Welcome Advanced Realty Solutions, LLC

More than 400 businesses and organizations belong to the Chamber to receive benefits and support efforts to strengthen their businesses and our region. Increased membership allows us to offer additional programs and benefits, have a stronger voice in advocacy and be involved in more activities and initiatives in our communities. The Chamber welcomes its newest member, Advanced Realty Solutions, LLC to help us fulfill our mission.

Advanced Realty Solutions is a relatively new real estate agency based in Berwick. Founded in 2017 by broker/owner Michelle Reyes-Smith and realtor/owner Brad DeFranco, ARS is a full service real estate firm that devotes every effort to delivering excellent results its clients while always looking out for their clients’ best interests. Michelle and Brad have previously flipped houses in the Berwick and Bloomsburg area, and their knowledge of the market, understand of value and involvement in all facets of the transactions make them broadly-skilled residential sales agents. The staff at ARS also includes realtor Lindsey Farrell, a Berwick native. ARS is located in downtown Berwick at 239 West Second St., and can be reached at 570-752-1202 or visit their website or Facebook page. 

Happy Retirement to Economic Development Colleagues Jim Wilson & Steve Phillips

Bob Dressler (left), immediate past chair of the DBA, offered thanks and well wishes to retiring Executive Director Jim Wilson (center) at the organization’s recent quarterly gathering. In addition to other board members and Danville businesspeople, Wilson was joined by his wife, Dr. Gerda Breitwieser (right).

Two individuals involved in efforts to strengthen our area’s economy and communities are retiring this week. After 10 years as Executive Director and Main Street Manager with the Danville Business Alliance (DBA), Jim Wilson is retiring. Steve Phillips, Executive Director of the Berwick Industrial Development Association (BIDA), is also retiring after 29 years with the organization. Board members, area businesspeople, and colleagues recently gathered at separate events to congratulate the two and thank them for their efforts.

In partnership with Danville Borough, DBA has spearheaded many efforts to enhance Danville’s central business district during Wilson’s tenure. The organization coordinated a feasibility study for high-end apartments on second and third floors of downtown buildings. Parks, greenspaces, and murals beautify the downtown, and the redevelopment of Canal Park will soon be getting underway. Events including Spring Fling, holiday festivities, and the first Taste of the Nations Food Festival coming up this Saturday, June 30 draw people to the downtown throughout the year. All of these efforts make downtown Danville an attractive place to operate a business.

Wilson has been a member of the Chamber’s Montour County Task Force and the Governmental Affairs Committee of the Chamber and Visitors Bureau, as well as a former member of the Visitors Bureau and Partnership boards.  “Jim understands the importance of regional collaboration and has been a valued partner in our collective efforts to enhance our communities,” said Fred Gaffney, Chamber President. “As a colleague, he is trustworthy, reliable, and adept at consensus building.”

Steve Phillips

It is expected that Wilson’s successor at the DBA will be selected in July.

The BIDA complex in Berwick houses a number of companies providing a combined 1,000+ jobs. Supported by Steve’s network of relationships, the organization has helped to market and reuse other available industrial and commercial properties in the area and provide assistance to existing employers to retain jobs. BIDA also supports efforts to strengthen the community including the downtown Berwick enhancement plan and community festivals and events.

“Steve’s success is a testament to the importance of relationship building,“ said Gaffney. “In his desire to retain good job creators and bring new jobs to the area, he always knows who to reach out to.” “I add my thanks to Steve and Jim for their efforts over the years and wish them both many enjoyable years of retirement.”

First Keystone Shows Off Spacious Headquarters, Offers Great Food and Drink at June Business After Hours

The staff at First Keystone Community Bank welcomed Chamber members to its headquarter branch in downtown Berwick on Wednesday, June 20, for the Chamber’s June Business After Hours. Held in and around its spacious main lobby, the event offered attendees an opportunity to get out of the late afternoon rain and humid air on the last official day of spring and network with a large group of fellow professionals from throughout Columbia and Montour Counties, while also enjoying a tasty spread from Lucy’s Kitchen & Catering, beer from Berwick Brewing and other refreshments. There was also an opportunity to speak with several staff members from the bank, including representatives from customer service, business and consumer lending, investment, accounting, management and more. 

Business After Hours provide regular opportunities to build business relationships while learning about the services offered by other Chamber members. The next Business After Hours will be held at Frosty Valley, located at 1301 Bloom Rd., Danville, on Wednesday, July 18, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. There will be a ribbon cutting for Frosty Valley’s new Iron Fork restaurant and The Barn at Frosty Valley beginning at 4 p.m. 

Chamber Welcomes ALTERA Life to Bloomsburg With Ribbon Cutting

(L-R): Chamber president Fred Gaffney; ALTERA Life co-owner Shannon Koch; ALTERA Life co-owner Christian Force

The Chamber helped welcome one of its newest members and one of the newest businesses in Bloomsburg to the area on Thursday afternoon, June 21, with a ribbon cutting at ALTERA Life, located at 332 East 2nd St. in the Husky Corners building directly across the street from Bloomsburg Town Hall. Following the ribbon cutting, attendees had an opportunity to check out the facility and programs offered, as well as try some of the tasty, plant-based snacks on hand, which included a fruit bowl, black bean sweet potato cake with avocado, lemon quinoa vegetable salad and more. 

ALTERA Life is a locally-owned nutrition and wellness consulting company that help its clients transition to and maintain healthy lifestyles through proper nutrition and physical activity. There is no membership commitment, and clients can participate as often as they choose. For more information on ALTERA Life’s products and services, visit its website or stop by the its facility in downtown Bloomsburg. 


Local Nonprofits Gather at Regional Impact Symposium

On Wednesday, June 6, the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation (CSCF) hosted an Impact Symposium at Bucknell University.  The goal was to bring together nonprofit partners to identify and evaluated unmet needs, network, learn and collaborate.  The Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce director, Jeff Emanuel, was one of the nearly 125 nonprofit participants in the event.  There were representatives from organizations that span the six-county footprint served by CSCF. 

The program began with an introduction and welcome by Holly Morrison, president/CEO of CSCF, and Chamber board member, who introduced John Kurelja, regional impact fund campaign chair. Kurelja shared the story of a widowed mother with 10 kids and asked attendees what they thought happened to these kids as they grew. No one expected the results and the successes these children would have as they became adults.  All of them are successful and that success ranged from Phds, lawyers and executives. Kurelja’s story seemed so personal when he told it, and eventually, the crowd why. He was one of those children. The point was made — with with the right programs to assist families in this region, the sky is the limit for them.

Following Kurleja was the keynote speaker, Brad Ward, director of the community philanthropy with the Council on Foundations.  Ward interacts with hundreds of community foundations and place-based institutions across the country. He has directed, merged and witnessed the impact of community foundations first hand.  “Getting at the heart of nonprofits through community foundations” was the topic of his presentation. By the time he was done, there was no doubt of the sustainable impact and legacy that community foundations offer. 

Once the presentations were wrapped up it was time for the first of two breakout sessions.  The morning session was a county breakout of Columbia and Lower Luzerne Counties, Montour County, Northumberland County, Snyder County and Union County. The groups were tasked with identifying unmet needs in their counties and discussing how these relate to needs being served by the individual organizations. Everyone in the rooms got to learn from one another, and begin to envision how collaboration would benefit each county. 

The afternoon breakout sessions were focused on the program areas of arts and culture; civic and community development; education; health; human services; and youth and recreation. Again, the attendees were asked to speak about needs they are addressing, and identifying unmet needs in their program area. Everyone had the opportunity to offer suggestions of programs they offer that could benefit other organizations, and were again offered the opportunity to envision collaborative efforts. All the organizations have limited resources, but everyone strives to have maximum impact. There was a great deal of discussion about how pooling resources and increasing communication about efforts could increase the positive impacts on those served.  

At the conclusion of the program, Christine Pangelinan, CSCF program officer, shared a unique grant opportunity with those in attendance. Everyone in the room waited to hear the strings that were attached, but they never came.  CSCF’s first unrestricted grant round through the Regional Impact Fund was announced.  This grant round is open to the entire 5 ½ county service area. There are no geographic restrictions within counties for this grant opportunity. Charitable organizations investing in community programs and projects benefiting Lower Luzerne, Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Union and Snyder Counties are encouraged to apply. This year, the Regional Impact Fund is granting a total of $50,000 through this competitive grant round. Grant requests up to $10,000 are being considered. 

Grant requests must be submitted online by 11:59 pm on Thursday, July 12. Grant decisions will be announced in October 2018.