Meuser Discusses Workforce, Supply Chain, and Infrastructure

While the $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan recently passed by the U.S. House would provide much needed funding for Pennsylvania roads, bridges, and rural broadband expansion, Congressman Dan Meuser and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are not supportive of the $3.5 trillion spending bill that is now linked to it. That additional package includes higher tax rates for businesses at a time when employers are struggling with workforce shortages and supply chain disruptions. Meuser and the U.S. Chamber are advocating for the two bills to be voted on separately so that the hard infrastructure plan can move forward.

Congressman Meuser spoke about the negotiations regarding the two plans at a breakfast with Chamber members on September 2nd at Monty’s on Bloomsburg University’s Upper Campus. Laura Manion, Manager of the Great Lakes Region with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, also participated. Both were confident there are not enough votes in Congress to pass the larger spending plan. 

Meuser stated that he “didn’t disagree with all of” the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed earlier this year under the Biden administration, as it provided additional funding for business assistance programs. Many mistakes were made at both the federal and state levels during the early days of the pandemic, according to Meuser, including mandating that businesses close. He advocated for an “open but safe” plan and pointed out to the Wolf administration the disruptions to supply chains for critical industries as a result of the shutdown.

To foster economic recovery, Meuser believes the U.S. needs to hold China’s “feet to the fire” regarding trade agreements to minimize disruptions to supply chains and help maintain U.S. competitiveness. He also discussed the need to be more self sufficient in energy and semiconductor production. Meuser is a sponsor of a bill being referred to as Chips USA that would support the production of semiconductors within the United States. Manion joined Meuser in advocating for the promotion of skilled trades as viable career paths and the importance of exposing middle and high school students to options. 

With the $300 per week federal unemployment bonus payments ending on September 3rd, Meuser believes this will help to ease the workforce crisis. He pointed out that Pennsylvania’s 6.6% unemployment rate for July was significantly higher than the national rate of 5.4%, which takes into account states that ended the bonus payments previously. He also noted the importance of supporting child care to support working families and help develop the future workforce.

The Columbia Montour Chamber will continue discussions at the federal and state levels on policies to support a more robust workforce.  

Website Offers Free Tools for Small Businesses

From the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic remains uncertain for so many small business owners. You have taken on significant debt and made incredible sacrifices to reopen in an economy that looks vastly different from the one you knew before. Consumer behavior has changed significantly, and the need for digital transformation has never been more important.

To support you, we wanted to make you aware of a powerful new program created to help small businesses develop the knowledge and skills needed to accelerate their recovery and bounce back even stronger.

BackTo.Biz is a free, online learning program to help small businesses recover, pivot and grow. BackTo.Biz features a collection of 400+ individual video lessons, articles and tools from a diverse and renowned set of innovative entrepreneurs. The content is designed to help small business owners expand their knowledge and skills on a wide range of topics, including: hiring talent, selling online, building their brands, pivoting business models, creating new revenue streams, finding their ideal customers, managing stress and more.

You can view a short video trailer of the program at the link below and access all of the content for free at BackTo.Biz.

The program was funded by former Starbucks ceo and chairman emeritus Howard Schultz and the emes project llc, and co-created with CreativeLive, a global leader in online learning. To reach as many small businesses as possible and share additional best-in-class learning resources from top tier brands, BackTo.Biz has partnered with a coalition of non-profit and business leaders to raise awareness of the program, including Ascend, Chase, Community Reinvestment Fund USA (CRF), Facebook, Grow with Google, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, Intentionalist, Main Street America, Microsoft, Reimagine Main Street, Salesforce, Starbucks, Shopify, and CO— by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Our goal is to help America’s small businesses emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic stronger and more resilient. 

Member News September 1, 2021

Danville Heritage Festival This Weekend

The Danville Heritage Festival is a community celebration of all things Danville. 

This year’s festival will be held in conjunction with the Danville Business Alliance’s Fall Arts & Crafts Festival, centered along Mill Street, with special events at other locations throughout the Danville community between Friday, September 3rd and Sunday, September 5th. 

Enjoy living history presentations, historic tours of Danville, garden tours, live music, vendors, great food, fireworks, and much more.

A full schedule of events is available at DanvilleHeritage.com.


Bloomsburg Children’s Museum Partners with United in Recovery on “Hiding in Plain Sight” Temporary Exhibit

The Bloomsburg Children’s Museum recently partnered with United in Recovery, part of the United Way of Columbia and Montour Counties, to bring the “Hidden in Plain Sight” temporary exhibit to Bloomsburg

“Hiding in Plain Sight” is an exhibit, meant for parents and caregivers, that simulates a teen’s bedroom in which parents learn to identify objects that could provide critical insights about risky behavior. Amidst the clutter of clothing scattered on the floor, school supplies, and personal care products are items that can signal that a young person could be involved in risky, harmful, or even illegal activity. Visitors will have an opportunity to interact with the items on display.

Olivia Oden, Stigma Reduction & Education Coordinator for United in Recovery explains the importance of this exhibit.

“The ‘problem’ that our Hiding In Plain Sight exhibit addresses is substance use among young adults. Within the ‘teen’s bedroom’ that is set up, there are many places where one may hide illicit substances. Our exhibit strives to make parents and caregivers aware of not only where these hiding places are, but also of what challenges a teen may face when they use these illicit substances. We also provide resources and information for the family to take with them if interested, and the hands-on experience is a conversation starter for many individuals. This simulation is not meant to scare families and loved ones but be a conduit to have an open conversation on safety and prevention concerning illicit substance use among youth. “

The exhibit is currently open and runs through September 18th. Visitors can view the exhibit by entering a separate program space adjacent to the Museum’s exhibit galleries. The exhibit is open during regular Museum hours Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

For more information about United in Recovery please visit https://cmcuw.org/unitedinrecovery.


Berwick Breakfast Celebrates Giving Stories

The Community Giving Foundation: Berwick held its annual grant breakfast on August 24th to celebrate the impact of grant recipients and share stories of community giving from Foundation board, staff, and donors. The breakfast, held at Rolling Pines in Berwick, was a wonderful time of reflection on the long history of the Foundation in the Berwick community and the many dedicated individuals, families, and organizations that make this work possible.

During the event, Berwick Board chair Greg Martz shared his passion for the Berwick community and the giving spirit that is evident through Foundation stakeholders. Holly Morrison, Foundation president/CEO, spoke on her journey to partnership with the Foundation and the exciting opportunities that have come from the Foundation’s re-branding late last year. Christine Orlando, Foundation senior program officer, celebrated the good work accomplished in the Berwick community through the dedication of area nonprofit organizations. Grant recipients from the Berwick Health & Wellness Fund’s 2021 competitive grant round were also recognized. Dr. Bipin Chopra, executive director of the Columbia County Volunteers in Medicine Clinic, shared his organization’s experience with the Foundation as both an agency fundholder and grant recipient. As a new fundholder to the Foundation, Jodi Walp shared a touching tribute for her late husband and how her new donor advised fund will create a lasting legacy for their families by awarding grants in their names. Kara Seesholtz, Foundation chief advancement officer, closed the morning with a call for you to discover your own giving story—made easier through the Foundation’s new Giving Workbook.

The Foundation was honored and inspired by the uplifting community giving stories that were shared. Each joins together to create the story of the Community Giving Foundation.


The Exchange to Host “Catastrophes, Cataclysms, and Calamities: Dealing with Disaster”

Almost all of us have had to deal with disasters in our lives — sometimes a natural disaster like a flood, sometimes an intimate disaster between people. The Exchange Gallery at 24 East Main Street in Bloomsburg will be hosting an evening of music and stories from friends and neighbors about the disasters that they have faced on Wednesday, September 8th at 7 p.m. Musician Paul Loomis will share his homegrown songs, and Laurie McCants, Tim Pelton, Mary Lenzini Howe, Michael Howe, Kamran Shams, Tara MacNish, and Oren B. Helbok will tell their stories of floods, COVID, and other trials and tribulations that they have lived through.

Limited audience seating available: To make a reservation, call 570-317-2596 or e-mail [email protected]

 


McKonly & Asbury Named “Readers’ Choice” Accountant by Harrisburg Magazine

Harrisburg Magazine readers recently selected McKonly & Asbury as a “Readers’ Choice” Accountant winner. This long-standing award invites readers to participate in a 3-month poll to select the best local businesses in various categories.

“We are incredibly grateful to receive this award, and for the recognition by the community, which acknowledges our commitment to providing unparalleled accounting and business advisory services,” said Michael Hoffner, McKonly & Asbury’s Managing Partner. “This award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our client-focused staff and their devotion to delivering value to our clients.”

McKonly & Asbury has been honored to be chosen in past years, both as “Simply the Best” and “Readers’ Choice” winners.


SEDA-COG Hires New Community Development Staff

SEDA-COG recently welcomed three new staff in the community development program.

Aaron Crawford joined the Community Development staff as a program analyst. He has experience in project management, public speaking, grant writing, and local government work. He graduated in April 2020 with a master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh in public administration, with a major in public and non-profit management, with a minor in urban affairs and planning.

Susan Martin was hired as a program assistant in the community development program. She has experience with housing programs through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Susan has an associate’s degree from Olean Business Institute.

Nadine Simpson joined the community development program as a program assistant. She is taking classes in environmental science at Southern New Hampshire University. She has experience in management and customer service experience.

SEDA-COG is a community and economic development agency in Lewisburg and is one of seven Local Development Districts in Pennsylvania. SEDA-COG enhances the quality of life and economic advantage for residents and businesses in the 11 central Pennsylvania counties through its vital partnerships and initiatives.

Chamber to Discuss Workforce Crisis with State Agencies

As employers of all types and sizes continue to struggle to fill open positions, The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce is joining other chambers from across the state in calling on agencies and officials for policy changes. Among the issues keeping people from reentering the workforce are UC fraud and extended benefits, child care, and skills training. Chambers will be discussing a unified platform and meeting with representatives of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, State Treasurer, Attorney General, and Auditor General next week.

While the $300 per week federal unemployment bonus payment is scheduled to end September 6th, employers are not seeing a rush of people applying for positions. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was at 6.6% for July, compared to a national rate of 5.4%. Attendance at the NPBC job fair held at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds on August 28th was light and participating employers reported many incidents of people not showing up for interviews, performing poorly in interviews, and declining offers since the active work search requirement was reinstated. Legislation is being drafted that would make an individual ineligible for benefits if they discourage their own hire by such activities. 

For parents, ever-changing school schedules throughout the pandemic and child care availability create work-related challenges. Affordable, quality early child care and education allows parents to be more active in the workforce now, and helps prepare children for a lifetime of learning and socialization. The Chamber has been a member of the Columbia Montour Early Learning Investment Committee since its inception in order to understand the challenges of providing quality child care and education and is developing an advocacy platform to encourage long-term improvements to the system.

People willing and able to reenter the workforce often need training to meet the needs of employers. Using funds from the federal recovery programs, The Chamber has assisted with the development of basic employability skills and skilled trades training programs. Employers have identified additional training needs and workforce funding policies need to be revised so that these programs can be sustainable and expanded.

Other opportunities to strengthen the workforce include people incarcerated in state facilities or on probation at the local level. The Chamber is in discussions about consistent programs to encourage and assist these individuals in entering the workforce and connect them with local employers.

“There is no magic bullet for solving the workforce needs of our employers, but we have to be more aggressive in dealing with the underlying issues,” said Fred Gaffney, Chamber President. “A coalition of chambers from across the state is amplifying the calls from our members for long-term policy changes in order to strengthen Pennsylvania’s economy.”

Grant Program for Columbia County Small Businesses Opens September 1

A new grant program for small businesses in Columbia County will begin accepting applications on Wednesday, September 1st. The Columbia County Commissioners are providing qualifying small businesses a grant to assist in covering the business’ operating expenses incurred in 2021. Operating expenses include but are not limited to: payroll, rent, mortgage, utilities, costs of goods, supplies, raw materials, etc. Grant proceeds may not be used to acquire another business entity. $1,250,000 will be made available for the Columbia County Commissioners Small Business Grant.

Eligible businesses must have experienced a net reduction in revenue of at least 25% in calendar year 2020 compared to calendar year 2019.

Grants will be awarded on a first come, first served basis until all grant funds are awarded. Grants are to be awarded in $4,000 increments. No awarded grant will exceed $40,000.

Additional details and the application link are available at csgiving.org/cccsbg.