Story written by Kevin Mertz of The Standard-Journal
MILTON — Now that the masks have largely come off, the president and CEO of the Central PA Chamber of Commerce believes individual smiles are “bigger and brighter” than ever.
“Everyone is doing well and everyone is getting back on track,” Tea Jay Aikey said. “Of course, you hear the workforce shortage is critical in every, every business sector.”
As businesses start to get “back on track,” two area chambers of commerce are resuming in-person activities.
Rather than hosting joint legislative breakfasts, as had been done in the past, both the Central PA Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce will be hosting their own breakfasts.
Congressman Dan Meuser (R-Pa. 9) will be the featured speaker during the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast to be held at 7:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 6, at Country Cupboard, 101 Hafer Road, Lewisburg.
Rep. Lynda Schlegel-Culver (R-108) will be the speaker during a Central PA Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast to be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17, at Country Cupboard.
“The joint legislative breakfasts are something we’ve done for a very long time,” Aikey said. “Our bi-laws specifically state that we are not to be political or biased by any means. We can only have folks that are in office speaking at those events. Other organizations don’t have those same bi-laws.”
Because of that, Aikey said it made sense for each chamber to start hosting its own breakfasts at Country Cupboard.
In addition, she said the joint breakfasts were so popular they were reaching the maximum capacity of individuals who could attend.
“We didn’t stop doing legislative events during the pandemic,” Aikey said. “We hosted some (at the chamber), we did some virtually.”
Recently, she said the chamber hosted an in-person breakfast for members at its office.
As the masks are starting to come off, Aikey said there’s a general sense that things are starting to get back to normal for area businesses.
“I talked to someone local, this week was the first week back in their office,” she said. “Folks are still cautious, and rightfully so. I don’t think it’s their main focus right now. They are busier than ever.”
She believes the workforce shortage will evaporate as extra unemployment benefits are eliminated.
According to Aikey, obtaining the necessary supplies to move forward with projects is becoming less of a concern for contractors.
“They have the supplies,” she said. “They don’t have the manpower to put the supplies in place. There are so many issues.”
On Aug. 11, the Central PA Chamber of Commerce will be hosting Leadercast Live, a one-day leadership conference broadcast live from Cincinnati, Ohio.
The chamber will be showing the event from Silver Moon Banquet Hall, Lewisburg.
According to Aikey, the national speakers will who will be presenting during the broadcast will speak about adapting to the changing business environment.
“You have to lead through change and uncertainty,” she said. “Today it might be a shortage of supplies, tomorrow it might be a shortage of workers.”
Aikey said the chamber is excited to bring members together at that event, as well as the September legislative breakfast.
“Our legislative event, that will be our first one back at Country Cupboard (since the onset of the pandemic),” she said. “We are excited to bring back a large, healthy group of people.”
Aikey said the chamber and its membership are also looking forward to hearing from Schlegel-Culver, who had a kidney transplant in March.
“Registration (for the breakfast) has been off the charts,” Aikey said. “Folks are eager to get out, see their fellow business leaders in the region and see someone who is very near and dear to us, back and healthy.”