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No Dues Increase in 2012 Chamber Budget
Farm-City Dinner is Tuesday in Martinsburg
Hampton Inn to Host "Business After Hours"
Flood Insurance is Topic of Thursday's Lunch 'n' Learn
Farm-City "Visit to Industry" Set for Gardner's Candies
Chamber Board Approves New Members
Presidential Appointments Gain Three Year Terms
Make Sure Your Legislators Know How You Feel About PW
New Chamber Energy Rates Set for Residential Re-Enrollment
Chamber to Offer Cruise to Bahamas, Trip to Italy in 2012
Economic Outlook to be Part of November Breakfast Club
"Issues" Program on Higher Education Concludes this Week
Holiday Inn Express Announces Prize Winners
Blue Card Discounts

No Dues Increase in 2012 Chamber Budget
The Chamber’s Board of Directors approved the 2012 Annual Budget at last Thursday’s meeting. The budget calls for revenues of $652,821.00 and expenditures of $647,702.50. With $5,000.00 allocated for depreciation, The Chamber is projected to have an excess of revenue-over-expenses of $118.50. The budget did not contain a dues increase. “We’re pleased to be able to hold the line on spending and increase some of our program revenues to essentially break even without having to increase the investment of our members,” related Ron Muffie of The Hite Company who chairs The Chamber Board. The Chamber has only raised dues twice in the past fifteen years.

Farm-City Dinner is Tuesday in Martinsburg
The Chamber will hold its annual Farm-City Dinner this Tuesday, October 25th, beginning with a milk-punch reception at 6:30 p.m. followed by a family-style turkey dinner at 7:00. The event will be held at The Park at Morrisons Cove. Guest speaker will be Matt Meals, Deputy Secretary for Agriculture and Consumer Protection. Meals, from Cumberland County, is responsible for the Bureau of Animal Health, Horse and Harness Racing Commission, Pennsylvania Equine Toxicology Research Lab, Livestock Evaluation Center, state-owned farms and other agricultural initiatives. The highlight of the Farm-City Dinner is the presentation of the Agricultural Community Excellence (ACE) Award which this year will be presented to James Crawford of Sinking Valley. Crawford has been a staunch advocate for Blair County agriculture for many years and currently serves as chairman of the Altoona-Blair County Development Corporation’s Agriculture Committee. The cost to attend the Farm-City Dinner is $20-per-person and tickets can be purchased at The Chamber Office or from any Farm-City Committee member. Call Stacy Hoover at The Chamber at 943-8151.

Hampton Inn to Host "Business After Hours"
The Hampton Inn Altoona will host this month’s Chamber “Business After Hours” on Wednesday from 5:00 to 7:00. The cost to attend is $5.00 for Chamber Members who pre-register and $6.00 at the door and $10 for non-members who pre-register and $12.00 at the door. To register, contact The Chamber at 943-8151 or register online.

Flood Insurance is Topic of Thursday's Lunch 'n' Learn
Recent hurricanes and other types of weather-related disasters make it more important than ever that businesses and homeowners understand the financial and property repercussions of flooding. For that reason, The Chamber is holding a Lunch ‘n’ Learn program this Thursday, October 27th from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Park Hills Country Club entitled, “Flood Insurance and Mortgages: Keeping Your Head Above Water.” Presenters will be: Theodora (Teddie) Kreitz of Keller Engineers, State Farm agent Lisa Mancinelli, Donna Myers of Reliance Bank, Cassandra Schmick of Logan Township and A. Jane Beveridge of the City of Altoona. The topic to be discussed will be the National Flood Insurance Program and its impact on local communities and residential and commercial property owners. The cost to attend is $22 for Chamber Members and $30 for non-members. Lunch is included. To register, call The Chamber at 943-8151 or register online.

Farm-City "Visit to Industry" Set for Gardner's Candies
The final Chamber program recognizing Farm-City Month during 2011 will be the traditional “Visit to Industry” which provides an opportunity for people from the county’s agricultural sectors to learn more about a local industry. This year’s Visit to Industry host is Gardner’s Candies in Tyrone. The event is held from 10:00 a.m. to noon and includes tours of the facility and lunch. A few spots remain for anyone who would like to attend. There is no charge. Contact Stacy Hoover at 943-8151.

Chamber Board Approves New Members
At last week’s Chamber Board of Directors, the following new members were approved by the Board: Glow Salon & Spa; Haberstroh, Sullivan, Keating & George, LLP; Home Depot; NHS Human Services; PS Solutions; Prudential; Rabid Eagle Enterprises, LLC and Willetts.

Presidential Appointments Gain Three Year Terms
The Chamber’s Board of Directors will lose three key members at the end of 2011. Fortunately their replacements won’t have too much of a learning curve. Bob Bilger of M&T Bank, Linda Russo of the Hollidaysburg Area School District and Patricia Steward of Blair County will all have completed their Board terms on December 31st. The Chamber’s three one-year Presidential Appointments in 2011 have been elected to step into those spots and have been granted three-year terms on the Board. The three are: Dan Slep of the Altoona Mirror, Don Straub of Wal-Mart and Bill T. Ward of Ward Transport & Logistics. “These three have done an outstanding job in representing their businesses as well as their industry sectors,” acknowledged Chamber Board Chair Ron Muffie of The Hite Company. “We’re delighted to retain them.” Four current Chamber Board members also completed three-year terms on the Board and are eligible for an additional term. Approved for that term are: Chris Kerwin of Reliance Bank, Greg Knisely of Knisely & Sons, Jessica Lattanza of Blair Medical Associates and Amy Seltzer of Seltzer Financial Strategies.

Make Sure Your Legislators Know How You Feel About PW
One of the biggest hindrances to business growth in Pennsylvania is the PA Prevailing Wage Act which mandates that workers on public construction projects costing over $25,000 be paid the local “prevailing minimum wage.” The problem is the set wage is typically tied to the local union wage and therefore grossly inflated, burdening local governments and taxpayers with higher costs while providing no real public benefit. The Chamber opposes this law because it forces employers to pay in excess of what workers might voluntarily accept; imposes extensive paperwork and administrative costs; and generally hinders job creation and economic growth. Short of full repeal of the Act, The Chamber is asking its members to support a series of bills that aim to help mitigate the adverse impact of an archaic and increasingly harmful mandate, including those which passed the House Labor and Industry Committee on October 3rd. The bills are:

HB 1271: Exempts certain road maintenance work which until a recent court decision had usually not been subject to the Act. This decision has forced municipalities to curtail regular roadwork.
HB 1685: Directs the PA Department of Labor and Industry to adopt classifications and definitions for jobs subject to the Act. No such guidance currently exists, which creates confusion for contractors who face stiff penalties for even accidental violations.
HB 1329: Raises the threshold for a project to be a subject to the Act to $185,000, up from the current threshold of $25,000 that was established nearly fifty years ago.
HB 1541: Stipulates that the Act will be imposed only on projects in which 51% of the funding is public. Currently the Act is enforced even if projects are minimally financed with public funding.
HB 709: Provides that school districts are not subject to the Act unless they elect to opt in.
HB 1191: Provides that local governments are not subject to the Act unless they elect to opt-in.

Blair County’s three State Representatives are under siege from the labor unions looking to preserve the current Act. There is reason to believe that despite supporting the business community in the past, that unless businesses step-up and strongly encourage our elected officials to support these bills that prevailing wage will continue as is. Please call or email these State Representatives as soon as possible:

Rep. Mike Fleck – (814) 644-2996 mfleck@pahousegop.com
Rep. Rick Geist – (814) 946-7218 –regeist@pahousegop.com 
Rep. Jerry Stern – (814) 695-2398 – jstern@pahousegop.com

New Chamber Energy Rates Set for Residential Re-Enrollment
If you are one of the Blair County Chamber members who signed-on to the ChamberChoice residential electric program through OnDemand at the beginning of 2011, your rate of 6.99 cents/kwh will expire on December 31st. OnDemand has sent-out emails and postcards to all residential customers on the program to let you know that it’s time to re-enroll. When you sign-up now, you’ll get the low fixed price of 6.80 through January 2012, then 7.25 through December of 2013 from First Energy Solutions. To continue saving, click the Enroll Now link: fes.com/renew-pn and enter your offer code. If you don’t know that offer code or have questions about the coverage, call ChamberChoice at 1-855-900-3637.

Chamber to Offer Cruise to Bahamas, Trip to Italy in 2012
The success of The Chamber’s upcoming trip to China has led to numerous requests from Chamber Members for the organization to do future trips. Beginning in March, those requests will be honored. The Chamber will work with work with two of its travel agency members – Heritage Adventures and Classic Travel – to provide fun and relaxation at prime destinations. From March 18-25, travelers can cruise from Baltimore to the Bahamas on Carnival Cruise Lines, visiting Port Canaveral, Nassau and Freeport. For details, contact Heritage Adventures Travel Agency at (814) 946-1600. From October 7-14, it’s “Italy’s Great Cities” with Classic Travel. The trip includes visits to Rome, Pisa, Florence, Verona, Venice and Ferrara. Call Classic Travel at 696-3558. Informational meetings about both trips will be held in either mid-December or early January.

Economic Outlook to be Part of November Breakfast Club
How did the Blair County economy weather the challenges of 2011 and what opportunities were created out of adversity for 2012? Those two questions will be at the forefront of the 2011 Blair County Economic Outlook to be held as part of the November 16th Chamber Breakfast Club. The Economic Outlook is a joint initiative of the Altoona-Blair County Development Corporation, the Allegheny Mountains Convention & Visitors Bureau and The Chamber. In 2010, the Outlook was held in September as a separate event at the Blair County Convention Center and included a Job Expo. Discussions took place in the months following to gage interest in holding a regional outlook that would involve Blair, Bedford and Huntingdon counties. That concept never bore fruit and the decision was made by the Blair County group to use the Breakfast Club as a forum to encourage dialogue on how the county can stay on-track economically. With the changes in the Economic Outlook from one year to the next, one critical component hasn’t changed. That would be the bearers of the message. Once again, research specialists Rose Baker and David Passmore of Penn State will enlighten the local business community with statistics and projections that will be quite informative. The Chamber Breakfast Club, sponsored by Sparks Business Institute, begins at 7:45 a.m. at The Casino at Lakemont Park. The cost to attend is $16. To register, contact The Chamber at 943-8151 or register online.

"Issues" Program on Higher Education Concludes This Week
The Chamber’s latest “Issues” program is being aired on the Altoona Public Access Channel (14) on Mondays at 9:00 p.m. and Wednesday’s at 9:00 a.m. throughout the months of October. “The Role of Higher Education in Regional Development” is the title of the hour-long program that is moderated by WTAJ’s Carolyn Donaldson. Panelists are: Dr. Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry, Chancellor of Penn State Altoona; Dr. Wayne Powel, Provost of Saint Francis University; Dr. Walter Asonevich, President of Pennsylvania Highlands Community College; John Hille, Executive Vice-President of Juniata College; and Dr. Thomas Foley, President of Mount Aloysius College. Sponsors for the “Issues” program are: Altoona Mirror, Keller Engineers, McCartney’s, Inc., Mount Aloysius College and Penn State Altoona.

Holiday Inn Announces Prize Winners
The September Chamber “Business After Hours” was held at the Holiday Inn Express in Altoona and featured a casino theme in which attendees could qualify to win valuable prizes. The Holiday Inn recently announced the winners of those prizes. They are: Trip to Las Vegas – Marty Stellabotte; Wisp Resort Vacation – Lindsey Hann; Pittsburgh Pirate Package – Jim Caltagirone; Clearfield County Nature Package – Mac Rosenbaum; Champagne and Jacuzzi Overnight – Ken Lewandowski; Grove City Shopping – Jackie Luke; Fishing in Clarion – John Carey; and Altoona Symphony Tickets – Garret Hargenrader.

. . . to Carmen DiCello, Director of Government and Public Affairs for Value Drug Company of Altoona, who received the 2011 John W. Dargavel Medal from the National Community Pharmacists Association Foundation.  The award honors an individual whose contributions on behalf of independent pharmacy embody the spirit of leadership and accomplishment.

Blue Card Discount offers
Here are a few of the discounts you can receive with your Chamber Blue Card. Click here to see the full list of Blue Card Discounts. To have an offer listed contact Stacy Hoover at The Chamber at 943-8151.

Tammy Kehr, Agent - State Farm Insurance Present your Blue Card to receive a FREE State Farm Insurance and Financial review. The review is your opportunity to look at your overall financial picture and protection needs, clarify your goals and help ensure all your immediate and long-term protection and planning needs are being met.  
 Teeter Group Present your Blue Card on your purchase of your business insurance through Penn National Insurance and (depending on total group premium and claims experience) you could earn an annual dividend.
The Building II Athletic Club Present your Blue Card to receive 10% off our regular membership fee.
The Cashman Financial Group, Inc Present your Blue Card on your visit and receive a FREE copy of "Taking the Mystery Out of Retirement Planning" OR FREE consultation for your 401(k) or 403(b) plans. A value of $250.
Therapeutic Massage by Holly Reid Present your Blue Card to receive $10 off a 1-hour massage or $5 off a 1/2-hour massage.






October 24, 2011

Upcoming Events
Register online

Farm-City Dinner

Tuesday, October 25, 2011
6:30 p.m. - Milk/Punch Reception
7:00 p.m. - Dinner
The Park at Morrisons Cove

Register Here

Business After Hours

WEDNESDAY, October 26, 2011
5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Hosted by:

hampton inn for web

Register Here

Lunch 'n' Learn 

Thursday,  October 27, 2011
Noon - 1:30 p.m.
Park Hills Country Club

Topic: "Flood Insurance and Mortgages: Keeping Your Head Above Water"

Register Here

Central PA Regional Business & Industry Expo

expo image 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011
1:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Bryce Jordan Center

Breakfast Club/Economic Outlook

WEDNESDAY, November 16, 2011
7:45 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.
The Casino at Lakemont Park

Speakers: Rose Baker & David Passmore, Penn State

Sponsor: Sparks Business Institute

Register Here

Business After Hours

Thursday, November 17, 2011
The Blairmont Club
5:00 -7:00 p.m.

Register Here


Upcoming Committee Meetings
Week of 10/24/11

BASICS Steering Committee
Monday, October 24, 8:00 a.m.
Greater Altoona Career & Tech Center

Coalitin on Sustainability
Tuesday, October 25, 11:00 a.m.
Devorris Center

Transportation Committee
Thursday, October 27, 8:15 a.m.
Devorris Center

Community Benefits Coalition of Non-Profits
Friday, October 28, 8:15 a.m.
Devorris Center

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