CDC Updates COVID-19 Mitigation Guidance
On Thursday, August 11, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidance for the mitigation of COVID-19. This guidance lifts the requirement to quarantine if exposed to the virus, deemphasizes screening people with no symptoms and updates COVID-19 protocols in schools, eliminating a recommendation for test-to-stay after potential exposure.
Additional highlights include:
- The CDC recommends that those exposed to COVID-19 wear a mask for 10 days rather than quarantining, as previously recommended for the unvaccinated, with those exposed wearing a high-quality mask for five days and then testing on the fifth day.
- The agency reemphasized that people who test positive for COVID-19 need only isolate for five days, monitoring their symptoms daily before deciding to exit isolation. It noted that those who test positive for COVID-19 are most infectious during the first five days after testing positive, recommending isolation during that time even if asymptomatic. After day five, those who are feeling better and are fever-free may end isolation, the agency said.
- The CDC recommended those who test positive wear a high-quality mask through day 10, regardless of their symptoms. People who experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing while they have COVID-19 should isolate for the full 10 days, as should individuals with weakened immune systems.
Welcome New Member: American Red Cross, Pennsylvania Rivers Chapter
The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce is delighted to welcome its newest member, The Pennsylvania Rivers Chapter of the American Red Cross.
The Pennsylvania Rivers Chapter is part of the 61-county Greater Pennsylvania Region, and serves Berks, Lehigh, Northampton, Schuylkill, Northumberland, Columbia, Montour, Union, and Snyder Counties. The chapter provides food and shelter in emergencies, assists members of our armed forces and their families, teaches lifesaving skills, collects lifesaving blood, and so much more.
Each year, the organization aids more than 2,200 area disasters, most of which are home fires. All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people.
Our local Red Cross Chapter offers a variety of services and programs.
- Need information about giving blood or setting up a blood drive: Visit the Red Cross Blood Website
- Are you a member of the military and need assistance? Call this 24-hour phone number for help: 1-877-272-7337.
- Would you like to learn lifesaving skills, become a lifeguard or learn to swim? Did you know the Red Cross has training classes for businesses and organizations? Explore training classes and workplace safety courses here
- Haven't met the team yet? Connect with Peter Brown and the American Red Cross PA Rivers Chapter staff at the Chamber's Third Annual Mixer with Nonprofits.
The American Red Cross, Pennsylvania Rivers Chapter is headquartered in Allentown, with a local office in Lewisburg, PA. Click here to view more information on our newest member.
The American Red Cross joins over 400 members of The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce to receive benefits and support the Chamber’s efforts to enhance the region.
Member News – August 10, 2022
MC Federal Credit Union Board of Directors Names New President
Current MC Federal Credit Union President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jim Barbarich, recently informed the Board of his intention to retire at the end of next year. While the Board is pleased for Jim and his retirement plans, they are excited to announce that effective July 29, 2022, Elba Arenas, current MC Federal Chief Member Experience Officer, has also assumed the position of President.
Elba has been an integral part of the Credit Union since joining the organization in 2016, as the Western Regional Manager. In this role, Elba demonstrated effective leadership skills and a strong vision for business development that helped strengthen the company’s performance and risk controls. In 2018, in recognition of her contribution to the Credit Union, she was promoted to her current role as Chief Member Experience Officer.
In her new role, Elba is responsible for all aspects of the credit union’s day-to-day operations. She will be supported by members of the Executive Leadership Team, Brian Wiktor (Chief Lending Officer), Jean Miller (Chief Financial Officer), Tom Ha (Chief Information Officer), and the entire MC Federal Team. When this opportunity came about, Elba Arenas responded, “I am honored and excited to lead our Credit Union as we continue to make a difference in the lives of our members and in the communities we serve.”
Jim Barbarich will continue to serve as the MC Federal Chief Executive Officer for the next seventeen months until his retirement on December 23, 2023. He will continue to guide the credit union through strategic planning and special projects and will provide key guidance to Elba as she assumes significant new responsibilities. The Board greatly appreciates Jim’s many contributions to the credit union, and his open and collaborative approach to succession planning.
Columbia Child Development Celebrating 50th Anniversary
The community is invited to help celebrate Columbia Child Development Program's 50th Anniversary this Sunday, August 14th in Bloomsburg Town Park. Between 1 and 4 p.m., there will be Iive entertainment, Folk's Butterfly Farm, games and activities, snacks, touch a firetruck, and other community partners. Visit https://bit.ly/3NUsl6R to RSVP.
Downtown Danville Hosting Third Thursday this Week
On August 18th from 6 - 8 p.m., downtown Danville will host the first Third Thursday event. The Loons will be playing in canal park, restaurants will be offering specials, and some retail locations will be hosting outside vendors on their sidewalk or in their stores along with their own sales.
Third Thursdays will take place from May through September.
Bloomsburg Recycling Center Receives Environmental Stewardship Award
With a combined 114 years of experience, the Bloomsburg Recycing Center was recently presented with the 2022 Daniel G. Weisenbach Environmental Stewardship award by the Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania. The award was created to honor the memory of one of the country’s innovative leaders in environmental awareness and recycled products, Dan Weisenbach. A tireless leader in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and all over the country, his commitment to recycling was admired by all.
Designed to recognize the most outstanding recycling and composting programs, this award seeks to recognize exemplary performance by municipalities, businesses, individuals, or organizations throughout Pennsylvania in the areas of recycling, waste reduction, reuse, and composting programs.
McKonly & Asbury Named 2022 Best Accounting Firms to Work For
Accounting Today announced its 2022 Best Accounting Firms to Work For, and McKonly & Asbury is once again on this list. This marks the 8th time the firm made this national list of 100 companies identified for excelling in creating quality workplaces for employees.
Companies from across the United States entered a two-part survey process to determine 2022 Accounting Today’s Best Accounting Firms to Work For. The first part consisted of evaluating each nominated company’s workplace policies, practices, philosophy, systems, and demographics. The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final ranking, and individual firm rankings will be announced in the September issue of Accounting Today.
Chamber Welcomes New Vice President
The Columbia Montour Chamber is pleased to welcome Chris Berleth, an accomplished chamber executive and sales professional with thirteen years of business and nonprofit experience, as its new Vice President. Chris, who started on August 8, will provide leadership in delivering a high return on investment to members and supporting economic stability and growth in the region through the development and coordination of communications, programs, and events of the Chamber and its Foundation.
“We are thrilled to have Chris join our team,” said Fred Gaffney, Chamber President. “His talent, professionalism, and sincerity will help us provide additional value to our members and better support our area.”
Prior to joining The Columbia Montour Chamber team, Chris was most recently with the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber in Shamokin Dam as Executive Director of Membership and Leadership. He is an Eagle Scout and a 2015 graduate of Leadership Susquehanna Valley, and holds a B.A. in Political Science and French from Gettysburg College. Chris and his wife Kali have called Columbia County home since 2012, and together they are raising two boys, Remington and Rutledge.
Combating the Cost of Rising Health Insurance Premiums
Health plan premiums are a huge commitment and continue to climb for companies of all sizes. Managing the cost of health plans more efficiently is more important than ever. My Benefit Advisor, The Chamber's partner in finding and managing employee benefits for members, will be hosting two webinars addressing alternative funding as solutions vary based upon the number of employees covered.
Under 25 Employees - Monday, August 15th at 3:00 p.m.
Over 25 Employees - Wednesday, August 17th at 10:00 a.m.
Click here to learn more and to register for these free webinars.
PA CHAMBER, US CHAMBER: INFLATION REDUCTION ACT IS A BAD DEAL
With businesses facing historic inflation, the PA Chamber, US Chamber and business leaders across the country are sending the message that now is not the time to raise taxes on businesses – especially through changes to the federal tax code that would disproportionately impact manufacturers and capital-intensive industries, like energy production and utilities. The PA Chamber is also concerned proposed tax increases contemplated in a deal struck between West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will detract from the monumental progress Pennsylvania is making with recently enacted, pro-growth reforms to the state’s tax code.
The U.S. Senate passed the sprawling economic package by a vote of 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. The U.S. House is expected to begin consideration of the legislation Friday, August 12th.
In an op-ed published last week, the PA Chamber’s Kevin Sunday notes the “proposal, which appears to be designed to game the Senate’s reconciliation process to pass spending bills, departs from recent congressional successes that leveraged bipartisan compromise to produce meaningful progress on energy and regulatory reform. The bill will also raise taxes on businesses already reeling from historically high costs on goods and materials, and vague promises that the bill will be followed by permit reform later this winter (when the Senate’s legislative agenda is already overcrowded) raise the question: Why not just work across the aisle now, given how many Republicans have energy and regulatory reform priorities of their own?”
The PA Chamber also joined dozens of state and local chambers across the country in signing a coalition letter spearheaded by the US Chamber opposing the proposed tax increases. In the letter, the business groups note that the bill “includes taxes that would discourage investment and undermine economic growth and price controls that would limit American innovation. Despite the name of the bill, independent analysis confirms that it would have little to no impact on inflation and may in fact increase inflationary pressure in the near-term.”
Tax increases in the proposed deal include a 15 percent minimum book tax, a $900 per ton fee on fugitive methane emissions for oil and gas producers, an additional tax on the energy industry that could raise gasoline costs sixteen cents per gallon, changes to the treatment of carried interest and price controls on pharmaceuticals. The Tax Foundation has compiled additional analysis of the proposed tax changes here, noting the tax increases will result in job losses and a reduction in GDP and wages. The analysis notes that “by reducing long-run economic growth, this bill may actually worsen inflation by constraining the productive capacity of the economy.” Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona indicated Friday, ahead of a potential weekend vote, she was seeking changes to some of the tax provisions, including protecting some depreciation deductions against minimum book tax liabilities.
Member News – August 3, 2022
Danville Business Alliance Receives National Accreditation
The Danville Business Alliance is one of 25 Pennsylvania downtowns that have been named “Nationally Accredited Programs” by the National Main Street Center (NMSC) for 2022. Receiving National Accreditation Main Street Program status is a prominent recognition and shows that these programs are dedicated to creating change in their community and leading as an example for other programs in the revitalization process.
Accredited Main Street programs are evaluated annually by Pennsylvania Downtown Center as the state’s coordinating program. All accredited programs have met the ten performance standards required by NMSC including training, planning methods, and community involvement.
Support Programs for Disabled Family Members
Hand in Hand Family Resource Center is offering several free programs to support family members of area disabled. A sibling support group meets the second and fourth Sundays of the month from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Teen Center in Berwick. A five-week series to help parents understand their child's Individualized Education Plan begins August 18th. The agency is also hosting a potluck picnic on August 28th beginning at 2 p.m. at West Side Grove in Berwick. Visit handinhandpa.org for additional details on all of these programs.
Geisinger Hosting Recruitment Day
Geisinger is hosting a recruitment day for a variety of positions with hiring incentives on Thursday, August 4th from noon to 6 p.m. at its Berwick location, 2200 West Front Street. Click here for additional details.
Exchange Gallery Hosting "Creatures & Critters"
The animal kingdom is extremely diverse and contains millions of different species.
Some animals are our friends and companions.
Others are elusive and mysterious.
Some inspire fear
Many inspire wonder.
We asked people which animals inspire them, and 35 artists from seven Pennsylvania counties answered the call. Their work includes paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculptures, fiber art, and various mixed media, and the artists range from elementary-, middle-, and high-school students to those with many decades of experience.
The show runs through August 26th; find the Gallery hours here.
Promote Fall Events/Offers in September ChamberPack
Fall is a very busy time in our area with festivals and other events. Increase the awareness of your promotions, offers, or regular business services in the next ChamberPack mailing. ChamberPack is a cost-effective way to get your information to the Chamber's 400+ members. Just provide copies, and we'll take care of compiling and sending the mailing. The next ChamberPack will be mailed just before the Labor Day holiday, and fliers are due at the Chamber by August 20th.
Call the Chamber at 570-784-2522 to reserve your space or click here for more information.
Congressman Meuser to Discuss Business Issues with Members
Chamber members will have the opportunity to discuss business-related issues with US Representative Dan Meuser (PA-9) at an upcoming breakfast meeting. The program will be held Thursday, August 25th from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Craft Catering at The Links Golf Course in Buckhorn. The event is sponsored by PPL Electric Utilities.
Meuser will address a variety of topics impacting employers, including inflation. Recently, the Congressman distributed a survey seeking input on the impact of inflation on local businesses. There will also be time for questions from members in attendance.
The program includes a buffet breakfast. Click here to register by Friday, August 19th.
1 Million Cups Empowers Entrepreneurs in the Susquehanna Valley
By Kendy Alvarez
It’s a common invitation that often leads to the exchange of ideas, discussion of possibilities, and the discovery of solutions.
The 1 Million Cups (1MC) Susquehanna Valley community expands that concept to a larger scale by providing entrepreneurs with a monthly platform to present their businesses and receive immediate feedback and advice from industry experts, startup enthusiasts, and fellow business owners.
At each event, two entrepreneurs share the stories of their early-stage ventures: each after connecting with a speaker coach who helps them prepare. All of this happens, of course, over cups of coffee provided by local community sponsors and host organizations. The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce is a new co-sponsor of 1 Million Cups Susquehanna Valley.
"The vibrancy and positive energy of 1 Million Cups events create an environment where all ideas and individuals are welcomed; and are given invaluable feedback from entrepreneurs and community leaders”, said Diane Weller, owner of Diane Weller Coaching.
One Million Cups Susquehanna Valley recently marked four years of empowering the entrepreneurs of the valley, and even more recently relaunched in-person sessions. Events are scheduled at locations across four counties through the rest of the year:
● August 10 at Startup Lewisburg, 416 Market Street, Lewisburg, PA 17837
● September 14 at the Central PA Chamber of Commerce, 30 Lawton Ln, Milton, PA 17847
● October 12 at STEAM Innovation Labs, 361 Market St, Sunbury, PA 17801
● November 9 at Susquehanna University, 514 University Ave, Selinsgrove, PA 17870
● December 14 at the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce, 2859 N Susquehanna Trail, Shamokin Dam, PA 17876
During each event, entrepreneurs have six minutes to present their early-stage company or pre-venture concept to other entrepreneurs and community members. Following each presentation, the audience asks questions, provides helpful feedback, and shares similar experiences or support. Entrepreneurs are invited to visit www.1millioncups.com/Susquehanna to apply to present at an upcoming event.
Committed to breaking down barriers so all entrepreneurs can access the resources they need, 1 Million Cups welcomes anyone with a desire to grow a business or has an interest in supporting fellow entrepreneurs. 1 Million Cups is not a pitch platform, nor is it solely a networking event. It’s a chance for entrepreneurs to tap into the knowledge and experience of the local community in a focused and encouraging environment.
1 Million Cups is a program of the Kauffman Foundation for Entrepreneurship, and the Susquehanna Valley community is one of almost two hundred 1MC communities across the country. For more information, visit www.1millioncups.com/susquehanna.