Erie Chamber Blog
Tuesday July 3, 2018 

Erie Public Schools Adult Education Initiative

As an adult education initiative of Erie’s Public Schools, Tech After Hours is an innovative program that seeks to expand the successful career training programs at Erie High School by making them accessible to out-of-school youth and adults. In this way, it serves as a de-facto community college by offering credit recovery, remediation, skill training and employment certification to prepare workers for real jobs in our local economy. The program also leverages the resources, success and experience of Erie’s high school CTE program and provides maximum usage of a community resource that was underutilized during evening, weekend and summer hours.

The success of Tech After Hours was immediately realized with the first graduating class receiving employment offers upon graduation.  One student was offered full time employment with benefits by 3 companies. Other students received offers in construction, maintenance, welding and senior living centers.

Tech After Hours is currently working with employers in an effort to start the next Apprenticeship program and is always accepting students into the other programs. There will be an employer open house to promote the Machining and Apprenticeship program on August 1st, 2018 at 10:00. Please RSVP at 814-874-6217

By offering out-of-school youth and adult students viable paths back into the education and training system, Tech After Hours provides training and educational opportunities to dislocated workers and young adults and provides them with a clear path toward real jobs here in Erie County. At the same time, the program also provides regional employers with the skilled workforce they demand in order to keep their businesses functioning in our local economy.

Funded in large part by a grant from the Erie Community Foundation in 2015, Tech After Hours currently offers programs in Welding, Machining, Patient Care Assistant, Auto Mechanics and Construction Trades as well as GED/remediation support through a partnership with IU5. Tech After Hours also works closely with CareerLink in order to provide tuition assistance to students who qualify. In conjunction with local manufacturing employers, Tech After Hours offers an Oh-Penn Department of Labor approved Apprenticeship program for Machinists.

For more information on Tech After Hours, please go to or call 814-874-6217.

Sunday July 1, 2018 
Behind the Scenes

In partnership with Lilly Broadcasting, the ERCGP sponsors Giving You the Business segments which air weekly on WSEE35 and WICU12 during the 5:30PM. Monday broadcast and Tuesday mornings in the 6-7AM. hour.
The segment takes viewers behind the scenes of local businesses they may not have a chance to see.

Recently highlighted members:

Giving You the Business segments highlight members of the ERCGP, and is a free membership benefit! Contact our office if you would like viewers to see behind the scenes at your business! Email Nadeen Schmitz, or phone 814-454-7191 x139 to schedule your segment.

Tuesday July 10, 2018 

That isn't a typo

We celebrated today with the team at F3 Metal Worx as they officially rebranded the metal fabricating company. 

Comprised three product families, Wire Weld Store Fixtures, Arvite Precision Sheet Metal Fabrication and Cost Effective Coatings, with more than 80 years of combined experience, F3 Metal Worx offers a one-stop shop of products and services for their customers.

With locations in North East and Millcreek, the company is poised for expansion and additional work force. 

Congratulations to all, way to grow! 

View Event Photos


Wednesday July 11, 2018 

The Reserves Network

We had a full house for our monthly morning networking event, Connect 4 Coffee, held Tuesday, July 10th. And The Reserves Network was a terrific host!

The Reserves Network has 40 locations throughout the country and places nearly 20,000 employees annually. Founded in 1984 in Fairview Park, OH, the provider of “Total Staffing Solutions” has won multiple honors for outstanding sales growth and management excellence. Their professional staff assists employers seaking talent and job seakers with gainful employment. A win-win!

A few things we learned from our members over coffee:

  • Core 3 Group is organizing a super cool event to be held on October 20th, the Liv - Well 365 Expo. Get details HERE.
  • We learned the difference between donating plasma and donating blood and the importance of donating both from Rachel Owens of Grifols.
  • $60 million in grant money was released July 1st to the American Cancer Society's in the Northeast region of the United States! 
  • We learned that a LOT of our members are holding events, and took the opportunity to remind everyone that all events can be posted on the ERCGP website's event calendar free of charge. The more visibility, the better, right?

Join us for our next Connect 4 Coffee on August 14th. Our host will be Pointe Foure Vintage on Federal Hill. Register HERE.

View Event Photos


Thursday July 12, 2018 

Outdoor Patio Makes a Great Addition

Samurai Kitchen & Sushi opened their brand new outdoor patio and beer menu today with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony marking the celebration. 

Head on over and experience their high quality dishes while you soak in the relaxing atmosphere and beautiful summer weather. The patio is complete with umbrella tables and outdoor bar. You can challenge you dining companions with a game of ping pong or corn hole too! 

Congratulations Sara and team at SAMURAI! What an inviting space you have created. Way to grow!

View Event Photos

Tuesday July 17, 2018 

By Olivia Newport, ERCGP Marketing Intern

Since the beginning of June, I have had the experience of working with ERCGP Marketing Executive, Nadeen Schmitz as a Marketing Assistant. I am currently pursuing a Marketing major and International Business certificate at the University of Pittsburgh, and will be entering my junior year this fall.

The ERCGP Summer Internship Program was first brought to my attention by my grandma, who has served as an Erie Ambassador for the past few years and regularly receives Chamber updates. After reading the position description, I was immediately interested. I thought that working for the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership would give me the opportunity to benefit my hometown as well as gain experience in the marketing field. So far, this program has delivered!

Since starting I have worked on a variety of projects. With the 11th Annual Beer on the Bay quickly approaching, my supervisor and I have dedicated a major part of our time creating advertisements and promoting the event on social media. This process has allowed me to witness the in-depth planning and organization that goes into putting on such a large event. I’ve had a lot of fun designing graphics for the BOTB Facebook page, and I am continuing to learn which marketing strategies result in the greatest success.

Aside from Beer on the Bay, I have had the opportunity to attend some of the other regular events that the ERCGP organizes. By participating in Connect 4 Coffee, I’ve discovered new local businesses and learned what they’re doing to build up Erie’s economy. Through this event, I have also been able to network with Erie professionals, which will be very helpful down the line as I look for a job after graduation!

In addition to Connect 4 Coffee, I’ve been able to attend a few ribbon cuttings. Not only are the giant scissors very impressive, but it’s also really cool to show my support of a local company’s accomplishments and witness their growth and expansion.

As the summer continues to progress, I look forward to learning more about marketing and communications, as well as attending fun and interesting events!

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.

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.

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

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!


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


Monday July 23, 2018 

Thank you to our friends at Lily Broadcasting for hosting our July networking event, what a terrific evening! 
Members and guests were treated to a behind the scenes look at the studio, met with and talked to the station's celeb's, had some great treats from Calamari's Squid Row, and "swag bags" were given to each attendee! 
Thanks again to our terrific hosts!!

View Event Photos

Tuesday July 24, 2018 

By: Chrystal Kuchcinski, Business Consultant for T2 Management Solutions, LLC

This year, the loss in productivity for small US businesses due to inefficient administrative management will be a whopping $335.3 billion (Miller & Wongsaroj, 2017). Does your firm contribute to this loss? What can be done to reduce the amount of time spent on administration and increase the amount of time that can potentially be spent on operations and revenue generating tasks? How can you work smarter?

With technological advancements, automation is a significant time saver for small businesses and sole proprietors. Unfortunately, resistance to automated processes and lack of awareness for how to begin more automated and time saving methods of administrative management can result in a significant loss of time. As a result, productivity is hindered due to time lost that could be spent on other areas of business such as revenue generation and operations.

In 2017, Sage, an enterprise resource planning software supplier, funded a study to assess the amount of potentially revenue generating time that small business owners spend on administrative tasks and the significant benefits of automated processes.  Plum, an independent consulting firm, conducted the study of over 3,000 companies across 11 countries to assess whether technology can be used to reduce administrative burden.

The results?


(Miller & Wongsarof, 2017)

In the United States, 4.9% of small businesses’ work-time is lost to administrative management resulting in an implied productivity loss of $335.3 billion dollars annually. For the sake of this study, administrative tasks have been narrowed down into the following 8 areas: talent acquisition, tax accounting, generating invoices, payroll, processing invoices received, HR, chasing late payments, and general accounting. The simplest resolution to a business owner spending too much time on administrative functions without employing a dedicated staff member to handle them is to automate as many functions as possible in an effort to make administrative work more streamlined and easier to manage. With hundreds of automated programs available, much of the routine administrative functions that small business owners typically take upon themselves to perform can be done automatically or with little effort and time required.

Many firms are resistant to implementing an administrative services management software for a variety of reasons, most commonly business owners may dislike change, distrust automated software, or be hesitant to take on the initial cost and time. Additionally, many firms may not know where to start or what products are available. However, businesses do not need to go into automation blindly.  Administrative services firms and ASO’s can refer businesses to automation products, aid in getting the business set up for automation, offer training on implementing automation software, or even take it on completely. It is advisable to conduct an audit of time and money spent on administrative tasks and compare to the cost and time required to implement a new program and especially the cost and time required as automation is streamlined. With a wide variety of programs for administrative services available, the failure to implement a more streamlined business strategy through the aid of automation oftentimes results in business owners wasting their most valuable resource, their own time.

Article referenced:

Miller, Tim & Wongsaroj, Sarongrat. Sweating the Small Stuff: the impact of the bureaucracy burden. September 2017.


Wednesday July 25, 2018 

Dean Barber, ED Expert, Visits Erie

This week Dean Barber, one of the nation's top economic development experts, paid a visit to Erie thanks to Emerge 2040. 

Dean Barber is the founder and principal of Barber Business Advisors in Dallas, TX.   He a nationally recognized economic development consultant who specializes in strategic planning, site readiness and site selection.  Dean is also a prominent economic development writer/blogger who is widely followed by relevant private and public sector stakeholders and decision makers.   He has an extensive background as a local and regional economic development practitioner that includes business retention & expansion as well as business recruitment and FDI.  Before economic development, Dean worked as a journalist. 

Mr. Barber spent several days in Erie, becoming familiar with the business climate and community at large. Tuesday evening the ERCGP along with Emerge 2040 and Erie Insurance hosted a presentation and open discussion for a group of business, community, and political leaders. As he began his presentation, he stated, 'I'm just proud to be here'.

Some takeaways from Dean's presentation:

  • ERI needs a facelift. This is the first impression of visiting site selectors
  • Know your story; the narrative is what we remember
  • Be bold
  • Business is a competition
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses
  • Target marketing is based on strengths
  • Best strategy for Economic Development is retention and expansion; take care of what you already have
  • Listening to employers is so important
  • We are in the early stages of Digital Age Industry
  • Entrepreneurial support is needed
  • Small business doesn't always stay "small"
  • Business expansion is risky and expensive, but you have to go after it
  • Plans need action
  • Tell your story on social media
  • There is grit here
  • Erie is turning the corner but still has a long way to go
  • Economic Development is always a team sport. 'You can't win together if you don't work together' Nick Saban
  • Community College to teach vocational skills is needed
  • Don't be the frog

Mr. Barber's visit will result in a series of blog articles that will profile Erie to his large universe of followers in the site selection, real estate, and economic developement fields.

Monday July 30, 2018 

August Business After Hours

Black School of Business at Penn State Behrend, accredited by AACSB International and listed among the "Best Business Schools" by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report, will host our next Business After Hours on August 9th in the Burke Building on campus.

  • Tours of the center will be offered
  • Delicious hor d'oeuvres by the Penn State Behrend, Housing and Food Service
  • Brews and wine by 6 Mile Cellars
  • Bring your business cards for maximum networking opportunities!


**Please Note: Business After Hours is a membership benefit of the Erie Regional Chamber & Growth Partnership. Guests may attend one Business After Hours as a guest and must make prior arrangements with our staff. If you would like information about membership with the ERCGP please contact Nancy Irwin, 814.454.7191 x143 or Steve Walters at 814.454.7191 x140.

Monday July 30, 2018 

We Couldn't Have Done it Without You!

 After another successful Beer on the Bay, we, on behalf of the ERCGP and our partner in this event, Erie Brewing Company, would like to thank everyone that made the event possible. Attendees were able to sample fantastic beer, check out awesome local vendors, and enjoy great music on the beautiful Bay. We are proud to support the A.N.N.A. Shelter with a portion of the proceeds from the event.

We are so grateful for all of the sponsors that helped us pull off this event! From tents and treats to transportation, we would not be able to execute such a wonderful day without you!

Knox Law

PHN Charitable Foundation

Erie Yellow Cab/ Care Cab

Lamar Advertising

Great Lakes Manufacturing

Wm. T. Spaeder

Avalon Hotel & Conference Center

City of Erie


C.A. Curtze


Flaherty & O’Hara, P.C.

Presque Isle Tent and Table

Erie Ice Works  

F3 Metalworx


B.F. Fields Moving & Storage


VIP Sponsors:

Buffalo Wild Wings

Four Mile Brewing

Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen

Utz Quality Foods

Petra Restaurant – Hooka

Jimmy John’s

Bent Run Brewing Co.

Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Moe’s Southwest Grill

Evil Genius Beer Company

Culligan Water of Erie

Max & Erma’s

Craft Beers of Canada

Bell’s Brewing Company

Donatos Pizza

Erie Brewing Company

Fat Head’s Brewing

Rivertowne Brewing

Lindemans Brewery

Five & 20 Brewing

Smith’s Provisions

Ommegang Brewery

New Belgium Brewing

Franco’s Café

The Brewerie at Union Station

Dinner is Served by Lisa

Thirsty Dog Brewing Co.

Premier Catering by Ambassador

Koehler Brewing Co.


Otto’s Pub and Brewery


Thank you to all of the participating brewers that poured all day… the event continues to grow due to your involvement, and more importantly, your tasty beer! 

Ellicottville Brewing Co.

Evil Genius Beer Company

Five & 20 Brewing

Four Mile Brewing

Arundel Cellars & Brewing Co.

Goose Island/ Devil’s Backbone

Millcreek Brewing Co.

Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Duck Rabbit Craft Brewery

Craft Beers of Canada

BASH Butler Area Society of Homebrewers

Fat Head’s Brewing

Sobel’s Obscure Brewery

Coal Country Brewing

Knockin Noggin Hard Cider

Straub Brewery

Bison Brewers Home Brew Club

Hamburg Brewing Company

Grist House Craft Brewery

HarborCreek Brew Club

Bell’s Brewing Company

HAZARD Homebrewing

Neshaminy Creek Brewing

Magic Hat Brewing Company

Lavery Brewing Company

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

The Brewerie at Union Station

Erie Brewing Company

Lindemans Brewery

Oskar Blues Brewery

Founders Brewing

North Country Brewing

Orr’s Brewing Co.

Deschutes Brewery


Ommegang Brewery

Brooklyn Brewery

Pittsburgh Brewing Co.

Rivertowne Brewing

Flying Dog Brewery

New Belgium Brewing

Koehler Brewing Co.

21st Amendment Brewery

Uinta Brewing

Otto’s Pub and Brewery

Rogue Ales & Spirits

Thirsty Dog Brewing Co.

Yards Brewing Co.

Southern Tier Brewing

Rusty Rail Brewing Co.

Victory Brewing Co.

Voodoo Brewery

Clarion River Brewing Co.

New Trail Brewing

Bent Run Brewing Co.

Bent Run Brewing Co.

Evil Genius Beer Co.

Black Monk Brewery


Tröegs Independent Brewing

Lastly, we would like to acknowledge all of the vendors that tabled at the event. It’s so fun to check out what you’re doing and bringing to the Erie area! 

Brooklyn Pizza

Hope for EAW

Simple Man Brand

Erie Puppy Mill Awareness

Santiago Cigar Factory Inc.

Mosquito Hunters of Erie

KC Lane Designs & SeneGence

No Dress Code Studios

Average Joe’s Sausage Co.

Tastefully Simple

Families United Network

Guy and Lady Barrel Cigars

Erie Area Rabbit Society & Rescue

St. Joseph Bread of Life

Lularoe with Theresa & Madison

Young Erie Professionals

Tony DeMichele State Farm Agency

Erie Apparel

Hillbilly’s Jerky

The ANNA Shelter

Hops and Nuts

Moose Head Pottery

Arbonne- Carly Sarbak

Boots on Ground

Mary Kay- Jessica DeJesus

HIPPOH by Olympia Technologies

ProActive Family Chiropractic Center

The Bavarian Nut Co.



We had so much fun at BOTB 2018, and hope to see you all again next year!

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