The Workforce Push: Chambers Help Lead Bipartisan Efforts to Close Job Skills Gap

With content provided by the PA Chamber of Business & Industry

A daily focus at the PA Chamber and Columbia Montour Chamber was a major theme in Governor Tom Wolf’s sixth state budget address in early February: workforce development.

In 2016, the PA Chamber’s statewide Workforce Development Survey confirmed what local employers have been saying for quite some time, that Pennsylvania’s jobs skills gap was holding the state’s employers and workers back from realizing their full economic potential. The PA Chamber and Columbia Montour Chamber have since been committed to improving the lines of communication among students, educators and business leaders and arming them with information about the skills and training needed to pursue in-demand jobs in the 21st century.

The PA Chamber is partnering directly with Gov. Wolf and a bipartisan contingent of lawmakers and stakeholders to tackle Pennsylvania’s workforce needs head-on – including the enactment of a first-of-its-kind ‘Clean Slate’ law that’s giving former low-level offenders a second chance to secure employment.  Last fall, the governor signed a PA Chamber-backed measure — Act 76 of 2019 – with a number of workforce development reforms that expand information available to students and help them better prepare for their post-secondary education and training.  And right now, the PA Chamber is advocating in favor of H.B. 1477, which would help to facilitate employment for people with prior criminal records by making it easier for them to obtain an occupational license and reenter and maintain employment.  

With PA Chamber President Gene Barr serving as a co-chair on Gov. Wolf’s Economic Development and Workforce Command Center, there are a number of other solid workforce development solutions being discussed that will help build a workforce that’s not only equipped to compete in the global economy, but will encourage skilled workers to stay in PA.   The Command Center’s recent report (link to:– which was unveiled at a news conference at the state Capitol – has identified and is addressing five major barriers to employment in Pennsylvania:  access to affordable childcare; job training or transportation; occupational licensing requirements; and challenges for those re-entering the workforce from the criminal justice system. 

The Columbia Montour Chamber and its Foundation have a strong working relationship with the PA Chamber and communicate regularly on legislative and policy issues. In 2019, Foundation Director Jeff Emanuel met with other chambers from across Pennsylvania to share ideas on workforce challenges and strategies with PA Chamber staff. This spring, Fred Gaffney, Columbia Montour Chamber President, will be chairing the annual Chamber Day at the Capitol, which brings chambers from across the Commonwealth to Harrisburg to meet with Legislative and Administration officials to discuss issues of importance to business. Workforce will again be among the topics discussed.

Navigate and Find Your Future Career

Middle and high school students (with their parents), can spend an evening exploring career options at the 2020 Future Careers Expo and Parent Pathways Awareness Night. The Chamber’s Foundation is partnering with PA CareerLink and Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corporation to host this wonderful opportunity to introduce parents and middle and high school students to the variety of career pathways that exist for success in a future career.  Employers can meet with students (and parents) and share information about the types of work that is done, and the jobs that are available. This is not intended to be a “job fair”, but an opportunity to inspire students to explore a career path. 

The event will be held Tuesday, March 3rd from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Columbia Montour Area Vocational Technical School.  Refreshments will be available. 

Middle and high school students and their parents from at least eight area districts (Benton, Berwick, Bloomsburg, Central Columbia, Columbia Montour Vo-Tech, Danville, Millville, Southern Columbia) are invited to attend. The goal of this event is to educate students about the many great career opportunities in our area, including the types of industries available here, the skills and education needed for specific careers, and future job openings.  Representatives will be present from healthcare, manufacturing, law enforcement, military, hospitality and more.

Register for the event at no later than Wednesday, February 26. For questions or additional information, contact Jeff Emanuel at the Foundation at or 570-784-2522.

Welcome The Good Insurance Group

Close to 430 businesses and organizations belong to the Chamber to receive benefits and support efforts to strengthen their businesses and the region. Increased membership allows the Chamber to offer additional programs and benefits, have a stronger voice in advocacy and be involved in more activities and initiatives. The Chamber welcomes The Good Insurance Group to help us fulfill our mission.

The Good Insurance Group is independently owned and locally operated to handle your insurance needs. They focus on the Bloomsburg and Berwick areas and offer a variety of insurance choices across Pennsylvania.  To learn more, visit their website.  

Thank you Sponsors of the 2020 Annual Meeting

The Chamber wishes to sincerely thank all of the valuable contributors that helped make the 2020 Chamber Annual Meeting a successful and enjoyable event for its members and guests. It is the continued support of these businesses, organizations and individuals that helps the Chamber fulfill its mission of offering programs, benefits and events to its members, giving them a stronger voice and advocacy and being involved in more activities and initiatives in our communities. 

Thanks to all of the sponsors of this year’s Annual Meeting.

Event Sponsor
PPL Electric Utilties



Small Business of the Year Award Sponsor
First Columbia Bank & Trust


Large Business of the Year Award Sponsor

Community Progress Award Sponsor                             
 Atlantic Broadband





Outstanding Citizen Award Sponsor
Berwick Industrial Development Association

Dinner Sponsor
Commonwealth Health – Berwick Hospital Center


Hospitality Sponsors


World Kinect Energy Services









Corporate Tables
Atlantic Broadband
Bloomsburg University
First Columbia Bank & Trust
M&T Bank
Marr Development
PPL Electric Utilities
Service 1st Federal Credit Union
United Way of Columbia & Montour Counties

Member News- February 19, 2020

  • Steinbacher,Goodall & Yurchak
    Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak, an elder law firm with locations in Williamsport and State College, will offer a pair of upcoming free educational seminars at its Elder & Special Needs Resource Center, located at 401 Washington Blvd., Williamsport. Both are open to the public. On Tuesday, Feb. 25, from 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m., will be “The Secret Strategy: Planning Tips for your Second Half of Life.” Attendees will learn about how to be best prepared for whatever changes your second half of life brings. Topics to be discussed include foundation documents that everyone needs, typical and atypical planning options, various stages of planning for asset protection, planning choices that could potentially save you thousands of dollars, and more.

    On Wednesday, March 11, from 1-2:30 p.m., will be “What’s in Your Pot o’ Gold? Trusts & Estate Planning 101.” In this seminar, attendees will learn the facts about trusts, including different types and how they are funded, the difference between revocable and irrevocable trusts, how a trust can affect taxes and probate, long-term planning for a person with a disability with a special needs trust, protecting inherited IRAs through trusts, and more. Both seminars will be presented by Brittany Smith, Esq., and Tammy Zilske, Long-Term Care Planner, Certified Medicaid Planner™, and Certified Dementia Practitioner®. To register for either seminar, call 570-322-2077, email, or visit online.

  • Susquehanna Steam Electric Station Reports Record-Setting Generation for 2019

    Station’s units generated record amounts of carbon-free energy while maintaining high levels of safety performance
    Salem Township, Pa.Susquehanna Nuclear, LLC reported that for the year 2019, Units 1 and 2 at Susquehanna Steam Electric Station (SSES) generated the highest amount of zero-carbon electricity in the history of the Station. Together, they produced a combined total of 20,919,285 net megawatt hours (MWhrs), breaking the 2017 generation record of 20,753,519 MWhrs – enough to power over two million homes. 

    During this time, SSES also maintained its high levels of safety performance. “While boosting unit generation and run time, I’m extremely proud to report that Team Susquehanna did so with over a year of consecutive days of safe operation,” said Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer, Brad Berryman.  “We will continue to strive to be ‘the best’ in all we do – from safety to performance and career development to community partnerships.”

    In addition to the combined generation record, each unit at SSES set its own record. Unit 1 posted 11,080 MWhrs – the highest net production for either unit in the history of the Station – while Unit 2 achieved its highest net production of electricity for an outage year at 9,838 MWhrs. This is in addition to Unit 2’s record-setting breaker-to-breaker run of 712 continuous days, which concluded at the start of its biennial scheduled maintenance outage in March 2019. 

    About Susquehanna Steam Electric Station
    Susquehanna Station, located about seven miles north of Berwick, Pennsylvania, is owned jointly by Susquehanna Nuclear LLC and Allegheny Electric Cooperative Inc. and is operated by Susquehanna Nuclear. Its two units generate approximately 2,500 megawatts of carbon-free electricity, enough to power two million homes.  For information, visit

    Susquehanna Nuclear LLC is one of Talen Energy’s generating affiliates.

    About Talen Energy
    Talen Energy Corp. is one of the largest competitive power generation infrastructure companies in North America. The Company owns or controls approximately 15,000 megawatts of generating capacity in well-developed, structured wholesale power markets, principally in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southwest regions of the United States.  For more information, visit

  • Bloomsburg Children’s Museum- Volunteer Recruitment Fair

    There will be a Volunteer Recruitment Fair on February 29 from 4-8 p.m. for people to come and learn about the many volunteer opportunities available at the museum.

    The Museum hosts a number of large events, including: Bloomsburg Maker Faire, May the Force Be With You Day, Touch-A-Truck, Mini Petting Zoo, Butterflies Live, BloomCON Hak4Kidz, Dino Days, Superhero Saturday, Gingerbread Competition and Display, Middle/High School Science Fair and Turkey Day.

    The Bloomsburg Children’s Museum serves 20,000 visitors annually, many of whom are served at reduced admission or for free. Each year, it provides more than 500 hours of educational programming. It is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    Visit or call 570-389-9206 for more information. 

  • Dramatic Reading of “Hercules” to take place at Weis Center

    Theater of War Productions will present a dramatic reading of scenes from Madness of Hercules by Euripides on Thursday, February 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Weis Center. The reading will be followed by community panelist remarks, culminating in a guided audience discussion. The text was translated by Bryan Doerries. This is a free engagement and tickets are not required.  

    Hercules is an innovative project that presents dramatic readings by acclaimed actors of scenes from Euripides’ Madness of Hercules — an ancient Greek tragedy about an unthinkable act of violence committed by an angry man with an invincible weapon—as a catalyst for powerful conversations about the impact of violence upon individuals, families, and communities.

    The project engages diverse audiences of concerned citizens, activists, students and survivors and perpetrators of gun violence, in powerful dialogue, with the goal of fostering compassion, understanding, awareness and positive action.

    The event is sponsored, in part, by the Dalal Fund for Creativity and Innovation, Bucknell University Department of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies and Bucknell Humanities Center.

    The readings will be directly followed by panelist remarks by the following community members:

    • Benae Beamon: Visiting Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Bucknell University and an Artist
    • Steve Barilar: Chief of Public Safety at Bucknell University
    • Shari Jacobson: Associate Professor of Anthropology at Susquehanna University and local gun violence prevention advocate
    • Student peers from Bucknell Speak UP

    The community panelist remarks will be followed by a guided audience discussion, facilitated by Theater of War Productions’ Artistic Director, Bryan Doerries.

    Readers will include: Glenn Davis of The Unit, 24 and Jericho, David Patrick Kelly of Twin Peaks, The Warriors and O.G., Marjolaine Goldsmith of Compromise, If and After Words, and Bryan Doerries the Artistic Director of Theater of War.

    David Patrick Kelly is well known for crafting memorable roles in the films of Walter Hill, David Lynch, Wim Wenders, Spike Lee and Clint Eastwood, among others. He has performed some of the greatest roles in the classical canon on Broadway and at leading theatres throughout the United States. He was awarded a special OBIE for sustained excellence for his work in classical, avant-garde and new plays.

    Marjolaine Goldsmith is a graduate of Oberlin College, with a degree in Classical Civilization. She is currently training at the Wynn Handman Studio in New York City and has recently been seen in The Three Musketeers and Henry IV, Part 1 at The Vineyard Playhouse, and in films such as If, Compromise, My First Boyfriend, Dress, and After Words. She is honored to serve as both an actor and company manager at Theater of War Productions.

    Glenn Davis’ credits are extensive. On Broadway: Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (Richard Rogers Theatre). Off-Broadway: Wig Out! (Vineyard Theatre). Regional: Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (the Kirk Douglas Theatre and the Mark Taper Forum), The Brother/Sister Plays : The Brothers Size, In the Red and Brown Water, Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet ; A Lesson Before Dying; The Bluest Eye (Steppenwolf Theatre); Caligula, Polaroid Stories, Vassa Zheleznova (Williamstown Theatre Festival); Wig Out! (Sundance Institute/Theatre Lab; Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare, Congo Square Theatre). International: Edward II, The Winter’s Tale, As You Like It (Stratford Shakespeare Festival). Television: “24”(FOX); “The Unit”(CBS); “Jericho”(CBS).

    Bryan Doerries is a Brooklyn-based writer, director, and translator, who currently serves as Artistic Director of Theater of War Productions. A self-described evangelist for ancient stories and their relevance to our lives today, Doerries uses age-old approaches to help individuals and communities heal from trauma and loss. During his tenure at Theater of War Productions, the company has presented diverse projects across the United States and internationally. The company uses dramatic readings of seminal plays and community conversations to confront topics such as combat-related psychological injury, end-of-life care, police and community relations, prison reform, gun violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, the refugee crisis, and addiction. Doerries’ books include The Theater of War: What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today, The Odyssey of Sergeant Jack Brennan, and a collection of his translations of ancient Greek Tragedies entitled All That You’ve Seen Here is God. Among his awards, he has received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Kenyon College, and in March 2017, he was named Public Artist in Residence (PAIR) for the City of New York, a joint appointment with the New York City Department of Veterans’ Services and Department of Cultural Affairs.

    Theater of War Productions presents community-specific, theater-based projects that address pressing public health and social issues. Theater of War Productions works with leading film, theater, and television actors to present dramatic readings of seminal plays—from classical Greek tragedies to modern and contemporary works—followed by town hall-style discussions designed to confront social issues by drawing out raw and personal reactions to themes highlighted in the plays. The guided discussions underscore how the plays resonate with contemporary audiences and invite audience members to share their perspectives and experiences, and, helping to break down stigmas, foster empathy, compassion, and a deeper understanding of complex issues.

    Theater of War Productions was co-founded in 2009 by Bryan Doerries and Phyllis Kaufman, who served as producing director from 2009 to 2016. Doerries currently serves as the company’s artistic director. Since its founding in 2009, Theater of War Productions has facilitated events for more than 100,000 people, presenting over 20 tailored programs targeted to diverse communities across the globe.

    For more information about this free performance contact Lisa Leighton, marketing and outreach director, at 570-577-3727 or by e-mail at

    For more information about the Weis Center for the Performing Arts, go or search for the Weis Center on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.