Erie Chamber Blog
Friday July 20, 2018 

Business After Hours/Connect 4 Coffee Registration Open

ERCGP members, make plans to do a little networking in August!

Our Business After Hours is scheduled for August 9th at the Black School of Business at Penn State Behrend

Register Now

Connect 4 Coffee, our a.m. networking opportunity will be at Pointe Foure Vintage in Federal Hill on August 14th. This event is limited to 30 attendees.

Register Now


  • networking
  • business after hours
  • coffee
  • chamber of commerce
Thursday July 19, 2018 

It's ROAR Week!

We welcome riders to our part of the world for this week's Roar on the Shore! A great line up of events are planned throughout the region, check out GoErie list for the low down, or visit the ROAR website.

With the heavy traffic anticipated, let's all drive defensively this week. Be safe, have fun, be safe!


  • roar on the shore
  • harley davidson
  • erie pa
  • bike week
Thursday July 19, 2018 

Bill Scholz, Business Outreach Specialist

Searching for the right post-secondary school is overwhelming to students and parents. For students, the process of applying along with the very confusing financial aid completion seems endless. Finding funds to attend a post-secondary school can be complex and confusing as students navigate clunky Federal applications systems such as FAFSA, scholarships, and state grant applications. In many schools, school counselors simply do not have enough resources to ensure that every student finds a clear pathway to success.

Simply put, elementary and secondary schools are not adequately offering college and career readiness opportunities. Among recent graduates, less than 1 in 10 have taken a foundational set of college and career readiness courses. Many school counselors echo that our schools are chronically under-resourced when it comes to post-secondary success.

In the United States, there are 50.7 Million students in grade K-12. There are 98,000 public schools and 34,000 private schools. Additionally, there are 5,000 agencies that serve high - risk youth. Few of these organizations take advantage of online learning management systems (LMS) to deliver valuable post-secondary information to ensure student success and monitor their progress. Current offerings are either too expensive or uninspiring.

Enter the Counselors Advantage Program for Success or CAPS

CAPS is an online learning platform that allows the student, parent, and school counselor to share information and monitor career progression. CAPS is a fun and easy to use platform that functions much like the same social networks that students are already comfortable using.

The platform is the first learning management system of its kind. It is cost-effective and allows for students and parents to complete video modules, worksheets, and assessments together. Progress is reported back to the school counselor who can answer questions and provide customized assistance. 

School Counselors can report on student progress to understand the pulse of their communities’ career-readiness. Questions might include:

  • Which students haven’t completed a post-secondary application?
  • Which students haven’t completed their FAFSA application?
  • What students need help in completing personal statements for their college or career school application?
  • Which students need help with application fee assistance?

This data provides substantial value - add for school districts.

With CAPS, districts now have easy access to a number of different online resources including timelines for post-secondary transitions, video and online content that teach career-readiness, and a safe and secure record of student progress that is shared among school administration.

CAPS also helps students obtain financial aid for post-secondary education. Students who have used early versions of the CAPS platform report securing more than 27 million USD of additional financial aid funding.  Every student received a customized Individual Career Plan.

A Founder on a Mission

CAPS is founded by visionary college and career readiness expert Cass Wright. Cass Wright is the former Vice President of College and Career Readiness at the Uncommon Individual Foundation and before that was a Middle and High School Assistant Principal, as well as the Dean of Students in the Wayne Township School Corporation located in Wayne Township, Indianapolis. Cass started CAPS long before school districts were using online learning management systems to deliver value-add educational content. 

CAPS mission includes:

-Leveling the playing field for all students by providing access to one platform for complete and current information regarding college and career readiness.

-Helping connect students to reach optimal academic achievement towards their college / post-secondary career goals with total funding in hand.

Currently, CAPS is being utilized by 25,000 Rural, Urban and Suburban school districts throughout the nation. The firm is in the process of scaling up operations across the United States as more school districts see the value in online career-readiness platforms.

The CAPS Opportunity

CAPS is founded in Erie, PA, and has received assistance from many local entrepreneurial support agencies. CAPS recently received early - stage funding from Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP). BFTP funding will help improve the design and capacity of CAPS as it rolls-out across other school districts across the United States.

How can the Erie business community help?

The current executive team is looking for connections to school district, agencies, the business communities and decision makers. You can view and request a full demo of the company at

  • education
  • career readiness
  • student assistance
Wednesday July 18, 2018 

The Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership is pleased to announce the addition of Colleen Szymczak-Gross to the team in the role of Event Coordinator for the organization. The position was left vacant by long time coordinator Cathy Noble in May when the Noble family relocated to Georgia.

Colleen is an Erie native & Edinboro University graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Communications. She currently resides in Fairview with her husband and daughter.

Colleen comes to the ERCGP with 16 years non-profit event planning experience, most recently the National MS Society. 

"My passion truly is planning events both personally and professionally." she stated. "I appreciate and love Erie and all that our city and region has to offer.  I’m anxious to be part of a reputable and established organization like the Erie Regional Chamber." 

Colleen's free time interests include running, DIY home projects, the outdoors, volunteering for the New Blossoms New Life Foundation, and keeping up with her 4 year old. 

Colleen will begin her position with the ERCGP on July 30th.

  • erie chamber
  • events
  • event coordinator
  • chamber of commerce
Monday July 16, 2018 

Submitted by Cathy Szymanski, Szymanski Consulting

Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365 has successfully made day-to-day business operations more efficient with popular apps like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, and Outlook. What’s more, it also offers productivity-boosting add-ons that streamline users’ workflow.

#1. StaffHub

You can now easily keep track of your employees’ work hours, allow employees to swap shifts, and make changes where appropriate with Microsoft’s StaffHub app. What’s more, employees can also communicate with team members through its internal community spaces, check out new company updates, and add important internal resources like employee handbooks or training manuals through the app. The app is available on any mobile device, making it a very convenient tool for employees who need to manage their schedule and stay up to date.

#2. Office Tabs

Office Tabs allow you to open multiple files in one window, which saves you time from having to go through each opened document until you find the right one. As such, you can close or save all or everything but the current active document in a single click. You can also directly rename files by clicking Rename, instead of going through the tedious process of clicking Save As and then changing its name.

#3. Grammarly

The last thing you want to send to your clients is a confusing, poorly written email or document. Grammarly solves this by having your text go through rigorous grammar, spelling, and plagiarism checks. It then provides vocabulary suggestions and recommends writing style changes to polish your writing. This add-on is available in Word and Outlook, and its Premium counterpart is priced at $11.66 per month (annual plan).

#4. Pexels

Professional documents and presentations require high-resolution, blemish-free images, and Pexels helps you get them easily. Its free stock images are under a Creative Commons Zero license, meaning you can search high-quality images and use them in all your documents for any purpose with no legal repercussions.

#5. DocuSign

DocuSign for Outlook and Word lets you or the recipient securely sign the document electronically and send it through email, save it in the app, or store it in your company’s server. DocuSign complies with eSignature legal standards and is secured with an end-to-end Digital Transaction Management, ensuring your files will never be leaked or breached.

#6. FindTime

Setting up a meeting time is tedious and difficult, especially if your employees have different schedules. FindTime automatically scours every attendee’s personal schedule to locate open slots, and creates possible meeting time options for everyone to vote on. A meeting will then be scheduled according to whichever slot gets the highest vote within a specified amount of time.

#7. Translator

Businesses that deal with foreign companies will find communication much easier with Translator. This add-on recognizes and translates more than 50 different languages, including English, French, Spanish, and Chinese. Not only will you now spend less time understanding foreign-language documents, but you’ll also be able to work with clients from various parts of the world.

Start improving work productivity and make the most out of your Office 365 with Microsoft productivity add-ons. To get started or learn more about Office 365, Microsoft add-ons, or anything Microsoft Office related, contact us today.

  • office 365
  • microsoft
  • productivity

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