Erie Chamber Blog
Tuesday September 3, 2019 

Velocity Network (VNET) to Host September 19th

Velocity Network (VNET) cordially invites you to tour VNET’s new campus located in Downtown Erie’s Innovation District at 121 West 10th Street. Visitors will have the opportunity to see firsthand the transformation of the former Rothrock Building to the new headquarters of the region’s largest technology and telecommunications provider. While you visit, tour the building and complete your VNET Passport to be entered to win one of several giveaways provided by VNET and its technology providers.                                                                    

  • Attend a live demonstration of how fiber optic cabling is installed and tour the region’s only datacenter
  • Enjoy a custom Latte or Cappuccino provided by Millcreek Coffee
  • View the Erie skyline from VNET’s 4th Floor Outdoor Patio

Parking is available in VNET’s lot on West 11th Street, the Mother Teresa Academy lot on West 10th Street, or on-street around the facility.

We ask that members and guests register for this event. This allows us to provide an accurate number to our hosts so they are able to plan accordingly.

Register Here


Wednesday September 4, 2019 

Who Joined in August??

Please help us welcome the new members to the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership who joined the organization in August!

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

Our members represent nearly 800 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 Steve Walters, Member Engagement Manager, for details and information and share with them the link below.

Membership Information

Thursday September 5, 2019 

See Who What Members Were Featured on WICU/WSEE 

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.

Thursday September 5, 2019 

September 11th & October 9th

Government Contracting Basics: An Intro to Working with Government Entities and the PTAC Program

Wednesday, September 11th 

9:00-10:30 a.m.

Jefferson Educational Society, 3207 State St. Erie, PA 16508

Register Here

This workshop, presented by Robyn Young, Government Contracting Manager for the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), will provide an introduction to government contracting and cover the basics of doing business with federal, state, and local government agencies, including registrations, regulations, certifications and other factors to consider when getting ready to enter this market. Attendees will also receive an overview of the PTAC program and the services they can provide to help government contractors or those interested in working with government entities.

Department of Defense DFARS Cyber Security Compliance Training

Wednesday, October 9th 

9:00 - 10:30 a.m.

Jefferson Educational Society, 3207 State St. Erie, PA 16508

Register Here

The session, presented by Robyn Young, Government Contracting Manager for the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), will be geared toward Department of Defense (DoD) Contractors & Subcontractors wanting to learn about the Cyber Security Regulations that DoD is requiring all contractors to have in place if they process, store or transmit Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). Contractors must meet the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) minimum security standards or risk losing their DoD contracts and/or subcontracts.

This session will help DoD contractors understand the following:

  • Safeguarding Covered Defense Information & Cyber Security Incident Reporting (DFARS 252.2047012)
  • What is Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)
  • How to develop a gap analysis of your current systems
  • How to create a Systems Security Plan (SSP) for compliance
  • Resources to assist your company with compliance
  • Updates of the latest revisions
Friday September 6, 2019 
Monday September 9, 2019 

You Don't Have to be a Tech Genius to Make It Happen

submitted by Cathy Szymanski, Szymanski Consulting, Inc.

Data security and privacy should be every small business owner’s top priority in this day when cybercriminals are on the loose. The good news is you don’t have to be a tech genius to make it happen. Here are practical ways to shield your company from cyberattacks. 

Cover your webcam

If Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, former FBI Director James Comey, and National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden all believe their webcams could be compromised, there’s no reason you should feel safe. They’re not overreacting because of some ruthless paparazzi that’s hounding them. It’s a fact that cybercriminals can use your webcam to spy on you. 

Though it might sound like a scene from an action movie or crime thriller, this has actually happened on several occasions. Hackers do this either to satisfy their voyeuristic tendencies or, more commonly, to steal personal information. This is a very real threat with disturbing repercussions. 

With your webcam, cybercriminals can examine your surroundings, determine your location, as well as spy on the people you’re with. They can use this information to hold you ransom and threaten to broadcast your most intimate and vulnerable moments if you don’t pay up. 

Fortunately, guarding yourself against this danger is easy. Covering your webcam should do the trick. You can use regular tape, or you can purchase a cheap webcam cover online. 

Use a privacy shield

Think of privacy guards as those iPhone screen protectors but with an anti-snooping feature. These are thin covers you put on your computer, laptop, or smartphone screen to limit viewing angles. Once installed, anyone trying to look at your screen from anywhere — except straight-on — sees nothing. 

Privacy filters are commonly used to protect work devices that display or contain critical files with sensitive data or confidential information. However, less sensitive, personal devices are still vulnerable to “shoulder surfing” — the act of peeking at someone else’s screen, with or without ill intent. This is the reason we recommend using these protectors on all devices. 

Get a physical authentication key

Requiring more than one set of credentials to access sensitive resources has become the standard practice for established online services. With two-factor authentication in place, you can gain access to your account only after you’ve entered an authentication code. This is something that the website sends to your smartphone once you’ve entered your account credentials. 

Until recently, two-factor authentication relied mostly on text messages sent to mobile phones. But professionals now realize that phones can be hijacked to redirect text messages. Moreover, authentication codes can be stolen, or users can be tricked into entering these codes via a convincing phishing website. 

If you’re looking for authentication services that can’t be hijacked, stolen, or lost, your best bet is a USB or Bluetooth key that you can carry always. This means nobody — not even you — will be able to access your account without the physical key. Talk about ultimate security at your fingertips. 

Wednesday September 11, 2019 

Molly Brannigan's Hosts September Event

Our monthly morning networking event was hosted by Red Letter Hospitality at Molly Brannigan's in downtown Erie. Attendees who hadn't visited the establishment since the renovations had been completed were complimentary in their surroundings. Bright, open, and cozy were just a few of the words we heard as people shared their thoughts on the new Mollys.

A little about our host. Red Letter Hospitality purchased the business a year ago July, and have been working to make Molly Brannigan's a great gathering spot downtown with events like Drink Along Sing Along with the Erie Phil to draw guests in. Several spaces are available in the building for private parties and they are booking up quickly for the upcoming holiday's (so get your party booked soon!). Mollys is also the official Cleveland Browns bar, so if you like the Browns and need a place to watch the game, there you go.

What we learned from a few of our members:

  • Spectrum Reach, more than cable, your data and media solutions company
  • Team Hardinger is celebrating 50 years in the trucking industry in Erie!
  • UPMC WorkPartners' Life Solutions is an Employee Assistance Program that offers short term counseling, referral services, and a suite of additional health management and wellness programs
  • McBrier Properties has available office and retail space for lease, as well as V gallery, a creative space for pop-up retail, exhibits, brand promotion, etc. Located in the Village West, this showcase space is for short-term, temporary promotions

Thank you again to the team at Molly Brannigans for hosting our September Connect 4 Coffee!

View Event Photos

Thursday September 12, 2019 

September 24th and October 3rd

Communicating Through Differences Webinar

Presented by: Melissa Sulkowski, RN, MA, LPC, Owner, Nurturinse

Tuesday, September 24 – various times throughout the day

Register Here

This webinar is free and open to the public, however, you must register to receive the link to access the content.

Are you experiencing breakdowns in communication among your staff? Would you like everyone in your company to be better able to communicate with each other and with you? If so, this session is for you!

This webinar will cover how to create the conditions to effectively communicate through differences. Do gender differences, personality differences and the differences in our stories influence the outcome? The focus will be on empowering individuals to gain insight and awareness around how they "show up" and contribute to the interaction. When a conversation is nurtured from a space of curiosity and clarity rather than assumption and prediction, there is room to reshape the conversation. As we become more attune to what we need and more aware of how we go about getting our needs met, the opportunity to rewrite the story becomes accessible. Valuing differences while establishing healthy boundaries will lead to an emotionally safe conversation and harmonize the human exchange.

 B Corps and Benefit Companies Webinar

Presented by: John Leemhuis, Owner, Leemhuis Legal

Thursday, October 3 – various times throughout the day

Register Here

This webinar is free and open to the public, however, you must register to receive the link to access the content.

Are you curious about operating a business that respects people, profit, AND the planet? It can be done! Join this webinar to learn what you can do to make your business more socially responsible.

Businesses have historically operated with the sole purpose of enhancing shareholder value. A societal shift in the perspective of investors, employees, and consumers has increased the need for business to operate in a different, socially responsible manner. Operating as a B Corp or benefit company addresses these constituent demands by functioning in a manner that recognizes how business impacts the local and global environment, its workforce, supply chain, and the community. See how this new way of doing can be a game-changer for businesses and entrepreneurs that want to make a profit, but wish to do so in a socially responsible manner.

Friday September 13, 2019 

Happy National Chocolate Day!

Wednesday September 18, 2019 

Join us at the Edinboro University Campus!

Enjoy a scenic autumn drive and join us the morning of October 8th at our next Connect for Coffee event. Our hosts are Edinboro University's School of Education and School of Graduate Studies & Research. Topics to be highlighted by University representatives will include the national teacher shortage, the Golden Apple Awards, Little Learners Academy, graduate programs and the educational showcases which improve schools.

  • 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 Erie Regional Chamber members
  • Don't forget your business cards!
  • Coffee and light breakfast treats to be served 

For complete details and to register, click below.


Thursday September 19, 2019 

Erie Proud!

Erie Amazes premiered at the Erie Homecoming 2019 event. We are proud to be able to share the video with the world, telling the tale of our city, Erie, PA.
Thanks goes out to MenajErie Studio and all those who were interviewed for the film. We appreciate all of you!
We hope you enjoy Erie Amazes!

Friday September 20, 2019 


Tuesday September 24, 2019 

3 Ribbon Cuttings Held Last Week

1. Barton's Home Improvement

We celebrated the rebranding of the Bargain Outlet Store to Barton's Home Improvement located in the shopping plaza on Broad Street on Tuesday 9/17.

The store in Erie first opened in 2010 and remains under the same ownership within the E.C. Barton & Company umbrella of home improvement brands. E.C. Barton & Company is a 100% employee-owned organization. Employees have a vested interest in the success of the company and in-store experience of customers. Both employees and consumers participated in research that took place over the course of a year. The valuable insights from this research has helped to create the foundation for change that will align the brands within the E.C. Barton family and better reflect the product offering of the stores.

Congratulations, we wish you years of success!

2. Shriners Hospital for Children's Therapy Playground

The Therapy Playground at Shriners Hospital for Children was the first stop on Ribbon Cutting Wednesday 918! And a great crowd gathered to share in the celebration!

The playground is the culmination of efforts from over the past three years, including design choices from the Shriners rehab department staff, funding through grants submitted by their Marketing, Communications, and Donor Development departments, ordering and coordination via Supply Chain staff, and grounds preparation by their Plant-Ops team.

It was generously funded by Ronald McDonald House Charities of Erie, and the John M. and Gertrude E. Petersen Foundation, with additional support from the Henry E. Niles Foundation for the purpose of extending therapy care from the rehab setting to real life, i.e. challenges and participation a child should be experiencing in life. The wood chips surface was donated by Emeritus Board Member Steve Ongley, and Walter Lipinski of Lipinski Logging and Lumber.

Congratulations on the opening of this awesome addition to such a special place!

3. Anniversary Celebration - Nurturinse

Our second celebration took place at Nurturinse on West 26th Street celebrating their 2 year anniversary!

Nurturinse was once a vision and is now an atmosphere that allows for a holistic and balanced approach to caring for you and your family. Nurturinse focuses on all aspects of life. Through nurturing the whole self, you will be able to restore health and vitality. Education and personalized treatments are offered. A team of well-trained professionals will provide services customized to your needs.

Nurturinse offers individuals the opportunity to learn, internalize and model lifestyles that will sustain their relationships, family and community. It’s a peaceful setting intentionally designed to promote health and well-being. A team of qualified professionals collaborate to offer services to their clientele that complement one another. Their hope is to enrich the lives of those who share their time by empowering them to heal and grow from within.

Congratulations! Thank you for inviting us to help celebrate with you!

Go to our Facebook Page Albums to view photos from each celebration!

*Interested in having your own Ribbon Cutting Ceremony? Check out the details on our Member Services page or contact event coordinator Colleen Gross to get your celebration lined up.


Wednesday September 25, 2019 

Tailgating has become a popular pastime for sports fans and regular concert-goers, making it a unique opportunity for businesses to reach out to people in their target audience. While you might think that tailgating doesn't work as part of your company's marketing strategy, you might be surprised at just how many different ways you can market your business at tailgating parties.

Network, Network, Network

A lot of people gather for tailgating parties, so attending one gives you the chance to meet new people so you can begin building relationships with potential customers. People tend to be pretty friendly to fellow tailgaters, so don't be afraid to walk up to people and introduce yourself. However, if you're walking up and introducing yourself to others, focus on building good relationships instead of selling your product or service.

Rent Space for a Booth

Did you know that you can rent tailgating space? Consider renting a spot for your company, and then, use your space to set up a booth. If you're selling products out of your booth, you need to make sure you're following any applicable local laws, but if you rent the space to simply hand out promotional information, you shouldn't have any problems. You could also hand out discount coupons to potential customers to use on their first purchase with your business.

Buy Advertising Space

Tailgating has become so popular that companies have started buying advertising space to market to the attendees. Typically, advertisements at tailgating events consist of large banners — because they are easy to hang and remove.

Whether you simply want to purchase ad space for your business or you plan to attend the event in-person to meet more people, tailgating can be great for business. Remember that it's important to stand out from the crowd, though. So don't be afraid to be bold and try new things.

Friday September 27, 2019 
Monday September 30, 2019 

Submitted by John Leemhuis, Leemhuis Legal, PLLC

Accountability for businesses that really want to operate in a socially responsible manner

The issue of corporate purpose has become a hot topic recently as highlighted by the pledge of the Business Roundtable a few weeks ago.  That group consists of just shy of 200 of the CEOs of major corporations such as Amazon, Bank of American and Apple, to name a few.  So when that group comes out with a statement that a corporation’s purpose is not to primarily enhance shareholder value, but to work for the benefit of corporate stakeholders including (along with shareholders) customers, employees, suppliers, the community where the business is located, and the environment, people take notice.  In my webinar recorded a couple weeks ago, I pulled a number of headlines from major periodicals into my presentation to show the wide spectrum of response ranging from mild skepticism to enthusiasm, and from disapproval to a challenge of “show me” by Ben and Jerrys.

As if on cue, Whole Foods recently announced that they were cutting benefits to some of its part-time workers, and the L.A Times declared that Jeff Bezos had become the first signatory from the Business Roundtable to go back on his pledge.

One of the fundamental questions being asked about this new statement is “how do we know if these companies are being sincere?”  Phrased another way, “is what they are saying just good marketing?”

A number of businesses have truly taken the concept of stakeholder value to heart by either becoming a benefit company or by becoming a Certified B Corp.  It’s truly a new way of doing business.  These new methods of operating a for-profit business are designed to make operating for a larger constituent group a fundamental part of the business.  These businesses are working for the benefit of people, planet, and profit.  In the case of B Corp certification, the company goes through a thorough review to obtain its certification, and in the case of benefit companies, the company is governed by state statute that requires the business to consider the broader stakeholder group when making business decisions.  Companies like Patagonia are Certified B Corps that have decided to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.”  So if Jeff Bezos and his peers on the Business Roundtable are sincere about changing the purpose of business, becoming a Certified B Corp or opting into benefit company legislation would be a decisive move to back up their words.

*To hear more from John Leemhuis about B Corps and Benefit Companies, check out the webinar on Thursday, October 3. You must register to receive the link to access the webinar and you may do so here.*

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