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President’s Message: Best-Kept Secret

By: Chris Berleth, President
The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce

In recent testimony to the PA House Republican Policy Committee in a hearing on pro-business tax reform, I commended the Commonwealth’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program as a key mechanism for businesses to give back to the community.  Now, the early filing deadline for the EITC program is approaching, and I can’t help but share how local businesses have used it to give back – and how you can connect to the program for your business.

The Chamber’s Best Kept Secret

If the Chamber had a best-kept secret, it’s arguably the Foundation, and that’s likely because of the strength of our neighboring Foundations.  No, it’s not the Berwick-based beacon of philanthropy and 25-year steward of more than 350 endowed funds.  That’s the Community Giving Foundation.  Nor is Chamber Foundation the Bloomsburg University Foundation, which provides opportunities and financial resources in support of the University’s mission to be an inclusive, comprehensive university that prepares students for personal and professional success, and lastly, it’s not the Foundation for Free Enterprise Education, which operated dynamic programs to simulate business ownership and heighten students’ awareness of their role in the free enterprise system.  All of these organizations are excellent community resources, and wonderful partners, and we strongly encourage you to learn more about their missions.

The Chamber Foundation has a different role – a 501(c)3 nonprofit, the Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber is the charitable arm of the Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce, whose express mission is to “develop programs to inspire a 21st century workforce and strengthen the bridges between business, industry, and education.”

Under this mission, the Chamber Foundation offers both adult and youth programming and serves as the community’s workforce development champion, partnering with industry leaders, community organizations and especially local school districts to supplement our local students’ education with hands-on learning tools and resources.

One of the tools the Chamber Foundation uses to fund its support of school districts and to run its supplemental youth programs is EITC.  Here’s how that works:


There are four types of EITC Tax Credits

  1. Educational Improvement Organization (EIO)
  2. Pre-Kindergarten Scholarship Organization (PKSO)
  3. Scholarship Organization (SO)
  4. Scholarship Organization – Economically Disadvantaged Schools (SO-EDS)

The Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce is qualified as an Educational Improvement Organization (EIO), and many of its programs are eligible to receive EIO funds.  These programs include scholarships for Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW) and The Stock Market Game in partnership with the Foundation for Free Enterprise Education (another EIO); the Learning for Life Guest Lecturers program, under which the Foundation supports the Columbia-Montour BSA’s Career Exploring program; EVERFI, a financial literacy program available to students in all school districts in Columbia and Montour Counties; the Tech Theater Production program, which supports equipment purchases by local school districts and workshops for students and educators to advance an understanding of STEM careers and their connection to theater; Student in the Workplace programs including the Classroom on Main Street, and entrepreneurship program connecting students to local entrepreneurs; STEM programming and scholarships, including the Foundation’s annual STEM contest; and support for the regional program known as “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?”, which teams up students and teacher with local manufacturers in the creation of a company profile to be submitted in an online video contest.

To learn more about these and other programs of the Foundation of the Chamber, contact Foundation Director Tonya Smith, at

To see the incredible generosity of local businesses through the Chamber Foundation, look no further than this article in a recent edition of Business Matters which features just one of many successful EITC stories.  In it, you'll learn how Journey Bank and their "Teen Star" program were the impetus for the creation of the Tech Theater program of the Chamber Foundation - and - (spoiler alert) that connection has translated to almost $400,000 in reinvestment in local school districts and their theater programs.


All businesses authorized to do business in Pennsylvania, including C-Corporations, S-Corporations, Partnerships, LLCs, etc., and who are subject to one or more of the following taxes are eligible:

  • Personal Income Tax
  • Capital Stock/Foreign Franchise Tax
  • Corporate Net Income Tax
  • Bank Shares Tax
  • Title Insurance & Trust Company Shares Tax
  • Insurance Premium Tax (excluding unauthorized, domestic/foreign marine)
  • Mutual Thrift Tax
  • Malt Beverage Tax
  • Surplus Lines Tax


For EIO and SO credits, if you make a one-year commitment to an approved organization, your tax credit is 75 percent of your contribution up to a maximum of $750,000 per taxable year. If you make a two-year commitment, your tax credit increases to 90 percent of your contribution, again up to $750,000 per year.

For contributions to Pre-Kindergarten Scholarship Organizations, a business may receive a tax credit equal to 100 percent of the first $10,000 contributed, and up to 90 percent of the remaining amount contributed up to a maximum credit of $200,000 annually.


Now, the early filing deadline for the EITC program is fast approaching, and your Chamber hopes to guide you into taking advantage of its benefits.  The early filing deadline for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program is just two weeks from today.


If you are a current participant and you:

  • Are entering year two of a two-year cycle, or
  • Have just completed a two-year cycle and are applying for a new two-year cycle,

Your filing date for 2024 credits is Wednesday, May 15, 2024

If you:

  • Are entering the EITC program for the first time
  • Have been a past participant but have been knocked out of the program
  • Are currently participating, but want to apply for additional tax credits above your current allocated amount,

Your filing date is Monday, July 1, 2024

You may not file before May 15 or July 1, but you may fill out the application ahead of time, save it, and then submit it any time between 12:00am - 11:59pm on the appropriate date. It’s important to file on the exact day. Please don’t be late!


The PA legislature has once again increased the available credits on all sides of the program. In 2024, there are $54,500,000 in EIO credits available, an increase of $10 million over last year. For years, EIO credits have been exhausted on the first day of early filing, preventing those filing in July from getting credits. However, some companies who applied in July last year were able to receive credits. This is good news, especially for EIO organizations.

We encourage you to apply for EIO credits because businesses drop out of the program every year and there may be EIO credits available. There is no penalty or obligation for applying.


For more information on the EITC program, click here:

For the complete application guidelines, click here:


The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce is a private non-profit organization that aims to support the growth and development of local businesses and our regional economy. We strive to create content that not only educates but also fosters a sense of connection and collaboration among our readers. Join us as we explore topics such as economic development, networking opportunities, upcoming events, and success stories from our vibrant community. Our resources provide insights, advice, and news that are relevant to business owners, entrepreneurs, and community members alike.

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