Mini Casino Survey Results

Last month, we asked our members to respond to a brief, three-question survey regarding a possible casino in our area, which followed the Bloomsburg Town Council passing a resolution that would allow a “mini casino” to locate within the town. Several other municipalities in Columbia and Montour counties have also indicated they are open to consideration. 

As a part of the 2017-18 state budget law that was signed last fall, Pennsylvania made 10 Category 4 casino licenses available through an auction process, which is currently underway. Under the legislation, local municipalities have the option as to whether or not they would allow such establishments.

Here are the results of the survey:

1. Do you think a mini casino located in our area would benefit your business?
Yes          29      40%
No           32      44%
Unsure   11       15%

2. Would you be in favor of a mini casino locating in our area?
Yes          35       49%
No           23       32%
Unsure   14       19%

3. What type of organization do you represent?
Retail                               8       11%
Restaurant/Food          11       15%
Entertainment/Arts     3        4%
Service                            25      35%
Manufacturing              7        10%
Non-profit                      18      25%

Thanks to all that took the time to respond, and congratulations to the winner of the free month of ads in E-Biz, JDog Junk Removal & Hauling.

Leadership Central Penn Learns Why Nothing is as Black and White as We Think

Pallets of grocery flyers wait to be stuffed in the newspapers at the Press Enterprise.

The Leadership Central Penn’s morning for its March class date started out at Press Enterprise, where not even the business model is about black and white print anymore.  Press Enterprise has evolved over the years from a newspaper to a commercial printing operation that produces a daily newspaper. Thanks to forward thinking and a little luck, the organization has weathered the challenges of print news. 

The class was treated to a tour of the Press Enterprise facilities where workers were busily bundling weekly grocery ads for distribution and shipping. As the class looked at the line, it saw the layers of ink being added, which changed the white paper into brilliant colors and bright ads. The digital media team works to assist clients with content and presentation, allowing small mom-and-pop grocers to offer the same vibrant, eye-catching ads of larger grocery chains. 

Following the tour of the Press Enterprise’s facilities , the class headed to SEKISUI SPI for the remainder of the day, where the group was greeted by fellow classmate and VP of People and Culture for SEKISUI, Sharon Haverlak. The first speaker of the day was Ronn Cort, COO and president of SEKISUI, who introduced the group to the innovative vision and culture of the company. SEKISUI has capitalized globally on opportunities of the growing middle class and the infrastructure needs of this group and their communities. The company produces plastic sheet for thermoforming products used in aviation, mass transit, construction and farming vehicles, and equipment housings like MRI

Ronn Cort gives a presentation to the LCP class.

machines and ATMs. 

SEKISUI has global leaders as partners on environmentally-focused, cutting-edge technology for the future. These include projects with Tesla for charging stations and the Hyperloop public transportation system. Thanks to the light weight, strength and thermal properties of their products, SEKISUI has helped save fuel without compromising style or comfort.

Following Cort’s presentation, the class welcomed Mike Ferlazzo, director of media relations at Bucknell University, for a discussion on the importance of public relations in leadership. The class heard about the importance of media relationships and the value of transparency. Mike shared that if you don’t control the narrative and provide factual information, the story will continue in a direction of its own making. This might not be the best light or even an accurate depiction, but it is what the public will be left with if not for a sound PR approach.

Mike Ferlazzo of Bucknell University speaks to the LCP class about public relations.

Before a lunch break, the class was joined by Tina Welch of Welch Performance Consulting to discuss “Generations in the Workplace.” Tina shared that there are four generations at work currently, Traditionalist, Boomers, Gen X and Millennials.  Each group has unique work ethic, communication preferences, motivations, and expectations of rewards, feedback and work/life balance. The class then learned the three main strategies for managing this multi-generational workforce:

  1. Mold your Culture
  2. Become Gen-Mixers: Assess Your Team
  3. Teach Your Workforce

Arthur Breese, director of diversity at Geisinger, talks about everyday bias.

After its well-earned lunch break, it was time to introduce the class to a presentation titled “Everyday Bias” led by Arthur Breese, director of diversity at Geisinger, Jimmy Muwombi, from the Coalition for Social Equity, and Jabari Johnson, Bloomsburg University student and intern at the United Way of Columbia and Montour County.  The class learned that based on where, when and how we were raised, and what life experiences we have had, we are all prone to pass judgment with our fast brain. The class saw a variety of videos and had discussions to prove the point that we all have both unconscious and conscious bias. We have two brains that don’t always see eye to eye, the fast (emotional) and slow (thinking) brain. Understanding and controlling these two sides of our brain requires us to take a P.A.U.S.E. before we react or act. 

To conclude the day, the class was treated to a behind the scenes plant tour of SEKISUI. The class was shown production, development and corporate culture in action. This organization, that many in the class were unaware of prior to this day, impressed everyone with its approach, innovation and vision. If there were any preconceived biases about manufacturing, they were changed on this day and replaced by a new vision of the current state and future of this sector.

Chamber Board Welcomes New Members

With the start of the Chamber’s 2018-19 fiscal year on April 1, six new board members have officially taken their seats on and have been welcomed to the Chamber Board of Directors. Incoming board members are:

Donna Coombs, GordnerCoombs Insurance
Renee Gerringer, Ronald McDonald House of Danville
Sam Haulman, Service Electric
Vic Klein, Columbia Alliance for Economic Growth
Holly Morrison, Central Susquehanna Community Foundation
Tom Neal, Commonwealth Health-Berwick Hospital Center

2018-19 officers are:

Karen Wood, Chair, Service 1st Federal Credit Union
Dan Knorr, Vice Chair, Bloomsburg University
Denise Stone, Treasurer, Geisinger
Mark Gardner, Immediate Past Chair, M&T Bank
Fred Gaffney, President

Exiting the board are Jeff Cerminaro of Walker’s Jewelers and Diana Verbeck of Danville Child Development Center. Outgoing chair Mark Gardner expressed appreciation for their service at the March Board meeting, as well as at February’s Annual Meeting. 

Penn College and Focus Central Pennsylvania Representatives to Tout Region For Investment at International Plastics Showcase

From Focus Central Pennsylvania

Focus Central Pennsylvania will be joining several partners, including Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Plastics Innovation & Resource Center, in the Pennsylvania booth to promote the region for capital investment and company location expansion projects at the NPE Plastics Show, May 7-11. Focus Central PA is excited to be joined by the PIRC at Penn College because it is a powerful, value-add differentiator for making Central Pennsylvania a smart place for a company investment. The Pennsylvania booth will be located in the South Hall Level 1 – Expo Hall – S12037. The NPE Plastics Show brings together more than 65,000 business professionals from more than 20,000 companies in the plastics industry from across the world.

“The NPE show is a significant opportunity to put the Central Pennsylvania region on the radar of companies from across the world that are expanding and searching for locations for their investment and career generating projects” said Lauren Bryson, executive director of Focus Central Pennsylvania “We want quality companies that are expanding to consider this part of Pennsylvania for their investment project and we are looking forward to communicating the benefits our region has to offer those companies, like the PIRC.”

Why invest in attracting plastics companies and manufacturers to the Central Pennsylvania region? Focus Central PA has strategically chosen to target companies expanding in the plastics industry because it is an industry predicted to have strong, sustainable growth and provides high paying career opportunities. Central Pennsylvania is home to several successful, growing plastics companies that have the advantage of being located within 60% of US and Canada’s population and major US markets; extensive network of trade schools, technical colleges and universities; quality workforce; research and development resources; available industrial buildings and sites; world class rail infrastructure and service; low cost of living; high quality of life and much more. Pennsylvania’s natural gas resources are creating opportunities for growth in the plastics industry as well. Ethane and propane, two important feedstocks for plastics processing, are forecasted to grow in production in Pennsylvania. The abundance of natural gas resources in the region, in combination with specialized workforce training and plastics engineering programs, and proximity to key U.S. consumer markets can translate into significant competitive advantages for plastics companies located in Pennsylvania. In short, Central Pennsylvania has what it takes to make and move product and is a smart investment for quality companies looking to grow.

Focus Central Pennsylvania is a non-profit dedicating 100% of its time and resources to attracting corporate investment to the region to create jobs and is supported by partners in seven contiguous counties in the central part of Pennsylvania, USA including Columbia (Bloomsburg, Berwick); Montour (Danville); Union (Lewisburg, Mifflinburg); Snyder (Selinsgrove); Northumberland (Sunbury, Milton); Mifflin (Lewistown); and Centre (State College).

Healthcare Perspective on Drug Formulary Bill (S.B. 936) Shared With House Lawmakers

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

At a recent Senate Committee hearing, Gov. Tom Wolf’s nominee for Secretary of Human Services agreed that drug formularies are a “valuable and necessary tool in administering” private insurance and public programs like CHIP and Medicaid, saying “I think our experts would say that that’s the case. Yes.”  This sentiment was shared by PA Chamber President Gene Barr last week in a memo to state House lawmakers that provided insight to the Wolf administration’s perspective on prescription drug formularies and urged support for S.B. 936, legislation that would implement a drug formulary for the state’s workers’ compensation system.

In addition, as Barr points out in the memo, the Wolf administration recently directed insurers to enhance prior authorization of opioids – both in commercial insurance and in the Medicaid system – and has previously championed prescribing guidelines and stronger pre-authorization in numerous areas of healthcare. Still, despite widespread support for formularies throughout healthcare, clear evidence of formularies successfully reducing opioid addiction among injured workers in other states, and the fact that Pennsylvania continues to fight an opioid and prescription drug crisis, S.B. 936 continues to be the target of opposition led by a coalition of interests whose activities were the subject of a series of recent investigative Philadelphia Inquirer articles.  

“These opponents are deliberately causing confusion with baseless talking points about ‘getting in between doctors and patients’ – tough arguments to explain when not a single organization representing doctors opposes the bill, it has passed in numerous states … and no state has ever attempted to reverse course,” Barr wrote to the lawmakers. “The choice in this is simple. Vote yes on S.B. 936 to create a more transparent system for workers compensation prescribing, reduce opioid addiction rates among injured workers, and address the allegations of abuse exposed by the Inquirer. Or vote no in favor of the status quo.”

Senate Bill 936 could be taken up for a reconsideration vote in the House soon after lawmakers come back to session on the week of April 9. A previous vote on the legislation was just three votes short of passage on a day in which several supporters were unable to be in Harrisburg to vote.

The Columbia Montour Chamber is strongly in favor of this legislation and last year signed onto a coalition letter sent by the PA Chamber of Business & Industry to lawmakers on behalf of hospitals, pharmacists, addiction treatment professionals, healthcare providers, local governments, school districts, over 70 Chambers of Commerce and other business advocacy groups, encouraging passage of this bill.