Mobility Often Taken for Granted

From rabbittransit

Often, many people take for granted the ability to travel to everyday locations — a place to buy milk, receive an immunization, maintain employment or learn the alphabet. Without these connections, individuals cannot provide for their basic needs or dare to explore opportunities for their future.

3P Ride is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing affordable and convenient mobility solutions for Central Pennsylvania’s residents to access their most basic needs. It is a partner 501(c)(3) of rabbittransit. 3P Ride is primarily focused on providing food access, veterans transportation and access to care. A ride for a senior, veteran or someone else in critical need of a ride can cost as little as $1.50. A ride to dialysis saves a life. A ride to school educates a future leader. A ride to the VA Clinic honors a veteran. 

rabbittransit is a regional public transportation provider and offers a variety of transportation services to the residents of Adams, Columbia, Cumberland, Franklin, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Snyder, Union and York Counties. Nearly 8,000 people depend on rabbittransit each day to get to work, medical facilities, school and other life-sustaining activities. rabbittransit is dedicated to helping all residents in the region get to where they want to go.

For more information on 3P Ride, visit its website, and visit rabbittransit’s website for additional information, including eligibility requirements and how to apply. 

Chamber and Chamber Foundation to Host PA Free Enterprise Week Information Session

Over the past 21 years, the Columbia Montour Chamber and its members have been supporters of the Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW).  This unique educational summer program provides students from across the state the unique opportunity to learn about business and manufacturing.  Thanks to continued generous support of Chamber members through The Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber, 167 local students have been able to experience running their own simulated company.

For those who may be interested in learning more about the program, the Chamber will host a PFEW information session at on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. at the Greenly Center, located at 50 East Main St., Bloomsburg. A free continental breakfast will be served at 7:30 a.m.

We are inviting students who participated from local schools, their teachers, and PFEW sponsors. We also want to extend the invitation to all Chamber members to join us in hearing about the experiences of our students and what PFEW has meant to them.

Hearing the stories from the students themselves is truly inspiring. Please join us to hear what PFEW does in opening a young person’s eyes to the possibilities of their own future and how it might relate to our free enterprise system. It is crucial that the future workforce has an understanding and appreciation of the challenges that face the business community. At PFEW, myths about business unravel as students and business people work together, gaining fresh insights into the intricacies of our free market system.

The meeting will be held from 8 a.m. to approximately 9:30 a.m., and there is no cost to attend.  Please RSVP to the Chamber at 570-784-2522 by email or online.

Bloomsburg Ordinance Change Seeks to Increase Parking Availability

Bloomsburg Town Council recently approved an amendment to its zoning ordinance with a goal of increasing the amount of public parking available for people who visit and work in the downtown. The changes, approved by Council at its December 10th meeting, require that any new residential development in the downtown commercial district provide private parking. The ordinance allows parking, including multi-level parking structures, to be developed within the district subject to certain criteria. Commercial uses and existing residential uses are not required to provide parking.

The changes had long been considered to reduce the strain on public parking without discouraging the development of housing.  Decades ago, the Town eliminated the need to provide parking for residential development to encourage a higher density of people living in the downtown. With the success of such development, the demand for permit parking increased and has impacted adjacent residential areas. While future demand should not be increased by new residential development, by providing greater flexibility for creating private parking, some of the current demand could also be reduced.

The Chamber and Downtown Bloomsburg Inc. worked with the Town on this ordinance over many months. These changes are an important step forward in Bloomsburg’s management of parking in the downtown. We look forward to discussing further improvements to parking management in 2019.

PA Chamber Signs Letter Urging Federal Passage of “Prisons to Paychecks Bill”

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Last week, the Justice Action Network – a national coalition of chambers of commerce, corrections programs and business associations – sent the legislative leaders of the U.S. House and Senate a letter urging passage of the bipartisan FIRST STEP Act, which will help address a skills gap within the nation’s workforce and provide incarcerated persons a second chance.

The legislation aims to provide job training, treatment and rehabilitation programs to those who are currently cycling in and out of America’s jails and prisons.  It provides tools for business and trade associations to implement their own job training programs behind prison walls to help incarcerated people learn skills that are tailored to jobs employers have difficultly filling and can help them transition successfully from “prisons to paychecks.”

In making the case for the bill’s passage, the coalition letter lists some of the industries that could benefit from the FIRST STEPS Act, including trucking, construction and manufacturing.  One example provided was the National Association of Home Builders, which is experiencing labor shortages in all specialties and trades and has 300,000 unfilled construction jobs nationwide.   Likewise, the manufacturing sector will need to fill 3.5 million jobs over the next decade – 2 million of which are expected to go unfilled due to a lack of skilled candidates.

“That is why chambers of commerce and business leaders in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Kentucky have strongly supported state criminal justice reform efforts that break down barriers to employment for the formerly incarcerated, and why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has gone one step further by endorsing the FIRST STEP Act, which will help ensure that incarcerated people are job-ready before they take their first steps of freedom,” the coalition wrote.

The PA Chamber supports this legislation as a good step toward addressing Pennsylvania’s workforce development challenges.  Last session, we supported “Clean Slate” legislation. This bill, signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf, is a first of its kind program to provide a mechanism for individuals with low-level, non-violent criminal offenses to have those records sealed from public view and give them a better chance at securing housing and a good job.

Holiday Open House Shuttle Information

Our members and their guests have helped us set a record for the largest registration in the history of the Holiday Open House. Because parking will fill up quickly at the Pine Barn Inn, we have made arrangements to have the use of two additional overflow lots and a shuttle to bring attendees from these lots to the Pine Barn.

The two overflow lots are: Geisinger’s overflow valet lot at the corner of Bloom St. and Poplar St. (lower left corner of map below) and Geisinger’s Knapper Clinic lot (upper right). The shuttle, courtesy of Susquehanna Valley Limousine, will run in a continuous loop from these lots to the Pine Barn from 4:30-8:30 p.m. There will be a sign (left) in both lots at the pick-up and drop-off points.

Special thanks to the Pine Barn, Geisinger and Susquehanna Valley Limousine for their cooperation in arranging the extra parking and shuttle service. We look forward to seeing all of our members and guests on Thursday night.