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Mission statement: "To represent local employers in supporting vibrant,
sustainable communities in Columbia and Montour counties."

Columbia County Dealing With Urgent Issues

September 28, 2022

Columbia County Dealing With Urgent Issues

Columbia County is dealing with increasing substance use and behavioral health issues among residents and addressing long-term flooding risks to communities while managing costs for businesses and property-owners. The Commissioners have also invested COVID relief funds into workforce programs to support employers with critical workforce needs. Commissioner Rich Ridgway discussed these efforts with the Chamber’s Board of Directors in September. 

Ridgway estimates that 50% to 70% of the inmates in the county jail are related to drugs or behavioral health issues. In many cases, there are no options to send people for treatment. The jail, adult probation, and children and youth services account for approximately half of the county’s $32 million budget. State funding and revenue from housing inmates from other counties help offset these costs. 

The Commissioner noted that Columbia County has the lowest tax rate of any sixth-class county in the state, and he expected no tax increase next year.

Recognizing that workforce is a critical issue for employers in the county, the Commissioners invested COVID relief funds to create programs. The Skilled Trades Training Program offers free courses to residents of Columbia County or employees of County businesses at Columbia-Montour Area Vo-Tech and Central Columbia High School. Those that complete at least five of the courses receive a Maintenance Mechanic Certificate. Program details are available at 

The Chamber’s Foundation was awarded funding to create Skills That Pay. The five-module program, also offered through Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech, helps people develop foundational job skills including interviewing, teamwork, and basic financial literacy. Those that complete the free program also receive a certificate and are guaranteed interviews with county employers. Information about the Skills That Pay program is under the Foundation tab of the Chamber’s website, The Chamber and its Foundation are working with the County’s adult probation department and human service agencies to try to mobilize people back into the workforce through this program. Chamber Board members expressed interest in working with lower-level offenders and people in recovery on work-release.

The Commissioners also continue to pursue flood protection and mitigation throughout the County. Through the efforts of Senator John Gordner and Representative David Millard, $1.3 million was received for flooding and stormwater management issues. A significant portion of those funds has been distributed to local municipalities. Specific projects include bridge improvements in Millville, floodproofing in Benton, and the Fishing Creek Watershed and Bloomsburg West End flood mitigation studies. A stormwater management plan has also been developed for the Rt. 11 corridor including South Centre Township, Scott Township, and the Town of Bloomsburg, following isolated flooding that impacted a number of businesses and residents in 2018. The Chamber organized the initial meetings following that flooding. Several projects to reduce risks along the corridor have been completed.

Commissioner Ridgway thanked the Chamber Board for the opportunity to discuss these issues and welcomed additional opportunities to work with County employers.


October is Local Chamber of Commerce Month

September 28, 2022

October is Local Chamber of Commerce Month

Source: Office of the Governor of Pennsylvania



Pandemic with a Pandemic

September 28, 2022

Pandemic with a Pandemic

Source: Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association News

Drug and alcohol abuse soars with COVID-19

The pandemic led to mass layoffs, isolation, and poor mental health. It became a perfect environment for drug and alcohol abuse. Americans turned to drugs and alcohol in shocking numbers, consider the following findings:

  • Drug overdose deaths topped 100,000 last year for the first time ever, with record overdose deaths each of the past two years, according to the CDC.
  • Mortality rates from alcohol use disorder were 25% higher than projected in 2020 and 22% higher in 2021, according to a study by researchers at Cedars-Sinai.
  • Canadian researchers found alcohol abuse among those who used before the pandemic increased 26%, while drug use increased 16%.

The nation's restaurants have long been havens for drinking and drug use. But the influx of dangerous new drugs like fentanyl, coupled with the stress from the pandemic and its impact, have made matters far more deadly. Restaurants now face an evolving epidemic of addiction.

The Pa. Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs offers support services and resources to help people with substance use disorder, including Just Five — a free online workforce education tool — and the Get Help Now Hotline — a confidential hotline (1-800-662-4357) staffed by trained professionals 24/7/365.In addition to the many communities offering free training, the state has two approved online training courses regarding administering naloxone.



September 28, 2022



This quarter, the MetLife and U.S. Chamber Small Business Index found that small businesses’ concern about inflation has reached the highest level since Q3 of last year. Here are five data points from this quarter’s report that show how inflation is hurting small business owners.

1. Inflation is the top challenge facing the small business community

Half (50%) of small businesses now say inflation is the top challenge facing the small business community. This marks the fifth consecutive quarter of increasing concern over inflation and represents a dramatic 31-point increase since this time last year (when only 19% said inflation was a top challenge).

Inflation is the top concern for small businesses regardless of their location, number of employees, or sector.

2. Most believe inflation will get worse

According to the report, most small businesses anticipate inflation will get worse. Seven in ten (71%) believe the worst is still to come with regards to inflation.Karen Olson Beenken, president and CEO of Blue Rock Companies, in Sidney, Montana, says she finds inflation everywhere she turns.

“Payroll is up because we have to pay more to retain and attract employees,” Beenken says. “The cost of fuel is up. The cost of freight is up significantly—and it’s gotten more and more difficult for us to get freight companies to come to our rural markets as frequently as they used to. Our health insurance was up this year. Those are all big cost inputs, and they are all up significantly. These are very challenging times for our business.”

3. Higher costs for goods/supplies hurting the most

The cost of goods and fuel/utility bills are where small businesses most often report feeling inflation. Among small business owners that say rising prices have had a significant impact on their business (83% of respondents), most cite the cost of goods and supplies (65%) and utilities or fuel (50%) as where they have seen the most impact.

4. Small businesses forced to raise their prices

To keep up with inflation, many small businesses report having to raise the prices they charge customers.

“Our suppliers have passed on expenses to us, and we held on as long as we could before passing them along to our clients,” says Julianne Weiner, COO of Sonic Promos in Gaithersburg, Maryland. “Logistics [shipping and fulfillment] seem to be absorbing the worst. Though with gas prices back in the more normal range, maybe that will decrease a bit, too.”

To cope with inflation, 7 in 10 small businesses report raising prices in response to inflationary pressures, followed by those who say they have taken out a loan (40%), reduced staff (37%), or reduced the quality of their products or services (31%).

Tom Richter, principal owner of JAN-PRO of Utah based in Midvale, Utah says he’s also had to raise prices.

“Inflation has impacted our business in many ways,” Richter says. “Gas increases have required us to increase prices across the board to customers. Raw material increases have impacted chemicals and equipment used in our business. Our franchise owners have had to increase their wages to their employees doing the daily work.”

5. Most say combatting inflation should be top policy priority

When asked to choose, more small businesses said fighting inflation should be the priority over avoiding another economic downturn.

Over half (59%) of small businesses believe the priority right now should be reducing inflation and 41% would prioritize avoiding an economic downturn.

However, interest rate hikes aren’t a negligible concern. Forty percent of small businesses say they are very concerned about the impact of interest rates rising on their business (up 11 percentage points from Q1 2022).

The big picture

Amid concern around inflation, the Small Business Index score dropped this quarter to 62.1, down from 66.8 last quarter. This is the largest drop in the Index since the start of the pandemic and the drop comes from small businesses saying they are now less confident in both the national economy and their current cash flow.

The Q3 2022 survey was conducted between July 21 - August 8, 2022. For more findings from this quarter,and to explore and browse years of small business data, see our full SBI Index.

About the author:

Thaddeus Swanek

Senior Writer and Editor, Strategic Communications, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Member News – September 28, 2022

September 28, 2022

Member News – September 28, 2022

Press Enterprise Announces 2022 Fair Food Favorites Contest

Wild for Salmon Shares Fair-Style Salmon Mac & Cheese Recipe

Inspired by their trips to the Bloomsburg Fair, you're going to want to put this in your recipe book.

The Bloomsburg Public Library Strategic Planning Survey

The library needs your help completing a strategic planning survey.

Bloomsburg River Trail’s New Construction Plan

The Bloomsburg River Trail will connect Bloomsburg via dedicated pedestrian and bike paths, which will improve residents' access and usability of town assets.  See the plan.  

Cybersecurity: What the Nonprofit Executive Needs to Know

On September 29, McKonly & Asbury will discuss ways to mitigate and reduce risk specific to nonprofits susceptible to cyber-attack.  Register here.   

Empowering Educators Grant Applications Due Sept. 30

Offered by the PPL Foundation, these grants are designed to support and encourage teachers in providing hands-on learning experiences in the areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.). Read more here.

First Commonwealth Bank Named Top Workplace

Congratulations to the First Commonwealth Bank, so honored by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  Read More.

We Know Them!  Congratulations to The Duane Family!

Chamber Ambassador Lauren Duane and family with Ben

Congratulations to Chamber Ambassador Lauren Duane (and family), who recently connected with Chamber member Cats in Bloom!

Design Group Welcomes New Hire

Joseph, Design Group's Newest Hire!

Congratulations to Design Group, who this week welcomed Joseph as the the new Manufacturing and Distribution Director in their Berwick Main Plant.  

Bucknell, Wilkes Universities' Small Business Development Centers Offer Fall Programs

As the SBDC serving Montour County, Bucknell’s free educational workshops in October feature marketing & story telling, leadership, and work culture programs.  Check them out here.   As the SBDC serving Columbia County, Wilkes University is offering “The First Step Express”, a webinar to maximize the success rate of new businesses and entrepreneurs.  Sign up here.

B.I.D.A. To Celebrate 60 Years

Highlighting its history, B.I.D.A (formed in 1962) will be working with the Press Enterprise to publish a special edition publication later this year.  Congrats on your anniversary!

 PA State Representative Offers Farewell Remarks

Representative David Millard, who will retire at the end of this legislative session, shared a farewell speech in the House chamber late last week.  See his remarks here.  On behalf of the Chamber, thank you, Representative Millard, for your service to the community.  

Lockwood and Wakeman to Moderate Panels at Statewide Economic Development Conference

Congratulations to Jennifer Wakeman of DRIVE, who was selected to moderate “Rural Economic Development: Key Issues and Strategies”, and to Betsy Lockwood of SEDA-COG, who will moderate “Unpacking the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act”, discussing opportunities for Pennsylvania’s communities.  Both will address the Fall Conference of the Pennsylvania Economic Development Association on October 25.  

Kawneer Welcomes New President

Laurent Salah, Arconic BCS President

Congratulations to Laurent Salah, newly named President of Arconic Building & Construction Systems (BCS), the global manufacturer of building facade products that includes the Kawneer business.  Read more.

Welcome New Member – Troop 47 Trading Company

September 22, 2022

Welcome New Member – Troop 47 Trading Company


An artisan boutique specializing in hand-poured, clean-burning candles, specialty gifts, and everyday essentials, Troop 47 Trading Company is named in honor of the Scouting and leadership legacy of owner Annie McCarty's dad, Jim. Products with the Troop 47 Trading Co. brand are handmade with the highest quality ingredients by Annie herself, and the store also features products sourced hyper-locally from crafters, artisans and makers. Welcome to the Chamber, Annie!

To learn more about Troop 47 Trading Company, visit their website,

Member News – September 21, 2022

September 21, 2022

Member News – September 21, 2022

The 167th Bloomsburg Fair Kicks Off Friday!

Chamber members will be out in force at the Fair.  This week, the Chamber will be checking in with member businesses and sharing on social media about their offerings.  Will we see you there?  Here's the full schedule!



Introducing the Susquehanna Valley United Way

Check out the formal announcement for the now five-county organization.




Shout Out to Marr Development!

We love it when members work together!  As the Stuart Tank Memorial Association geared up for the Fair, they enlisted the help of Marr Development to help them with transportation of their venerable tank.  You can visit the tank display at the entrance to the Fair's Education Building.



#StopTrackTragedies during Rail Safety Week

North Shore Railroad and Operation Lifesaver are honoring Rail Safety Week.  Help prevent tragedy, and stay off the tracks.  Take the Rail Safety Pledge today.




Congratulations to Camp Victory's own Jamie Huntley!

For dedicated humanitarian services, the Lions Club International Foundation awarded Jamie the Melvin Jones Fellow Award during the Camp Victory Open House/Appreciation Day.  On behalf of the Chamber, we say, “Well-earned!”





Steve Stumbris to Moderate Next Season of WVIA’s Keystone Edition Business

Congratulations to Steve, the Bucknell Small Business Development Center’s Executive Director, who will host the monthly, thirty-minute panel discussion with entrepreneurs, executives and creators in its third season.  Read more.  



Operation Morrison Fund Established to Promote Foundation’s Sustainability

The Community Giving Foundation announced the creation of a new designated fund, established by outgoing President and CEO Holly Morrison and her family. The Operation Morrison Fund will provide an annual grant to the Foundation for its operating budget in support of the Foundation’s mission and work in the Central Susquehanna region. Read more.



Congratulations to Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble on 45 Years!

BTE kicked off its 45th season with community banners and “The Thin Place”.  Thanks to the Town of Bloomsburg street crew, the street banners look great!





Barry Isett & Associates, Inc. Gives Back

Thanks to employees at Barry Isett & Associaties, more than 280 boxes of food were packed up for the Central PA. Food Bank.  Thanks for your service!






Year-Round Energy Tips 

UGI wants to help you get ready for winter weather - here's some ways to prepare your home and business now.  Read more.    

The Bloomsburg Public Library Strategic Planning Survey

The library needs your help completing a strategic planning survey.

Chess Club Gathers Thursday...Knight

You might be working the day shift, but they’ll be working "Knights” at the Thomas Beaver Free Library on September 22nd.  All levels and ages welcome.

Bloomsburg Unveils River Trail Plan

The Bloomsburg River Trail will connect Bloomsburg via dedicated pedestrian and bike paths, which will improve residents' access and usability of town assets.  See the plan.

First Columbia Bank & Trust Co. to Host Photography Competition

Competition categories include animals/wildlife, flowers, close-up/macro, nature/landscape, and black & white.  Registration and digital photo submission due October 1.  Download the competition packet here.

Cybersecurity: What the Nonprofit Executive Needs to Know

On September 29, McKonly & Asbury will discuss ways to mitigate and reduce risk specific to nonprofits susceptible to cyber-attack.  Register here.

Geisinger Provides Resources About Annual Flu Shots

Check out Geisinger's flu resource page, which includes FAQ's, walk-in and drive-thru locations.

How to Eat Well on A Budget

You can eat well without breaking the bank.  Here’s some ideas how from Geisinger’s registered dietitians.   

Susquehanna Valley Medical Specialties to Host Flu Clinics

The scheduled flu clinics are all 8:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. The dates chosen so far are 9/23/22 and 10/4/22. Both the regular dose and (for senior patients) the high dose are available.  Request an appointment through the MyChart portal or contact our Family Practice staff by calling 570-784-7300 ext. 201.

Construction Detour Continues in Bloomsburg

September 21, 2022

Construction Detour Continues in Bloomsburg

On September 19, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation issued the following update regarding construction projects in Bloomsburg:

Montoursville, PA – Construction on the Route 11 / 487 project in Bloomsburg, Columbia County, continues this week.  The roadwork improvement project will continue near the intersection of Sixth Street / Columbia Boulevard and East Street and will continue to East Main Street.

Tuesday, September 20
On Tuesday, September 20, Phase 8 of the reconstruction project will begin on East Street between Main Street and Fourth Street. There will be NO ACCESS to Route 11 / 487 / East Street from the intersection of Route 487 (Lightstreet Road), Route 11 (Main Street) and East Second Street.  Route 11 southbound from Berwick / 487 northbound traffic from Catawissa will be shifted to the Route 11 northbound / 487 southbound lane and continue through the work zone.

The East Street intersections with East Third Street, Green Avenue and East Anthony Avenue will be closed on the east side of East Street.

The Fifth Street intersection signal will be fully functional and controlling traffic with normal operations.

Long Term Detour
Route 11 northbound / 487 southbound (East Street) between Main Street and Fourth Street will be closed throughout the duration of the phase. The following detour routes have been implemented, with signs and message boards leading up to and throughout the detours:

  • Route 487 southbound CAR traffic coming from Lightstreet and continuing to Route 11 North and 487 South will follow Route 11 South (Main Street) to Market Street to East Sixth Street to the Route 11 / Route 487 intersection at Columbia Boulevard.
  • Route 487 southbound TRUCK traffic coming from Lightstreet and continuing to Route 487 South will follow Route 11 South (Main Street) to Market Street to Fort McClure Boulevard to Route 487.
  • Route 487 southbound TRUCK traffic coming from Lightstreet and continuing to Route 11 North will follow Route 11 South (Main Street) to Market Street to Fort McClure Boulevard to Route 487 north to Route 11.
  • Route 11 northbound CAR traffic coming from Danville and continuing to Route 11 North and 487 South will follow Market Street to East Sixth Street to the Route 11 / Route 487 intersection at Columbia Boulevard.
  • Route 11 northbound TRUCK traffic coming from Danville direction continuing to Route 11 North will follow Market Street to Fort McClure Boulevard to Route 487 north to Route 11.
  • Route 11 northbound TRUCK traffic coming from Danville and continuing to Route 487 South will follow Market Street to Fort McClure Boulevard to Route 487.
  • Route 11 southbound from Lime Ridge and continuing to Route 487 northbound from Catawissa will continue those routes through the work area, with temporary traffic control devices maintaining a one-way condition.
  • Tractor trailers (including Kawneer deliveries) must follow the detours explicitly, as there will be no access / exit points using local streets between Main Street and Sixth Street.

Work on this project includes removal and reconstruction of the existing roadway, replacement of curb, sidewalk, overhead street lighting, parking meters and drainage features.  New traffic signals will be installed at the Fifth Street intersection.  Upon completion of the Route 11 southbound / 487 northbound lane, construction will switch to the Route 11 northbound / 487 southbound lane for the same process with one-way traffic switching to the completed lane.

The final roadway wearing course will be placed upon completion of Phase 8 and cover the entire roadway of the three phases.

Motorists should be alert, slow down, expect travel delays, watch for lane changes, and drive with caution.

Work on this project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2022. HRI, Inc., is the primary contractor for the $6.8 million reconstruction project, which includes drainage improvements, roadway resurfacing, tree removal and replacement, new concrete curb and sidewalks, traffic signal upgrades, highway lighting, and other miscellaneous work. For more information including maps of the detours and construction area visit: or enter Bloomsburg 0011-114 into your web browser.

Motorists can check conditions on major roadways by visiting 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 1,000 traffic cameras.

511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts.

Subscribe to PennDOT news and traffic alerts in Tioga, Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, Union, Snyder, Northumberland, Montour and Columbia counties at

Information about infrastructure in District 3 including completed work and significant projects, is available at Find PennDOT's planned and active construction projects at

MEDIA CONTACT: Maggie Baker, 570-368-4202 or


Hayride Attractions & Amusement Rides Webinar

September 20, 2022

Hayride Attractions & Amusement Rides Webinar

On March 5, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Ride & Measurements Standards division established a variance from the requirement that an owner of a "hayride attraction" must comply with specific provisions of the Amusement Ride Inspection Act and its attendant regulations.

The Department of Agriculture has, since 1986, had the authority to regulate hay rides as an amusement ride under the Amusement Ride Inspection Act, but since there were no standards for hay rides until 2019, they have never been regulated.

Recognizing that the standards are burdensome and seeking input from businesses and individuals whose operations these regulations might affect, PA Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding, Director of Bureau of Ride & Measurements Walt Remmert, and Deputy Secretary for Plant Industry and Consumer Protection Fred Strathmeyer, Jr. will host the Hayride Attractions & Amusement Rides Webinar on October 5, 2022 at noon via Zoom.  To register, please email Kyle Kotzmoyer of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, at

Special thanks to Chamber member, Columbia County Farm Bureau, for this information!

SEDA-COG Seeking Subcontractors for Weatherization Assistance Program

September 20, 2022

SEDA-COG Seeking Subcontractors for Weatherization Assistance Program

Request for Proposals: Weatherization Subcontractors


For ongoing services in Columbia, Juniata, Lycoming, Luzerne, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Snyder, and Union counties.

This project is fully supported by grant funds that are administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services (DHS), Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA), and SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG). 

Scope of Work

SEDA-COG is seeking to establish and maintain a list of qualified contractors who can perform and install electrical, heat system repair and replacement measures, radon mitigation, mold removal, asbestos abatement and minor roofing repairs in program‐eligible homes located in Columbia, Juniata, Lycoming, Luzerne, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Snyder, and Union counties. The Agency reserves the right to accept or reject contractors for the contract year based on the number of active contractors already in its contractor pool.  Professional Service contractors (electricians, plumbers, HVAC, radon mitigators, asbestos abatement contractors, mold removal contractors, and roofing contractors) will submit hourly billing rate information as part of the RFP. The duration of a contract awarded as a result of this Proposal will be for one year from November 1, 2022 through October 31, 2023.

Subcontractors that demonstrate qualifications and meet all the requirements will be considered a qualified contractor and may be eligible for a contract to provide services as required by SEDA-COG. Subcontractors SHALL BE RESPONSIBLE for third party post-installation inspections of the work completed, if applicable.  Being on the contractor list and having an active contract DOES NOT guarantee any work.


  • Subcontractors wishing to be considered for Weatherization work must submit Subcontractor Information Form and executed Agreement for Subcontractor Services for Activities.
  • Subcontractors will be required to carry all applicable certifications required to perform their applicable scope of work.
  • It is required that all prospective Subcontractors visit the following websites and read the Core Competencies for the Weatherization Assistance Program prior to requesting program participation.  The document provides guidance for the Subcontractor of the expectations and standards required for participation in the Weatherization program. The website is located at
  • Also, the Standard Weatherization Specifications may be found at  Subcontractors working this program will be held to these standardrequirements.  All work performed under this contract will be subject to a Quality Control Inspection by a SEDA-COG inspector and held to the standards set forth by the Standard Weatherization Specifications as stated above. Installation or repair services must pass the SEDA-COG Quality Control Inspection and if applicable, receive all third-party inspection approvals prior to the release of any payment for the services rendered by the contractor.
  • Any Subcontractor who is found listed on the Federal Debarment List will not be allowed to participate.
  • Subcontractors will be required to carry Commercial General Liability Insurance with SEDA-COG listed as a certificate holder and additional insured as follows: $1,000,000 each occurrence, $1,000,000 personal and advertising injury, $2,000,000 Products-Complete Operations, and $2,000,000 Aggregate Limit. Contractors shall also be listed as a PA Home Improvement Contractor licensee through the Office of the Attorney General.
  • Once a Subcontractor is accepted, they are subject to all the terms and conditions of the contracts obtained by SEDA-COG. Those terms and conditions become an addendum to SEDA-COG’s contract with the Subcontractor and/or its contractor(s).
  • The Subcontractor is required to submit detailed analysis, testing, photos, and documentation to SEDA-COG. Per state guidelines, SEDA-COG is required to receive detailed invoicing for any services provided.
  • Inquiries should be directed to Christine Bohart, WX Assistant at 570-522-7219.  Application information can be found on our website, Request for Proposals / Quotes sections. They may also be picked up at our Weatherization office at 201 Furnace Road, Lewisburg, PA 17837.

All proposals must be submitted in a sealed envelope and delivered either by mail or in person to SEDA-COG WX, 201 Furnace Road, Lewisburg, PA 17837 by Friday, October 14th, 2022, no later than 2:00pm and shall be marked, “WX Subcontractor Work”.  All submitted applications will become the exclusive property of SEDA-COG.

For more information, please contact Elaine Stauder, communications coordinator, SEDA-Council of Governments, at 570-522-7249 or

SEDA-COG… Building Strong Economies & Strong Communities