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Chamber members hear about importance of positive workplace

LEWISTOWN — Members of the Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce gathered virtually Wednesday for the chamber’s annual meeting.

The guest speaker for the event was Allen Norton, workforce development executive for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. His presentation focused on the importance of creating a positive workplace culture and how crucial it is to show care and concern for employees. He emphasized that no matter what the employee’s role, they are the face of that business or organization.

He concluded his presentation with a quote by entrepeneur Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group: “Train people well enough so they can leave but treat them well enough, so they don’t want to.”

Chamber Executive Director Rhonda Kelley then gave a recap of 2021 highlighting the addition of administrative coordinator Alyssa Brown to the Chamber staff. She also reported that at the close of 2021, the chamber had 510 members.

Included was a listing of events and projects hosted by the chamber including the community Independence Day fireworks display, the African-American Cemetery Restoration Project, the continuation of entrepreneurial get togethers, business after hours events and town hall meetings. The chamber also hosted five ribbon cutting events, which Kelley stated bodes well for the community’s economic health, since they represent five new business locations experienced during the pandemic.

“Our Juniata River Valley businesses as a whole came through the pandemic well thanks to their ability to adapt and change as well as our communities unwavering support,” Kelley said.

She also thanked the medical facility representatives in attendance for their faithful dedication as they and their staffs worked tirelessly to keep area communities safe during this difficult time. Kelley also mentioned that during the pandemic the chamber was kept busy dispensing information to the membership as it was received concerning restrictions, mandates, grants, loans and other important, timely information. Town hall meetings were also organized through the chamber to keep the community informed.

Kelley concluded the event by highlighting some of the things the chamber has planned for the future including in-person after hours events, a continuation of the African-American Memorial Restoration Project, entrepreneurial meetups, speaking engagements, Chamber Business and Education Committee College and Career Fair at Mifflin County High School, as well as a free wheeling event for Mifflin County School District fourth graders, Sign-on Day at Mifflin County Academy of Science and Technology, the community Independence Day Fireworks slated for July 2, the kickoff for the Chamber’s second Leadership Institute, and a Women’s G.R.I.T. Conference in September.

Earlier in the meeting, Kelley introduced guest attendee state Sen. Judy Ward (R-Hollidaysburg), who will represent Mifflin, Juniata, Blair, Huntingdon and Fulton counties as of Dec. 1 in the Pennsylvania Senate.

Board members were elected for terms ending 2025. Those members included Chris Searer, Juniata Valley Bank; Ruth Eddy, The Sentinel; Terry Foster, MCS Bank; Christina Calkins-Mazur, retired business owner; Mike Tate, GME Communication; Matthew Conrad, CPA, LLC; Mike McMonigal, Mifflin County Academy of Science and Technology; and Jonathan Cunningham, NuVisions. Elected officers were Peter Ort, Kish Bank, chair; Valerie Reed, Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital, vice-chair; Terry Foster, MCS Bank, treasurer; and Kenton Stuck, In Home Services of Central PA, secretary.

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