PA Chamber Responds to Renewed Calls for Minimum Wage Increase

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Last week, the PA Chamber spoke out against a renewed attempt by proponents to impose mandatory wage hikes on employers. The “Raise the Wage” coalition marched to the state Capitol to voice support for legislation that would force employers to pay workers as high as $15 an hour, without any regard to their ability to pay that amount.  Their message was given backing by Lt. Gov. Mike Stack (who spoke at the event,) some lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf. PA Chamber Government Affairs Director Alex Halper expressed the business community’s concerns with this misguided approach to addressing Pennsylvania’s income gap in TV interviews.

The PA Chamber helped defeat similar legislation last session by pointing out that a government mandated wage increase would have a negative impact on many employers, particularly Pennsylvania’s small business community. The last time the state raised the minimum wage, small business owners were forced to shelve expansion plans, reduce employee hours, limit hiring and in some cases, cut jobs. The Columbia Montour Chamber also sent letters to state lawmakers opposing a minimum wage increase.

Various legislative proposals to increase the minimum wage have been authored this session, and Governor Wolf voiced support for a bill by state Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin last week that would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Rather than implement an across-the-board wage hike that doesn’t take businesses’ individual financial situations into account, the PA Chamber has urged lawmakers to pursue more effective, targeted policies like strengthening successful workforce development programs that allow employees to transition upward through the workforce, develop career-building skills and earn better wages.

Destination Blues Heating Up Our Area This Weekend

On February 6th, 7th and 8th, Columbia & Montour counties will heat up with the second annual Destination Blues Music Festival, “Your Winter Blues Heaven on Route 11.”  This event is presented by the Moose Exchange and Downtown Bloomsburg Inc.

Friday’s activities expand this year from the four area brew pubs (Old Forge in Danville, Berwick Brewing, and Marley’s and Turkey Hill in Bloomsburg) to seven additional venues in Berwick, Bloomsburg, Danville, and in between, with bands at every one.  Bus transportation will run among all of the venues and participating hotels for only $5 per person.  There will be no cover charge at any of the participating venues.

Wake up on Saturday the 7th to a free Blues Breakfast at Fog & Flame Coffee & Espresso in Bloomsburg, featuring Sweeney & Rosencrans, followed by a Blues Brunch and Lunch at the Capitol Restaurant right across Main Street with Swampcandy.

Then get ready for the main event on Saturday afternoon and evening at the Caldwell Consistory in Bloomsburg. Eight bands will appear on the two stages. Participants will find food and drink and a variety of vendors at the Consistory, and buses will run between the Consistory and participating hotels throughout the evening.

On Sunday the 8th, for the first time ever, the largest church sanctuary in Bloomsburg at Wesley United Methodist, will host Gospel Blues: Alexis P. Suter and the Ministers of Sound will perform backed by a choir of local residents.

The low-priced advance tickets cover bus transportation on Friday and Saturday among the venues and participating hotels, plus admission to the Consistory, Gospel Blues, or both: $25 for Friday/Saturday, $25 for Sunday only, and $40 for all three days.  Many hotels will offer discounts and/or packages; for updated information, visit www.DestinationBlues.org.

3rd Annual Celebrate Berwick to be Held This Spring

An event started by the Chamber in 2013 to draw people to the greater Berwick area will continue this spring. Celebrate Berwick is scheduled for Saturday, May 9, 2015. Activities for the entire family will be held along the Rt. 11 corridor from Briar Creek to Downtown.

Celebrate Berwick was created to continue the spring celebration of our local communities. The event is held in succession with Renaissance Jamboree in Bloomsburg and Danville’s Spring Fling. Dozens of local businesses offer special promotions and non-profit groups provide fun activities and information about their organizations. Other activities include a car show, wine festival, kids’ games and inflatables, and more.

The event would not be possible without the support of Berwick Borough, sponsors, and the involvement of volunteers. The first planning meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 3rd at 6:00 p.m. at the Eagles Building in Berwick. Anyone who is interested in helping with the event is welcome to attend. For additional information, contact Fred Gaffney at the Chamber at 570-784-2522.

Danville Awarded $11,788 to Improve Signalized Traffic Intersections

Last week PennDOT announced that the Borough of Danville is one of only 38 municipalities throughout the state that will be awarded funding through the 2014 round of Pennsylvania’s Municipal Partnership Program, also known as the “Green Light – Go Program.” Established by Act 89 of 2013, the Municipal Partnership Program is designed to improve safety and mobility by reducing congestion and improving efficiency of existing traffic signals on state highways.

The Borough is slated to receive $11,788 towards a project to retime and synchronize all nine of its signalized vehicular intersections as well as its single signalized pedestrian crosswalk. This project will help ensure more efficient and improved traffic flow patterns while also alleviating congestion along the major roadways that pass through the Borough such as SR 54, US 11, and Mill Street. The project will also guarantee that the Borough’s signalized intersections are operating in a synchronized and coordinated manner, particularly during the morning and evening commutes. The Borough anticipates completion of this project sometime in late 2015.

The total cost of the project is estimated to be $23,575. The $11,788 grant award represents 50% of the project’s total cost. The remaining 50% will be evenly split between the Borough of Danville’s local funds and a $5,894 monetary contribution from Geisinger Health System.

Give the Gift of Choice for the Holidays

Still struggling for holiday gift ideas with very little shopping time left? Avoid the frustration and last-minute scrambling. Chamber Gift Certificates make a great option while supporting local businesses.

Chamber Gift Certificates work just like a check and can be used at any member business. Recipients can use them at restaurants, stores, salons, etc. Give the gift of choice while encouraging friends, family and co-workers to buy local.

Certificates are available in $10 and $25 denominations at the Chamber office at 238 Market Street, Bloomsburg. Other denominations or large orders are also available by calling the office at 570-784-2522. Please allow 2-3 business days for processing.