Is Your Insurance Investment Maximized?

From ChamberChoice & Smart Business Pittsburgh

Benefits costs and employee expectations continue to rise. So, the expertise offered from your benefits broker is a critical consideration.

“Most employers struggle to maintain insurance coverage and a healthy financial bottom line. Historically brokers earned your business by representing the lowest price. But in today’s employee benefits landscape, you need experienced representation that delivers beyond the lowest price insurance plans. Premium and fee pricing differentiation represented by agents and brokers is largely marginal.

“Today, the balance between coverage and cost is achieved by differentiation in consultative services, supplemental benefits and complementary products and services,” says Dennis Spingola, vice president of operations at JRG Advisors.

Smart Business spoke with Spingola about getting the most from the employee benefits broker relationship.

What can a consultative broker offer?

A consultative broker can do much more than just place your coverage. A consultative broker is a partner who learns about your challenges and needs, and supports you with a variety of resources and services.

Serving in an advisory role, a consultative broker develops the customized multiyear strategic plan to achieve your objectives now and into the future. The plan may include streamlining HR operations, implementing wellness platforms, and accessing data to support plan designs and funding alternatives. Above all, a consultative broker is your partner, educational resource and champion of your initiatives and requirements.

What is an example of a results-driven strategy?

An alternative premium funding arrangement is a popular strategy that supports health risk management and wellness initiatives. A consultative broker will carefully consider the many options of funding to ensure there is a plan to meet long-term goals for the business, while minimizing disruption to the workforce.

The inclusive funding approach can lead to informed, engaged and healthier employees and family members. Not only does this curb the costs of health care, it can lead to less absenteeism due to illness, more productive employees and improved morale. The consultative broker can combine the funding arrangement that works for you with a wellness program that includes everything you need to implement, monitor and measure outcomes.

How might a consultative broker handle risk management and HR support?

Proper management of Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and Affordable Care Act compliance requirements is of significant importance. The consultative broker will remove the burden of complicated mandates and mitigate the risk of costly fines associated with a Department of Labor audit. Education is paramount in this area, so timely bulletins explaining new and changing rules and regulations are key. Working with a consultative broker who makes available an ERISA attorney is another differentiator for peace of mind and reduced overall costs.

HR responsibilities and benefits administration can be daunting. HR professionals are asked to do more than ever before. A consultative broker provides access to employee newsletters and benefits announcements, as well as sample documents and expert advice for crafting policies, forms, benefits summary statements, handbooks and more. Providing technology for online 24/7 access to an array of resources, coupled with an employee self-serve benefits portal, is a game changer.

Employers are faced with a variety of issues when it comes to running a successful enterprise. Choose a benefits professional who is consultative and equipped to provide the range of solutions and creative strategy that solves your challenges and supports your business objectives.

Insights Employee Benefits is brought to you by JRG Advisors

Restore PA Legislation Introduced; Issue Likely to Extend into Fall

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

A severance tax initiative that was introduced by the Wolf administration in February and is opposed by the PA Chamber was formally introduced as legislation last week.  Gov. Tom Wolf’s office issued a press release touting H.B. 1585 and S.B. 725 as a way to pay for numerous community projects throughout the Commonwealth that address infrastructure, blight, environmental cleanup and more.  However, the plan calls for $4.5 billion in immediate taxpayer-funded borrowing that would be paid back over decades through another punitive tax on the state’s natural gas industry – a move that could result in gas companies slowing their growth or reducing their presence in Pennsylvania, costing jobs and billions of dollars in economic opportunity.       

Furthermore, the state’s existing impact tax has already generated $1.7 billion, which has been allocated toward the same types of projects that Restore PA would fund.  Rather than Harrisburg lawmakers determining how the money is best spent, the impact tax is distributed at the county level and has helped to fund important community projects in all 67 counties.

The PA Chamber is now in its fifth year of leading a coalition of broad-based and diverse advocacy groups against an ill-advised tax on the state’s burgeoning natural gas industry.  Through the website,, we are leading the charge to keep the existing impact tax structure in place and highlighting the voices of various business and community stakeholders who recognize what Pennsylvania stands to gain by encouraging the industry to remain competitive. 

Legislative leaders are also not keen to the concept of a targeted tax on the natural gas industry, with Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, telling Capitolwire last week that the issue will not be addressed as part of the budget negotiations this month and will likely be discussed in the fall while lawmakers consider alternative options to investing in the state’s infrastructure.  “To me, this whole Restore PA thing is more about him [Wolf] getting a severance tax” than it is about infrastructure, Corman told the media outlet.  

Corman also noted that the hotly discussed topic of whether to raise the minimum wage – another Wolf administration proposal that the PA Chamber stands opposed to for the negative impact it would have on the business community – will also very likely not be a part of the 2019-20 budget discussions

Early Learning Investment Committee Calls for $50M to be Invested

Every child deserves an equal opportunity to a quality educational foundation that will prepare them to grow, learn, and succeed.

Infant and toddler brains form and grow from the millions of neural connections made every second. At no other time will the brain develop with such speed or intricacy. In fact, all later learning, behavior, and health depend upon this time according to the Harvard Center on the Developing Child.

Today, more than 50% of children birth to age five in Pennsylvania are in the care of someone other than their parent for at least 10 hours per week.  While a child’s parent is their first and most important caregiver, it is essential that their family has access to an affordable, high-quality child care program.  In Columbia and Montour counties, only 16% (197) of eligible children under the age of five are being served by the Commonwealth’s child care subsidy program.  And less than eight percent of those children are enrolled in high quality child care programs.

Inadequate child care costs the Commonwealth $2.5 billion annually in lost earnings for both families and businesses and lost tax revenue to local and state governments according to a report released in April by the PA Early Learning and Investment Commission and Ready Nation PA.

With increased access to affordable, high quality programs, we can ensure the healthy development of our youngest citizens and give their parents peace of mind while they are contributing to the economy with gainful employment. 

It’s time to act – 77% of Commonwealth residents support increased funding for child care programs, while 82% believe the government needs to do more to make high-quality programs affordable for families.  We urge our legislators to invest $50 million additional state dollars in high-quality child care so every child in Pennsylvania can “start strong”.  Additionally, our legislators can also support Governor Tom Wolf’s budget proposal to use federal funds to increase capacity. By doing so, an additional 1,000 infants and toddlers will access high-quality child care programs.

The United Way of Columbia and Montour County Early Learning Investment Committee

Tammy Benscoter, First Columbia Bank & Trust
Jeffrey Emanuel, Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber
Fred Gaffney, Columbia Montour Chamber
Bryne Lewis, SEKISUI SPI
Adrienne Mael, United Way of Columbia and Montour County
Holly Morrison, Central Susquehanna Community Foundation
Candy Ryan, Bloomsburg University
Diana Verbeck, Danville Child Development Center
Cassie Weaver, Columbia Child Development Program

Welcome Back Walmart

More than 400 businesses and organizations belong to the Chamber to receive benefits and support efforts to strengthen their businesses and our region. Increased membership allows us to offer additional programs and benefits, have a stronger voice in advocacy and be involved in more activities and initiatives in our communities. The Chamber welcomes its newest member, Walmart, to help us fulfill our mission. 

Previously a member that the Chamber is excited to welcome back, Walmart is the largest retailer and employer in the United States, and the largest retailer in the world as well. It is also one of the largest employers (#8 as of 4Q 2018) in Columbia County. The Bloomsburg Walmart Supercenter is located at 100 Lunger Dr., just off the Buckhorn exit off I-80, and is open 24 hours. On Tuesday, June 25, it will begin offering online grocery shopping with free grocery pickup. Additionally, there are currently a limited number of coupons at the Chamber office for discounts on this new service. The Chamber will also be on hand for a ribbon cutting to mark the launch of this service at the Bloomsburg store on Tuesday, June 25 at 8 a.m. Walmart’s Bloomsburg Supercenter can be reached at 570-389-5750, or visit its website or Facebook page.

Member News – June 12, 2019

  • Local motorists are advised that Norfolk Southern Railroad Co., plans to replace the railroad crossing on Route 54 (Elysburg Road) just off the Danville-Riverside bridge in Riverside Borough. The crossing replacement is scheduled to start this Friday, June 14, at 9 a.m. Work includes removing existing concrete panels to inspect the track, and repaving. A detour will be in effect for all eastbound Route 54 traffic using Route 11, Route 42 and Route 487. Westbound Route 54 car traffic will use Third Street, Chestnut Street and South D&H Avenue. Westbound trucks will use Route 487, Route 42 and Route 11. Motorists should consider taking alternate routes, as heavy congestion and slow-moving traffic is expected in and around Riverside Borough. Work is expected to be completed by 5 a.m. Tuesday, June 18.


  • The Central Susquehanna Community Foundation held its annual Berwick Area Appreciation Luncheon on May 31 at Rolling Pines Golf Course.

    Event speakers, pictured above: Back row L to R: Dave Kovach, Columbia County commissioner and Stuart Tank Memorial Association Fund representative; Kara G. Seesholtz, CSCF chief advancement officer; Samantha Dyer, Patrick J. Mattucci Memorial Scholarship Fund and Berwick Health and Wellness Fund scholarship recipient; Holly Morrison, D.Ed., CSCF president and CEO; Amanda Stutzman, Berwick Health and Wellness Fund Advisory Committee member. Front row L to R: Tom McLaughlin, Stuart Tank Memorial Association Fund representative; Ferne Krothe, Dale and Ferne Soberick Krothe Fund and Dale A. and Ferne S. Krothe—Veterans Scholarship Fund representative and former Foundation board member; Laura Knorr, Berwick Theatre and Center for Community Arts executive director; Adrienne Mael, United Way of Columbia and Montour Counties president and CEO; Jim Mattucci, Patrick J. Mattucci Memorial Scholarship Fund representative.

    The event celebrated the 20 years of work the Foundation has done in the Berwick community, and highlighted the many ways donors, fund holders, nonprofit organizations and local residents have contributed to the Foundation’s impact.


  • Service 1st Federal Credit Union recently opened its 12th branch location in Elysburg, and beginning next  Monday, June 17 and continuing through Saturday, June 29, they will be hosting a Grand Opening Celebration during regular business hours. Individuals are invited to stop by to enjoy refreshments and a chance to win great prizes. Additionally, on Wednesday, June 19, there will an official ribbon cutting ceremony at the Elysburg branch at 11 a.m. Service 1st’s Elysburg branch is open Monday-Thursday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Friday 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Saturday 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.  Later this year, on Wednesday, Oct. 9, the Elysburg branch will also host a Chamber Business After Hours


  • The Ronald McDonald House of Danville invites all to join them in celebration of 38 years of service with a “Luau Party” on its patio on Monday, June 24, from 4-7 p.m. There will be a special guest appearance from Boomer, the Williamsport Crosscutters’ mascot, from 5-6 p.m. The Pine Barn Inn will be among the organizations on site with prizes and food samples for guests. Guests are also welcome to donate any gift cards for RMHD guests. Donations can be brought to this event, or dropped off prior in a special donation container at the Chamber office. For information, visit the Facebook event page. To register for this event, contact Ginnetta Reed by email or at 570-271-7937.


  • The Children’s Museum will host Families with Special Needs Night on Friday, June 28, from 6-8 p.m. at the museum located at 2 West 7th St., Bloomsburg. This evening is specially for families with special needs individuals and features a reduced number of visitors, space and freedom to explore at your own pace, adapted exhibits, a quiet area, fun craft and sensory activities and an opportunity to network with other families. This quarterly event is free to all families with special needs members. 


  • The Bucknell University Small Business Development Center will hold its annual Celebration of Small Business breakfast on Friday, July 26 at 8 a.m. This annual event celebrates entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial leaders and also features awards. There is no cost to attend. Register online or call 570-577-1249. 


  • The Regional Impact Fund of the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation recently announced its second competitive grantround of $50K for projects that address current areas of unmet needs throughout the CSCF’s service area, which includes Columbia and Montour Counties. This year’s grantround will consist of an exciting new application process and opportunity for the public to get involved. Interested nonprofits will first submit a Letter of Inquiry introducing their organization, needs, service area, and budgetary request. Those proposals selected by the CSCF Grants Committee will then be invited to submit a full application and participate in The Nonprofit Narrative on Monday, July 29, at 8:30 a.m. at the Danville Area High School auditorium. The Nonprofit Narrative is a platform for these groups to share their grant requests and stories of regional impact—the joys, challenges, dreams and requests each face as they serve our neighbors, communities, and region at large. For more information on the Regional Impact Fund, competitive grantround or The Nonprofit Narrative, visit