From the new digital sign out front to more mixers, more networking opportunities, more ribbon cuttings, more connections UBCC Executive Director Danielle Bodnar took a look back at her first year at the helm and considers the vision for 2020.
“Danielle is doing a great job increasing the visual presence of the chamber and building many more strong contacts,” said Jason Wehrung, owner of Wehrung’s Lumber and Home Center in Ottsville and Wehrung’s Family of Businesses. He’s also a past president of the UBCC Board of Directors.
During 2019 UBCC hosted 11 mixers, signed on 49 new members, held nine ribbon cuttings and hosted three business ground breakings.
Bodnar said one of the biggest hurdles early on was making contact with each of the nearly 500 members, meeting and visiting them to learn about their business needs.
“After watching her in action over the past year; we all realized that we under estimated what a great fit she would be for the chamber. She is engaging, inclusive and inspirational with a focus on partnerships, communication and accomplishments” said Kathy Ramson, network director healthy living and chronic disease at St. Luke’s University Health Network and 2020 UBCC board president.
Bodnar said the continuing success of such signature events as Foodie, golf outing, clay shoot, legislative series, transportation forum and the new employer summit meant these opportunities resonated with the community.
“I’m proud of the new events we initiated this year such as the transportation forum, the workforce and employer summit, cash mobs (for retailers) and new initiatives to highlight our chamber members,” Bodnar said.
By adding a “people’s choice vote” awards component she brought a Hollywood flare to UBCC’s annual meeting held in November.
The warm friendly welcome Bodnar said she received in October 2018 continues.
“While I was new to the chamber, I’m not new to Upper Bucks,” said the native of Sellersville and resident of Milford Township, where she makes her home with husband Joe and two children.
Bodnar’s mindful that being a chamber member is a conscious choice.
“Membership can enhance your business relationships and business culture,” she noted.
What’s she’s learned over the past year will drive fine-tuning and new initiatives for 2020.
“My top goal is to offer events and programs members feel are relevant, making the chamber something future members feel they can’t live without,” Bodnar explained.
From workforce development and helping create a funnel for filling vacant job positions to attracting and retaining employees and highlighting soft skills everyone needs to be successful a business environment, creating partnerships and alliances is key.
“The business and education partnership between Upper Bucks County Technical School and our employers is something I’d like to develop more in 2020,” she said.
“It’s really about building relationships and trust,” Bodnar said.
Creating connections, relationship building and fostering a thriving business community is what drives Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce.
It’s what we’re all about.
Do you wonder where to find experts to help you source and grow your talent base?
When times are lean and budgets are tight how do you navigate the complicated unemployment process and provide services to those you need to let go?
What does it take to grow a business culture that’s a natural employee magnet??
At the first joint Upper Bucks Employer Summit October 29 held by Pennridge Chamber of Commerce and Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce about 80 business representatives, educators and community members had access to those who could connect the dots, and provide business building resources for free.
The summit was hosted at Bucks County Community College Perkasie Campus.
“Businesses are critical to the health of our communities,” said Daniel Loeper, BCCC director of business development.
Loeper said understanding the needs of employees, business stakeholders and customers is an important step in keeping a robust business model moving forward.
From bullying to safety training, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements, English as a second language issues, office conflict management, emotional intelligence training, skills training, CPR and first aid training, BCCC offers business owners and managers resources to keep pace, he said.
These business building resources are free to anyone for the asking.
“UBCC brought these experts to our community to offer opportunities and assistance,” said Danielle Bodnar, executive director of UBCC.
The Bucks County Workforce Development Board and the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry are also access points for business resources.
Sharing this information, along with the right places to find it, benefits everyone, Bodnar said.
“UBCC brings the resources and connections to its members through these events to help and support our Upper Bucks businesses,” she noted.
The majority attending agreed more could be done to connect employee prospects with available jobs.
“About 75 students leave high school without a plan,” said William “Bill” Harner, Quakertown Community School District superintendent.
Tapping resources whether in person, online or in some combination, is crucial to making connections that benefit workers and employers.
“Access is critical,” said Billie Barnes, director of Workforce Development’s offices in Bristol.
Employers, especially those in manufacturing and industry, are having a tough time finding workers – either skilled or with a commitment and willingness to learn new skills, to grow with their companies.
Barnes said Workforce Development was exploring new ways to bring resources directly to communities.
A satellite office with hours inside BCCC Perkasie Campus, could better serve Upper Bucks communities. A mobile “Workforce on Wheels” could bring resources directly to communities throughout Bucks County.
From Fairless Hills to Newtown, Riegelsville to Durham, Hilltown to Perkasie, Milford, Richland, Quakertown, or anywhere in between.
“Transportation is the top challenge facing workers in Bucks County,” Barnes said.
Join the Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce glitterati as they celebrate annual awards and meeting, an evening to remember.
Ever wondered how it feels to walk the red carpet,
or how those Old Hollywood stars shined in the days of Bacall and Bogart, Cagney and Crawford, Hayworth and Hepburn?
Come to the awards and meeting and get to know what makes UBCC the place to meet, connect, network and do business.
“I’m looking forward to Night of the Stars to connect with business leaders in the community,” said Sue Deily, a real estate agent with RE/MAX 440 in Quakertown.
As a Quakertown area native Deily said she appreciates UBCC’s diversity of business owners and managers. “I love the brainstorming” during committee meetings, Deily explained. It’s one of many things that helps Deily’s business grow.
Come out to the Night of Stars as our very own UBCC members put the shine on business and industry, community engagement, workforce and education.
Kate Underwood, owner of Rita’s Italian Ice of Quakertown, said it’s important to support local area businesses, and to get to know one another.
It’s one of the reasons she joined UBCC when she set up shop at 534 W. Broad Street.
“I want to be with like-minded business owners- [because they are] responsible for the Renaissance in downtown Quakertown,” Underwood explained.
Victoria “Vicky” McClatchy said the event would be a “good time to celebrate the great business people in the community.”
McClatchy is a mortgage originator with Supreme Lending, a nationwide firm with local offices in Upper Bucks County.
Be part of what everyone will be talking about this November – come to the 2019 Night of Stars.
The 2019 Hollywood Annual Awards and meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., November 7 at McCoole’s Arts and Events Place at 10 S. Main Street in Quakertown.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with cocktails and conversation. Buffet dinner at 6 p.m. with awards at 7 p.m.
Semi-formal or “fancy” dress encouraged.
Vote now for our inaugural business awards, Business People’s Choice. Categories are Chamber Impact Award, New on the Scene Award and Excellence in Business Award. Vote at www.ubcc.org/awards by October 31.
Awards will be presented at the meeting. Voting ends October 31. Award recipients must be present to receive awards.
There is no obligation to attend the event to vote, but category winners must be present to receive their awards.
Register and pay for tickets to Night of the Stars at https://www.ubcc.org/annual-meeting.html.
Cost is $65 per person with cash bar available.
For more information call 215.536.3211 or visit the website www.ubcc.org/awards.
About 20 Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce members, along with local legislators and business leaders sat down with Republication U.S. Senator Pat Toomey for an informal session in September.
While Toomey talked about the economy, health care, jobs, tariffs and trade wars, he listened while those gather around the table shared what was on their minds – along with their biggest fourth quarter concerns – for 2019 and beyond.
“Businesses are taking a hit…its jobs,” said Ron Bracalente, owner, president and CEO of Bracalente Manufacturing in Trumbauersville.
His firm manufactures precision machined parts in Trumbauersville and in Suzhou, China.
Toomey acknowledged the economy is slowing down but said he’s “skeptical it will slide into recession.”
Chris LaBonge, principal of Adtell Inc., said a once thriving market for telecommunications products and sales “has eroded.” With Chinese competition asking “how can we work together,” LaBonge said keeping dialog open “that didn’t exist before” could be part of the stalled market’s solution.
Closer to home, ratifying the USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement) which replaced NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) in 2018, could stabilize markets here.
To date, the agreement has been signed by all- three countries: Canada, Mexico and the United States, but the trio of countries have yet to ratify it.
Toomey said ratifying USMCA could eliminate some uncertainty about trade between America’s nearest neighbors, and maintain a healthy flow of goods and services across the borders.
Tariff threats by the U.S. aimed at curbing illegal immigration have been tied to USMCA, but Toomey said trade partnerships should not be partisan- based.
A shortage of skilled workers continues to plague the region, according to Stephanie Shanblatt, president of Bucks County Community College in Newtown.
She said among options for filling vacant jobs was the successful expansion of training and re-training programs offered through BCCC. So far the programs have not been eligible for federal grants or funding.
“We have a 90 percent placement rates,” Shanblatt said.
With college officials working directly with industry leaders to craft relevant curriculum, prospective employees are trained for available jobs and to meet current workforce needs.
“There are tremendous opportunities in Upper Bucks for workforce development, education and [facing our] manufacturing challenges,” said Bucks County Commissioner Rob Loughery.
Dennis Pfleiger, president of St. Luke’s Quakertown and Upper Bucks County campus said affordable health care and prescription drug price controls were essential elements for legislators to tackle to support local populations.
Toomey said while he would not support price controls on drugs, generic versions of brand name products should be able to come to market more quickly when patents expire.
Mark Horn vice president of marketing at Grand View Health said patient access to care and resources to support those with opioid addiction and recovery problems were priorities for Upper Bucks County communities.
He noted opioid drugs are replacing alcohol for many with addiction use disorder, and in-patent placements were a major issue and obstacle to recovery for them.
“We struggle to find beds, and [we] are sending people to Pittsburgh,” Horn said.
Loughery said finding or making local resources available to those who are recovering from opioid addition was of paramount importance.
Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick who serves District 1 said opioid deaths since 2018 have declined, but an increase in the use of methadone and cocaine in many communities is on the rise.
The Upper Bucks Chamber is proud to host our elected officials and will continue to have open dialogues and discussions with all of our representatives. Each year the Government Affairs & Public Policy Committee hosts a series of legislative events with our county, state and federal elected officials.
It’s great for insurance to get a great price but at the end of the day you want to make sure if you have a claim, it gets paid, Leanna Knight, vice president and general manager of personal lines for Warren Weiss Agency, Quakertown.
From a rural Lehigh County farmhouse kitchen to an award winning Upper Bucks County risk management advising and insurance firm, Warren Weiss Agency embraces its clients’ best interests.
The 73-year-old firm helps clients understand their risks and manage goals, so they can plan for health, wealth, well-being and the future.
“We bring in clients and spend face-time with them, and we spend a lot of time going to classes, going to training and continuing our education,” said Leanna Knight, vice president and general manager of personal lines for Warren Weiss Agency.
The firm’s five-employee team includes a bi-lingual, Spanish speaking agent, to keep pace with the community’s changing face and needs.
Warren Weiss Agency’s third generation Owner Brian Benner credits his grandfather, Warren Weiss, for the firm’s business model of educating clients first and foremost. Weiss was a school teacher and became a principal.
Benner’s mother Patricia Brubaker was the second generation to own the company.
Taking education seriously makes the difference between “… getting sales and building relationships,” Knight said.
Regular contact and staying connected to clients is a critical component of the team’s work ethic.
“Have an agent you trust. We want to talk to clients, otherwise you missed that they have a new car, or new drivers, or a new mortgage carrier,” Knight said.
This year (2019) Warren Weiss Agency was awarded the F.W. Quality Agency Award, Erie Insurance Group’s highest honor. Knight said it was a proud moment for everyone.
The award recognizes a “lifelong commitment to exceptional service, a winning attitude and dedication to quality growth.”
According to Benner the F.W. Quality Agency Award was 16 years in the making, and included building the team and the agency to meet elite criteria.
“Years of study from every employee. Years of underwriting to maintain profitability. Years of work building up networks to generate new business, and years of work with community organizations to solidify our reputation,” Benner said.
He added the firm’s participating in professional and civic organizations are a way Warren Weiss Agency gives back to its communities.
“Brian always says, ‘plan for a life well lived,’” Knight said.
Did you know: Leanna Knight, vice president and general manager of personal lines for Warren Weiss said most consumers don’t understand how tort factors affect their insurance - not just premiums, but coverage, too. “The biggest thing tort affects is your ability to collect on bodily injury. It isn’t about suing someone. Fluke accidents can happen,” Knight said.
Business Round Up:
What: Warren Weiss Agency full service insurance and risk management advisor for life, health, personal and business insurances.
Where: 2030 Milford Square Pike, Quakertown, PA 18951
Contact: Call 215.538.1865 or visit www.weissagency.com
“Hustle never sleeps,” is John Coulter’s motto.
Coulter is an actor, brand ambassador and promotions manager for The Gypsy Stage Company based in Doylestown, an all-in organization that creates and performs its own work.
Plays may be enjoyed at McCoole’s Arts and Events Place located at 10 S. Main Street in Quakertown.
“Having Gypsy Stage here in Upper Bucks offers our residents and visitors intimate opportunities for quality theatre performances right here in our back yard,” said Danielle Bodnar, executive director of Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce.
Founded in 2014 Coulter said Gypsy is unique because everything is created from scratch – original plays, scenery, props, playbills, posters and tickets. “Everything is done in house,” Coulter said.
“We’re starting with small productions and are testing the water at McCoole’s,” Coulter said.
He noted Jan Hench, owner of McCoole’s Red Lion Inn and McCoole’s Arts & Events Place invited Gypsy to audition and “fell in love” with the organization.
“She loved how we are interactive with the audience, how we perform all original productions - and unless we’re repeating a show, it’s all new work,” Coulter said.
Shows typically run for two nights (Friday and Saturday) with a matinee on Sunday, Coulter said.
Because Gypsy wants to offer live theater to anyone interested in attending it, they will be offering smaller, adapted shows in the future for special needs groups.
“It will be a smaller crowd, but they will get to enjoy the effect of the show,” Coulter said.
He said Gypsy is also available for corporate, non-profit and organizational events.
He’s encouraged because the response has been swift and positive to Gypsy Stage Company work. “It’s moving like an avalanche, not a glacial pace,” he said.
“There’s a lot of interest. People are contacting us and saying ‘come to our chamber meeting,’ ‘come to our annual meeting,’ ‘our monthly meeting,’ and do something new, engaging and different,” Coulter explained.
Coulter will be performing in Unspeakable, October 25, 26 and 27 , and in Chasing Santa A Christmas Musical, December 13, 14, 15 and December 20, 21, 22.
“The thing I love about when I play my character for Christmas is the way it lights up the audience… it’s an amazing thing for me,” Coulter said.
He said making other people happy is a performer’s big pay-off. “It’s not that I’m the center of attention. I see someone who’s having a bad day, and I can make them laugh and feel better,” he said.
If you go:
Gypsy Stage Company shows typically run 2 ½ hours with one intermission.
General admission tickets cost $20 and discounts are available for groups of 10 or more through the 2019 season. McCoole’s and Gypsy Stage will be offering dinner and a show set price options, coming soon.
Next up at McCoole’s: Nora Swan, A Murder Most Personal, runs Oct. 4 - 6 at McCoole’s Arts and Events Place, 10 S. Main Street Quakertown.
“The audience gets drawn into the plot, by the end of the play everyone’s on the edge of their seats,” Coulter said.
Original script by Gypsy Stage Company Owners Judith Sapperstine and Gary Murway.
See the Nora Swan, A Murder Most Personal trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHK4ZbcDsfU.
For more information visit www.gypsystagecompany.com.
“Placemaking inspires people to collectively re-imagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community,” from the Nature Based Placemaking Handbook, published by the Pennsylvania Downtown Center in Harrisburg.
You know it when you see it.
That elusive it so compelling, so rich, it draws you to itself.
Maybe it’s a natural place lush with forest or woodlands, crystal clear springs, or sparkling water trails.
What about an experience? An annual festival, pumpkin patch picking as a child, or with one, a root beer float with foam on top or a shopping trip with your mother. Maybe it is a spectacular al fresco breakfast with a dear friend.
Nature-Based Placemaking is coming to the Quakertown area, and it’s meant to make us irresistible.
Along with municipal and community leaders, Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce and Quakertown Alive! are working together to ensure our businesses are poised to take full advantage of these economic opportunities. When residents and visitors enjoy our active recreational across the region, everyone benefits.
“We are excited to be the bridge between commerce and community, which leads to a better quality of life in Upper Bucks,” said Danielle Bodnar, UBCC executive director.
The pilot program through Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Pennsylvania Downtown Center is an initiative to showcase elements of a location while tying in commerce and the area’s community and civic culture.
Other Pennsylvania downtowns in the pilot program include Connellsville in Fayette County and Clearfield in Clearfield County, said Julie Fitzpatrick, executive director of PA Downtown Center, a state-wide non-profit organization.
“Revitalization is never done,” Fitzpatrick said.
She noted for communities to continue to thrive and remain relevant as business centers they must continue to advance their quality of life features and protect and promote their regional natural assets.
From taking stock and highlighting natural assets (nature) to showcasing civic and community culture (place) and ramping up business and economic activity (profit), the model aims to have tourism development combine with civic stewardship and business opportunity in concert with the community’s growth.
“Local leadership will work to reinforce the value of these assets and cultivate cottage industries to help them flourish and grow,” Fitzpatrick explained.
Leadership training and resources will guide the pilot communities toward bringing in needed services to support recreation and appropriate direction to gather up and establish a unique sense of place.
Asset and gap components will be identified. Plans to shore up retail or service gaps may be created to shape a unique destination where people want to live, work and visit, often.
Naomi Naylor, executive director of Quakertown Alive! said funding and planning resources of roughly $16,500 were already committed through the Harrisburg initiative, while a timeline was being prepared with plans to resource and apply for additional grants and funding sources.
She said the program extended beyond the borough’s two-square miles to include its near municipal neighbors, Richland, Milford and Haycock townships, also rich with cultural heritage and rich natural resources.
Discovering how to draw people to the larger region is among the top priorities of a leadership team assembled for Quakertown’s Nature-Based Placemaking program.
From attractive signage, street lighting and green spaces to functional additions to the downtown like secure bike racks and repair stations to attract cycling enthusiasts, the goal is to become “visitor ready,” Naylor said.
Developing prominence could mean promoting a moment in history, or a distinguishing trait. Maybe it’s the richness of precious resources, longevity, stewardship or devotion to a place – things ordinary and extraordinary; irresistible components.
“How do you draw people, that’s what we’re [tasked] with,” Naylor said.
Log onto https://padowntown.org/programs/nature-based-placemaking-program for more information on Nature-Based Placemaking.
Seasoned pros getting the job done – that’s the motto at VoiceMatters, LLC
Michelle Kane knows how to make lemonade out of lemons.
Her business, VoiceMatters, LLC in Souderton, offers small business owners a way to parlay their message with the expertise of a public relations and marketing pro with more than 20 years in the business.
Born out of the Great Recession of 2008, Kane started her company in 2009 as a response to being an underemployed communications manager with two different non-profits.
“One of them began having financial problems shortly before the recession. I found myself half employed in a market that was bleeding jobs. My business is a ‘recession baby,’” she explained.
With a decade of agency experience as an account executive in Philadelphia Kane was armed with a solid network of creative professional connections. With this savvy combination of contacts and skills she felt prepared to strike out on her own.
Kane loves guiding clients through the creative process and helping her clients amp up awareness about their product or services.
The Juice:“I’ve always been an information junkie. I’m wired to connect people with one another, and that’s how I look at my clients. It excites me to make clients lives better, by helping them get the word out about how great they are,” Kane said.
She admits keeping pace with trends, tech and emerging parlance (language shifts and usage changes – think sick as something great) is a job in itself. Kane said while no one can possibly know everything, savvy professionals know how to build and maintain relationships to provide a whole package of services. “I don’t have to know everything about everything but I do build the relationships to have the resources.” It’s a best practices strategy keeping her business aligned with client interests. Marketing campaigns are fresh, fun and relevant.
“One of my favorite client activities is to do an audit,” she said. Taking stock of what clients are doing, what works and what doesn’t, helps refine client goals and create doable actions steps to move their business forward.
“The scariest time in your business is if you’re looking at your bank account going down. That is not the time to drop your marketing,” Kane said.
“You have to spend the money. Invest in a $50 Facebook ad to promote a business page. Do whatever you can that works within your budget; don’t do nothing,” she said.
On the horizon: A newly launched podcast, titled “That Solo Life,” which explores solo- practicing public relations alongside the broader business world. The new program features Kane and Karen Swim APR, founder of Words for Hire LLC, and an owner or Solo PR Pro.
Checkout the podcast link at http://soloprpro.com/podcast/
“For those who already run a business it’s hard to do the marketing as well- I tell people ‘you already have a job,’ that’s why you should hand it off to someone else.”
Should “that keeps” be in here? It’s a best practices strategy that keeps her business…
Back to fighting the cheapskates – could we change this to something around what it’s like to work with me? Like:
“It’s so important to have a strategy. One of my favorite client activities is to do an audit, to see what a client has been doing, what worked and what didn’t, determine their current goals and create an actionable strategy to move them forward.”
For more information on VoiceMatters call 267.236.3607 or log onto www.voicemattersllc.com.
Volunteering makes you feel good!!
There’s science behind it. Doing something for someone else triggers oxytocin, the ‘feel good’ chemical in the brain essential to bonding and dopamine, the ‘motivational’ brain chemical that gives us that ‘get up and go’ feeling.
Did you know UBCC relies on its volunteers to further its mission of support to the business community we serve?
Without them, we would not have the Foodie. Or our annual Golf Classic in June and fall Clay Shoot outings. Our networking events wouldn’t be possible without businesses willing to host members for mix and mingle evenings.
“Member volunteers are critical to service – they are ambassadors who offer face-to-face networking,” said Joseph G. “Joe” Wingert, UBCC board president and publisher of Bucks County Herald.
Real time interactions – and those ‘feel good’ feelings are “…something the Internet cannot duplicate,” Wingert added.
Who doesn’t want to join a group that’s doing great work?
Members, whether they volunteer or not for a specific committee like Membership or Government Affairs and Public Policy can still be active by sharing the word about the UBCC to others.
Share the good work, too UBCC does during your lunch break, at business meetings or with colleagues around the office and around town.
Invite a future member – someone you’d love to see involved, to the next chamber mixer, the first time is on the house.
“UBCC committee members are our chamber champions! They serve…as our enthusiastic leaders who assist the chamber in the mission and vision for the Upper Bucks region,” said Danielle Bodnar, UBCC executive director.
Committees like Membership meet monthly.
Others are seasonal, like Foodie, Golf and Clay Shoot.
“The volunteers on the Foodie Committee work hard to make the event not only successful but fun. Without the volunteers we could not hold the event,” said Leanna Knight, vice president at Warren Weiss Agency.
She said the committee’s diverse make-up brings essentials skills to the table to make the Foodie Upper Bucks County’s premiere food and drink tasting event.
What’s more, Foodie proceeds benefit Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW), a summer entrepreneurial camp for high school juniors and seniors.
That’s something to feel really good about.
“I love PFEW’s approach to giving them experience on what running a business is really like. The Foodie helps send local kids to get the experience,” Knight said.
Bodnar said chamber volunteering causes a ripple effect of goodwill that’s hard to replicate any other way.
“Our members are thinkers and doers, out in the business community. They’re helping the chamber make the connections or ‘bridges’ so vital to the supportive and positive business climate here,” Bodnar said.
For those of us who have received so very much, giving back is the right thing to do.
“As a community member and a parent I think it is important, to not only give back, but show my kids the importance of giving back,” Knight said.
For more information on UBCC Committees email email@example.com or call the office at 215.536.3211.
Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce
An economic development agency for Upper Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
|Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce||