Erie Chamber Blog
Wednesday July 22, 2020 

(And You Don't Even Have to Leave Your Couch)

We can all agree that 2020 is not what any of us hoped (or expected) it would be.

But—despite an ongoing pandemic—there have been some bright spots. While Erie County must overcome the same health and economic challenges every county in America currently faces, there are still positive things happening in our regional economy. In the 12 months since the Erie Regional Chamber & Growth Partnership (ERCGP) hosted Erie Homecoming 2019, we have experienced quite a few highlights: 

  • Last December, the ERCGP announced the $5.2M “Erie Forward” initiative. The regional economic development strategy is focused on five pillars: existing industry support and entrepreneurship, workforce development and talent attraction, new business attraction and investment, quality of place, and regional competitiveness and collaboration. The initiative is projected to have an annual regional economic impact of $465 million by 2024.
  • In February the Flagship Opportunity Zone (a division of ERCGP) won the Grand Prize for the nation’s “Top Urban Opportunity Zone” by Forbes at a ceremony held at The Sorensen Impact Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • Boston-based Arctaris Impact Investors announced they will invest $40M in Erie’s Opportunity Zones, which included both funding for real estate projects and investment capital for Erie’s high potential startups and existing businesses.
  • Local institutions like Erie Insurance, the Erie Community Foundation, the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority, and so many others continued to provide unwavering leadership and a steady hand throughout the series of emergencies our region has faced since March—which is no surprise, given the level of leadership they have always provided to our community.
  • The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania approved the creation of a new Community college for the first time since 1994 – right here in Erie, Pennsylvania.
  • People like you—people who continue to believe in Erie’s future—who didn’t give up the ship, no matter how unsteady the waters seem. You, for the record, are the inspiration that motivates ERCGP and the region’s other businesses and community-based organizations to come to work every day to find paths out of this darkness.

The collection of achievements, hard work, investment, and leadership have helped Erie start to shed the shadow of our hard-luck past and increasingly become of an example of economic development strategies that attract actual investment and lead to real change.

Despite our current challenges, we need to do everything we can to keep Erie’s Economic Evolution on track.

This October 29th and 30th the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership will host “Erie Homecoming 2020: Erie’s Economic Evolution,” a two-day virtual event that will help ensure Erie County keeps the region’s bright horizon in mind, even as we face immediate challenges.

The event itself will engage attendees in thought-provoking presentations on Erie's unprecedented market momentum, along with virtual tours of exciting investment opportunities in the market, including real estate development projects and investment-grade start-up and operating businesses. Attendees will also discover a broad variety of ways to invest in the Erie regional economic evolution, ranging from community leadership and mentorship to direct investment in Erie’s high-potential companies. 

Every person who attends this virtual event will learn more about how they can invest time, talent, or financial resources (or—even better—all three) in our region. Erie Homecoming 2020 is an opportunity for investors with resources as large as Arctaris Impact Investors to learn more about projects and startups in Erie—but it is also an opportunity for everyday people who love this region to learn more about how they can support Erie’s economic evolution. 

For Erie Insurance, supporting Erie’s evolution might look like serving as the Presenting Sponsor of this event—along with their continued support of several organizations and initiatives that move Erie forward. 

If you left home to get your degree, supporting Erie’s Economic Evolution may look like returning to your hometown and using the knowledge you gained to make it better.

(Kind of like Batman.) 

If you retired to Scottsdale, moving Erie Forward might look like investing in one of the many startups that are now headquartered in the community you still love. 

(Kind of like an older, more distinguished-looking Batman.) 

If you are an executive at one of the region’s growing companies, moving Erie Forward might look like mentoring a future Erie leader. 

(Kind of like Wonder Woman, training her tribe of fierce future warriors.)

Bringing Erie this far has required a heroic effort by more people than we can count, much less thank. Continuing that momentum will require new heroes to roll up their sleeves and join us in doing the work. Grab your shirt cuffs, start rolling, and learn more about all the ways you can invest in your Erie on October 29th and 30th at Erie Homecoming 2020: Erie’s Economic Evolution!


To subscribe to our newsletter for up-to-date information about Erie Homecoming 2020 please visit

  • erie pa
  • erie homecoming
  • investment
  • forbes
  • virtual conference
  • investment conference
Monday July 13, 2020 

Submitted by Matt Flowers, Ethos Copywriting

You already know that you need high-quality products and services to stay in business, but long-term success demands more than just great products and services. You need current and potential customers to keep your brand top of mind. 

From real estate to retail to restaurants, just about every industry benefits from word of mouth marketing (WOMM). Through WOMM, satisfied customers can become quasi brand ambassadors as they talk positively about your business.

In our increasingly digital society, word of mouth has expanded beyond in-person communication. People might post on their social accounts to broadly share their satisfaction with your work or product, or they might “like” someone else’s post to affirm that they also had a positive experience with your business. Alternatively, they might engage on a more direct, one-to-one level with their friends, family, and colleagues through direct messages. Or, they might even leave a glowing review on your Google My Business page. 

Whether in-person or online, WOMM is a powerful tool to have in the tool chest. McKinsey reports that word of mouth is the primary driver behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions. To help you start generating a buzz around your business, we’ve provided four tips to help you get people talking and boost your bottom line. 

1. Capitalize on Micro-Moments

A micro-moment is when a person uses the internet to take action at the precise moment he or she has a need. There are four basic kinds of micro-moments based on a consumer’s intent:

  1. I-want-to-know moments (e.g., How do I keep my puppy from chewing my furniture?)
  2. I-want-to-go moments (e.g., Where is the closest coffee shop?)
  3. I want-to-do moments (e.g., Where can I get my car’s oil changed quickly?)
  4. I-want-to-buy moments (e.g., “What is the best vacuum cleaner?”)

Capitalizing on micro-moments, especially in a mobile-first world, gets people thinking and talking about your business, products, services, or information as a possible solution to their needs. According to Think with Google, 75% of smartphone owners first search online before making a purchase.    

Use Google’s suite of webmaster tools to help you discover potential micro-moments:

  • Google Search Console will help you determine the exact queries someone used to find your site.
  • Google Analytics will help you see what people do once they’re on your site.
  • Google Ads allows you to advertise with Google, affording businesses the opportunity to appear at the top of Google’s search results for selected keywords.

A Think with Google report found that 76% of people who search on their smartphones for a product or service visit a related business within a day, and 28% of those searches result in a purchase. To ensure you’re taking up more real estate in Google search results, be sure you have your Google My Business set up.

2. Find Out Who Your Best Customers Are

Let your most frequent customers know that you appreciate them. Also, let them know how much it helps when they tell their friends and family about your products and services. The majority of people want to support local businesses, but they’re not always sure how to. So, don’t be afraid to lay it out for them.

Tell them how valuable a positive review is on Google My Business. Create a user-friendly loyalty and/or referral program to encourage customers to tell their friends and family about their great interaction with your company.

Finally, consider writing customers a personalized email (or even hand-written note) to tell them how much you value their business. The power of a thank you note should never be underestimated.

 3. Craft Content Worth Sharing

Be the go-to resource for your customers and people looking for advice on the products and services you provide. Create blogs, eBooks, whitepapers, and other compelling content to position your brand as an authority in the field and build trust with your audience. Update your website with fresh material provides a wide array of benefits, including:

  • Increased Search Authority
  • Increased Conversion Opportunities
  • Increased Search Traffic
  • Improved Brand Loyalty and Trust

4. Take a Stand

In the eyes of the consumer, businesses have a social responsibility to take a stand. Cone Communications found that "Communicating strong corporate social responsibility consistently reaps reputational and bottom-line benefits year-over-year." Cone also found that 87% of people said that they'd purchase a product if the company advocated for an issue they cared about and share positive opinions about companies doing good.

In today's tumultuous economic, political, and social climate, people are increasingly looking at businesses to be a force for positive change, especially on issues such as:

  • Climate change
  • Domestic job growth
  • Economic development
  • Gender & racial equality
  • LGBTQ rights
  • Poverty and hunger

When people align with a brand, the brand's content can become part of their identity. In a study published by the New York Times, 68% of people who share content reported that they did so to give other people a better sense of who they are and what they care about.

Learning More

If you’re interested in learning more about how content can help you increase your WOMM, reach out to Ethos Copywriting. Remember to support the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership and share the exceptional content on its blog!

  • marketing
  • word of mouth
  • business assistance
  • womm
Monday July 6, 2020 

The first half of 2020 feels like the beginning of a horror movie so scary you have to leave long before the credits roll—but beneath its Freddy Krueger exterior, the troubled beginning of a brand-new decade has also revealed an opportunity to build a new and better world.   

Our future will not be defined by modifications to the world we knew before spring 2020. Our future will be defined by our ability to build something entirely different. It’s creating a more resilient healthcare system in a globalized world. It’s truly diving into racial equity issues so that huge portions of our cities, region, and nation feel engaged and integrated – not expendable. It’s rebuilding an economic development system that empowers people to exert measured control over business and their future.   

Erie is embracing this moment with hope for the future, deeply rooted in its legacy of perseverance and grit. Earlier on, Erie emerged as a leader in Opportunity Zones with a portfolio guided by principles to ensure socially impactful projects are at the forefront of the community’s revitalization.   

Erie’s civic leaders, business visionaries, and economic developers see the events of the last few months as yet another opportunity for this community on the rise. Building an entirely new world in an era of pandemics and economic downturns will require the builders of that world to work their magic on a shoestring budget. Communities face the simultaneous need to implement systemic change and the reality that there aren’t as many resources to do that as there were just a few months ago. Throwing money at a problem can be an effective strategy—when you have money to throw. It’s much harder when every dollar counts. The innovators and entrepreneurs who will build our new world need to stretch their dollars as far as they will go.  

And a dollar can go a lot further in Erie that it can almost anywhere else.  

If you want to build a company that will show the world how equity and inclusion can be a competitive advantage, Erie welcomes you with a network of supporters and investors ready to help launch your vision. If you want to roll up your sleeves and get involved in a school district striving to create more equitable outcomes for all students, Erie Public Schools is waiting for you. If you want to come to a community where you can immediately make a difference—where you truly can be the change you wish to see—Erie is a community like no other.   

In an age where the appeal of densely packed urban areas may decline because of pandemic concerns, Erie can become the model of a community where dreamers and builders can create a local economy that works for everyone. The list of people that have moved here, made their mark, and made Erie better is growing by the day.  

Erie is done being defined by our past. Erie will be defined by our collective future.   

We will define ourselves by the value we can provide to people who want to channel the anger, frustration, and fear we all feel into something positive.   

Building a better world is never easy—but it has to start somewhere, and (frankly) it is much easier to do that when you aren’t spending all of your resources on expensive office locations and million-dollar mortgages. The promise of Erie’s next economy has always focused on low costs and high value. Our civic and business leaders have spent the past several years making the case that it is easier to start a business in Erie than it is to start a business on the coasts.   

The events of the last several months have made that argument more than just a marketing pitch.   

Our world has changed.We need leaders, and those leaders need a high-value, low-cost community.   

And there is no better high-value, low-cost community—and no better place to reimagine a better world—than Erie, PA.  

Thursday June 4, 2020 

From plumbing to electrical work to welding to fire protection systems, skilled trades span a broad range of interests and provide limitless career opportunities for those willing to put in the effort. In the video above, we interview two Steamfitters apprentices working at Wm. T. Spaeder, Jared Szczesny and Mark Holcomb. Here they give us a firsthand look at both about the apprenticeship program as well as their goals for the future. 

There are over 400 local Steamfitters training centers throughout the United States. The Pittsburgh Steamfitters Local 449 Technology Center is a new state of the art facility located in Harmony, PA. The center offers two training programs: Building Trades, such as welding and process piping, as well as Mechanical Equipment Service like HVAC and refrigeration. The Apprenticeship Program lasts five years. During this time, rather than accrue debt, apprentices earn a living wage while gaining valuable work experience. 

Advantages of being an apprentice include affordable cost of degree, learning an essential skill with a continually growing demand, good base pay, job security (cannot be outsourced), flexible career choices and multiple options for growth. 

As a union contractor, Wm. T. Spaeder, appreciates the excellent technicians trained by the steamfitters and other apprentice programs because it helps us ensure high quality products and services for our customers. This in turn allows us to maintain our standard of excellence that we have built upon over the last one hundred years.

For application information, please see the Steamfitters UA Local 449 website. Though the 2020 applications have been postponed due to COVID-19, hopefully, business will resume soon. 

Don’t Forget to Subscribe to Our Youtube Channel ( for Various Project and Demonstration Videos.

  • apprenticeship
  • skilled trades
  • steamfitters
Monday April 20, 2020 

Submitted by Cathy Szymanski, Szymanski Consulting

Will it be the new norm?

Flexible work setups have often been the subject of debate — employees want the option to work away from the office at least some of the time, but many businesses value well-founded methods and processes. Will the world’s largest work from home experiment change that?

Enforced flexibility

A pandemic is one of the most socially, economically, and politically disruptive events that could ever happen. Infections and fatalities constantly increase, business operations are shut down, and scientists’ race against time to find a cure.

Companies lucky enough to remain operational still face a significant challenge: maintaining business continuity. For most, the simplest way to achieve this is by moving their business resources online and adopting an effective remote work strategy.

With resilience and careful decision-making — as well as the right tools and processes — you might just find your employees more productive, less stressed out by work, and expressive as ever.

A wealth of benefits

Remote work offers several benefits for both employees and employers. In addition to saving time and eradicating commute-related stress, remote work can improve employee productivity. A few studies reveal that the freedom to create a comfortable environment and schedule encourages employees to perform at their best.

At the same time, employers benefit from reduced overhead expenses while also having access to a wider pool of applicants. Because workplace flexibility is among the top considerations of many young job seekers, remote work arrangements would be right up their alley.

Employers can also hire outside of reasonable commuting distance, as employees will not have to report to the office as frequently, if not at all. What has more, mandatory daily attendance is going out of fashion — more businesses are now prioritizing performance over hours clocked in. Many prefer focusing on the quality of outputs rather than just keeping people in the office from 9 to 5.

Businesses reap great rewards for recognizing performance instead of just presence. This approach makes for more engaged, efficient, and satisfied employees, consequently creating a healthy and progressive company culture.

Encouraging development

Many businesses believe that a traditional office setup helps bring about better relationships and collaborations. However, data actually points out that interpersonal behavior and communication — not solely proximity — are the key drivers of trust and teamwork.

Traditional work arrangements also make it easier for managers to look after their employees — it’s easy to see who is and isn’t at their workstation during office hours. However, mandating work hours and location makes sense only for time-sensitive and location-dependent jobs like retail, manual labor, and healthcare, where employees need to be physically present.

Meanwhile, for knowledge workers whose jobs involve non-routine problem solving, an office cube isn’t always the most conducive environment for devising solutions and innovations. Sometimes, the best and most unique ideas come from exposure to the surroundings, people, and events outside the confines of an office.

Embracing change

Being forced to adopt a work from home policy in the face of a global crisis is not an ideal circumstance to test the waters. Full-time remote work does not and won’t work for all businesses. But this should not stop you from accomplishing projects and sustaining productivity and efficiency. Leverage your resources to help you weather the storm and emerge stronger than before.

Though we have yet to see if remote work is here to stay, it’s currently a non-negotiable aspect of the corporate setup, and we should learn how to make the most out of it.

Having a strong strategy in place and the right tools and equipment are crucial to ensure effective communication, collaboration, and management. Our experts can help you configure the perfect remote working setup for your business. Call us today.

  • remote office
  • working from home
  • flexibility
  • business

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