Cham­ber un­veils dis­count pro­gram

‘Shop TriCounty’ will en­cour­age shop­pers to visit lo­cal busi­nesses

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Donna Rovins drovins@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mer­cBiz on Twit­ter

Re­spond­ing to area busi­ness own­ers’ needs to en­cour­age cus­tomers to shop lo­cally, the TriCounty Area Cham­ber of Com­merce out­lined a new pro­gram Wed­nes­day at its an­nual Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Lun­cheon.

Called “Shop TriCounty,” the new pro­gram will of­fer dis­count cards to cham­ber com­pany em­ploy­ees and mem­bers of the com­mu­nity that will be valid at par­tic­i­pat­ing cham­ber busi­nesses.

“Shop TriCounty will con­nect lo­cal busi­nesses to the com­mu­nity by en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple who live and work in the tri-county re­gion to pa­tron­ize lo­cal busi­ness, take ad­van­tage of a great deal and en­cour­age

re­peat busi­ness by us­ing the card,” Jennifer O’Donnell, TriCounty Area Cham­ber of Com­merce mem­ber re­la­tions di­rec­tor, said dur­ing the lun­cheon.

“There is def­i­nitely a need for a pro­gram like this,” O’Donnell added. “Af­ter speak­ing with many of our lo­cal busi­nesses, we un­der­stand that they need more sup­port to en­cour­age con­sumers to buy lo­cally.”

Shop TriCounty is a col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort be­tween the cham­ber and Pottstown CARES, which is a part­ner­ship be­tween the Bor­ough of Pottstown, Pottstown School District and The Hill School. Stu­dent lead­ers of Pottstown Cares — Mya Lon­gacre of The Hill School and Le­nea Craw­ford of Pottstown High School — joined O’Donnell for the an­nounce­ment, along with Katie Scan­lan, High Mead­ows Chair of Sus­tain­abil­ity at The Hill School.

“One statis­tic I have found in­ter­est­ing is that for ev­ery $100 spent, $68 cir­cu­lates back into the lo­cal econ­omy com­pared to $43 at fran­chises and $18 on­line,” Lon­gacre told the group. “Sup­port­ing these lo­cal busi­nesses means sup­port­ing your neigh­bors and the econ­omy.”

Un­der the pro­gram, cham­ber mem­ber em­ploy­ees and mem­bers of the com­mu­nity can ob­tain a key tag dis­count card that can be used at par­tic­i­pat­ing com­pa­nies. The card will be free of charge.

The key tag will fea­ture a QR code that, when scanned, will take shop­pers to the web­site and a list of par­tic­i­pat­ing busi­nesses. O’Donnell said that right now, there are about 20 com­pa­nies signed up.

“We would like that num­ber to dou­ble by the time the pro­gram de­buts,” she said. “We’re call­ing on lo­cal busi­nesses to par­tic­i­pate in the pro­gram.”

Ac­cord­ing to O’Donnell, the cham­ber will of­fi­cially launch the pro­gram in early Novem­ber.

“On or about Nov. 1, cards will be made avail­able to mem­bers of the cham­ber to dis­trib­ute to their em­ploy­ees,” she said, adding that an es­ti­mated 15,000 em­ploy­ees work for cham­ber mem­ber com­pa­nies.

To par­tic­i­pate in the pro­gram, busi­nesses must be cham­ber mem­bers. There is also an ad­di­tional fee of $50 to cham­ber mem­ber com­pa­nies to par­tic­i­pate.

Once the pro­gram is up and run­ning, the com­mu­nity can visit www.tri­count­yareacham­ber.com/ shop­tri­county for a list­ing of par­tic­i­pat­ing busi­nesses. The Lon­gacre Co. is spon­sor­ing the pro­duc­tion of 10,000 key tags for the pro­gram.

The an­nounce­ment of the Shop TriCounty pro­gram was just part of a busy lun­cheon agenda Wed­nes­day.

The key­note speaker for the event was Ryan Unger, pres­i­dent and CEO of Team PA, a public/pri­vate part­ner­ship that Unger said is founded on the be­lief that, “when we work to­gether we can come up with great so­lu­tions and great ef­forts to ad­vance our Com­mon­wealth.”

He spoke about the or­ga­ni­za­tion and some of its in­volve­ment in eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment ef­forts in Penn­syl­va­nia. Team PA con­nects busi­nesses, fo­cuses ini­tia­tives on busi­ness growth, ed­u­ca­tion, work­force de­vel­op­ment and govern­ment ef­fi­ciency.

One of his points was that at­tract­ing new busi­nesses is only a “small piece of the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment puz­zle.”

“Ex­pan­sion and re­ten­tion projects are crit­i­cal to the suc­cess of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment projects in the Com­mon­wealth,” Unger said.

Unger added that in­cen­tives also help, but the num­ber one is­sue is work­ers. He said Team PA is fo­cus­ing on bring­ing peo­ple to­gether to ad­dress work­force de­vel­op­ment — some­thing he said needs to be­gin in Kinder­garten and con­tinue through grade 12.

“We’re work­ing with the leg­is­la­ture to put to­gether a body that brings peo­ple to­gether to bridge that gap be­tween busi­ness and ed­u­ca­tion and makes sure our K-12 sys­tem is in tune with work­force is­sues,” he said. Unger added that the skills work­ers will need in the future is also crit­i­cal.

One of the things Unger said he likes about the work of his or­ga­ni­za­tion is that he gets to go out and tell the Penn­syl­va­nia sto­ries.

“It’s a plea­sure to talk about why we think Penn­syl­va­nia is a great place for com­pa­nies to ex­pand, at­tract and bring com­pa­nies here. And we need to sup­port that work through­out the Com­mon­wealth,” he said, ex­plain­ing that there are 200 to 300 ma­jor op­por­tu­ni­ties across the county each year, “and there are 15,000 lo­cal­i­ties com­pet­ing for those deals.”

The cham­ber also pre­sented sev­eral awards at the lun­cheon:

• Work­site Well­ness Ini­tia­tive Award was pre­sented to the TriCounty Area Cham­ber of Com­merce

• Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Award was pre­sented to Dana Hold­ing Corp.

• Eco­nomic Im­pact Award was pre­sented to Pottstown Bor­ough Coun­cil and Pottstown School Board

• En­vi­ron­men­tal Im­pact Award was pre­sented to Greater Val­ley Forge TMA

• Re­gional Plan­ning Award was pre­sented to Justin Keller; Pottstown Area Health and Well­ness Foun­da­tion; Pottstown Metropoli­tan Re­gional Plan­ning Com­mis­sion; and DCNR

• Leg­is­la­tor of the Year Award was pre­sented to U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello (R6th Dist.).

DONNA ROVINS — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Ryan Unger of Team PA was the key­note speaker at the TriCounty Area Cham­ber of Com­merce Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Lun­cheon at Sun­ny­brook Ball­room Wed­nes­day.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

The logo for the new dis­count card pro­gram — Shop TriCounty — un­veiled Wed­nes­day by the TriCounty Area Cham­ber of Com­merce. The pro­gram will de­but in early Novem­ber.

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