrated outstanding member achievements, elected members to the Board of Directors, highlighted Chamber activities of the past year, and previewed the year ahead.

The Chamber’s four annual awards were presented businesses and individuals for their significant contributions to the community. The following awards were presented to the following recipients:

Small Business of the Year
(Sponsored by First Columbia Bank & Trust)
Steph’s Subs

Large Business of the Year
(Sponsored by The Columbia Alliance of Economic Growth)
SEKISUI SPI

Community Progress Award
(Sponsored by Commonwealth Health-Berwick Hospital Center)
LCBC Church Columbia-Montour

Outstanding Citizen
(Sponsored by Berwick Industrial Development Association)
Denise Stone, Geisinger

The Small Business of the Year award goes to a member business of 30 employees or fewer than has done one or more of the following: demonstrated business leadership evidenced by diversification and creativity in the development of new products, services and/or markets; demonstrated staying power and positive response to adversity; or demonstrated community involvement.

In an area full of giving people and businesses that support their community, Steph’s Subs sets the example. There aren’t many positive community causes, especially those in Bloomsburg, that owner Steph Severn doesn’t support, and her personality matches her generosity, as she is one of the most genuine people one will ever meet.

The list of ways that Steph and her business support the community is very lengthy. For instance, each fall Friday for the last several years, before every Bloomsburg High School football game, she has invited the team to her restaurant for a free meal. There probably isn’t a nonprofit in the area that she has not donated to in some way, and she also generously gives her time through service on a number of boards and advisory committees throughout her career, including the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau, Downtown Bloomsburg, Inc., and Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital’s patient-family advisory boards.

In terms of staying power, Steph’s product is an area mainstay. Whether one bit into a sub that she made in 1978, or 2005 after she decided to open her own business, or yesterday, the taste is the same. Steady and constant quality is a hallmark of a good business, and Steph and her business certainly have those attributes.

Another part of being a community-minded business is encouraging the next generation. Many a Bloomsburg University or high school student have worked at Steph’s Subs over the years, but these many students have received far more than just a paycheck. Steph personally takes these students under her wing and serves as a mentor to them, imploring them to continue their education, but also do volunteer work and be active, positive citizens in their community, whether that’s here or elsewhere. When we consider the challenges of workforce, this may be the most important thing of the many that Steph and her business contribute.

The Large Business of the Year Award, goes to a business with 31 or more employees, and the criteria is the same as for the Small Business of the Year honor.

Many in the local business community as well as others that work with SEKISUI SPI or its employees have heard great things about its culture and purpose. SEKISUI’s culture includes ensuring total customer satisfaction, providing superior value, caring for the environment, promoting a team spirit among all personnel, and recognizing and rewarding excellence of individuals. Its purpose comes from making positive contributions to society, such as through research and development, being environmentally conscious and committing to zero-landfill, as well as empowering its employees.

Over the last several years, SEKISUI has greatly invested in its culture and its people, as well as its facilities in Columbia County. In 2016, it opened its second manufacturing plant here, its “South campus,” which was part of a $15 million investment in the area. Any business that makes such a significant investment in a region usually only does so if it knows it has an adequate workforce. SEKISUI president and COO Ronn Cort, who has worked around the world and in areas with far larger populations than Columbia County during his career, noted that the workforce in this area is the best he has ever worked with. He serves as an Ambassador for our area in spreading that message.

The people that make up that workforce have been empowered to make a difference in their community, and one conduit of doing so has been the United Way of Columbia & Montour County. Over the last five years, SEKISUI’s employee campaign has grown by 79%, and when combined with the corporate matching and additional donations, SEKISUI’s contributions over the last five years to the United Way have grown by over 250%. SEKISUI also sponsors programs such as Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble’s Theatre in the Classroom, the Chamber Foundation’s Leadership Central Penn, scholarships at both Bloomsburg University and Penn College, and through its “Noble Acts” program, has also given corporate and employee donations to organizations such as Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech, AGAPE, Bloomsburg University’s STEM Magnet Program, the Columbia County Traveling Library, Central Columbia School District and many more.

The Community Progress Award goes to a member business or organization that showed improvement in the internal or external appearance of a commercial property through either new construction, renovation, restoration or remodeling, and completed that construction within the last three calendar years or by December 2017.

Founded in 1986 in the Lancaster area, LCBC Church has grown to 11 campuses in Pennsylvania and is now one of the largest and fastest growing churches not only here but in the country. The Columbia-Montour campus was launched in 2015 in Berwick, and in 2016, plans were made to move to have it more centrally located in the area and have a building that would be able accommodate continued growth.

LCBC Church chose the former Giant Food Stores building on Rt. 11 and Central Road that had sat vacant for well over a decade. It invested $4.2 million to transform this building from an eyesore, to a vibrant, uplifting and inspirational location for its hundreds of weekly churchgoers. Since opening the new church in July of last year, LCBC’s high-energy worship services have attracted thousands. The church here averages about 1,000 in attendance per week, and all LCBC campuses average just over 17,000.

With this investment also comes a commitment, as LCBC Church has a 15-year lease on this property, with options to extend it to nearly 30 years if they choose. Occupancy rates for both homes and commercial buildings are one indicator of a community’s overall health, and how much progress they can truly make. Thanks to LCBC Church, our community has progressed and gotten that much healthier.

The Outstanding Citizen Award is presented to an individual that is an employee or volunteer of a member organization who is involved in civic activities beneficial to the Columbia Montour region and who projects a positive community image.

Now in her second stint at Geisinger, where she currently is a director of service line development with the Geisinger Foundation, Denise Stone has lent her expertise to several community organizations throughout her career, all of which have helped make our community and these respective organizations better.

She currently serves on the Columbia Montour Chamber and Downtown Bloomsburg, Inc. boards, the Chamber’s membership committee, and is a member of the Bloomsburg Rotary Club, Bloomsburg American Legion and Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital Auxiliary. For just short of a decade, while her sons where in school, she also served as the president of the Bloomsburg High School football boosters.

One of her most notable contributions to our community was as part of her recently concluded service on the board of the Columbia County Traveling Library, which last year purchased a new bookmobile for the first time in over 20 years, with a price tag of $280,000. Additionally, the Traveling Library needs to raise about $40,000 each year to deliver the service the community expects, so it had some pretty significant work to do.

She was instrumental in helping the Traveling Library develop its fundraising capacity, and she immediately lent her expertise and took over as chair of the bookmobile campaign. The Traveling Library board did not have her level of fundraising experience or network, so Denise helped them develop those relationships and expand their network. Her depth of knowledge, personable nature, and determined approach served the Traveling Library extremely well, just as these same attributes have served every organization that Denise has been associated with. When it came time for her service to the board to end a few months ago, the Traveling Library had already raised $200,000 of the $280,000 that it needs to finance the bookmobile.

Denise resides in Bloomsburg with her husband, Matt, and two college-aged sons.

Chamber Announces 2018-19 Board of Directors

The 2018 – 2019 Board of Directors of The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce was announced at the organization’s Annual Meeting held on Thursday, Feb. 8, at Rolling Pines Golf Course & Banquet Facility in Berwick, and sponsored by PPL Electric Utilities

The following individuals were elected to the Board of Directors:
 

Nominated to serve a 3-year term on the Chamber Board:
Dan Knorr, II, Bloomsburg University
Mary Radle, Key Partners Realty
Denise Stone, Geisinger
Jeff Whitenight, First Columbia Bank & Trust


Nominated to serve a 1-year term on the Chamber Board:
Donna Coombs, GordnerCoombs Insurance
Sam Haulman, Service Electric
Chris Stamatedes, PPL Electric Utilities


Nominated to serve as Chamber Officers
Chair (2-year term)     Karen Wood, Service 1st Federal Credit Union
Vice Chair                      Dan Knorr, II, Bloomsburg University
Treasurer                       Denise Stone, Geisinger
Immediate Past Chair Mark Gardner, M&T Bank
President                        Fred Gaffney


Appointed by Board Chair for 1-year appointments
Jim Micklow, Press Enterprise
Holly Morrison, Central Susquehanna Community Foundation
Tom Neal, Commonwealth Health-Berwick Hospital Center

Workers Comp Drug Formulary Bill Fails in House

Legislation that would create a drug formulary for workers compensation did not receive the necessary votes to pass in the State House on Tuesday, Feb. 6. The vote on SB 936 was 98-98 – three votes short of the 101 needed to pass. Normally, 102 votes are needed but two seats are currently vacant, and three members who had expressed support for the legislation were on leave. A reconsideration motion was filed which may provide an opportunity for another vote later in the session.

The goal of the bill is to curb overprescribing and abuse of opioids. The Chamber joined with dozens of other chambers from across Pennsylvania in supporting the legislation, which passed in the Senate in October. Thanks to Senator Gordner as well as Representatives Masser and Millard for supporting the bill.

Member News – February 7, 2018

Member News

  • GAF, one of the Chamber’s newest members and North America’s largest roofing products manufacturer, will host a job fair on Saturday, Feb. 10, from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. at its New Columbia facility, located at 2093 Old Route 15. GAF is looking for dedicated, safety-minded individuals with manufacturing experience to join its team. An iPad mini 4 will be given out to one attendee that has completed an online job application prior to arriving at the job fair and who also completes an information card at the event. Attendees will have an opportunity to learn more about GAF, meet its employees, tour the facility and learn about its hiring process. Refreshments will be available. For more information, see this flyer and visit GAF’s career website.

 

  • Thrivent Financial is collecting items for the Ronald McDonald House of Danville this month from Feb. 1-21. Thrivent will have a collection box at its office located at 417 W. Main St., Bloomsburg, and is collecting small snack items and beverages such as K-cups, juice boxes, and individually-wrapped snack items like granola bars, crackers and cookies. Anyone interested in making a donation can drop it off at Thrivent’s office Mondays-Fridays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. On Thursday, Feb. 22, the public is invited to join Thrivent at the Ronald McDonald House between 5-8 p.m. where these donations will be presented to RMHD, and attendees can hear about the mission and focus of RMHD, take guided tours of the house and enjoy some hors d’oeuvres and a dessert buffet. 

 

  • Century 21 Covered Bridges Realty recently acquired a moving truck (right) for the benefit of its buyers and sellers, and the agency is now proud to make it available for use by nonprofit and community organizations free of charge when it is not in use by one of its clients. If your nonprofit or community organization would like to use the truck, please call Dan Young at 570-784-2821, ext. 16 to make arrangements. It is available on a first-come, first-serve basis and is made possible by a number of generous sponsors that are also committed to serving our nearby communities, including fellow Chamber members Alexander Family Buick/GMC, Flick Brothers Electric, Statewide Furniture and WTC Contracting. For more information, visit Century 21 Covered Bridges Realty’s website

 

  • The Central Susquehanna Community Foundation will hold its Annual Meeting on Friday, Feb. 23, from 12-1:30 p.m. at the Pine Barn Inn. A lunch will be served and attendees will be able to hear four speakers. CSCF president and CEO Holly Morrison will talk about “Spreading the Message of Philanthropy” while board member John Kurelja will speak about the regional impact of the CSCF’s philanthropic activities. Two speakers from Wilmington Trust will also talk about the CSCF’s funds’ performances. For more information, see this invitation, and to RSVP, email or call Karri Harter at 570-752-3930, ex. 6, by Feb. 16. 

 

  • The Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit’s technology group will conduct a pair of computer fairs for middle and high school students in March, and is seeking professionals in business and the community to serve as judges in specific categories. The middle school fair will be held on Monday, March 5 while the high school fair will be on Monday, March 26. Both will be held at CSIU 16’s building located at 90 Lawton Lane, Milton, and will run from 9-11 a.m. Categories that need judges are animation, computer fair logo, digital movies, graphic design, programming and web page design. For more information, or if interested in serving as a judge, contact Bill Herald as CSIU via email no later than Friday, Feb. 23.

Governor Wolf Unveils 2018-19 Budget Plan

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s 2018-19 budget proposal once again includes a severance tax on the natural gas industry and an increase in the minimum wage to $12 per hour. Revenue from the gas tax and social service savings from increasing the minimum wage would pay for workforce development programs and an increase in education spending of $225 million. The Governor’s plan, unveiled Tuesday, Feb. 6, would increase spending by nearly $990 million to $32.9 billion.

A summary of the budget is available online. Budget hearings will be held in the House and Senate in the coming weeks.