Erie Chamber Blog
Monday December 3, 2018 

Submitted by Dan Hackett, Account Manager IGS CNG Services

A new, public compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station just opened this week in Fairview!  The new public station is located at 6411 Howard Drive and was built by IGS CNG Services to support current and future vehicles that run on CNG in and around northwest Pennsylvania and northeast Ohio.  This project was financed (in part) by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Commonwealth Financing Authority, as well as support from National Fuel. 

With extremely convenient access on and off Interstate 90 (Exit #18), this CNG station features two CNG dispensers that support two fueling hoses each.  Passenger vehicles, all the way up to large semi-trucks that run on CNG fuel, will enjoy the stations ability to fast-fill their vehicle at a rate very similar to gasoline or diesel fueling stations. 

This state-of-the-art CNG fueling station is built with a substantial amount of materials from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The station uses natural gas provided by National Fuel’s nearby pipeline system.  The natural gas is then sent via above ground pipe to a large dryer made by Erie’s own PSB Industries.  Once the gas is dried, it is piped into two 250 horsepower natural gas compressors made by Ariel Corporation (Mt. Vernon, OH).  The compressed gas is then sent via high-pressure pipe to above ground storage cylinders made by CP Industries (McKeesport, PA).  The dispensers that you fuel from are a product of ANGI Energy Systems (Janesville, WI).   

Natural gas is extremely plentiful in Pennsylvania and Ohio and offers a tremendously clean-burning, American, fuel option.  It is also more affordable than the average costs of gasoline or diesel fuels.  

For you readers that have a fleet of trucks and might be interested in diversifying your fleet with some CNG trucks, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is currently offering grant dollars (up to $40,000 per truck) to offset the incremental cost of CNG trucks. 

This new, public CNG fueling station is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is unmanned.  All major credit cards are accepted, as well as most fleet cards.  IGS CNG Services also offers their own fleet fueling card if you are interested.

Thank You!

Wednesday December 5, 2018 

A Ribbon Cutting Ceremony commemorated the occasion

On Wednesday, December 5th we held a ribbon cutting ceremony for Aveanna Healthcare celebrating the opening of the facility on Penninsula Drive. 

Pediatria, which has been serving the City of Erie for the past 8 years and Care Unlimited, which has been serving 6 counties in NW PA for the past 14 years has announced that it is changing its name to Aveanna Healthcare.  Pediatria, the only Medical Day Care Center in Erie and Care Unlimited a leader in pediatric and adult home healthcare has been a part of Aveanna since March 2017 when Epic Health Services merged with PSA Healthcare to become one team.  

Ishan Arvin, Administrative Director of Pediatria states, “Pediatria is the only Medical Day Care facility that serves the city of Erie and Erie County.  Pediatria provides skilled nursing, in a day care center, to children with medical needs”. 

“As with Care Unlimited, Aveanna’s care is focused on the needs of the individual we serve,” said Trey Proctor, Location Director of the local office.  Our team of professionals supports patients and their families with services in the home.  

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Aveanna Healthcare has been a recognized leader in pediatric and adult homecare for more than 30 years.  Aveanna has more than 200 locations in 23 states.  A privately owned company, Aveanna is dedicated to providing trusted care with compassion, quality, and clinical excellence.  For more information,

View Photos

Monday December 10, 2018 

Eighteen individuals complete Fall EA Program

Tuesday evening, December 4th, 18 new Erie Ambassadors graduated from the 9-week training program. Hosted by Erie Regional Chamber member The Schoolhouse in Fairview, the graduating class, their family members and employers gathered in celebration and accomplishment.

Brian Slawin, Regional Director and Portfolio Manager at the Ben Franklin Technology Partners, served at the inspirational speaker for the evening, pointing out all the good things in Erie, and the importance of "the pin". Mr. Slawin is also an Erie Ambassador alumnus.

The fall class joins the nearly 600 individuals who have gone through the program.

Erie Ambassadors serve the community through volunteer activities that positively impact the community and support the mission of the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership. The Erie Ambassador program is designed to train community professionals and citizens interested in the history and promotion of our region. The course examines numerous aspects of the community, providing in-depth information from some of Erie’s top civic leaders.

Additional hosts for the Fall EA sessions were as follows: The Masonic Temple, Asbury Woods, Accudyn Products, Renaissance Centre, The Non-Profit Partnership, The Brewerie at Union Station, Erie Water Works, Penelec, Erie Maritime Museum, Scott Enterprises, and VisitErie. Thank you all so much for the warm welcome and teaching class participants more about your fields of expertise!

Congratulations once again to our Fall Erie Ambassador Graduates! Now, go out and do!

View Event Photos

Interested in learning more about the Erie Ambassador program? Applications are now being accepted for the Winter/Spring Erie Ambassador sessions. Visit for all the details on the program, class schedule, and application. 

Photo Credit: R. Frank Photography

Tuesday December 11, 2018 

Hosted at Sugar and Romolo Chocolates

We had a full house for the December Connect 4 Coffee. The event space, Sugar, at Romolo Chocolates, was filled with reminders of the kid in all of us with the colorful candy walls and cotton candy clouds. Our members shared information about their businesses and had plenty of time for networking as well.

A little about our host:

Tony and Jennifer Stefanelli shared a bit about Romolo's and about Tony's years on the chocolate making industry. He also mentioned the 8th Street location is now 25,000 square feet with the addition of Sugar a year and a half ago. Tony announced they have recently acquired property on Peach Street and are planning an expansion concentrating on their ice cream products. Yum! 

And here is what we learned about some of our members in attendance this month:

  • Community Health Net offers multiple services at multiple sites
  • At Grifols Biomat, healthy donors are screened and evaluated prior to donating. The collected plasma is shipped to North Carolina where it is manufactured into life-saving medications for people with chronic diseases. Donors are compensated for their time spent.
  • The Non-Profit Partnership is a 350 member organization that offers education and training to non-profit professionals in the region. Mark your calendars for October 29 for Non-Profit Day 2019!
  • The United Way is a local organization with local staff doing very good things for those in need. Ninety-nine cents of every dollar donated in the Erie area stays in the Erie area which funds programs and initiatives like the Imagination Library and Community Schools. And don't forget about 211, the free tax preparation program. 

View Event Photos Here

Mark your calendar for the first Connect 4 Coffee event of 2019! Our host will be Asbury Woods on January 8th.


Wednesday December 12, 2018 

A popular business model among brands offering digital services, Freemium means giving something away for free while gating other, more valuable services behind a pay structure. If you've engaged with brands like Skype, Hootsuite, Evernote, or Spotify, you already have a good understanding of how this works. Learn the ins and outs of the Freemium business model.

Different Freemium Structures

Business owners who choose to offer Freemium services have multiple options when it comes to structuring their business model. Some of the more popular Freemium models include:

Free forever plans. In the case of Evernote, a note-taking app that continues to improve features for teams, there is a basic plan that is free for anyone to use. The basic plan does have limitations, but it is a "base" product that is still valuable - until you need it to be more powerful. With Evernote, the basic plan currently limits syncing to two devices and data transfers to 60MB per month. The paid options increase these limits while adding other features, like pdf markup and offline access to notes. The business goal, in this example, is to get customers to fall in love with the product and ultimately become willing to pay for it.

Ad-driven Freemium products. Take virtually any mobile gaming app on the market and you'll see what makes these Freemium. While the game is free to play and enjoy, attaining new levels or switching back to the home screen may be accompanied by ads. For some app developers, ad revenue is primarily used to support the cost of the app. For others, ad revenue equals profit and an opportunity to cross-market other apps the consumer may enjoy.

Freemium with paid perks. Unlike our Evernote example, bonus features contained within a Freemium product are one-time purchases meant to enhance a user's experience of the product. With this model, we're not asking for a long-term commitment; instead, we're convincing the customer to make an impulse purchase (which adds up to serious revenue). Next time you're on Facebook, try a game like Candy Crush to see this in action. You start with a set, limited number of game "boosters" or helpers and, once they're gone, your next option is either to spend a long time playing the game to earn them yourself or, for a nominal fee of $.99, purchase these enhanced extras and bust your way through candy-themed puzzles like a pro.

Initial phase Freemium. Sometimes a benefit for startups and entrepreneurs, offering a product for free can be a great way to elicit feedback, test the market, and perfect the product offering. Hulu is a great example of this idea. Hulu started by streaming content online completely free for customers. Granted, it wasn't prime-time quality content, but in the world of Netflix, it was a pretty sweet deal. Hulu used this trial period to learn what customers watched and gradually changed its offering to accommodate the market. Now, Hulu only offers paid plans in its quest to rival Netflix.

Toying with the Idea of Freemium?

As Harvard Business Review points out, there are ways to maximize monetization of Freemium services and not all businesses "get it right." To land lifetime customers, Freemium companies are tasked with effectively anticipating and managing the conversion lifecycle, creating customer evangelists who promote the brand willingly and innovating their products offerings as the market changes.

What is your favorite Freemium product or service? Tell us in the comments below!

Friday December 14, 2018 

-Jimmy Smith, Operations & Advertising Manager at Prep and Villa’s Hagerty Family Events Center

When you think of a typical sales person what comes to your mind? Some of the words that I think of are: Pushy, too many positive statements, annoying, and forceful. All of these are adjectives to describe someone who is only thinking about themselves. The sales person is attempting to get the customer to make a decision because of their OWN needs. Whether that’s to meet a quota, get a higher commission, impress their boss, etc. They don’t have the customer in mind and that’s what is wrong with the persona of a sales person.

When I started my career in sales, I hated the idea of being a “salesman” because of the words I described. The idea of cold calling people to try and get them to buy something terrified me. It made me uncomfortable picking up the phone which lead to me not being confident when talking to people on the phone and that resulted in no sales being made. I would think to myself there has to be a better way to how I am doing this! 

I started to search for and read various books on the topic of selling and came across a book called “See You At the Top” by Zig Ziglar. Ziglar was a charter member in the establishment of American Salesmasters in 1963 and has written over 30 books on the topic of sales. He had success and credibility to prove he knew what he was talking about, so I searched for my answers within this book. 

There was a lot of really great information I learned from his book but the one phrase that has stuck with me through the years is “you can have anything you want in life as long as you help enough other people get what they want”. Wow! This completely revolutionized my thoughts on the idea of being a salesman. For the first time I took a step back and decided to look at myself as someone who can go out and try to help people! I can provide solutions to problems that people have by the products that I offer. 

This not only changed my thoughts on my job as a salesman, but it also gave me confidence when going out into the market place. I no longer was uncomfortable by discussing the products I had to offer because I put the OTHER PERSONS NEEDS first on my list of objectives! If I didn’t have a solution to a problem they had, then I didn’t try to push anything on them. 

As simple as this may seem it completely changed my viewpoint on sales and allowed me to grow my clientele at an exceptional rate! I would encourage anyone who is struggling with sales to take a step back and ask yourself what your motive is. Is it to hit a sales quote or is it to see if someone has a need and if you have a product that can help them?

Thursday December 13, 2018 

Congratulations to Red Letter Hospitality on the grand opening of The Cork 1794 in the West Erie Plaza!

We held a ribbon cutting ceremony today to celebrate the much-anticipated opening of the restaurant!

The Cork 1794 debuted in 2014, setting a new standard for cuisine and comfort. This new location expands not only the square footage, but also The Cork’s ability to deliver an experience like no other through a piano bar, outdoor seating, chef’s table, and private dining areas.

A new menu delivers everything you’d expect from The Cork – along with new options for lunch, dinner, brunch, cocktails and late-night dining.

Red Letter Hospitality is a management company created by Billy Lewis and his partner Greg Brown. The company, which includes The Cork 1794, Molly Brannigan’s, The Skunk and Goat Tavern, and two CoreLife Eateries, is headquartered in North East and employs 200.

Congratulations! And we wish you years of success!

View Event Photos

Monday December 17, 2018 

Our final Business After Hours of 2018 was held at the Gannon University Innovation Beehive Network in the 900 State Street building.

Our largest gathering of the year saw 400 members and guests registered in attendance. And Gannon pulled out all the stops, creating a truly festive atmosphere!

A press conference was held in conjunction during the evening and the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority presenting the Innovation Beehive Network, driven by the 4 universities, a $1 million grant in support of the projects. Congratulations!

Thank you Gannon University for being such terrific hosts for the holiday gathering!

View Event Photos

Tuesday December 18, 2018 

-Cathy Szymanski, Szymanski Consulting

Does your organization need to optimize its migration and provision of Office 365? Here are 6 strategies for managing and making the most out of your subscription to Microsoft’s premium cloud-based productivity suite.

Declutter your inbox

If you’re having trouble managing the overwhelming amount of emails in your inbox, then using Office 365’s “Clutter” feature can clear up some space. To enable this feature, go to Settings > Options > Mail > Automatic processing > Clutter then select Separate items identified as Clutter. Once activated, mark any unwanted messages as “clutter.” After learning your email preferences, Office 365 will automatically move low-priority messages into your “Clutter” folder, helping you focus on more important emails.

Ignore group emails

Want to keep messages from an email thread you don't want to be part of out of your inbox? If so, simply go to the message and find the Ignore setting. Doing this will automatically move future reply-alls to the trash so they never bother you again. Of course, if you ever change your mind, you could un-ignore the message; just find the email in your trash folder and click Stop ignoring.

Unsend emails

In case you sent a message to the wrong recipient or attached the wrong file, use Office 365 ’s message recall function. Simply open your sent message, click Actions, and select Recall this message. From here, you can either “Delete unread copies of this message” or “Delete unread copies and replace with a new message.” Bear in mind that this applies only to unread messages and for Outlook users within the same company domain.

Work offline

Whenever you’re working outside the office or in an area with unstable internet, it’s a good idea to enable Offline Access. Found under the Settings menu, this feature allows you to continue working on documents offline and syncs any changes made when you have an internet connection. Offline access is also available in your SharePoint Online document libraries.

Use Outlook plugins

Aside from sending and receiving emails, Outlook also has some awesome third-party plugins. Some of our favorite integrations include PayPal, which allows you to send money securely via email; and Uber, which lets you set up an Uber ride reminder for any calendar event. Find more productivity-boosting plugins in the Office Store.

Tell Office applications what to do

If you’re not a fan of sifting through menus and options, you can always take advantage of the Tell Me function in your Office apps. When you press Alt + Q, you bring up a search bar that allows you to look for the functions you need. Suppose you need to put a wall of text into columns on Word but can’t find where it is specifically, just type “column” in the search bar and Microsoft will help you with the rest.

These tricks and features will increase productivity. And fortunately, there’s more coming. Microsoft is continuously expanding Office 365’s capabilities, and if you truly want to make the most out of the software, don’t be afraid to explore its newly released features.

For more Office 365 tips and updates, get in touch with us today.

Wednesday December 19, 2018 

By Matt Flowers, Owner of Ethos Copywriting

 Is your website getting buried in search results? Take comfort in knowing that you’re not the only one (and the fact that we’re spelling out an effective solution to the problem through search engine optimization and content creation in this piece).

 According to HubSpot, growing organic SEO ranks as the No. 1 sales priority for businesses in 2018. Coming in second: Blog content creation. However, SEO is intricately connected to content creation, that savvy business owners can crush both marketing goals with one solution: guest blogging.

 Too, it’s worth noting that “content distribution” also made it into the top five prerogatives for businesses. So in effect, you may be able to crush three goals with this blog-centric approach.

Blogging versus Guest Blogging

Is blogging worth it? Undoubtedly. Even Google spells it out: “[Providing high-quality content] is the single most important thing to do.” More specifically, building a top-notch blog, updates section, or news page on your site will help:

  • Humanize your brand
  • Increase leads
  • Increase search engine traffic
  • Position your business as an authority
  • Strengthen your social media presence
  • Tap into long-tail search queries 

However, it also matters where you post this high-quality content. Without question, high-quality onsite blog posts can bolster your site’s search authority. Researchers at Moz found that the quality, quantity, and relevance of content total 14.94% of Google’s ranking signal. That being said, this search giant’s elusive algorithm appears to weigh backlinks as a clear indicator of trust and authority. 

For instance, domain-level link features, such as the number of links to your domain, trust/quality of links to your domain, and your domain-level page rankings comprise 20.94% of Google’s ranking factors. Likewise, page-level link elements (number and quality of links, anchor-text distribution, etc.) make up another 19.15%.

This means nearly half of Google’s ranking factors are based on backlinks. To put this into perspective, a high-quality guest post with a backlink can effectively produce the same SEO boost as two to three long-form blogs (>1000 words) on your own site.

But how do you “get,” or more precisely, “earn” a backlink? Arguably the best approach is to actively guest blog. This method may entail reaching out to relevant, trustworthy websites within your industry. Because you’re adding quality content to their site, they’ll generally allow you to include a link in your piece. 

However, it’s critical that you look into the domain authority (DA), page authority (PA), and spam score of the site for which you’re considering to write a guest post. If their domain and page authority ranks low (ranges from 0 to 100) and their spam score (ranges from 0 to 17) high, chances are you want to decline that “opportunity.” 

Likewise, savvy publications will put the kibosh on spammy articles that attempt to use black hat SEO techniques like inappropriate anchor text (the text that appears highlighted in a hyperlink) and auto-generated content as this puts their website at risk of being flagged as spam.

Be the ERCGP’s Guest

It can be difficult to find a high-quality website that allows business owners to submit a blog. For that reason, it’s imperative to consider your connections when brainstorming places to guest post. 

Fortunately, when you’re part of Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership (ERCGP), you’re eligible to submit four pieces per year to their “Business Brief” blog! By guest posting, you’re not only going to crush your organic SEO, content creation, and content distribution goals, but you’ll be engaging with your community, industry, and potential customers.

Thursday December 20, 2018 

January Connect 4 Coffee Registration Open

Join us for our first event of the 2019 year! Build your network at our Connect 4 Coffee event being hosted by Asbury Woods, 4105 Asbury Road on Tuesday, January 8th

Connect 4 Coffee takes place from 7:30 to 9:00 AM. Members who have difficulty attending our Business After Hours evening events are encouraged to give this format a try!  

Attendees should prepare a 2-minute talk about YOUR business or programs, bring business cards, marketing material, and expect quality networking in a business-conducive environment. Time will be allowed for short Q&A among guests, and of course, coffee and light breakfast treats are included. Marketing materials are to be placed on the dedicated table for guests to pick up.

If your schedule allows, bring a pair of hiking shoes for a short walk on the trails of Asbury Woods afterward with Jennifer Farrar, Executive Director, and Carissa Snarski, Director of Development and Marketing!

This event is FREE to ERCGP members, but space is limited to 30 guests and pre-registration is required. If you have attended a Connect 4 Coffee event in the past, preference will be given to those members who have not attended previously.

Register Here

Monday December 31, 2018 

Meet the newest Erie Regional Chamber members!

Please help us welcome the newest members to the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership!

Thank you for your investment. We look forward to working with you!

Our members represent over 800 companies and more than 70,000 employees in the Erie region. If you know of a business that could benefit by becoming a member of the Erie Regional Chamber, refer them to Nancy Irwin, Development Director, or Steve Walters, Sales Manager.

Membership Information

Monday December 24, 2018 

Season's greetings to you and yours!

There is no time more appropriate to say Thank You and to wish you and your's a Happy Holiday Season.

From all of us at the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership

Friday December 21, 2018 

Registration now open

Join us for our first Business After Hours of 2019 at HealthSouth as they launch their new name, Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Erie.     

  • Tour the facility and learn about their rehabilitation programs and why they are designated a Stroke Center of Excellence
  • Healthy snacks served by the recent winner of the "Workplace of the Year" (Erie Times Commitment to Erie Awards), including a Rethink Your Drink station
  • American Heart and Stroke Association will be on hand promoting healthy living and giveaways
  • Free parking around the building or at nearby parking garages. Please be aware of construction on 2nd Street, enter the parking lot from 3rd Street
  • Come out and support the community and donate blood for National Blood Donor Month that same day from 10am to 5pm

Register Here

Thursday December 27, 2018 

David Aaker says we can be better people in business

David Aaker is well-known for his expertise in marketing and his ability to help businesses thrive and exceed their goals. His branding concepts, including identifying customer's interests and creating a community or story around those interests has made him an icon in the business world. In a constantly evolving marketplace, David Aaker's work can teach us to develop strong leadership in the workplace.

Business owners of all sizes rely on Mr. Aaker's expertise and training to improve their marketing, but he doesn't stop there. David Aaker recommends training the entire workplace, from sales people to accountants, to obtain top results.

Seven Tips to Be Better People in Business

  1. Make a good, solid, first impression on customers. This refers to attitude and appearance of the people who work at the company as well as the space and products or services.
  2. Customers are in your store or business because they choose to be. They are interested in what you have to sell and your products. Once they are there, part of the sale is over, now you need to perform up to your promises and their expectations.
  3. Provide quality customer service. Companies like L.L. Bean got their start because they righted problems with their products, even though it cost them to do so. You need a good reputation in business. Customer service makes or breaks that reputation.
  4. Focus on ethics when providing service or products others. David Aaker believes this focus should be given more credit for the impact it has on customers.
  5. Management and owners need to appreciate the people on the company's payroll and the value they add to the business. Most businesses aren't able to operate as a solo enterprise and need to rely on employees, many of whom are the public face of the company.
  6. An inspiring thought from David Aaker is to consider what the impact would be if everyone had an opportunity, every day, to build a customer for life. To be honest, in most business settings, you do have this opportunity. Treat customers accordingly and foster relationships with them. It is easier to retain a current customer than to find a new one.
  7. Consistency is crucial for a solid business, whether you sell clothing, food, or service. Customers should be able to count and rely on the word and quality of your company and the products you deliver. Consistency in maintaining contact is also important in retaining customers to ensure they know they are valued.

David Aaker helps companies and their employees improve their leadership skills. The Erie Regional Chamber provides resources to help your company reach its full potential within our community. Stop in or call to learn more.

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