U.S. Department of Labor Ruling Will Allow Expansion of and More Options For Small Business Health Insurance Plans

In late June, the U.S. Department of Labor released a ruling that will allow for the expansion of small business health insurance plans. This long anticipated news is very exciting and will give members additional options for health insurance. Several associations and membership-based organizations, including ChamberChoice, have been preparing for this ruling and the opportunity to create new association health plans for many months. Thus far, the response from insurance companies and other service providers is positive, and the goal is for ChamberChoice to begin offering association health plans again starting in September.

This ruling changes the USDOL’s interpretation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s (ERISA) definition of “employer” to allow small businesses to band together to create health plans for their employees with less expensive premiums than previously available for individuals or single organizations in the marketplace. The rule change essentially changes the DOL’s interpretation of ERISA’s definition of “employer” to include “employer association.” This ruling will restore ChamberChoice’s ability to create and sell differentiated ChamberChoice health insurance benefits and pricing for Chamber members – including sole proprietors.

Here is an easy to read document that further explains this change and includes FAQs. 

Northeast Environmental Partners Seeks Nominations For Environmental Partnership Awards

The Northeast Environmental Partners announce the “28th Annual Evening for Pennsylvania’s Environment” and are seeking a Call For Nominations for the Northeastern Pennsylvania Environmental Partnership Awards; the Thomas P. Shelburne Award and the Emerging Environmental Leader Award.

The Northeast Environmental Partners (Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s Northeast Office, PPL Corporation, Procter & Gamble Paper Products Company, and Wilkes University) are proud to announce that the 28th Annual Evening for Pennsylvania’s Environment will be held at the Woodlands Inn & Resort, Wilkes-Barre on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018.  Additionally, nominations are being sought for the Twenty Eighth Annual Environmental Partnership Awards, the Twenty-fourth Annual Thomas P. Shelburne Environmental Leadership Award and the 2018 Emerging Environmental Leader Award. These awards will all be presented at the dinner on Oct. 25. 

The Northeastern Pennsylvania Environmental Partnership Awards are presented annually to recognize the achievements of individuals or organizations that, through partnerships, have achieved excellence in environmental protection or conservation. The Evening showcases the Recipient of the Thomas P. Shelburne Environmental Leadership Award, which was established to recognize an individual who stands out for his or her long-term commitment to environmental quality through inspirational leadership, dedication and commitment to partnering.  The 2018 Emerging Environmental Leader Award will also be awarded to a youth who demonstrates young environmental leadership, creativity and dedication to inspire others to adopt similar actions to protect the environment.

“Northeastern Pennsylvanians have greatly benefited from the fruits of collaboration, which can be seen every day in our communities,” said Meg Welker, Sr. Environmental Professional at PPL and dinner planning committee chairperson. “Please help us identify those leading the charge so we can thank them for diligently working to improve our quality of life through environmental partnerships in our region.” 

The Awards are open to any group, individual, company, program, or organization whose work has had a positive impact on the environment in Northeastern Pennsylvania’s following counties; Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Pike, Schuylkill, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming.   

During the past 27 years, over 180 individuals and groups involved in agriculture, forestry, business, industry, education, science, environmental awareness, community service, and government have been honored. Nominations may be made by a person or persons involved in the activity, or by a third party. 

Nominations must be postmarked no later than July 18, 2018. 

Nomination form

Montour County Nonprofits Need Your Help to Participate in Leadership Central Penn Program

Montour County Nonprofits need your help!  Leadership Central Penn is a wonderful opportunity for professionals in our area.  However, the cost to participate in this program is an issue for area nonprofits as they execute their missions on tight budgets.  They need your help.  There are a variety of nonprofits in Montour County that have requested applications for LCP, but have also requested scholarships. Historically, scholarship dollars are provided through a partner organization, the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation. However, due to the restrictions in the fund that is used to fund these scholarships, they are limited to Columbia County nonprofit participants.

Leadership Central PennWith your help, the Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber hopes to be able to offer scholarships annually to one or more individuals from nonprofits in Montour County. Nonprofit leadership participation has really helped to connect the community engagement and leadership component of the course on a personal level. It is our sincere hope that you can help the Chamber Foundation raise $1700 to begin to more easily include Montour County nonprofits in this outstanding program. 

If you or your organization is interested in helping send individuals from nonprofits in Montour County through the LCP program, please contact Jeff Emanuel, Foundation director, at 570-784-2522 or email

Read more about the LCP program, including its latest class graduation and summaries of all class dates from the 2017-18 class below. 

September 2017
October 2017
November 2017
December 2017
January 2018
February 2018
March 2018
April 2018
May 2018

Member News – June 27, 2018

Member News

  • Community Options, Inc., a provider of residential and employment support to people with disabilities, is seeking individuals interested in serving on a new business advisory committee for Community Options’ Bloomsburg office. Community Options’ mission is to promote the integration of persons with disabilities within the communities in which they reside, enabling them to become viable and contributing neighbors, employees and citizens of the community. The purpose of this committee is to discuss and implement ways to help the organization better integrate into the community and bridge the gap between the community and the individuals it serves. If you may be interested in serving on this committee, or for questions, contact associate executive director David McConaghy at 570-638-6007 or email. The next committee meeting is scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, June 28 at noon at Community Options’ Bloomsburg office, located at 1117 Old Berwick Rd.


  • The Bloomsburg Area YMCA will hold a summer open house all day this Friday, June 29, from 5 a.m. – 7 p.m. Staff will be available throughout the day to give tours and share how the Y’s fitness facilities, group aerobics classes and certified wellness coaches can help you achieve the goals that matter to you. From 12-5 p.m., the community is also invited to help make a difference by participating in a blood drive to support the American Red Cross. The Y is also holding a membership special all day Friday: anyone starting a Y membership at the open house will pay no joining fee and start their first month free. For more information, see the event’s Facebook page


  • The Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers recently announced that Bucknell SBDC business consultant and incubator manager Dennis Hummer has been awarded the organization’s 2018 State Star. Each year, top performers from across the network of America’s SBDC’s are recognized for their excellence. Hummer’s selection is the second in recent years for the Bucknell SBDC, following assistant director Maureen Hauck’s selection in 2015. This Facebook Live video announced the award winners. In addition to his duties at the Bucknell SBDC, Hummer also serves on the board for DRIVE


  • The Bloomsburg Public Library will be holding a “Country Fair” on Saturday, July 14, to help kick off Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble’s production of Charlotte’s Web, and is looking for a large popcorn machine to use for this event. If you or your organization has one available and would be willing to loan it to the Bloomsburg Public Library to use on this date, please contact Lydia Kegler, library director, at 570-784-0883 or email. The library is also looking for carnival type games that could be set up inside the children’s library or possibly outside in the parking lot. 


  • The Bucknell SBDC will host its annual Celebration of Small Business breakfast, which will also mark a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Bucknell SBDC, on Monday, July 16, from 8-10 a.m. at the Elaine Langone Center’s Terrace Room on the 2nd floor on the Bucknell campus. Business owners, legislators, economic development partners and startup enthusiasts are invited to join the SBDC for breakfast to recognize the entrepreneurs and leaders of the region. Special presentations will include the U.S. Small Business Association Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Eastern PA, the Product Innovator of the Year and the Charles H. Coder Entrepreneurial Leadership Award, named for the Bucknell SBDC’s founding director. Register online or call 570-577-1249.


  • Bloomsburg University will present an exhibition of photos from a soldier who served in the Vietnam War. Titled “Blaine Cooper: Images From a Local Soldier in Vietnam,” the exhibition will take place on Friday, July 27, from 6-8 p.m. in the Gallery at the Greenly Center, located at 50 E. Main St. in downtown Bloomsburg. This event is free and open to the public, and complimentary light refreshments will be provided. Cooper will then be part of a speakers’ panel from 6:30-8 p.m. For more information regarding this event, contact Bob Heckrote, Office of Military and Veterans’ Resources, at 570-389-4696 or email, or graduate assistant Briann Halpin at 570-389-3858 or email


  • Looking to showcase your business to students at Bucknell while also getting some free consulting work? Bucknell is launching a new pre-orientation program, Design-Thinking Leadership (DTL), providing an opportunity for your business to connect with Bucknell’s newest students. Student teams in the DTL program will formulate actionable solutions to real-world problems posed by local business owners. The program, which runs Aug. 10-14, is seeking 4 -5 business owners to speak with students and present a problem or opportunity in their business. During the next two days student teams will conceptualize, research, and refine a solution; and then pitch to the business owner at the end of the program. This is a perfect opportunity to showcase your business, make lasting connections with students, and benefit from fresh perspectives and ideas. If interested in participating in this program as a business owner, submit this Google form, and for questions, contact Bucknell SBDC director Steve Stumbris at 570-577-1249 or email

On-Time Budget Agreement Reached as Gov. Wolf Signs $32.7 Billion Spending Plan

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

For the first time in a long time, Pennsylvania has an on-time budget.  Well in advance of the June 30 deadline, lawmakers and the Wolf administration announced that they’d reached agreement on a $32.7 billion budget for the 2018-19 Fiscal Year, which is $560 million more than the current year’s spend total (a 2 percent increase).  

House Bill 2121 – which passed the House in a 188-10 vote last Wednesday and the Senate in a 47-2 vote on Friday and was signed by the governor as Act 1A of 2018 – is heavy on education funding,  providing an additional $100 million for basic education, $20 million more for pre-K Counts, $5 million more for Head Start, $15 million more for special education, $25 million more for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program and a $30 million increase for the career and technical education appropriation in the Department of Education. The budget will also increase funding to the State System of Higher Education and state related universities by 3 percent.  Another $70 million is dedicated toward school safety ($10 million of which will be allocated to an existing safe schools initiative), which became a priority for lawmakers this year following the mass school shootings in Florida and Texas. There is also more funding to help people with intellectual disabilities receive services and funding to help combat the state’s opioid crisis by granting 800 more families access to evidence-based home visit services.

The Fiscal, Human Services and Public School Codes that accompany the budget were also passed by the legislature late Friday.  These bills, along with the General Appropriations bill, were signed into law by the governor on Friday.  The governor said of the collection of bills in a statement: “This year’s bipartisan budget continues to increase opportunities for all Pennsylvanians and shows the results of our hard work to get our finances under control.”