Bloomsburg Mayoral Candidates to Share Views at Public Forum

Bloomsburg’s Mayor and another member of Council vying for that position will share their views during an upcoming candidate forum being co-hosted by The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Bloomsburg Inc. Incumbent Bill Kreisher and Justin Hummel are the only registered candidates and will be on the Democratic ballot in the May 18th primary. The candidates will meet Wednesday, April 28th at 7:00 p.m. at the Alvina Krause Theatre.

The format will be a modified debate. Each candidate will be presented with the same questions in rotating order with a set amount of time for each response. A limited number of questions from the audience will also be presented. Fred Gaffney, president of the Chamber of Commerce, will be the moderator. Candidates will also be given two minutes for closing remarks.

The public is invited to attend the event. Safety protocols, including physical distancing and masks, will be in effect.

Virtually Help Local Students Explore Career Paths in Our Area

Do you want to connect with Middle and High School Students to come work for you someday? Do they know what your company does?  Do they know what opportunities exist with your organization? 

We are now officially recruiting businesses to participate in the 2021 Live Virtual Future Careers Expo Event.  This year the Chamber’s Foundation is partnering with Central PA Workforce Development Corporation (CPWDC) and PA CareerLink to bring a more robust virtual event aimed at educating students about the diverse paths to a successful career.  We hope that your business/organization will participate.  This is a wonderful opportunity for you to meet with students and share with them what types of work your business does, and what types of jobs make your organization work.  This is an educational opportunity and not a “job fair”.   We want students to walk away inspired to follow a career path that might lead to your company. 

Details of the event are: 

  • Date:  Thursday, May 6, 2021
  • Time:  10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
  • Location: Online via Booth Central web platform
  • Hosted By: The Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce, Central PA Workforce Development Corporation (CPWDC) and PA Career Link


  • Hundreds of students from at least 8 Area Middle and High Schools (Benton, Berwick, Bloomsburg, Central Columbia, Columbia Montour Vo-Tech, Danville, Millville, Southern Columbia)

If your business decides to participate in the Expo please do the following:

Register Here.  Once you have selected the purple “Register for event” button to the right, you will be directed to the event platform Booth Central. You will need to: 1) Select the red “Apply for a Booth button”. 2) Create an account through a simple process by clicking “Join now” found on the Hello screen. 3) Select “Join as Booth Host”. 4) Complete the form and select “Register”. 5) You will then complete the event registration form. Please contact [email protected] with any questions. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Equal Opportunity Employer/ Program.

There is no cost to you for participating.  You can request multiple booths per organization if you want to showcase different careers or business units to students.  Each virtual booth will need staffed during the live virtual event.

The goal of this event is to educate middle and high school students about the workforce opportunities in our area, including the types of industries available here, the skills and education needed for specific careers, future job openings, etc.  We hope to convince local students that there are many great career opportunities in our region.

Please register for the event no later than Friday April 30, 2021 if possible by registering at here.

For questions or additional information, contact Jeff Emanuel at the Foundation at [email protected] or 570-784-2522.


Geisinger Partners with Local Chambers of Commerce for Meals in Spring

Geisinger has partnered with eight local chambers of commerce to launch Meals in Spring and give back to the restaurants in the community hit hard by the pandemic.

As part of the program, more than 23,000 Geisinger employees can redeem a $10 meal voucher at more than 250 participating restaurants across 12 counties through June 30.

“Our local chambers of commerce were among the first organizations that came to us during the early days of the pandemic offering help,” said John Grabusky, senior director of community relations. “They collected N95 masks and gloves, organized sewing groups for homemade masks and they were behind many donations of pizzas, sandwiches, coffees and snacks that started to flow into our facilities. Now, it’s our turn to help them by supporting our local restaurants with Meals in Spring.”

Studies have shown that for every $100 spent at locally owned businesses, $68 stays within the community. By patronizing local restaurants, Geisinger employees are contributing to the local economy, which benefits their friends, neighbors, school districts and nonprofit organizations in their communities.

Participating chambers of commerce include Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce, Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber of Commerce, Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce, Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce, Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce, Clinton County Economic Partnership & Visitors Bureau, and Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce.

Member News- April 14, 2021

The Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center (NEPIRC) Promotes Marla Hager to Senior Business Advisor

The Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center (NEPIRC) proudly announces the promotion of Ms. Marla Hager to the position of Senior Business Advisor. Ms. Hager joined NEPIRC in December 2016 and, since that time, has introduced small and mid-sized manufacturers throughout Luzerne and Columbia counties to consultative services, training programs and other resources that allowed them to create and retain 2,200 full-time manufacturing jobs while strategically investing more than $29.7 million in regional expansion and modernization. Over the course of her tenure with NEPIRC, Ms. Hager’s clients have increased their top-line revenue by nearly $45 million, retained $184.5 million of at-risk sales and recognized $13.5 million in operational savings as direct outcomes of the NEPIRC engagements that she facilitated on their behalf.

In her elevated role at NEPIRC, Ms. Hager will remain responsible for cultivating and maintaining positive relationships with new and existing NEPIRC clients across Luzerne and Columbia counties while also mentoring other members of NEPIRC’s Business Advisor team and playing a more active role in NEPIRC’s long-term growth strategy.

Ms. Hager holds a Bachelor of Science degree in finance from the University of Scranton. 

Clients wanting to congratulate Marla on her achievements, and manufacturers wishing to connect with her to discuss how NEPIRC can grow their business, can contact her at [email protected] or 570.819.8966 x 122.

Retention Numbers Climb Nearly 20% for Bloomsburg University Act 101 Students

Students in Bloomsburg University’s Act 101 program have seen increasingly strong retention numbers over the last several years. Since 2017, Act 101 students have increased their first to second year retention rates by nearly 20 percent (45 to 63.7 percent).

The Act 101 Program is a comprehensive academic support program targeting first-generation, low-income Bloomsburg University students. Act 101 students are provided intensive, engaging, and enriching opportunities to develop the skills to help them achieve academic excellence. Students in the program come from households with incomes of double the federal poverty level or lower.

Ralph Godbolt, director of the Office of Access and Success and interim dean of students, has put a lot of hard work into helping the students.

“Our team here works hard to give these students a chance to be successful,” Godbolt said. “We provide to them the academic, cultural, and social interaction they need.”

Participants of the Act 101 program are strongly encouraged to participate in the Emerging Scholars program, a program developed and implemented by Godbolt. “The Emerging Scholars Program is a comprehensive academic support program targeting first-generation BU students who are demonstrating risk factors that will increase the likelihood of not completing a four-year college degree,” said Godbolt. “Through the Emerging Scholars Program, we provide opportunities for students to develop the skills that will assist them in achieving academic success. The success of the Emerging Scholars Program directly impacted the strong first to second year retention rates of Act 101 students.”

As part of the Emerging Scholars Program, Godbolt and his small team provide eight hours a week of study hall time, compassion-centered academic advising, and community engagement opportunities. They also provide opportunities to engage in yoga and mindfulness activities and weekly ‘rap sessions,’ where students engage in intense conversations about ongoing matters in their lives.

“The rap sessions help in building a close relationship between the student and counselor,” Godbolt said.

The Office of Access and Success oversees the Act 101 program. The office develops and implements academic, social, and cultural programming designed to assist students to develop the skills necessary for college persistence and graduation.

Programs of the Office of Access and Success include Act 101, Emerging Scholars, the Office of Diversity and Retention, Board of Governors, SEE Yourself Healthier and Happier, and the Out of the Classroom: Into the Community initiative.

Open Letter to Chamber Members from 1847Financial and The Fluffy Sheep

Chamber Members Mark Lupashunski from 1847Financial and Jackie Dietz from The Fluffy Sheep wrote open letters to the Chamber and its members:

I have been in the insurance and Financial Services business since 1990.  The last 10+ years renting office space in Berwick with my business partner, Andrea Empie.  We had been looking to find new space to move our business closer to downtown Berwick.  One day Andrea told me that she saw a building for rent at 109 N. Mulberry Street in downtown Berwick. 

Once I saw the building I remembered going there as a patient of Dr. Ali Alley many years ago.  When I called the phone number on the sign, Mrs. Alley answered and I was surprised to hear that the Alley family still owned the building.  They were pleased to hear that a native to Berwick was interested in the renovation of the old building.  We came to terms and signed a sales agreement in January 2020 and were supposed to close on the building in 6 weeks.  Then everything was put on hold due to COVID-19.

We finally were able to finalize the sale in late May.  The building had been rented to various businesses over the years and was in need of renovation.  After 4 months of demolition and hard work by many local contractors, we were open for business on October 1st.

The building had more space than we needed for our practice so we were able to make some space available for another business.  We put an ad in the local paper and the first called happily agreed to lease the space to start her new business, The Fluffy Sheep.  

We are happy to join the Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce and are glad to be able to open our business in downtown Berwick during some very difficult times to do business and are looking forward to a bright future.


Mark C. Lupashunki

The Fluffy Sheep aims to be more than just a yarn shop.  By offering a selection of locally made products, we support the endeavors of our local economy & community.  We look forward to offering classes and a regular open craft night in the near future.


Jackie Dietz


PA Unemployment System Poised for Long-Awaited Update

The Pennsylvania unemployment claim system will be taken offline for 2 weeks in June to update 40-year-old structure.  The new system should be more intuitive for users with a familiar web design and will allow for more self-service options, meaning there should be less need to contact unemployment center staff.  Find out the details here.