The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Gary Grossman

August 5, 2013

Something to boost about

— The voice of business in the Valley is somewhat becalmed by sudden and recent resignations of two presidents and CEOs, leaving members and directors to chart a course forward with new faces — or a new face — on the bridge.

Charlie Ross exited the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber in Shamokin Dam in June. Maria Culp took her leave of the Central Pennsylvania Chamber in Milton this week.

Despite what you hear and read about the media’s liberal inclinations, newspapers have traditionally worked closely with business organizations.

Established businesses, including newspapers, gravitate toward stability and predictability because it is smoother and more profitable to operate in an environment over which you can exert some control.

That is why, when it comes to political endorsements, a great majority of newspaper publishers favor the candidate least likely to upset the apple cart, to the chagrin of those knocking on the doors of power for greater opportunity and who count upon media to amplify voices of the un-included.

Newspapers are in the business of chronicling change, which, inside the chambers, makes them a club member of a different sort — not quite trustworthy with the secrets of the kingdom until they have proven themselves capable of or complicit in some form of information suppression.

That may be a touch melodramatic, but the tension is palpable and ubiquitous.

An editor at the Palm Beach, Florida, newspaper who was unusually sensitive to this concern, kept an empty frame on the wall of his office. When visitors asked about it, he would explain that it was waiting for a photo of the first business to shy away from or be driven out of the market by a news story.

The editor was a smart fellow running a big newspaper, so he was missing the point on purpose.

Chambers of Commerce exist to emphasize the positive — to boost a community’s assets and attractiveness as a partner in trade and commerce. The tone projected, not necessarily the facts being reported, by local media, affect that mission. Big headlines about small crimes or cranky people are not with the program.

As editor at a previous newspaper, I was asked by business organizations to meet with people prospecting on behalf of employers looking for new locations and offer a driving tour of the market.

In Orange County, New York, two chambers of commerce had staked out territory in eastern and western parts of the county. A collegial rivalry between the organizations, which may have been initially energizing, was devolving into a less healthy division of loyalties.

You may have seen this happen, where members of one club or another adopt a kind of bunker mentality and start to unify themselves around a notion of who they are not rather than a focus on who they are and who they want to become.

The newspaper, which covered both regions, supported something called the Orange County Partnership, which focused on attracting employers to the location, known locally as the mid Hudson Valley.

Economic development professionals work with commercial real estate brokers, developers, site selection firms and regional and state agencies to find the most advantageous and cost-effective locations to attract new corporations or expand local businesses.

Our chambers of commerce — which have affiliations with industrial parks, government agencies, and public utilities and serve an array of members who would thrive in a healthier local economy — may have a propitious moment at hand.

Community boosterism is an aspect of economic development. Member support and service establish a solid foundation. But the future lies in job development.

We have not been lucky and successful in recent years at attracting employers to some tenant-ready industrial sites. Right now, we seem to be employing more people in scattered roles associated with job development than we are in the jobs being developed, which is not very businesslike.

As these two fine organizations — the Greater Susquehanna Valley and the Central Pennsylvania chambers — ponder their road ahead, it seems useful to examine whether closer cooperation or complete unification will better accomplish the work that needs to be done.

n Gary Grossman is the publisher of The Danville News and The Daily Item.

1
Text Only
Gary Grossman
  • Who throws rocks at cars?

    Although we manufacture and deliver a product, newspapering is a service industry. It is appropriate for people in service to show deference and respect for customers.

    July 20, 2014

  • High noon on Mile Post Road

    A fight that ended with deadly force on Mile Post Road this week outside of Sunbury involved the acting police chief, a respected officer, proud family man and solid community member who often opens local ceremonies with a professional and full-throated rendition of the National Anthem.

    July 13, 2014

  • Good golly, Miss Flouncy

    Miss Flouncy Bighair stood out among the several dozen targets brought down by a trooper’s radar gun, assembled that day in a sterile district court off Route 50 in Talbot County.

    July 6, 2014

  • Preponderance of chaos

    Here is the thing about newspapers: We do not yet know what we will become, only what we can no longer be. That is unnerving at times for people who like routine, pattern, tradition and predictability. And who doesn’t, dagnabbit!

    June 29, 2014

  • Throw the book at ’em

    Where population is too sparse to support art galleries, museums, concert halls and stage plays with ticket sales, public libraries are windows to culture and a center for discussion and engagement for many Pennsylvanians.

    June 23, 2014

  • Doctors following orders

    Once upon a time, I worked in a cubicle farm amid doctors and nurses who greatly admired the Veteran Health Administration for its innovative approach to patient safety.

    June 1, 2014

  • Promises to be kept

    Long after the bugles played and the flags were folded, there was the apology. It was 20 years in coming.

    The man was old, 79. It was time.

    May 25, 2014

  • Things weren't picking up

    I once belonged to a Rotary club that adopted a few miles of busy highway in an anti-litter campaign. Wearing luminous vests and work gloves, we would wander the roadside, wrestling Styrofoam cups from brambles and pitching cans and bottles into giant orange plastic garbage bags.

    May 11, 2014

  • Thirsty boots, no more

    Generally, business people steer clear of the big divide, which is race. The same is true of gender, age, religion, political preference and sexual orientation.
    If there is a sure lose-lose proposition for making a buck in America, it is a headlong dive into our national neuroses. We all realize the “one nation, indivisible” is more of a prayer than an oath and always has been.

    April 27, 2014

  • Tom Corbett's 700 club

    The news department has been researching those 700 jobs for Snyder County, much the way we went looking for the 300-job employer who was floated anonymously for public consumption before the last election in Northumberland County.

    April 7, 2014