Member News – November 13, 2019

  • For their service project this year, Life Skills students at Liberty Valley Intermediate School in the Danville Area School District will be making no-sew tie blankets and donating them to people in need. In support of this project, the program is looking for donations of fleece blanket fabric or money to purchase fabric. Any donation would be greatly appreciated and will go directly toward the student making blankets for the community. All donors will be recognized on a card that will be given to the community along with the blanket. If interested in donating for this project, please submit any donations by this Friday, Nov. 15. Donations can be mailed to or dropped off at the school, located at 175 Liberty Valley Rd., Danville. Donations can also be picked up by calling Elise Truax at 570-271-3268, ext. 3675. For additional information, please see the letter.

 

  • MePush, recently welcomed seven new faces to its team over the past five months: Collin Snyder, Adam Gemberling, Josh King, Brian Eyster, Jason Clarke, Brad Duncan and Jenna Helwig. Since its inception 15 years ago, MePush has grown from one employee to 24 full-time IT professionals focused on four key business service areas: cybersecurity, managed services, hosted services and IT support ranging from business interconnection and automation to compliance and customer data security. For photos and bios of all of MePush’s new hires, visit the MePush website

 

  • The Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center (NEPIRC) will hold a free four-hour seminar on leadership development on Thursday, Dec. 12, from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, 725 Front St., Berwick. This program helps individuals become stronger, more impactful leaders. While joining other managers and supervisors to discuss workplace challenges, attendees will explore topics that include Self-Awareness, Power & Authority, Risk & Failure, and Leadership Style. Using self-assessment tools and experiential learning, attendees will examine their strengths and weaknesses while exploring best practices of exceptional leaders. To register, and for a list of other locations of similar seminars, visit NEPIRC’s registration page

Berwick: The Next Step and Berwick Businesses to Offer $20K Prize Package to Aspiring Entrepreneur

Promotional flyer (pdf)
Official contest rules (pdf)
Application (pdf)

Berwick: The Next Step (BNS) is excited to announce its first Business Pitch Competition. Partnering with Wilkes University’s Small Business Development Center, BNS brings this unique opportunity to aspiring entrepreneurs interested in opening a new business in downtown Berwick.

Entrepreneurs wishing to compete must submit a letter of intent and application by 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 13. Selected participants will be notified by Jan. 6 and given an opportunity to present their idea to a panel of judges on Jan. 13. Competition finalists will then work with Wilkes University’s Small Business Development Center over the course of six weeks to develop a business plan. That plan will be reviewed for feedback by a panel of judges in March, and final pitches will take place the first week of April.

Competitors will be judged on several criteria, including business innovation. The winner of this competition will receive a prize package valued at more than $20,000 (which will include subsidized rent, access to $10,000 in low-interest loans, a six-month internet credit, a gift card for printing materials, as well as several professional services, including legal and accounting.)

For applications, rules, and more information, email Josh Nespoli or visit columbiamontourchamber.com/berwickbizpitch.

Partnering Businesses include:
Atlantic Broadband
Berwick Industrial Development Association
Campbell Printing
Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce
First Keystone Community Bank
Law Offices of Lutz & Petty
ND Accounting & Consulting PC
Walker’s Jewelers
Wilkes University Small Business Development Center
and partnering agencies for Berwick: The Next Step

Welcome eXp Realty

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, eXp Realty, to help us fulfill our mission.

eXp Realty was founded in 2009 as the first cloud-based real estate brokerage and currently has locations and agents in all 50 states as well as Canada. Locally, the first eXp Realty location was established earlier this year in Berwick by local veteran realtor Marc Nespoli, and has grown to a few handfuls of agents. eXp Realty – Central Susquehanna Valley is located at 106 East Front St., Berwick, and can be reached at 888-397-7352 or visit their Facebook page

Meetings Encourage Community Development

Representatives of Bloomsburg Town Hall, Public Works, the Fire Department, Police Department, Airport, and Town Council introduced themselves to residents and business people and talked about their goals at a recent public meeting held at the Bloomsburg Fire Hall.

Two meetings held recently in Bloomsburg were organized to bring people together to strengthen communities in the region. Representatives of the Town of Bloomsburg introduced themselves and explained their job responsibilities at a meeting held at the Fire Hall in an effort to improve the dialogue with residents and businesspeople. At a public meeting held at The Greenly Center downtown, an individual with two decades of experience as a professional engineer and land-use planner talked about the value of reinvesting in the heart of a community, rather than promote urban sprawl. Both meetings were held the evening of Nov. 7.

With a number of new people in positions with the Town, representatives felt it a good time to host a public meeting to meet with residents and businesspeople. Mayor Bill Kreisher introduced staff members from Town Hall, Public Works, the Fire Department, Police Department, and the Airport, as well as Town Council members. Following brief remarks by each individual, attendees had the opportunity to ask specific questions. A number of the Town’s representatives expressed a desire to make Bloomsburg more business friendly.

Charles Marohn, author of the book Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity, spoke about the value of reinvesting in communities recently at The Greenly Center in downtown Bloomsburg.

Later that evening, Charles Marohn spoke to a full room at The Greenly Center about the economic benefits of concentrating business and residential development within established towns and boroughs. Marohn, who recently wrote the book Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity, provided numerous examples from around the country where the centers of communities provide the highest economic benefit compared to surrounding areas with the lowest costs for public services. Following World War II, development expanded rapidly into suburban and rural areas, resulting in significantly higher costs for infrastructure including roads, water, and sewer service. He encourages communities to make it easier for entrepreneurs to establish and grow small businesses and for people to build affordable housing. Business and community leaders, including the Chamber, will be having follow up discussions on Marohn’s presentation to discuss applications in our area.

The meeting at The Greenly Center was organized by The Exchange and sponsored by DRIVE, Downtown Bloomsburg, Inc., the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau, the United Way of Columbia and Montour County, and Community Strategies Group.

How to Reduce Cost Without Reducing Benefits

From ChamberChoice & Smart Business 

For business owners today, the continual rise in group health insurance premiums has put a strain on their employee benefits budget, forcing them to explore less traditional means of cost containment.

“Most have already raised deductibles and cost-sharing, implemented high deductible plans and tax advantaged savings accounts and increased employee cost sharing. As a result, many insurance companies and third-party administrators (TPAs) have answered by creating new ways for groups of almost all sizes to take advantage of funding alternatives as a way to potentially reduce their benefits cost,” says Domenic Pascucci, consultant at JRG Advisors.

Smart Business spoke with Pascucci about the funding options that may be beneficial for you to consider, whether you own a business with 25, 250 or 2,500 employees.

What has caused the growth of funding alternatives?

Not too long ago, only the largest groups would stray from a fully funded insurance program to one that they self-funded.

If a company had fewer than 1,000 employees back in the 1970s, they probably wouldn’t even think about self-funding their medical insurance plan. But since then, and especially in the past several years with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, many funding options have emerged. This allows nearly any business owner with more than 10 to 25 employees to transition to an alternative funding arrangement, based on their financial capabilities, benefit objectives, employee demographics and utilization history.

What are these options and how do they work?

Group medical plan funding, in general, can either be fully insured or self-insured. A fully insured program provides insurance with the least amount of risk to the employer. With a fully insured program, the insurance company evaluates the risk and sets a premium level. The customer is not expected to pay the difference to make the carrier whole if its claims utilization is more than the carrier expected or get any refund of premiums paid if the claims utilization is less than expected.

At the other side of the risk spectrum are self-insured programs. A self-funded health care program is one where an employer assumes the financial risk for providing health care benefits to its employees. Conceptually, the employer utilizes a TPA and establishes a ‘bank account’ to pay each claim from its own funds as they are incurred. Other than paying the TPA a fee for its role in administering the claims adjudication, providing utilization reviews and for ‘renting’ the TPA’s negotiated discounts with a particular carrier, the employer’s risk is directly tied to the claims experience of the employees and their dependents. Large, unexpected ‘shock’ claims adversely affect such consistency, and for this, a group usually obtains stop-loss protection, limiting the impact of these large claims. The advantage of self-funding is more control over plan design, improved cash flow and the avoidance of certain taxes imposed on the employer.

In between fully insured and self-insured plans are level funding arrangements. Level funding is a variation of self-funding that addresses a chief concern for employers — the variability of cash flow from month to month that they might experience on a traditional self-funded arrangement. In level funding, the TPA’s underwriting department sets a fixed rate that the customer pays each month (along with any necessary administrative fees), greatly assisting the company in its budgeting effort since any monthly claim spikes are eliminated. Additionally, different insurance carriers and TPAs in different regions of the country have developed other variations of self-insured arrangements that may be appealing to individual businesses.

The decision to change funding to one of these arrangements should be evaluated carefully with assistance from an experienced benefits professional, as there are nuances among each variation that might work out to be an advantage or disadvantage for any particular customer. Although traditionally limited to larger groups, recent changes and safeguards have allowed groups with as few as 25 employees to consider self-insurance or one of its modified versions.