Erie Chamber Blog
Saturday September 1, 2018 

Thank you for your investment as members of the ERCGP. We look forward to working with you!

Our investors represent nearly 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

Tuesday September 4, 2018 

Using MAATAC Funds to Grow your Company

Bill Scholz, Business Outreach Specialist ERCGP

There are numerous programs to assisted distressed manufacturers. For example, the Steel Valley Authority can help a firm restructure their finances, streamline operations, and find new markets. These resources are available at little to no cost, and all firm information is kept strictly confidential.

Another important program is MATAAC (MidAtlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance Center). MATAAC provides technical assistance to businesses negatively impacted by imports. MATAAC awards federal grants that cover up to 50% of fees associated with knowledge-based consulting needed to grow your business’ global competitiveness.  

In that sense it is a trade remedy for firms who are affected. For example, a manufacturing company in another country might aggressively pursue U.S. market share at prices below the cost of materials leading to an unfair competitive advantage. If you’ve lost revenue due to imports, there is a likelihood that you are eligible for MATAAC’s assistance.  

Technical assistance is available for virtually any business process including but certainly not limited to marketing, sales, operations, financial management, IT, succession planning, training, new product development, new service development, software customization, certifications, etc., and only requires a 25%-50% match from the firm.

MATAAC was started in 1974 by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Since then, it has made a significant impact on manufacturers. In 2017, MATAAC helped firms in its Mid-Atlantic portfolio generate a 34% increase in sales revenue, a 29% improvement in productivity, more than 600% growth in earnings and 4% job growth.

The possibilities are limitless. For example, a laboratory instrument maker used MATAAC funds to upgrade its new product development process, develop a new website, redesign its sales business process, reinvent its management information systems and create a bulletproof cash management system.  

Frequently Asked Questions

How much TAAF assistance can a firm expect to receive?

  • A maximum of $150,000 (depending upon the size of the firm and the complexity of the trade injury) split between the firm and the Trade Center.

Are there any costs associated with the TAAF program?

  • There is no cost to enter the program.

How long does it take to get my grant?

  • Each company’s circumstances are unique, but the entire process has averaged about four (4) months over the past couple of years. Your experience may be longer, or it may be shorter.

What kind of projects does the program pay for?

  • Funds can be used for virtually anything under the umbrella of general continuous improvement. They can’t be used for assets, salaries, or normal and continuing business expenses.

The objective of MATAAC is to grow the global competitiveness of U.S. firms. If you think that your firm could benefit, simply contact their regional representative listed below.

Holly Fitzgerald

Director, Business Development

MidAtlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (MATAAC)


Read the Brochure: (Link)

Watch Video Testimonials from Manufacturers: (Link

“We invested a tremendous amount of dollars into our talent, so they could have the best training possible on the technology we gave them. So they could make the machines run in a fashion that is best of breed, best in the world. MATAAC was a partner with us. MATAAC helped us train our talent so that we could harness this technology, these robots, this software, so that we could grow to the next level, we could prosper and thrive. We left the hellish world of commodity products and we ascended towards a place where we can thrive as a company for our employees.”

Wednesday September 5, 2018 

Family Fun at the Millcreek Mall

Kids of all ages are going to have a blast at the new Round1 entertainment facility at the Millcreek Mall. Two floors of arcade games, pool tables, a twelve lane bowling alley, photo booths, skeet ball, karaoke, and more take up the space of the former Burlington Coat Factory. 

A Ribbon Cutting Ceremony marked the official Grand Opening on Saturday, September 1st. Round1 is a state-of-the-art entertainment company offering fun for the whole family with locations across the country. 

Congratulations to all, and welcome to Erie!

View Event Photos

Thursday September 6, 2018 

Help us help you!

One of the greatest tools the Erie Regional Chamber has for our members is the Member Directory at The directory highlights each member's location, website, phone, and social media links as well as identification of our upper-level members. It's the place individuals look and search to find business solutions. 

The online Member Directory is one of our best referral systems. An executive summary dated January 1st through today, September 6th, indicated the following:

  • The total number of referrals from business directory (Member Directory) this period was 1,820,579
  • Each member averaged 768.50 referrals from this period
  • Each day this period there was an average of 7,312 referrals from the business directory (Member Directory)

What does this mean? An amazing amount of individuals are searching for people to do business with. Every day. Look at those numbers!

When was the last time you took a look at your profile information? Is your website listed? Has your workforce changed, employees leaving or added to your organization? Do we have your social media links to get you more looks and 'likes'? Now is the time to review your information. If updates are needed, simply click the Member Login on the upper right corner of It's important to note that the main contact the ERCGP has for your company or organization has the credentials to log in and make the necessary changes. It is also important to note that each of your employees has their own individual log in which enables them to update their personal information as well as register for events.

Need help? Our membership coordinator Susan Ronto can assist you with your login information or that of your employees. Email her at

Not listed in the directory? Listings are a benefit of membership and we'd be happy to help you be among the businesses receiving referrals totaling 1.8 million! Contact Nancy Irwin or Steve Walters for information on joining the Erie Regional Chamber.

Wednesday September 12, 2018 

A company committed to employees, customers, and community


To celebrate the first anniversary at Lake Erie Rubber & Manufacturing, we held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the team at the facility on West Ridge Road Wednesday, September 12th.
Lake Erie Rubber & Manufacturing is a custom rubber molding and manufacturing company committed to their employees, their customers, and the community.
They are expanding further into safety equipment, fitness, and marine applications to grow as well as create new jobs in the Erie area.
Lake Erie Rubber was formed in August of 2017 by purchasing and consolidating Scully Enterprises and Lake Erie Rubber Works.
Be on the lookout for more announcements from Jon and his team!
Congratulations, we wish Lake Erie Rubber many more years of success!
Friday September 14, 2018 

Thanks to all who joined us for Connect 4 Coffee in September at EmergyCare, celebrating its 35th year!

A little bit about our host

This month, our host provided life-saving tips for CPR and provided reminders on what to do when you’re in an emergency. All attendees received a CPR Anytime inflatable CPR learning mannequin and CPR practice skills. EmergyCare covers 60,000-65,000 calls each year. Contact them for training for your company or organization.

Here’s just a sample of what we learned this month

  • New Chamber member, Erie Masonic Temple, was built in 1909. Rooms like the Grand Ballroom and Camelot Room are available for rent. Office space is available too.
  • The United Way of Erie County’s Community Schools provide strategies to remove barriers so kids come to school ready to learn. Current Community Schools are Edison Elementary, East, McKinley Elementary, Pfeiffer-Burleigh Elementary, Strong Vincent, Elk Valley Elementary and Iroquois Elementary.
  • Farmers Insurance offers discounts for 30 occupations, including teachers and educators.

Be a part of our next Connect 4 Coffee at the Erie County Bar Association, Oct. 9 from 7:30- 9 a.m. Register today or contact Steve Walters for more information.

Monday September 17, 2018 

Bowling is a lot of fun, and playing on a team with your friends can make it even more fun. All fun aside though, you can actually learn a lot about business from playing in a bowling league. Read on for some of the key lessons you can learn on the lanes.

Teamwork Is Everything

In team bowling, it is not just each player's individual score that determines the final result, but also the combined scores of all teammates. If one player isn't performing well, the other team members must make up for the deficiency in order to win. It is much the same in business. When working on a team project, each member is responsible not just for their own work, but for the completion of the project as a whole. You'll need to be prepared to pick up the slack as needed to keep your project on course.

Scheduling Is Important

From practices to tournaments, it is important that every member of a bowling team be on the same page in terms of scheduling, and business is no different. Between company-wide meetings, team meetings and individual projects, your employees have a lot on their plates, so it is important to provide detailed schedules to help everyone manage their work efficiently to ensure everything is completed on time as expected.

Team Changes Are Sometimes Necessary

It's never easy to say goodbye to a bowling teammate, but sometimes this is necessary to ensure the ongoing success for your team. For example, a teammate could get injured, or a scheduling conflict could arise. In the business world, an employee could resign or get fired, or the scope of your project may change, resulting in the need for different team members. When making changes to your work team, be sure to keep the rest of the team informed as to what is going on to avoid false rumors getting started and your team feeling blindsided.

Momentum Is Real

In sports, including bowling, many players talk about momentum. When your team is performing well, the energy that provides makes it easier for the rest of your team to succeed. Similarly, poor performance can be demoralizing and hurt others' ability to perform well. In business environments, it can be easy to get caught up in minor setbacks, causing them to snowball into much larger issues. When this happens, take a few moments to step back and look at the big picture. Even a brief pause can be enough to break negative momentum so that you can turn it around.

Of course, the world of business isn't always like a bowling league, but there are always lessons everywhere. Managing a bowling team, or any other sports team for that matter, shares many similarities with managing a work team, but there are many differences as well. Take inspiration from all areas of your life, but be sure to keep in mind that what works for other teams you are a part of may not necessarily work for your work team. Experiment with different techniques and tactics to find what works best for you.

Friday September 21, 2018 

Fall Member Fest 2018 in the books!

It was a picture-perfect evening this past Wednesday as we gathered with ERCCGP members at Shades Beach for food, fun, and fellowship.

Our Signature Event Fall Member Fest is one of the member favorites, and no one in attendance was disappointed. Ma Nature cooperated, the food prepared by Chef Kal Darres and his team was outstanding, Rankin & Schell provided the perfect background ambiance, and we think our new CEO had to opportunity to speak with just about everyone there! Thanks to all for making James and his wife Jenny feel welcome! 

The evening would not have been the success it was without the generosity of our sponsors.

A tip of the hat our 2018 Signature Event Sponsors:      

  • Erie Federal Credit Union
  • GE Transportation
  • National Fuel
  • And National Fuel Resources

Thank you for your support of all of the Erie Regional Chamber’s Signature Events this year. 

To the sponsors who gave generously to sponsor the shirts, various tented areas, and lovely table centerpieces, thank you!

  • Allegheny Health Network
  • Hamot Health Foundation
  • Highmark
  • Know Law
  • ROG’s
  • And the Young Entrepreneur Society

Thank you to Red Letter Hospitality for the great Silent Auction contribution.

And thank you to our beverage sponsors, no one was thirsty!

  • Mazza Vineyards
  • Five and 20 Spirits & Brewing
  • Erie Beer
  • Erie Brewing Company
  • Glenwood Beer
  • Penn Beer

Check out the event photos HERE!

Monday September 24, 2018 

New Preschool Program Offered

Saturday, September 22nd, marked the official opening of the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf Children's Center at Edinboro University located in Butterfield Hall.

The Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf Children's Center at Edinboro University is a brand new preschool program for children ages 3-kindergarten who are deaf/hard of hearing in Northwest PA. They have a Master's level Teacher of the Deaf, who is also a certified ASL interpreter, as well as a Speech Language Pathologist who specializes in working with children with hearing loss to address communication, speech and listening needs. Because of their combined experience, they can match the language needs of any child who attends the program whether they are profoundly deaf and strictly use ASL or if they are Oral, and use spoken English. 

Having the preschool program in Butterfield Hall at Edinboro University, allows the staff to partner with the University in ways that are unique to most preschool programs.  Graduate students in the Communication Sciences and Disorders department complete their clinical practicum at the preschool under the direct supervision of the SLP. They also have the opportunity to participate in specialized art classes hosted in the new Art Therapy Studio and to take advantage of the resources at the campus library. The Boro Little Learners Academy is right down the hall, so both preschool classrooms come together weekly to learn sign language and do activities together.

What a great addition to the region. Congratulations to all!

View Event Photos


Tuesday September 25, 2018 

The Erie Regional Chamber provides resources to local businesses to help you succeed, with a focus on creating a strong thriving community. We encourage entrepreneurs to stop in and get acquainted and learn more about what we offer. Sometimes learning from other's mistakes will keep you from having similar problems. Read more from Cindy and what she refers to when she looks back as her biggest regret in business:

Cindy: I have owned and operated several businesses in entirely different fields. These experiences have helped me to identify what I consider the top challenges, which have led to my biggest regrets. Although they were all different fields, I will address the restaurant, as it is the one area where I have learned the most about my mistakes after the fact.

My Biggest Regret in Business

  1. Not understanding and knowing enough about sound business practices. Regardless of what industry you are going into, understanding the basics of business is imperative. Profit margins are tight. Business owners must figure in all associated costs, from take-out containers and sacks, to licensing and supplies. I urge all potential business owners to take at least one business class.
  2. Thoroughly research not only the individual business you are planning to start or purchase, but also the overall industry, and the area demographics. What is the potential profit margin, and will the area continue to sustain the business, or is there a lot of turnover? Average restaurant profit margins have increased considerably since hitting an all-time low in 2008, yet they are only at approximately six percent. Is the industry you are considering to invest in expected to increase or decline, and how hard do you want to work for how much profit?
  3. What position in the business are you best suited for? Do you need to hire a bookkeeper, a cook, or a server, and are you a good people manager? Do you need a general manager and can you afford one, or can you afford not to hire someone? When starting a new business, I feel that it is very important to have a grasp of the whole operation, and to closely monitor everything until it is running smoothly and you have people in place that you can trust. As a business owner, my biggest regret is having been to busy trying to save money by working too many roles and not paying close attention to the bottom line.
  4. Checks and balances and security are important in businesses. Waste, mistakes, and even theft can jeopardize a business' chance of success on a daily basis. Even a basic security system can help minimize theft. Having a two-layer system of counting tickets and the drawer, with employees signing off on their shift, then recounting it every evening will reduce mistakes and ensure all tickets are accounted for.
  5. Plan an exit strategy. Many entrepreneurs invest everything into their business; money and time, and will try desperately to save it beyond the time they should. Don't walk away empty-handed.

Small and large businesses benefit from greeting clients and welcoming them to their business. It can be difficult to compete with other businesses, but by providing them with your best service and quality, you can succeed.

Wednesday September 26, 2018 

If your company has staff meetings, you know all too well how quickly these regular meetings can become boring, unproductive, and a real drag on employee morale. The good news is that with a little creativity, you can transform your typical meetings into original, exciting events that deliver real results for your business.

Here are some tips you can use to make your next meeting more productive and original:

Try Standing Up

With the growing awareness about the health hazards of sitting for long periods, more and more companies are looking for ways to get their employees out of their chairs while on the job - that's why standing meetings are quickly becoming the norm at a number of companies.

According to Neal Taparia, Co-CEO of Image Easy Solutions, making the switch to standing meetings not only gave their employees a health boost, but it also cut the amount of time spent in meetings by 25 percent. Taparia observed that standing during meetings helped to eliminate typical distractions, such as the temptation to use a handheld electronic device, which in turn made the meetings more productive.

Change The Venue

Another way to make your next meeting more original is to get outside of the boardroom and head to another venue, whether that's a different office, coffee shop, or local park. Switching up the routine by meeting somewhere that's out of the norm is a great way to re-set your staff team and give everyone a much-needed change in their daily work lives.

If your company budget allows, consider holding a meeting at a local restaurant - many have private rooms that can be blocked off for events. Another option is to blend your meeting with a team-building event like a game of mini-putt, bowling, or other fun activity.

Bring In A Guest

Guest speakers can add a fresh perspective, transforming your typical meeting into an event. Look for guests who your team might not normally have the chance to meet in person, such as a supplier who you only speak with on the phone, or a customer who uses your products or services on a regular basis.

Thursday September 27, 2018 

6 Questions You Should Ask

by Jeff Lytle, Sales and Marketing Manager; Electronic Communication Services, Inc.

SIP trunks are a popular option for businesses because they typically save them money while also providing more features. SIP trunks are a great example of making technology work for your business. By delivering your phone lines via the internet, SIP trunks can offer businesses a cost-effective alternative to the more traditional analog phone lines, T1s and PRIs.

The potential cost savings and added features can make switching to SIP trunks an easy choice. However, selecting a provider can be challenging. Ask for the answers to these six questions before selecting a SIP trunk provider to make sure you are receiving the best in SIP technology.

1. If my phone system or internet goes down, will my service automatically failover to numbers I choose ahead of time so the business still receives calls?

If your customers can’t reach you, you can’t sell, provide service, or offer support. Working with a SIP provider who offers automatic failover allows you to be prepared with backup numbers whether experiencing a simple outage or a natural disaster.

2. Does your company have multiple service nodes that failover in the event there is an internal failure on your side? 

If the SIP trunk provider only has one service node, if they go down, so do you. Make sure your service provider is prepared in the event of an outage with multiple service nodes that failover to one another. Multiple nodes make it less likely that your service will be interrupted. 

3. Is the service certified and supported to work with my phone system? 

To make the most of your phone system investment, be sure to ask if the provider is certified by your phone system manufacturer. Confirming this prior to signing a contract can eliminate unwanted surprises.

4. Can you manage E911 for remote phones and/or multiple locations so emergency responders always know where to go? 

When your phone system includes remote phones and/or multiple sites, a SIP service provider who passes along E911 is a necessity. If the provider does not have this capability, first responders will only have the address of your main office and not where the emergency is truly occurring.

5. Can you diagnose exactly what is causing an issue, beyond providing a MOS score?

A MOS score offers you a basic quality score for your calls. This information is helpful but a provider who can provide details to both you and your phone system vendor beyond this score is essential in diagnosing and fixing any potential issues.

6. Do you provide an end user portal that allows me to make changes and view real-time billing information?

Have access to your own service. Track charges as they occur, not when you get a monthly bill. Real-time data and the option to easily make necessary changes without delay are both great features a SIP service provider can offer. An effective end-user portal is another way you can make SIP technology work for you. 

For additional guidance on SIP trunks or other telecommunication technology, like hosted phone systems, contact Electronic Communication Services today at

Thursday September 27, 2018 

17 Individuals Begin Training at the Masonic Temple

This week, our Erie Ambassador Fall session began with 17 participants attending the orientation at The Masonic Temple in downtown Erie.

Erie Regional Chamber staff members gave an overview of the organization to begin the program.  Bill Rabbitt, Secretary of the Erie Masonic Temple Association then addressed the class giving the history of the Masonic Lodge, the building, and the Mason culture. The class toured the historic building as Mr. Rabbitt pointed out the interesting architecture and features.

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.

For more information, visit

Friday September 28, 2018 


Our September Business After Hours networking event was hosted by our friends at the expERIEnce Children's Museum. It was great fun visiting the museum, checking out the awesome exhibits, and participating in the interactive displays that made us feel like a kid again!

Premier Catering by Ambassador Center served up an interesting and delicious spread that included pizza egg rolls, apple slices with peanut butter dip, and ice cream cone cupcakes. The perfect snacks in keeping with the "kid in all of us" kind of theme!

Thank you, Ainslie and team, at the expERIEnce Children's Museum! You were terrific hosts!

View Event Photos


Sunday September 30, 2018 

Welcome New Members!

Thank you for your investment in the Erie Regional Chamber. We look forward to working with you!

Our investors represent nearly 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

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