Governor Shapiro Kicks Off Process of Developing First Statewide Economic Development Strategy in Nearly Two Decades

Governor Josh Shapiro, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Rick Siger, and Ben Kirshner, Chief Transformation Officer, Office of Transformation and Opportunity, took the next step in creating the Commonwealth’s first comprehensive economic development strategy in nearly two decades during a visit to PennAir, a company that helps people in manufacturing and construction with pneumatics, hydraulics, and automation.

Since day one, Governor Shapiro and his Administration have been working to aggressively grow and reignite Pennsylvania’s economy – announcing nearly $1 billion in new private sector investment in the Commonwealth like EMD ElectronicsPrysmian Group North America, and Re:Build Manufacturing creating over 1,400 new jobs and retaining over 5,300 existing jobs statewide in just nine months. In order to reinforce that commitment to economic competitiveness, the Shapiro Administration is developing an innovative and aggressive economic development strategy. The strategy will be an assessment of the Commonwealth’s areas of strength, a clear-eyed analysis of barriers to growth, and concrete goals and initiatives to guide policymaking and investment decisions for years to come.

Read Full Article Here


Why Serving Your Community Can Grow Your Business


  • Engaging in community service builds a positive reputation, encourages staff retention and loyalty, and amplifies core values.
  • Serving your community may help you hire and retain employees who are a better culture fit—younger generations of jobseekers want to find fulfillment in their work.
  • When picking partners for community engagement, choose those that align with your company’s core values and areas of expertise.
  • Businesses should be creative in their approach and enjoy participating in projects that get them excited.
  • ~ 645 words / 3.5 minute read

Running a small business requires dedication and time. But have you ever considered the benefits of community service? It may seem like one more thing to add, but research shows that helping your community can actually support your business goals. Serving your community helps boost your reputation, retain top talent, and create a more positive workplace. Keep reading to discover more about the power of giving back to your community.

Change How the Community Sees Your Business
Business owners start up because they want to solve a problem or fulfill a need in the community. However, once you’re up and running, making a profit often becomes the top priority. When this happens, members of the community may see you as someone who is just there to make a buck.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses and organizations stepped up to serve their community and live out their core values. Entrepreneur magazine reported that during the shutdown, After-School-All-Stars, a national nonprofit that runs after school programs, tuned into the needs of their local communities and started providing meals, distance learning, and mental health support for students and families.

You don’t need an economic crisis to show up for your community. You can demonstrate your company’s values by volunteering as a group or sponsoring an event you believe in. One study found that a whopping 78% of consumers want businesses to take the lead on social issues. In other words, when you invest your time or money into important service opportunities customers take notice. When you give back, people see you as part of the community and are more likely to use your business.

Hire and Retain Employees that Share Your Values
If your business’s number one goal is profit, you will attract employees who feel the same way. Their loyalty will be limited to the next paycheck, and for the most part, they won’t go above and beyond when you need it. However, when your company lives its core values within the community, retention rates will be higher, and you will attract skilled people who want to do more than simply show up.

This strategy is especially important if you hire younger employees. Forbes reported that 83% of millennials said they would be more loyal to a company that contributed to social and environmental issues. They also found that Gen Z, the newest group to enter the workforce, expect their employer to have a purpose beyond profit. Gen Z job candidates even showed they are more likely to read mission statements and value documents.

When you have a company culture that includes giving back, you can attract aspirational employees. These workers want to be connected to something bigger than themselves, and when your business gives them that opportunity, they find more than employment–they find fulfillment.

Pick the Right Partners
Of course, when you choose to do community outreach, it needs to fit with your organization’s core values and areas of expertise. To find opportunities that are right for you and your business, try some of the strategies listed below.

What problems exist in my community today? Whether it’s supporting local schools or animal shelters, find a cause that aligns with your values.
Encourage employees to volunteer during work hours. Maybe it’s just one hour a month, but when employees can give back during work hours they don’t have to choose between serving and time off.

Create a custom plan for volunteering based on what matters to your employees.
Share about the time and investment your employees give on social media or your website. People love feel-good stories and this will help boost the perception of your business.

The Bottom Line
Above all, be creative in your approach and choose projects that get you excited. Your enthusiasm will shine through and make your business memorable in the eyes of your community.

Do personal stories help or hurt your business? 


  • Telling personal stories is an effective way to engage customers and humanize your brand.
  • Make sure the story relates to your company’s values or mission. Use HubSpot’s guide to business storytelling as a resource when crafting stories.
  • Personal stories do not have to be about you—they can be about your customers too.
  • When done well, telling personal stories can help you become known for what makes your business special and attract ideal clients.
    ~ 665 words / 3.5 minute read

Telling a story is one of the oldest ways humans have of connecting with each other. When it comes to your business, how you share personal stories in public spaces such as social media matters. Recounting life lessons or turning points can inspire and uplift your audience. However, sharing your deepest or darkest experiences with an audience that encompasses long-time friends, employees, clients, and industry partners can negatively affect your business. So, how do you know which stories inspire trust and build your brand and which to avoid? Read on to learn more about how to ensure your personal brand aligns with your business.

Your Mission is Personal
A personal story is different from a ‘confessional’ story. And this distinction can help you separate what goes too far from what supports your business goals. For example, an inspiring story about overcoming an injury to win your college track competition is great, but if the focus is on your college awards or the fascinating details of your surgery it may come across as self-absorbed or out of touch. On the other hand, when you connect overcoming obstacles to your company’s values or even your reason-for-being, it works toward creating a positive image of your business and shines a spotlight on your company’s mission.

Social media is a busy place and most consumers are there for deals and entertainment. Ensuring your content connects sends a clear message to your customers: you can trust me with your time.

Hubspot’s guide to business storytelling is a great resource for telling more engaging stories. They advise keeping the following points in mind to keep your stories—even personal ones—on target.

  • Captivating stories keep the reader engaged and invested.
  • Plausible tales create a believable version of reality for the reader.
  • Educational pieces encourage curiosity and further knowledge.
  • Relatable content connects readers with familiar people and places.
  • Memorable stories use humor, inspiration, even shock.

Use Stories to Reveal Lessons
The best leaders share personal stories that inspire and reveal lessons about how they overcame obstacles and achieved success. Richard Branson does this well in his recent Master Class, where he describes his battle with dyslexia which effectively blocked his formal education. He turned this personal setback into a positive learning experience by sharing how his ability to collaborate, delegate, and see the world in a unique way helped build his business empire. The implied lesson to his audience is that your perceived weakness can become a strength, when you adapt a new mindset. Branson’s course is called “Disruptive Entrepreneurship,” which makes his personal story perfectly aligned. This connection is important because now his dyslexia is more than a confession but a source of inspiration.

Get Personal with Customer Stories
Not every story needs to be about yourself or even your team. Your customer’s lives are a great source of inspiration. Get strategic when you share stories that correspond to your customer avatars. Sometimes customers will voluntarily share their story with you, but expect to devote intentional time following up with customers. Use these tips, provided by Forbes’ contributor Stephanie Burns, to collect compelling testimonials and tell better success stories.

  1. Make sure to ask the right questions. Instead of ‘Would you recommend me to a friend or family,’ try asking ‘How is your life better now that we’ve worked together?’
  2. When a client sends an email telling you about their success or posts a rave review online, follow up. Set up a time to ask more questions and gather details for your story.
  3. Don’t wait until the end of the process. Let your audience experience what it’s like to work with you by chronicling the customer journey in real time.

The Takeaway
Telling personal stories can be a great way to humanize your brand and connect with your customers. When you ensure your stories support your business’s goals and connect with your audience, you’ll become known for what makes your business special and attract your ideal clients.

GET Solar Communities Centre Region

With the quickly rising cost of electricity and the new federal incentives available for those going solar, now is the time to explore how going solar on your own property can save you money. Many Pennsylvanian companies and organizations have saved thousands to millions of dollars in energy costs over the life of their solar systems, with many more expected to go solar in the next few years.

That’s why a local group of community leaders have partnered with the PA Solar Center (a statewide nonprofit) to form GET Solar Centre Region. GET Solar Centre Region will provide businesses, nonprofits, and community property owners with free technical assistance and financial guidance on going solar – namely, how it can save them money.

For example locally, University Mennonite Church installed their 27.75 kW solar array in June 2023. The 75 solar modules are designed to offset 100% of the church’s annual electricity consumption. This will save them an estimated $96,000 in energy costs over the next 25 years.

Want to know how your company or organization can do the same? Plan to attend one of the free informational meetings scheduled at noon on September 19th, and 20th over Zoom.
We will be teaching some creative ways organizations like yours could reap the benefits of solar energy. You can expect to learn more about the following:

  • Tax credits
  • Grant programs
  • Technical assistance
  • USDA REAP program grants and loans

The PA Solar Center will even offer a free assessment of your company’s solar potential and can issue RFPs for estimates from qualified solar developers. The PA Solar Center will review the bids with you and help you make sense of them — serving as your unbiased guide through the whole process.

If you are interested in attending, please register here: GET Solar Centre Region ( Can’t attend but are interested in learning more? Contact Pam Adams at Centre Region COG,

Boost Your Productivity with These Practical Habits


  • Batching tasks allows you to group similar tasks together and focus on them for a specific period of time, improving concentration and allowing you to monotask rather than multitask.
  • “Eating the frog” is a productivity hack that prioritizes the most difficult task first, leading to feelings of accomplishment that can carry over into the rest of the day/week.
  • Automating your attention by turning off notifications, putting your phone on silent, and using online scheduling helps avoid distractions.
  • Power napping for 10-20 minutes before 2pm (or 5pm for night owls) can improve cognitive function and boost creativity.
  • Incorporating these habits can help increase productivity and make you more efficient – practice proactively to see real results 

~ 593 words / 3 minute read 

Although productivity is an essential component to work and life, it’s not a subject most people learn in school. At first glance, the ability to stay focused, get organized, and finish tasks on time seems to be a talent bestowed at birth on the lucky. Thankful productivity experts have another view. Your productivity does not manifest from your genes but from your habits. The following productivity hacks will help you take control of your time and transform the way you work.  

Batch Your Time

Time batching is a technique where you set aside specific timeframes for certain tasks. Instead of jumping from one task to another, time batching allows you to group similar tasks together and focus only on them for a specific period. For example, instead of reading emails throughout the day, you schedule a specific time to read and respond. Likewise, you might set aside specific times each day for returning calls or scheduling appointments. Time batching improves concentration and allows you to monotask rather than multitask, which research has shown to be ineffective. We all wish there was more time in a day. By batching your tasks, you’ll be able to work more efficiently, save time, and minimize distractions.

Eat the Frog

American humorist Mark Twain once wrote, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” Productivity experts have latched onto Twain’s metaphor to address the way many people avoid hard tasks. Unfortunately, that avoidance has a cost. Stress, anxiety, and low-energy happen when we put off important work. Much like ripping off a band-aid, ‘eating the frog’ means prioritizing difficult work. Once you’ve conquered a challenging task, your feeling of accomplishment will carry over into the rest of your day, even your week.

Avoiding Distractions

Distractions can significantly affect productivity. Edward G. Brown, an efficiency and workflow consultant, argues that our biggest time bandits come from momentum loss, starting over, and do-overs because of errors. Nir Ayal, author of Indistracible: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life, recommends using technology to automate your attention. Simple habits like turning off notifications during work hours, putting your phone on silent, and having clients book appointments through an online scheduler keeps your attention on your most important work and saves you time throughout your day.  

Power Naps

Can sleeping in the daytime really make you more productive? Just ask some of the world’s most successful basketball players like Lebron James or Derrick Rose, who have relied on naps to boost performance. Research shows that it’s not just athletes who benefit from napping. Power naps, defined as a 10-20 minute daytime sleep burst, can help recharge your energy, improve cognitive function, boost your creativity, and improve your work performance. When’s the best time to power nap? Sleep experts recommend before 2pm for most people or as late as 5pm for night owls. When you find yourself reaching for afternoon caffeine, you’ll know it’s time for a quick nap.  

The Takeaway 

Incorporating productivity habits like time batching, prioritizing hard tasks, avoiding distractions, and power naps are practical ways to increase productivity and become more efficient. By adopting these habits, you’ll be able to work smarter, not harder. Start by trying one or two habits for a few weeks and track how your productivity improves. Remember, productivity is like a muscle you develop, so practice everyday to get stronger.