Erie Chamber Blog
Monday April 1, 2019 

Meet the newest members of the Erie Regional Chamber!

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 780 companies in the Erie region. Do you know of a business that could benefit from becoming a member of the Erie Regional Chamber? Refer them to Nancy Irwin, Development Director, or Steve Walters, Sales Manager.

Membership Information

Tuesday April 2, 2019 

Check out which of our members were highlighted in the month of March

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

Last months highlighted members:

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

Friday April 5, 2019 

Success

Tuesday April 9, 2019 

Building Your A-Team

The first in the two-part seminar series on Developing Your HR Playbook was recently held and was extremely helpful to the attendees. Bryan Whittington of Peak Performance Management conducted an informative and engaging session talking with the group about interview processes and asking the right questions, the cost of a bad hire, where to post open positions for maximum exposure (plug here for the ERCGP Job Bank), identifying must-have's and nice to's and so much more. The take-away's were many. Thank you, Bryan!

The second part of our series will cover onboarding and developing your new team and is set for Wednesday, April 24th at WQLN Public Media on upper Peach Street. Details and registration can be found HERE and the deadline is April 17th so claim your spot now!

Thank you as well to our friends at WQLN Public Media for hosting both sessions! 

Wednesday April 10, 2019 

April Connect 4 Coffee

Thank you to Cannon's Chophouse for hosting our morning business building event. A sold-out crowd enjoyed a breakfast that was just a sampling of the brunch menu served at Cannon's on the weekend as well as networking with members in attendance.

A little about our host; Cannon's Chophouse opened the Erie restaurant on Peach Street last July, their third location. Locally owned and operated, the original restaurant is in Meadville and another in South Point south of Pittsburgh. They claim the best happy hour deals around and have a private room for business meetings, office gatherings, and other events. Their commitment is sensible prices, a 'come as you are' atmosphere, and most importantly to them the high level of food and service. 

What we learned about our members:

  • Spencer House owners Steven and Lisa Freysz are new to the area having purchased the Bed & Breakfast last August. Built in 1876, the historic Spencer House has 6 rooms with private baths, and you get a delicious hot breakfast the morning of your stay, making it a true B & B.
  • Rainbow International Restoration's Erie location is just one of 400 in the franchise across the U.S. and Canada. They specialize in clean up from fire, water, and mold damage mainly through insurance claims, but not limited to insurance claims.
  • Farmers Insurance has been around for 90 years, but in Pennsylvania for only 9. They are looking for people who want to be business owners and offer a vast training and bonus program for new agent owners. The company sets the new agent up for success!

Thank you again to our host, Cannon's Chophouse, for being gracious hosts. We truly appreciate you!

Friday April 12, 2019 

 

Friday April 12, 2019 

New location to better serve families in the region

A Ribbon Cutting ceremony was held yesterday, 4/11/19, at the new location in Waterford for Aseracare Hospice. Not only their new location but the 15 year anniversary of taking care of many hospice patients and their families. 

At AseraCare Hospice, they combine a foundation of clinical excellence with exceptional care and compassion to help patients and their families, especially in several areas.  These areas include personal care assistance, rehabilitation therapy, nursing care, bereavement counseling, spiritual support, pet & music therapy, nutrition counseling, and social worker counseling.  No matter the circumstances, their goal is always the same: They strive to reduce the stress on individuals and family members so people can make the most of every moment. 

Aseracare Hospice is celebrating its 15 year anniversary of having the honor of taking care of many beautiful hospice patients and their families.  They are now serving patients in 7 counties that include:  Erie, Crawford, Venango, Clarion, Forest, Warren and Mercer. They celebrate Veterans with special ceremonies and celebrations.  They pride themselves with treating each of their patients and their families with love, dignity, and respect.  

Congratulations to all. You provide an amazing service to families in our region.

 

Monday April 15, 2019 

Grand Opening at Millcreek Mall

We celebrated the grand opening of Fresh Healthy Cafe on Friday 4/12 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Located in the food court at the Millcreek Mall, Fresh Healthy Cafe believes in freshly made nutritious and delicious food sourcing and serving the freshest, highest quality ingredients they can find because they know a nutritious and balanced diet does something amazing to your body and mind.

The grand opening ran all weekend long and included a fundraiser for Mercy Center for Women. Already supporting local causes! Way to go! Congratulations to Christopher and team on your grand opening. We wish you many years of success!

Tuesday April 16, 2019 

Hosted by Quinn Law Firm

Build your network at our Connect 4 Coffee event next month being hosted by  Quinn Law Firm, 2222 West Grandview Blvd., on Tuesday, May 14th from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.

Things to remember when you attend a Connect 4 Coffee event:

  • Be prepared with a 2-minute presentation about YOUR business or programs
  • Bring marketing materials to share with other attendees
  • Expect quality networking with other ERCGP members
  • Don't forget your business cards!
  • Coffee and light breakfast treats to be served

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 NOW

Wednesday April 17, 2019 

Customer Retention

Marketing and advertising are only part of the equation when attracting new clients. Service is perhaps the single most important aspect of any business. If your business provides good service, but you are still losing clients, it is important to identify the reasons. We have identified some of the problems local businesses encounter when marketing to potential and existing clients.

Many entrepreneurs and small businesses in the service industry have difficulty determining value. Whether you want to be at the top or bottom of the price range, or somewhere in-between, you do need a starting point. Research what other companies in similar markets are charging for their services. Setting your price too low at first can make it difficult to retain clients once you have to raise them.

Let's look at some of the factors that influence client retention.

The Importance of Appearance

Consider the appearance of the company. When marketing your business, do you advertise low prices or a fast turn-around? Are you focused on creating an image of luxury and comfort, or are you targeting teens? Take a hard, realistic look at what your marketing and ads say about the business, and how this influences a potential or current customer's perception.

Consider whether your image has changed recently. For instance, consider a clothing store that has provided family clothing in the past and has now chosen to focus on teens, neglecting their current customers. This example illustrates an obvious change that may or may not be in the businesses' best interest, but is one that will lead to the loss of existing customers. Will these changes bring in enough new customers, and revenue, to replace what is lost?

Is the business "user-friendly"? Potential customers are typically courted during the sales process, offered deals, and presented with a can-do attitude. This can create a two-fold problem. First, are you actually able to provide what has been promised once the client is retained? Secondly, are you putting this much effort into retaining current clients? Is any effort put into retaining current clients?

Build Customer Relationships

Creating a relationship with customers makes it easier to not only retain them but to obtain new customers as well. Word of mouth is the best advertising. A satisfied customer will sing your praises, while an unsatisfied customer can wreak havoc on the reputation of your business.

Customer service is a valuable tool that should be implemented. Take time to foster a relationship with your regular customers and learn what you can do to increase their satisfaction with your products or services. You will gain valuable insight that will increase the businesses' bottom line.

Marketing Consistency and Value

It is important to consistently contact customers to show them you value their business. Depending on the type of store you own, you might send them a monthly coupon or notice of a special that is operating. Not all contact should be marketing, providing the customer with something of value is important too. A paint store could send out an email showing the 5 most popular colors for the coming season. A gardening store could send out a monthly what to do list, while an HVAC business could send out reminders to change filters.

We recommend taking a hard look at your existing customer base and the image and reputation of your business. There are many ways to increase business by adding new customers, but the general rule of thumb has always been that it is less expensive to retain an existing customer than obtaining a new one. Please feel free to stop by the Erie Regional Chamber and learn more about our services.

Friday April 19, 2019 

Easter Eggs 

Monday April 22, 2019 
Monday April 22, 2019 

Hosted at Ashley Homestore

Our April after hours business building event was hosted by Ashley Homestore on upper Peach Street next to John V Schultz Co. Members and guests enjoyed socializing, networking, and checking out (and shopping) the gorgeous furniture and decor on display at the store! 

Thank you to our host Ashley Homestore for your hospitality!

View Event Photos

Tuesday April 23, 2019 

Erie Business Brief is One!

A year ago today, the Erie Regional Chamber launched the Erie Business Brief Blog on eriepa.com. Over that time we've shared event information, guest blog posts, informational posts for your business, motivational images, and more. We hope you've enjoyed visiting the blog and that it has been a good tool and source of information for you and your business.

Erie Regional Chamber member businesses have the opportunity to share their expertise by being a guest blogger for Erie Business Brief. If this is something that is of interest to you, view our Guest Blog Guidelines. We'd love to hear from you!

As the team here at the Erie Regional Chamber grows and more programming is introduced, you will want to visit our blog often to stay in the know! And if there is a certain topic you would like us to touch on, let us know.

Happy one year, and here's to many more!

Wednesday April 24, 2019 

May 16th at Edinboro University

Join Edinboro University in the Learning Commons and NWPA Innovation Beehive for an evening of learning and fun!

  • See the resources available to EU students: Career Center, Global Education, and more
  • Tour the Innovation Beehive and Forensic Lab which house a 3-D printer and several design pods for client projects
  • View artist renderings of several exciting new projects including E-Sports Arena, relocated Bruce Art Galleries, and the BORO Pit
  • Catering by Chartwells, beer and wine provided
  • Bring your business cards to help build YOUR business network and pick up promotional materials from local Edinboro businesses
  • Event located in the Baron-Forness Library, 200 Tartan Road

Parking available in the Hendricks Lot. View campus map HERE, and follow the sound of the bagpipers when you arrive!

REGISTER HERE

Thursday April 25, 2019 

New Benefit for our Gold, Platinum, or Diamond Investors

As part of its continuing effort to transform Erie into a leading region for cyber- and intelligence-related job growth, Mercyhurst University will offer a special tuition rate for employees of the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership’s gold-, platinum- and diamond- level employers. The special tuition rate applies to the university’s graduate programs in cyber security, cyber risk management, applied intelligence and data science, and represents a savings of more than 30% compared to the standard rate.

“Mercyhurst is home to one of the preeminent intelligence studies programs in the world, as well as cyber security, cyber risk management, and data science programs benefitting from the wealth of knowledge in our Ridge College of Intelligence Studies and Applied Sciences,” said Mercyhurst University President Dr. Michael Victor. “We’re excited to make our graduate certificates and master’s degrees in these areas more affordable for employees of select ERCGP members. Each business, be it a hospital, bank, an insurance company, manufacturing facility, hospitality or even another university, can benefit from having employees knowledgeable in research intelligence, data science, and cyber-related areas.”

The programs being offered range from four-course graduate certificates to 12-course master’s degrees. The credits earned as part of a graduate certificate are applicable to the master’s degree should a student opt to continue on for further education.

“Our members are continuously in need of employee resources,” said Nancy Irwin, membership engagement director for the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership. “Topics like research analysis and cyber security can sometimes be overwhelming. This partnership with Mercyhurst will allow our members to invest more efficiently in their employees, and ultimately cultivate reliable internal resources to tackle these issues.”

Mercyhurst has been at the forefront of leading the Erie region into these new fields with its sponsorship of the Erie Innovation District. “As more and more Erie area employees are trained in these fields and begin making a difference in their workplace, more and more local employers will see the value in creating staff and/or administrative positions related to these fields,” said Duncan McGill, dean of the Ridge College Intelligence Studies and Applied Sciences.

More information regarding the special tuition rate and eligibility can be found at www.mercyhurst.edu/erie-chamber.

Friday April 26, 2019 

New Branch to Serve West Erie County

Congratulations to Widget Financial on the groundbreaking of their 7th location on West Ridge and Millfair Roads, the first on the west side of Erie County.

Widget Financial is a locally owned and operated credit union with 300 million dollars in assets. This branch location will help better serve their more than 40,000 members. The Millfair Branch will mark the 7th office in the credit union’s local branch network. This will be Widget Financial’s first branch on the West Side of Erie.

Construction is expected to last throughout the calendar year. During construction, the credit union will continue conducting business within the former Capitan Dent building on the corner of Millfair and West Ridge Road (on the same parcel as the new office under construction). Once the branch construction is completed, the former Captain Dent edifice will be torn down to accommodate updated flow of traffic for the property’s drive-thru.

Congratulations, way to grow!!

Friday April 26, 2019 

Success

Monday April 29, 2019 

Michael S. Neubauer, CPA, CVA, MBA, McGill, Power, Bell & Associates, LLP

The Credit for Increasing Research Activities, or R&E Tax Credit, has been around since 1981.  Over time, the credit has evolved and its benefits have become more inclusive and more lucrative, yet many companies in our region have been slow to adopt this tax credit.   

Prior to regulation changes in the early 2000s, capability, method, and design all had to be uncertain in order for activities to qualify for the R&E Tax Credit. An additional requirement was the discovery test, which called for typically patentable knowledge that exceeded that of other professionals in the field.  In the early 2000s, these requirements were modified so that only one of these items (capability, method, or design) is required to be uncertain, and the discovery test was eliminated.  Lack of awareness of these key changes is likely a contributing factor to companies not claiming the credit.  In the case of most custom manufacturers, the capability to do the job and the method by which the job will be completed are certain.  However, if design at the onset differs from design at the completion of the job, the design is considered uncertain and the expenditures incurred would likely qualify for the R&E Tax Credit.  A company that has design uncertainty, and goes through a process of experimentation in order to eliminate this uncertainty, would qualify for the credit.

There are R&E tax credits at both the Federal and Pennsylvania level, each offering benefits that have the potential to make a significant impact on a company’s cash flow.  Expenditures of R&E projects used to compute the credit include wages, materials/supplies, and outside services used in activities prior to the point of commercial production.  This includes, but is not limited to, the time and materials related to production costs, as well as testing and modification of custom tools, dies, molds, production construction costs, and payments to suppliers.  Additionally, recently released regulations allow for a simplified version of the credit (the Alternative Simplified Credit) to be claimed on an amended return, significantly expanding the potential impact of the credit in the first year it is claimed.

Industries that are typically eligible to receive significant benefits include, but are not limited to: plastic injection molders, powder metal, tool & die, fabricated metal, chemicals, primary metals, aerospace, and other custom manufacturers.

With the proper understanding of the R&E Tax Credit, a substantial benefit can exist that lowers a company’s tax burden and helps them be more competitive in the marketplace.  Recent changes resulting from the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act) made the R&E tax credit permanent, gave eligible small businesses the ability to offset the alternative minimum tax (AMT) with the R&E Tax Credit, and allow certain businesses to utilize the R&E Tax Credit to offset payroll taxes.  Given these recent changes, now is the perfect time to begin assessing whether or not your company qualifies for R&E Tax Credit benefits.

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