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Member News- April 14, 2021

The Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center (NEPIRC) Promotes Marla Hager to Senior Business Advisor

The Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center (NEPIRC) proudly announces the promotion of Ms. Marla Hager to the position of Senior Business Advisor. Ms. Hager joined NEPIRC in December 2016 and, since that time, has introduced small and mid-sized manufacturers throughout Luzerne and Columbia counties to consultative services, training programs and other resources that allowed them to create and retain 2,200 full-time manufacturing jobs while strategically investing more than $29.7 million in regional expansion and modernization. Over the course of her tenure with NEPIRC, Ms. Hager’s clients have increased their top-line revenue by nearly $45 million, retained $184.5 million of at-risk sales and recognized $13.5 million in operational savings as direct outcomes of the NEPIRC engagements that she facilitated on their behalf.

In her elevated role at NEPIRC, Ms. Hager will remain responsible for cultivating and maintaining positive relationships with new and existing NEPIRC clients across Luzerne and Columbia counties while also mentoring other members of NEPIRC’s Business Advisor team and playing a more active role in NEPIRC’s long-term growth strategy.

Ms. Hager holds a Bachelor of Science degree in finance from the University of Scranton. 

Clients wanting to congratulate Marla on her achievements, and manufacturers wishing to connect with her to discuss how NEPIRC can grow their business, can contact her at or 570.819.8966 x 122.

Retention Numbers Climb Nearly 20% for Bloomsburg University Act 101 Students

Students in Bloomsburg University’s Act 101 program have seen increasingly strong retention numbers over the last several years. Since 2017, Act 101 students have increased their first to second year retention rates by nearly 20 percent (45 to 63.7 percent).

The Act 101 Program is a comprehensive academic support program targeting first-generation, low-income Bloomsburg University students. Act 101 students are provided intensive, engaging, and enriching opportunities to develop the skills to help them achieve academic excellence. Students in the program come from households with incomes of double the federal poverty level or lower.

Ralph Godbolt, director of the Office of Access and Success and interim dean of students, has put a lot of hard work into helping the students.

“Our team here works hard to give these students a chance to be successful,” Godbolt said. “We provide to them the academic, cultural, and social interaction they need.”

Participants of the Act 101 program are strongly encouraged to participate in the Emerging Scholars program, a program developed and implemented by Godbolt. “The Emerging Scholars Program is a comprehensive academic support program targeting first-generation BU students who are demonstrating risk factors that will increase the likelihood of not completing a four-year college degree,” said Godbolt. “Through the Emerging Scholars Program, we provide opportunities for students to develop the skills that will assist them in achieving academic success. The success of the Emerging Scholars Program directly impacted the strong first to second year retention rates of Act 101 students.”

As part of the Emerging Scholars Program, Godbolt and his small team provide eight hours a week of study hall time, compassion-centered academic advising, and community engagement opportunities. They also provide opportunities to engage in yoga and mindfulness activities and weekly ‘rap sessions,’ where students engage in intense conversations about ongoing matters in their lives.

“The rap sessions help in building a close relationship between the student and counselor,” Godbolt said.

The Office of Access and Success oversees the Act 101 program. The office develops and implements academic, social, and cultural programming designed to assist students to develop the skills necessary for college persistence and graduation.

Programs of the Office of Access and Success include Act 101, Emerging Scholars, the Office of Diversity and Retention, Board of Governors, SEE Yourself Healthier and Happier, and the Out of the Classroom: Into the Community initiative.

Open Letter to Chamber Members from 1847Financial and The Fluffy Sheep

Chamber Members Mark Lupashunski from 1847Financial and Jackie Dietz from The Fluffy Sheep wrote open letters to the Chamber and its members:

I have been in the insurance and Financial Services business since 1990.  The last 10+ years renting office space in Berwick with my business partner, Andrea Empie.  We had been looking to find new space to move our business closer to downtown Berwick.  One day Andrea told me that she saw a building for rent at 109 N. Mulberry Street in downtown Berwick. 

Once I saw the building I remembered going there as a patient of Dr. Ali Alley many years ago.  When I called the phone number on the sign, Mrs. Alley answered and I was surprised to hear that the Alley family still owned the building.  They were pleased to hear that a native to Berwick was interested in the renovation of the old building.  We came to terms and signed a sales agreement in January 2020 and were supposed to close on the building in 6 weeks.  Then everything was put on hold due to COVID-19.

We finally were able to finalize the sale in late May.  The building had been rented to various businesses over the years and was in need of renovation.  After 4 months of demolition and hard work by many local contractors, we were open for business on October 1st.

The building had more space than we needed for our practice so we were able to make some space available for another business.  We put an ad in the local paper and the first called happily agreed to lease the space to start her new business, The Fluffy Sheep.  

We are happy to join the Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce and are glad to be able to open our business in downtown Berwick during some very difficult times to do business and are looking forward to a bright future.


Mark C. Lupashunki

The Fluffy Sheep aims to be more than just a yarn shop.  By offering a selection of locally made products, we support the endeavors of our local economy & community.  We look forward to offering classes and a regular open craft night in the near future.


Jackie Dietz


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