State’s Unemployment Compensation Tax Rate Reduced to Lowest Level in 30 Years

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

In early January, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that Pennsylvania business owners will see a reduction this year in their Unemployment Compensation taxes, which will save them an estimated $552 million in 2020.

The elimination of the 1.1 percent UC tax rate interest that took effect on Jan. 1 makes the current tax rate the lowest since 1979.  It follows the repayment of the state’s UC bond debt, which was made possible through Act 60 of 2012 (a UC reform law that the PA Chamber championed) and included provisions to refinance the state’s federal UC loans through bond sales.   The 1.1 percent interest factor was put in place from 2013 through 2019 to help repay the bonds.  This refinancing of UC debt saved employers approximately $57 million in interest costs.  In addition, the fund’s solvency percentage as of July 2019 was 181 percent – the highest level since 2001.  The fund is considered solvent when its level reaches two and a half times (or 250 percent) the average annual benefit payout over the last three years.

In a press release issued by the governor’s office, PA Chamber President Gene Barr celebrated the lower rate as a way to help employers pay down some of the highest UC rates in the country and ensure that the UC fund can remain intact as a financial safety net for individuals who lose their job through no fault of their own and are actively searching for work. “The Great Recession put the state’s UC Fund in financial crisis, threatening this important program and forcing us to borrow billions from the federal government,” Barr said. “We were proud to work with a bipartisan coalition of legislators and the Corbett administration to shore up this critical safety net and refinance the federal loan, which employers were still responsible for paying off but under more favorable terms. We are pleased employers can start off the New Year with a lower UC tax rate and thank Governor Wolf for recognizing the need to drive down business costs in PA.”

As part of its member-driven 2020 legislative agenda, the PA Chamber continues to pursue reforms to the state’s UC system that will promote fairness in the law for employers, control costs and further ensure the solvency of the UC Trust Fund.

Annual Award Nominees Announced

The Chamber of Commerce will recognize outstanding individuals at its Annual Meeting, sponsored by PPL Electric Utilities, on Tuesday, February 18th. Awards will be presented in five categories. Nominees for the awards are as follows:

Small Business of the Year – Sponsored by First Columbia Bank & Trust
Altera Life
LIVIC Civil
Marr Development
Wild for Salmon

Large Business of the Year – Sponsored by DRIVE
Atlantic Broadband
AUTONEUM
Bloomsburg University
Service 1st Federal Credit Union

Community Progress – Sponsored by Atlantic Broadband
Bloomsburg Area School District
DRIVE
First Columbia Bank & Trust Co.
Frosty Valley Resort
Pretty Petals & Gifts by Susan
Service 1st Federal Credit Union

Nonprofit of the Year – Sponsored by PNC Bank
AGAPE Love from Above
Danville Child Development Center
United Way of Columbia & Montour Counties

Outstanding Citizen – Sponsored by the Berwick Industrial Development Association
Ronn Cort, SEKISUI SPI
Lisa Makara, Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital
Barbara Warunek, Columbia County

Help us to celebrate all of the nominees by attending the Annual Meeting at The Barn at Frosty Valley. Register online or by sending in the invitation with payment by February 10.

Windows 7 is End of Life – What to do now?

With content provided by MePush

As of Tuesday, January 14, 2020, Microsoft ended support for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008R2. While the common term is called “end of life”, computers running these operating systems will continue to work. However, Microsoft will no longer be sending important security updates for these operating systems. Businesses are strongly encouraged to update their computers.

If you are still running Windows 7, keep in mind the following:

1. Assuming that the software you run is still compatible with Windows 7, you should remain functional until you can upgrade.
2. A computer running Windows 7 may be able to run Windows 10.
3. It is important to NOT rush this upgrade. There should be an evaluation of systems and software before upgrading operating systems. 
3. The need to be vigilant about what is accessed and allowed to run on your systems is greater than ever. Because the operating system is end of life, you are at a greater security risk and will be more vulnerable until you upgrade.

Businesses are strongly encouraged to contact their IT providers as soon as possible to discuss updating/upgrading workstations and laptops running Windows 7, or servers running Server 2008R2.

Member News – January 14, 2020

  • Bloomsburg University Athletics recently announced “National Girls & Women in Sports Day,” which will take place on Saturday, January 25, beginning at 10 a.m. at Nelson Field House. The free event is open to all girls and boys K-8. The day begins with a basketball clinic at 10 a.m. followed by a speed and agilities clinic at 10:30 a.m. Then, an activities fair will take place at 11:15 a.m. with a pizza lunch to follow at 12 noon. Students will then attend the Women’s Basketball game vs. West Chester University beginning at 1 p.m. with an optional post-game autograph session. Learn more here.  Register by calling 570-389-3907 or email emccabe@bloomu.edu.

  • Shared Ride Offers Transportation Option for Seniors
    Looking for support with an aging parent? rabbittransit can help!

    rabbittransit offers seniors aged 65 and older safe, reliable transportation known as “shared ride” or paratransit. Shared ride is door-to-door bus service that groups together trips between multiple customers. Shared ride can be used for all kinds of trips, such as medical appointments, grocery shopping, hair appointments, banking, recreation, physical therapy, visits, adult day care and more! There may be a co-pay for each ride. The cost depends on many different factors. There is a mandatory application and reservation process to ride.

    Avoid the phone and schedule trips using our online tool at FindMyRidePA.com; there you can also edit or cancel planned trips. The new ticketless fare system makes it simple to just board and go. Pre-pay for trips online at rabbittransit.org or by calling customer service. You may pay toward your own account or on behalf of someone else.

    For more information on our shared ride service, visit rabbittransit.org today or call 1-800-632-9063.

  • The Montour Area Recreation Commission (MARC) is seeking input from the public in developing a five-year strategic plan. The first draft of the plan is available at https://montourrec.com/strategic-plan. Comments should be submitted by Friday, January 17th.

  • Penn State World Campus is hosting an MBA Informational Webinar. The webinar on Tuesday, January 28th at noon is intended for people interested in learning more about the Penn State Online Master of Business Administration program, led by Smeal College of Business faculty.

    Program staff and faculty will explain how completion of this MBA can offer valuable career benefits. This webinar can also help people decide if this program might be a good fit. Staff members will answer questions about curriculum, program concentrations, residency requirements, and the application process, including important application deadlines. Click here to register.

    Employees of all Chamber members, their spouses and dependents a 5% discount off tuition through the Penn State World Campus.

  • Providence Engineering Corp. Announces Promotions
    Barry Foreman steps into his new role of Executive Vice President of Providence Engineering after serving as Vice President of Engineering for 4 years. With a career spanning more than 4 decades, Barry has led the growth of Providence’s Warehouse & Distribution market, as well as the expansion of our design services across the United States. Barry’s depth of experience, engineering expertise and professional leadership are invaluable assets that will continue to benefit our firm and all the clients that we serve.

    Carol-Ann Denning has been promoted to Vice President of Engineering after serving as the Director of Engineering for 2 years. During this time, Carol-Ann led Providence’s team of 50 engineers as they provided design services across all markets. In addition, Carol-Ann strategically improved Providence Engineering’s technical deliverables and quality control processes. In her new role as Vice President of Engineering, Carol-Ann will continue to focus on Providence’s design deliverables to ensure that quality, timely and affordable solutions remain the hallmark of our firm.

Welcome New Member: Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak

More than 420 businesses and organizations belong to the Chamber to receive benefits and support efforts to strengthen their businesses and the region. Increased membership allows the Chamber to offer additional programs and benefits, have a stronger voice in advocacy and be involved in more activities and initiatives. The Chamber welcomes Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak to help us fulfill our mission.

Founded in 2002, Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak is a law firm with locations in Williamsport and State College, which specializes in elder law and helping its clients plan for the second half of life. Its mission is to provide protection in times of prosperity, security in times of uncertainty, and comfort in times of crisis. Its areas of practice in elder law include estate planning, long-term care planning, nursing home and Medicaid planning, wealth protection and tax planning, business succession planning and much more. It runs monthly seminars on a variety of pertinent topics related to elder law and offers free initial consultations. Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak is available to meet with clients and potential clients from Berwick, Bloomsburg, Danville and surrounding areas, at locations in the Columbia/Montour region.

For more information, visit its website, Facebook page or call 570-322-2077.