Bloomberg Economic Index Gives PA Top Ranking for “Most Diverse Economy”

Pennsylvania map outlining Columbia and Montour countiesFrom PA Chamber of Business & Industry

In its inaugural “Economic Diversity Index,” the financial news company Bloomberg has awarded Pennsylvania with the distinction of being the nation’s most diverse economy.

As reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Commonwealth edged out Texas for the No. 1 ranking after an analysis of the GDP generated in both the public and private sectors for each state.  According to the index, Pennsylvania ranked highest due to the balance in GDP among several key industries – real estate, manufacturing and health care.  When accounting for the public sector alone, Pennsylvania places third in the nation for GDP growth, with Colorado and Texas leading the rankings.

Toronto-Dominion Bank was quoted in the PG story as saying that “Pennsylvania’s proximity to large population centers and more affordable real estate remains fertile ground,” “Health care has been leading job creation for the past half-decade,” while “Pittsburgh is in the process of making the transition from steel city to tech town.”

These attributes – along with the state’s ample natural resources – will help to drive Pennsylvania’s economy forward in the 21st century.  However, as a WalletHub survey recently proved, the state also has a long way to go in the way of its perceived business friendliness.  The PA Chamber is a leading voice in advocating for comprehensive state-level tax reforms, starting with lowering our 9.99 percent Corporate Net Income Tax rate; reducing the Commonwealth’s outdated and onerous regulatory policies; enacting civil justice reforms to bring fairness and predictability to Pennsylvania’s legal system; among other pro-business legislative priorities that are highlighted on our website.  Our organization looks forward to working with elected officials toward these policy goals when lawmakers return to session in September.

Congressman Dan Meuser Speaks to Chamber Members at Legislative Breakfast

Congressman Dan Meuser visited with members of the Columbia Montour Chamber for the first time since he was elected to represent Pennsylvania’s 9th Congressional District last November at the Chamber’s annual legislative breakfast held on Wednesday, Aug. 21 at the Greenly Center in downtown Bloomsburg. The event was sponsored by PPL Electric Utilities.

Prior to Congressman Meuser’s remarks, PPL regional affairs director Tracie Witter highlighted PPL’s efforts in the community both directly related to its core business of electricity and power delivery as well as the work of the PPL Foundation, which recently awarded $450,000 in grants to 86 nonprofits throughout its service footprint, including to a quartet of Chamber members. PPL employees also routinely volunteer their time for special community events, including at the upcoming Bloomsburg Fair, for events the Children’s Museum, and is also working behind the scenes at highly visible events such as the Little League World Series and the recent Major League Baseball Little League Classic held in Williamsport, to ensure there are no interruptions to electricity for these nationally-televised events. Its Cover to Cover program purchases books to give to grade school children for summer reading, and that program benefited all students in grades K-3 in the Danville Area School District this summer. 

PPL’s Tracie Witter summarized some of PPL’s philanthropic and work-related efforts in Columbia and Montour Counties.

Among the subjects that Congressman Meuser spoke about were federal regulations, promoting entrepreneurship, long-term planning by the government, Opportunity Zones and his vote on the recently passed federal budget. 

Although notable legislative action has been tough to come by in this current Congress due to the nature of divided government, Meuser said that one area that he and other colleagues are focusing on is federal regulatory reform, since federal regulations are controlled by the various executive branch cabinet-level departments. He has spent a good portion of his first seven months or so in Congress building and developing relationships with members of President Trump’s cabinet and advisers and they have been open to providing relief from regulations that adversely affect business. One current example of what they’re currently working on are regulations regarding stormwater runoff fees, which are costing farmers and other businesses in the district thousands of dollars. 

Congressman Meuser also noted his support for First Daughter Ivanka Trump’s entrepreneurship empowerment initiative, which is aimed by helping 50 million women around the world “realize their economic potential” by 2025. Meuser noted that Ms. Trump’s initial goal was to get 100,000 businesses to sign on to help with this initiative, and already more than 1 million have signaled their support. He also touched on the need for supporting continued job training, and referenced the Central Columbia School District’s Career Pathways program as an example. 

He also touched on the subject of Opportunity Zones, of which encouraging development is one of his top priorities in Congress. There are currently 10 Opportunity Zones in the 9th Congressional District, including in Berwick, Bloomsburg and Danville. A tax incentive related to Opportunity Zones was created as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and it includes tax breaks for investments in Opportunity Zones provided the investment stays for at least 10 years. For additional information, see this flyer and contact either of the individuals from Congressman Meuser’s office. 

Finally, the recently passed federal budget was discussed. While Congressman Meuser had serious reservations about supporting this proposal – and he noted that only a minority of the Republican caucus ended up voting in favor of it – in the end, he decided to support the legislation, mainly due to the additional funding it provided for the military and for border security. He noted that he did not like the idea of having to again raise the debt ceiling, and implored government in general to do a better job of long-term planning, something he noted is absolutely necessary in business yet is lacking in government. He recently introduced legislation to bring more transparency and accountability to the overall budgeting process. 

Member News – August 21, 2019

  • Wild For Salmon will holds its annual Fishtival on Saturday, Aug. 24, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at its retail store at 521 Montour Blvd. (Rt. 11) in Bloomsburg. The annual event, which welcomes back the fishermen from a successful fishing season in Alaska, features an assortment of delicious dishes with the signature sockeye salmon and other fish and seafood, as well as several other vendors. There is no cost to attend. 


  • The Penn State World Campus have hold a webinar on Wednesday, Aug. 28, from 8-9:30 p.m. specifically for women interested in the Penn State Online MBA program offered through the World Campus. Faculty Director Dr. Janet Duck and Managing Director Stacey Dorang Peeler will share important information about the program, and will answer questions about program curriculum. They will review application requirements and explain the admissions process, while also sharing insight as to what you can expect as an online student. In addition, they will explain how this specific program can help women succeed and grow both professionally and personally. Current Penn State online MBA students will also share advice on how women interested in this program can fit it into an already busy schedule, and will give tips for balancing school, work, and family responsibilities. Register online.


  • Ryan Flannery Trio will perform their unique style of jazz music on Thursday, Aug. 29 at 7:30 p.m. in the Weis Center Atrium to kick off the Weis Center’s 2019-20 season.

    Jazz musician Ryan Flannery.

    The family-friendly performance is free and tickets are not required. A native of Lewisburg and a recent graduate of the College of Charleston School of Music, guitarist/composer Ryan Flannery is steadily building his name as one of the most compelling and impressive young jazz artists in the South East. Flannery possesses a strong technique, a warm luminous tone, a natural sense of swing and distinctive chording. This trio includes Ron Nihoff on drums and McCarthy Fitch on bass.They will perform a memorable set of tunes including funk, ballads, and uptempo hard bop. For more information about the Weis Center for the Performing Arts and its current season, visit it online


  • This year will mark the fifth year that local organizations and communities have joined forces to help fight pediatric cancer and raise funds to benefit the ThinkBIG® Pediatric Cancer Fund. The Going Gold initiative, which began in 2015, continues to expand. To date, this initiative has raised $42,800. This year’s Going Gold kickoff events are scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 29 at 6 p.m. at Old Forge Brewing in Danville; Wednesday, Sept. 4 at 6 p.m. at Marley’s Brewery & Grille in Bloomsburg; and Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 6 p.m. at Brendan’s Towne Tavern in Lewisburg.

    Members of the Going Gold Committee recently announced events being held throughout September 2019 to raise awareness about pediatric cancer and support the ThinkBIG® Pediatric Cancer Fund.
    L-R: Colleen Phillips, Service 1st Federal Credit Union; Cassandra Niglio, ThinkBIG Pediatric Cancer Fund; Colby Wesner, ThinkBIG Pediatric Cancer Fund; Jace Rovenolt, Old Forge Brewing Company; Carol Tevis, ThinkBIG Pediatric Cancer Fund; and Kelly Miller Barrick, Lewisburg.

    Each event will feature a proclamation, entertainment, and much more. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.  Going Gold shirts will be sold during the events for $15. In September, shirts will also be available at any Service 1st Federal Credit Union location, while supplies lastMarley’s and Old Forge have collaborated on a special brew called Gold Dust pale ale for this year’s Going Gold initiative. $1 from each pint of Gold Dust purchased throughout the month will be donated to this cause. Additionally, Rusty Rail Brewing Company is donating $1 from every goblet of their Fool’s Gold that is sold during September. All proceeds will benefit the ThinkBIG Pediatric Cancer Fund. Additionally, other events throughout the month of September will also benefit ThinkBIG, including at Chamber members Columbia Colonnade and Nickle Plate Bar & Grill. See the complete list of events and ways to support this initiative.


  • The Bloomsburg Area Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, will hold its annual luncheon on Thursday, Sept. 5, from 12-1:30 p.m. The event will take place at Monty’s on the campus of Bloomsburg University. This luncheon celebrates the investments made to community organizations through the work of the Bloomsburg Area Community Foundation. Local nonprofit organizations will be presented with 2019 grant awards during the event. There is no cost to attend, but reservations are required. Reserve your seat online or by emailing by Aug. 29. 


  • Camp Victory will host its annual Community Open House on Sunday, Sept. 8, from 12-3 p.m. This free afternoon of family fun includes its rock climbing wall, zip line and paddle boats on the pond as well as hot dogs, ice cream, drinks, an arts and crafts project, a moon bounce, wagon rides and live music. at 1 p.m., there will also be a ribbon cutting to celebrate the recent expansion of the Welcome Center. 

Chamber Joins Businesses in calling for a Review of Sewer Rates

The Chamber’s Board of Directors voted unanimously at its August meeting to support a petition calling for a review of sewer rates for new customers in Cooper Township, Montour County. Construction of a new line in portions of the township, including the Rt. 11 corridor, was recently completed under a mandate by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. A number of businesses have expressed concerns that the fees associated with connecting to the sewer could jeopardize their business viability.

Fees for connecting to the system and monthly rates were set based on the anticipated number of connections to the system and flow from existing residences and businesses. Several businesses have reported that their total costs for connecting to the system would be in excess of $10,000. Additionally, the monthly rates do not account for specific business hours or other practical considerations. The Authority has stated that it is willing to review monthly rates for businesses upon request.

The Chamber’s position includes an offer to assist with the rate review and identifying other options. “Development along the Rt. 11 corridor between Danville and Bloomsburg has been hindered by a lack of infrastructure,” said Fred Gaffney, Chamber president. “Finding ways to lower these sewer costs will not only help existing businesses and residents, but encourage the growth of businesses, jobs, and the tax base in the township.”

Town of Bloomsburg Creating a Connectivity Master Plan, Invites Public Input

From Town of Bloomsburg

The Town of Bloomsburg is creating a Walk, Bike, Connectivity Master Plan and invites the community to participate in the planning process. The public is encouraged to attend public meetings, take the online public opinion survey, and give virtual feedback via WikiMapping.

The Connectivity Master Plan will analyze existing pedestrian & bicycle infrastructure, and propose improvements to increase overall safety & connectivity in Bloomsburg.

Public meetings to discuss the Walk, Bike, Connectivity Master Plan will take place at the Bloomsburg Fire Hall: 911 Market St, Bloomsburg.

• Public Meeting #1 will take place Tuesday Sept. 17, 2019 at 7 p.m.
• Public Meeting #2 will take place Wednesday Oct. 30, 2019 at 7 p.m.
• Public Meeting #3 will take place Tuesday Jan. 21, 2020 at 7 p.m.
• Public Meeting #4 will take place Wednesday April 29, 2020 at 7 p.m.

Through the public opinion survey residents may comment on current pedestrian/bicycle infrastructure, safety concerns, as well as desired connectivity improvements.

Through the online WikiMapping platform, responders can pin comments directly to a map of Bloomsburg. Responders can mark important destinations, sidewalk gaps, desired locations for new sidewalks, desired locations for new trails, and any other information relevant to the project.

The public survey and WikiMapping can be accessed online

Hard copies of the survey may be picked up and returned completed to the Bloomsburg Town Hall (301 E. 2nd Street, Bloomsburg, PA 17815). The survey will be active until Jan. 20, 2020.

For additional information contact Charles Fritz at (570) 784-4532 or by email.