By Kevin Davis, VP & Senior Benefits Consultant at Univest Insurance
As we face the uncertainty of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our economy, public safety and our individual health, we are all looking for assurances from our leaders and employers. One of the biggest factors that contribute to the success of any business is the ability to perform together as a team. With the recent uncertainty and increasing competition, it has become extremely important to encourage creativity and collaboration among your employees in order to improve productivity while also promoting both physical health and healthy employee relationships.
At Univest, we highly value our culture and truly believe it drives performance. We also realize that culture isn’t something that just happens – it needs to be defined and cultivated. We firmly believe that an engaged workforce who follows a common set of fundamental behaviors creates success. The Univest Way consists of 18 fundamentals that describe the daily principles and practices that make our five core values come to life and truly serves as the foundation of our culture.
One of my favorite of our fundamentals is “Collaborate.” Which the Univest Way defines as, “Break down walls, eliminate silos, and work together, for the good of Univest, your customers, and each other. Be there for each other and be willing to step into another role or help a co-worker when that’s what’s required for success. Help each other to succeed. ‘It’s not my job’ is not part of the Univest Way.” The phrase “we are all in this together” has represented our collaboration as a society as we’ve faced a pandemic and now as we are trying to come back together.
One of my favorite songs is “Unity” by Shinedown. The lyrics have resonated with me relative to collaboration as the band sings, “Shine a light in the dark/let me see where you are/’cause I’m not gonna leave you behind.” Life and business are all about partnerships – working together we achieve more than we can on our own.
Encouraging teams to work together towards a common goal by sharing their ideas and skills often results in employees who are more effective and efficient in their work compared to people who work on projects on their own. Collaboration is especially important to cultivate when teams work virtually, as many have had to over the past few months. The sense of team spirit is felt most strongly when victories can be shared. Employees are more likely to continue working for a business longer when they have strong ties with the people they work with and feel that they’re a part of something important. As the saying goes, “two heads are better than one.” Through collaboration team members can balance out each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
What is your company’s culture and engagement strategy? The employers who embrace the power of collaboration and have strategies in place to communicate their culture and promote employee engagement will be in the best position going forward.
An experienced employee benefits consulting firm like the team at Univest can identify which strategies are best for your company and create a roadmap to implementing them successfully. Not sure where to begin? An advisor at Univest Insurance can help you determine what is best. Please feel free to call us at 610.904.6029. We are all in this together and can help you determine the best approach.
Insurance products offered through Univest Insurance, Inc. are obligations of the issuing insurance companies, not obligations or deposits of or guaranteed by any bank and are not insured by the FDIC or any other agency of the United States.
By Chris Carter, VP and Area Sales Manager at Univest Home Loans
Only a few months ago, the United States economy was chugging along at a respectable pace with low interest rates, a record-high stock market and 3% unemployment. These impressive stats supported a seemingly financially sound and stable 2020, but the arrival of COVID-19 quickly dispelled this Goldilocks story before the end of the first quarter. With businesses forced to close amid stay-at-home orders, unemployment skyrocketed which, quite obviously, impacted the normally robust spring real estate market.
With unemployment at its highest level in decades, lenders have been forced to verify and redocument income and employment status for clients up until virtually the last minute before securing funding. Borrowers with lower credit scores may find themselves unable to secure the same financing as before the onset of the pandemic. Some secondary financing, such as home equity loans and lines of credit have been eliminated altogether at several lending institutions. Government-sponsored enterprises such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, along with mortgage insurance companies and other agencies (HUD, VA, etc.) have generally tightened up underwriting guidelines and credit overlays.
Simultaneously, interest rates have plummeted to incredible lows which has prompted record refinancing. For many, this phenomenon has clogged pipelines, delayed desired closing dates and, in some cases, forced lenders to indefinitely postpone transactions, disallow interest rate locks and/or make their pricing so unattractive as to discourage would-be customers until the volume subsides.
Remarkably, Univest Home Loans has maintained its 1-2 day underwriting turn-times and continued its sterling 98% customer satisfaction rating all while setting and breaking record loan production. Not a single purchase closing has been missed or postponed. Appraisal waivers and exterior inspections have allowed us to process and fund hundreds of transactions per month. And, we have only slightly adjusted our consumer lending model for potential home equity borrowers.
As a bank with our own money to lend, Univest can self-fund and rely less on wholesale arrangements than our competitors whose warehouse lines have been cut and some face margin calls. Our 100% local team has transitioned to working remotely seamlessly. Unlike other lenders, Univest Home Loans, can originate portfolio transactions as an option for alternative and specialized financing. Our expansive product line, which includes construction-to-permanent financing, lot loans, swing loans, and first-time homebuyer grants (to name a few), remains available. During these uncertain times, Univest’s experience serving local communities over the last 144 years has proven to be an asset.
Interest rates are at historic lows, despite the uncertainty, and now could be a good time to buy or refinance. However, headlines on coronavirus and its impact change daily which has created an
ever-fluid situation. Contact a Univest Home Loan consultant at 877-723-5571 or firstname.lastname@example.org for the most current information and to learn more about what we can do for you in these challenging times. If you find yourself financially burdened with your existing mortgage, contact your servicer immediately for options. Be safe and stay healthy!
Univest Bank and Trust Co. is an Equal Housing Lender. NMLS #415882
John Hayes, New Tripoli Bank
Chair, The Chamber Board of Governors
It’s official, the Veterans & Military Council, the formation of which has been facilitated by Member Relations & Operations EVP Alison Pickel, is an official business council of The Chamber!
Bylaws have been approved and officers elected. Thanks to Ron Jerdon, Jerdon Construction Services, for stepping up as the Council’s chair, Andrew Lawler, West Side Hammer Electric, as vice chair and Marilyn Kelly-Cavotta, Moravian College, as secretary. Volunteers truly make this Chamber both special and work well.
The Chamber and the VMC are committed to support, honor and empower the men and women who have served or are serving our country in the United States military, and to build a strong network of the region’s veterans and active military in business, and to promote the contributions and competitive advantage that military members bring to any business.
Objectives of the council are to help veterans and those who serve develop and grow professionally, to create network building opportunities for veterans and military personnel, and to promote the attributes and the advantages of hiring veterans and military service personnel.
Military veterans are extremely capable and eager to excel as employees, but there are many companies who don’t even give them a chance. This both is a missed opportunity for those businesses, needs to change as it’s the right thing to do.
When hiring, consider that Veterans value teamwork, are unbelievably resourceful, are the best at taking constructive criticism, and take tremendous pride in their work.
This Spring, the council will present the first of their Veteran Smart Series events; “My Battlefield, Your Office” with Marine combat veteran Justin Constantine on May 20th (see the display ad on page ___) and we’ll follow-up in June with “Now Hiring!” a leadership panel discussion on finding, hiring, training and retaining a veteran workforce.
Both of these events will provide vital information and insight for HR professionals and recruiters and offer SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP recertification credits provided by Equinox Benefits Consulting.
When the going gets tough, Pennsylvanians band together. At PPL Electric Utilities, we’re taking several steps to look out for our customers during these challenging times.
We’re working day and night to continue safely and reliably delivering electricity to our customers.
We won’t cut service to any customers for unpaid bills until further notice and we have waived all late payment fees, effective March 16.
We also have several programs available to help customers who are having a hard time paying their bills:
OnTrack offers a lower, fixed monthly bill and debt forgiveness for customers who make 150 percent of the poverty level or less.
Operation HELP is funded by our company, employees and customers, and can assist customers who make 200 percent of the federal poverty level or less. Grants help pay customer heating bills, including oil or gas heat. PPL Foundation recently donated an extra $500,000 to Operation HELP. To apply for either Operation HELP or OnTrack visit www.pplelectric.com/billhelp or call 1-800-342-5775.
CARES can help customers who are experiencing a temporary hardship. Learn more or apply by calling 1-800-358-6623.
No matter what your situation is, if you’re having trouble paying your bill contact us and we’ll see what we can do to help. We’re all in this together. Stay safe and healthy.
Lehigh Valley Health Network
Whitehall Area Chamber Chair
As spring is nearing, we have many great events that you are going to want to participate in here in the Whitehall Area!
First, mark your calendar for Thursday, March 12th as we are featuring our annual State of the Region Luncheon featuring the four municipalities that are under our Chamber: Whitehall Town- ship, Catasauqua, North Catasauqua & Coplay Boroughs. Come out and hear updates from our municipal leaders and learn about upcoming projects! This event has been sponsored by Fellowship Community, America’s Notary, Home Instead Senior Care and Pocono Brewery Company – thank you to all who are making this very important event possible!
Thursday, March 24th is a big day for Whitehall! Starting in the morning, we will be partnering with the Northampton Area Chamber for a Fed-Ex Tour and Luncheon from 11:30 am – 1 pm! Come out and tour the largest FedEx facility in the United States and how one click on the computer turns into some- thing delivered right to your front step!
Also on March 24th the Whitehall Area Chamber and Catasauqua Main Streets will be welcoming one of our newest members at a ribbon cutting! We will be cutting the ribbon at Jupiter Crush (on Race Street, Catasauqua) at 5:45 PM – come out to celebrate Jupiter Crush’s 3-year anniversary and to check out the unique vintage goods, artwork and studio.
As the warmer weather arrives, spring out to our Whitehall Area Restaurant Week from April 19th to the 25th! This is a fantastic week that showcases some of our finest eateries from across Whitehall Township, Coplay, North Catasauqua and Catasauqua. Want to get involved? This is one of our biggest bang-for-your-buck events for both restaurants and sponsors! Sign up now for maximum promotion and exposure.
Lastly, we want to thank all who came out to our joint event with Catasauqua Main Streets at the Suburban North Branch of the Greater Valley YMCA in Catasauqua! Between the delicious hors d’oeuvres and free Zumba class, we all left a little happier and healthier. Your participation made this event simply fantastic!
As always, we want to produce events that add value to your membership! Please reach out if you want to get involved or have an idea for a partnership, event or would like to sponsor.
Western Lehigh Chamber Chair
The Western Lehigh Chamber is very thankful for its Board members and the time and effort they volunteer to serving our mission. Among other things, I will be trying to highlight in these monthly articles our Board members and their businesses because I think it’s important to understand how varied our backgrounds and businesses are and what we have to offer our membership. This article will call out some important happenings and news publications in Upper Macungie Township and South Whitehall Township. Thanks to Kathy Rader, Upper Macungie Township Supervisor, and Christina Tori Morgan, South Whitehall Township Commissioner, our Board keeps abreast of important happenings in those Townships.
Upper Macungie Township (with Upper Mac NEWS) and South Whitehall Township (with Explore South Whitehall) both publish official community news magazines that are informative and may be helpful to you even if you don’t reside in either of the Townships.
The most recent publication of Upper Mac NEWS highlighted, among other things, the problems currently facing volunteer fire companies not just in UMT but across Pennsylvania. One of the ways that the Township is trying to address those problems is by hosting a Junior Emergency Services Academy, which is conducted annually as a free program by the UMT Bureau of Fire in concert with UMT’s three volunteer fire companies, the UMT Police Department and Cetronia Ambulance Corps. The Academy provides children with hands-on lifesaving skills in multiple first response disciplines and early experience for possible future careers in firefighting, law enforcement and EMS. I encourage anyone with kids between the ages of 12 to 16 to check out this important summer program. Enrollment for the 2020 Academy starts in May.
If you’ve driven down Walbert Avenue recently, you are aware that the South Whitehall Township campus renovation project is well under way. The Township is updating and modernizing the exist- ing township building and overall cam- pus with a new public meeting room, additional conference rooms, public restrooms and increased technology. Green design alternatives such as spray irrigation and use of recycled building materials are also included in the plan. A new resident yard waste drop-off site will also be built so if you’re a resident of South Whitehall, remember that during 2020, the yard waste drop-off site will be moved to Wehr Mill Road. As a result of the renovation, South Whitehall Township will be temporarily moving offices to Suite 410 in the Roma Building (1605 North Cedar Crest Blvd). The Parkland Library will also be undergoing a renovation in 2020, but will continue operating out of the existing library until further notice. You can check out renderings of the soon to be new township building at https:// southwhitehall.com/administration/ campus-renovation-project/.
Contact the Township offices if you’re interested in getting copies of the publications. Hope to see you all at our next event on March 18 at Parkland Manor Senior Living to discuss Community Policing!
Penn State Lehigh Valley
Southern Lehigh Chamber Chair
With spring right around the corner, The Southern Lehigh Chamber is planning several exciting events to get you out and about!
The Southern Lehigh Chamber is excited to announce our Restaurant Week is back for the second year! If you are in the mood for some great food and drink, join us at a variety of local eateries, bakeries, breweries and restaurants from April 26 through May 2. Thank you to our Bronze Sponsors QNB Bank and Lehigh County Humane Society! More sponsorship opportunities are still available! For more information about this event, please contact Ashley Lorah at AshleyL@LehighValleyChamber.org.
Sunshine, tunes and good times! Upper Saucon Township and Southern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce are presenting the Music in the Park Summer Concert Series again this year. We have really enhanced this four month event series by moving the concerts to Sunday’s from 6-8 p.m. and let us tell you, we have a great line up!, Grab you smartphone and mark your calendar so you don’t miss out on these events. All concerts will be held at the Community Park, 3231 Preston Lane, Center Valley on the following dates: May 31, June 21, July 19 and August 23. We will have food and dessert options available at each concert too!
Lastly, make sure to ‘Like’ our Facebook page to stay up-to-date on member deals and events happening in our communities!
We look forward to seeing you through- out the year!
Hello again, Time marches on and so do the seasons here in the pristine Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Winter will soon be in the rearview and spring will start to show its vibrant green colors across our region. The rebirth we experience each spring got us thinking about the current rebirth happening across the business sector and even the Poconos tourism industry.
The Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau works with a Take One Productions to produce television commercial spots we run in major markets as well as our backyard. Along with my talented co-host Ashley, Pocono Mountains Magazine features fine dining, exciting experiences and truly wonderful businesses that make our region a top-tier destination for more than 30 million guests per year.
Decades ago, the Poconos marketed itself in similar ways. The video may not have been high definition, but it does go to show how seasons change over time along with people’s tastes and preferences. In this new, invigorating season of growth our region is experiencing, we should be reminded that change is the true constant and we’re fortunate to be in a broader community of partners who work together to make it better than we found it.
Someday, someone will come across the current-day footage and feel nostalgic for this season in the Pocono Mountains, one which I’m sure will put us all on an even better footing for future changes to come
Northampton Area Chamber Chair
Two months of the new decade have flown by and I think we are all ready for a little spring weather. I know I can wait to stroll down main street and stop in a few places to shop or grab a bite to eat. The Northampton Area Chamber has been keeping very busy planning some fantastic events for the year.
We had a great time and fantastic food at Sabz Restaurant for their ribbon cutting. Sabz’s Mediterranean flair is a great addition to our ever-growing food scene! Coming up on March 24th at 11:30 we are taking a tour of the FedEx facility on Willowbrook Road. This event will be a joint event with the Whitehall Area Chamber and will at- tract a large group. It will be a very educational tour an interesting peak inside the largest FedEx facility in the US. We will get a firsthand look at how all those packages end up on our front porches so fast! Make sure to register soon as the number of spots are limited. We are also excited for our Pint for a Purpose event with the YPC on July 21st at The Gin Mill. It is always a great event and a portion of proceeds will go to a good cause. Make sure to keep an look out for this event as we finalize the details.
The Chamber is also working on several products to enhance visibility of our local businesses. We are finishing up our Shop Eat Explore maps which will promote local businesses and spread awareness of the various shopping dining and entertainment choices in town. We are also working on new banners that will promote local business by providing additional advertising on various higher traffic roads in the borough. If you have any interest in these programs please contact our chamber liaisons, Liana or Jessica and they can get you the details on how you can become involved.
It’s an early reminder but remember to save the date for September 12th, 2020 for the 31st annual Uptown Northampton Street Fair. This event has grown significantly over the last few years and venders are lining up already! Let us know early if you would like to be involved. Thanks again to my wonderful board and all the local volunteers who make Northampton the greatest town to call home.
now Truist Vice President/Retail Area Leader
Hellertown-Lower Saucon Chamber Chair
If you’re like me, you don’t want winter to end! We hope you all have had some productive winter months as we are getting closer and closer to the first blossom of Spring. Enjoy the cold and snow while it lasts—you never know what to expect in March! We have a busy April in the Hellertown/Lower Saucon Area so don’t forget to mark some important dates in your calendar. We have an exciting event with our friends from the Young Professionals Council at Black River Farms on Wednesday, April 15th from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm. This will be a great evening. Don’t forget, there will be a delicious food truck on site that will be donating 10% of their proceeds back to continue our local initiatives. Come out and enjoy some great networking at a great venue.
On Thursday, April 23rd, we will cut the ribbon for yet another new business on Main Street in Hellertown at House & Land Real Estate—that’s 812 Main Street. Join in on the fun at 5:45 pm when we make it official, then head over to Lost Tavern Brewing for an after party.
I know you may not be thinking of summer yet, but take a few moments, think about summer, and mark down our first Music in the Park Summer Concert Series in Dimmick Park on Sunday, June 7th at 6 pm. It will be a big night as we welcome The Large Flowerheads to kick off our season! This 5 concert series is presented by Steel Club and in partnership with the Borough of Hellertown; partially funded through the County of Northampton’s Hotel Tax Program.
Interested in sponsoring any of our up- coming events? Contact our liaisons for more information on how you can maximize your membership by putting yourself in front of both business and community leaders. Are you coming up on a special milestone anniversary, or would you like to host an upcoming event? Contact us and let’s start planning an event to drive people from all over to your business.
Momentum continues to build in our area so take some time and visit—you’ll be glad you did! Make sure to also ‘Like’ our Face- book page, to stay up to date on all things happening in our area.