Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Acting Secretary Neil Weaver today announced the start of the Bringing the World to PA event (BTW2PA).
The event is a two-week,10-stop tour across the commonwealth that allows the opportunity for Pennsylvania businesses seeking export assistance to connect one-on-one with Pennsylvania’s Authorized Trade Representatives (ATRs).
“International trade is a critical facet of Pennsylvania’s thriving business climate,” said Weaver. “Through Bringing the World to PA, the Wolf Administration aims to provide more Pennsylvania businesses with the support they need to grow and prosper by breaking into international markets.”
Starting today and continuing through Sept. 23, DCED’s Office of International Business Development (OIBD) is working with its Regional Export Network (REN) to bring ATRs from around the globe. Each day, ATRs meet one-on-one with Pennsylvania companies seeking foreign market intelligence, agent and distributor candidates, industry and government contacts, as well as on-the-ground assistance abroad.
In 2021, Pennsylvania businesses exported $44.7 billion in goods, with top export destinations including Mexico, China, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Japan, Weaver said. To help facilitate and grow trade operations in the commonwealth, OIBD operates 13 overseas trade offices at locations across the globe covering 45 countries.
Among the locations for Bringing the World to PA are The National Civil War Museum, Dauphin County, and the Iacocca Conference Center, Lehigh County.
For more information on participating visit OIBD’s website.
East Stroudsburg University and Widener Law Commonwealth finalized a partnership Thursday to offer students the opportunity to complete their undergraduate and law degrees in six years.
The two schools agreed to a 3+3 program in 2020, which allows undergraduate students to earn the final 30 credits of their bachelor’s degree at WLC while simultaneously pursuing their juris doctor (J.D.) degree. COVID delayed the deal until Thursday.
Qualifying students must complete their major and general education requirements by the end of their junior year at ESU. Students must take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) no later than February of their junior year and apply to WLC by April 1 of their junior year.
“We are pleased to formalize our partnership with East Stroudsburg University,” said Michael Hussey, dean of Widener Law Commonwealth. “The 3+3 program is designed to help high-achieving students pursue their dream of a legal career at a quality law school, while also saving them significant time and money in pursuing their education. Our law school looks forward to working with ESU and its students.”
“This collaboration with East Stroudsburg University and Widener Law Commonwealth will provide our students an immense opportunity to build on their academic success and work toward a successful and rewarding legal career, and we are excited to begin a strong and lasting partnership to benefit our mutual students,” said Dr. Christopher Brooks, professor of history and pre-law advisor at East Stroudsburg University.
Nurses who work with patients with traumatic injuries often are so overwhelmed by caring for them, they sometimes overlook family, especially children at the bedside who are trying to cope.
And when they do stop and care for family, especially the young, the toll it takes on them can become debilitating.
So said Mary Jane Bijelic, nurse practitioner for the Neuroscience Critical Care Unit (NCCU), lead advanced practice provider for the Department of Neurosurgery, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
To compound the issue, COVID-19 struck and not only did the nurses have to work in fear of the unknown, they had to communicate with family virtually because everything was in lockdown, she said.
“We didn’t know day to day if we were safe or would have enough PPEs to go around,” she said. “We had to be on the front lines caring for patients who were alone and scared with no family around. It was hard.”
To help her staff, Bijelic reached out to the Highmark, which has 20% ownership of the health care system, for help and for the past five years, her intensive care unit and Highmark’s Caring Place in Lemoyne have been collaborating on a program to help nurses process their grief and loss so they can better handle the day-to-day work in their units.
“After becoming a mom, I noticed that kids (visiting loved ones) were invisible to the staff. The nurses didn’t know how to deal with them and support them,” she said.
While trying to find a solution to help the children cope with what they were seeing and feeling, she reached out to Terri Bowling, Highmark Caring Place manager for help.
The Caring Place, created by Highmark 20 years ago, is a no-cost service for anyone who needs help processing the loss of a loved one. Through meals and therapeutic group sessions, families are able to know they are not alone and can learn to process their feelings, Bowling explained.
The hospital program’s initial intention was to teach nurses how to care for family members, especially children who were seeing loved ones when they looked or acted very differently due to their injury or illness. Bijelic and Bowling quickly realized that the first focus needed to be with the nurses themselves.
“You can’t take care of your patients if you aren’t processing your own feelings first,” Bijelic said. “So, the Caring Place works with us on how to deal with the grief of caring for patients.”
“This is a great extension of the work we’re doing at the Caring Place,” Bowling said. “Mary Jane’s vision and passion was to change the core model of the workday and make a cultural shift.”
The workshops teach nurses that they are not alone in their feelings and how they can handle moral distress, caregiver fatigue and how all of it carries through their personal lives, she said.
Since the pandemic began, Bijelic said having the program in place helped nurses weather the uncertainty of day-to-day work life.
In addition to talking about what they are experiencing, the program uses music therapy and chaplain services. Hershey Medical Center has a life care specialist that helps nurses learn how to care for children at the bedside as well, Bijelic said. “It lessens the trauma for them when they notice what the kids need,” she said.
Bowling said the nurses meet regularly in small groups to share personal information. “It makes them a close team,” she said. That closeness allows them to offer each other more support.
“I see people now stepping in to offer support or encourage someone to take a break if they are having a tough time,” Bijelic said. “Things are changing as people allow their issues to come out.”
“We give them resources so when they need help, they know where to turn,” Bowling said.
“The issue is health care in general,” Bijelic said. “When I was in school, we didn’t talk about this. We were basically told to deal with it and move on.” But it’s not that simple, she said.
“It’s a big problem,” Bowling agreed. “Mary Jane’s unit has changed. They are very vulnerable. They live between life and death and have to deal on a human level,” she said. “They have no time to decompress and now we are giving them support for dealing with burnout and compassion fatigue.”
The program started in Bijelic’s unit. It has now expanded to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and both Bijelic and Bowling hope to see all the ICU units in the hospital participate.
“It’s a big challenge because of the way the staff works,” Bijelic said. Scheduling makes it hard for people to attend the sessions and COVID was a big roadblock, she added.
She explained that the shortage of nurses and the long hours they work make it hard to attend full day workshops. “If we have 8-10% of the staff in a workshop, we have vacancies for the day,” she said. “But we know it’s worth it for the health of the staff.”
“Many resources were pulled during the pandemic. Mary Jane is really driving this, and we are seeing nurses coming now that are so overwhelmed due to COVID,” Bowling said.
But the program is working. “The nurses are learning to cope with their own grief and now they can be more supportive of grieving families,” Bowling said. “That is making a big impact.”
Imagine, Bijelic said, “a child walks into the ICU and sees a loved one who just had brain surgery who no longer has hair and has a big scar. It’s scary.
“Our nurses make stocking caps to hide it from the children now,” she said. “We have stuffed animals and make handprints to help get them through the trauma.”
The program also utilizes a butterfly tree, a 24-inch white birch tree covered in butterflies that carry messages from nurses about their fears, traumas, hopes and wishes. The butterfly, Bowling said, is the international symbol of hope.
A Schuylkill County company recently bought Lykens Valley Grain in Millersburg, Dauphin County, saving jobs and growing market opportunities, state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said today.
Formerly known as the Upper Dauphin Grain Center, Sterman Masser Inc. bought the grain production, storage and processing facility earlier this month.
“The success of Pennsylvania farms relies heavily on the ability to bring harvests to market,” said Redding. “Facilities like the Lykens Valley Grain Center strengthen market access and availability in a competitive marketplace. It is a long-term, strategic investment for central Pennsylvania farmers and the greater farm economy.”
Grain production, storage, and processing is critical to the success of Pennsylvania’s leading food and agriculture industry. The National Agricultural Statistics Survey (NASS) reports 2021 Pennsylvania corn, soybean, and wheat production was valued at nearly $1.5 billion.
Sterman Masser’s acquisition of Lykens Valley Grain preserves jobs and safeguards a market for Pennsylvania farmers to sell, dry, and store grain, providing stability to farmers entering harvest season, Redding said. Future facility upgrades will expand market opportunities through increased corn and soybean storage capacity. The planned expansion will create new job opportunities and expand hours of operation.
“The addition of Lykens Valley Grain to our family of companies is part of our long-term vision and commitment to growth and development of quality potatoes,” said Dave Masser, president, Sterman Masser, Inc. “The acquisition helped to preserve jobs in the local community, continue to be a place for the valleys’ local farmers to sell and store their wheat, corn, and beans, and provided a great business opportunity for Sterman Masser Inc. which will eventually enable us to expand our potato packing operations in Sacramento.”
For more than 50 years, Sterman Masser has been a grower, packer, and shipper of potatoes and other cash grains employing more than 400 employees. Headquartered in Sacramento, Schuylkill County, its farming operations have expanded more than 6,000 acres, producing potatoes, corn, soybeans, and wheat, according to the company.
As the state’s largest producer of potatoes, Sterman Masser distributes 350 million pounds annually. The acquisition of Lykens Valley Grain will support the grain grown and harvested by Sterman Masser and grow markets available to local farmers.
Kona Ice has arrived in central Pennsylvania, just in time for its shaved ice truck to cool off sweltering customers.
The local franchise, Kona Ice of Southern Dauphin County, is traveling through Hershey, Elizabethtown, Hummelstown and Middletown dispensing entertainment and gourmet frozen treats.
“We are already getting messages daily asking about Kona and expressing their excitement about the truck coming to the neighborhood,” Lauretta Blaine, co-owner of the local franchise, said in a release. “Engaging and giving back to the community is something my brother, Rob Stone, and I are extremely passionate about. We look forward to helping local organizations and growing our business to make a positive impact in local neighborhoods for years to come.”
She said Kona Ice will aim to help children by funding programs “that will provide knowledge, enrichment and fun as they grow into young adults.”
Beyond fundraisers, popular stops for the food truck include fairs, festivals and corporate events.
Tony Lamb, founder and president of Kentucky-based Kona Ice, added: “Lauretta and Rob share our commitment to giving back. They … want to have a positive influence … whether it’s new textbooks, sports uniforms or, simply, a smile. We are proud to have them onboard. Together, we are excited to make a difference in the lives of those around us.”
The Kona Ice truck plays calypso music as customers take their cups of freshly shaved ice and help themselves to the 10 tastes on the vehicle’s Flavorwave, Kona’s self-service dispensing system. They also can choose from 20-plus additional flavors and 500 combinations.
Since 2007, Kona Ice – with 1,000-plus trucks in 48 states – has raised more than $100 million in donations nationwide.
The Lebanon VA Medical Center has expanded and remodeled its Outpatient Behavioral Health Clinic to provide care to veterans of Southcentral Pennsylvania.
Today, the center held a ribbon cutting ceremony to show off the remodel, which is the first phase of a scheduled three-phase plan for the 23,000-square-foot space.
This first phase renovated 8,500 square feet which includes 18 consultation rooms, one nurse triage station, three group rooms and a new waiting area with check-in space, the center said.
The $1.8 million space will host an interprofessional team of clinicians ready to support veterans in their behavioral health needs through therapeutic and evidence-based programming. The new clinic will offer veterans a comfortable space with a focus on reducing stress and anxiety while promoting timely access, collaborative care, and a focus on veteran recovery goals.
“By creating this space, we are improving the environment of care,” said Associate Chief of Staff Dr. Piro Rjepaj. “Our commitment to veterans is unshakable and unwavering. Our promise to them is to give our very best, every day, always; and our hope for them is to know first-hand the experience of healing, wholeness and peace.”
The Lebanon VA Medical Center is one of 170 medical centers in the nation with the sole purpose of providing world-class medical care to America’s veterans. Lebanon VAMC covers veterans in Adams, Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, Schuylkill and York counties.
Lebanon VAMC also oversees community clinics located in Mechanicsburg, Pottsville, Willow Street, Wyomissing and York.
PennDOT is looking for CDL operators and diesel and construction equipment mechanics in Franklin County.
The first of eight recruiting events will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at the Franklin County Maintenance Office, 619 N. Franklin St., Chambersburg, for positions that start at $22.24 per hour for CDL operators and $19.72 per hour for mechanics.
PennDOT said staff will be available to discuss current and future openings within the commonwealth for CDL operators, who must have a valid Pennsylvania (PA) CDL Class A or B with no restrictions, and diesel and construction equipment mechanics, who must have a valid CDL and a PA Class 7 inspector mechanic certification. Both positions also require a current medical examiner certificate.
On-the-spot applications, interviews, and driving skills testing will take place.
Laptops and staff will be available to help interested participants navigate the new electronic application system. Human Resources staff will be on hand to discuss benefit options and opportunities for permanent employment.
PennDOT is an Equal Opportunity Employer promoting workforce diversity. To learn more about commonwealth employment opportunities, please visit: www.employment.pa.gov.
The other recruiting events for South Central Pennsylvania will be;
Adams County: 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Sept. 9 at the Adams County Maintenance Office, 1185 Fairfield Road, Gettysburg.
Cumberland County: 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Aug. 26 at the Cumberland County Maintenance Office, 40 Army Heritage Drive, Carlisle.
Dauphin County: 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Aug. 17 at the Dauphin County Maintenance Office, 2140 Herr Street, Harrisburg.
Lancaster County 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Aug. 24 at the Lancaster County Maintenance Office, 2105 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster PA 17602.
Lebanon County: 8:00 a.m. to6:00p.m. Aug. 19 at the Lebanon County Maintenance Office, 1445 Cumberland Street, Lebanon.
York County: 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Aug. 16 at the York County Maintenance Office, 1920 Susquehanna Trail North, York, PA 17404.
A six-year fundraising campaign raised a record $316.96 million for Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine.
“A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence” ended June 30 and marked the most successful campaign and the most successful fundraising year in the institution’s history, it said. The funds will be used to fulfill its mission to improve health through patient care, education, research and community outreach.
“The spirit of generosity we’ve seen across our organization and our community is astounding,” said Penn State Health CEO Steve Massini. “Throughout the campaign, our donors helped us grow even during the darkest days of the pandemic. They helped us expand our Children’s Hospital, build a new interfaith chapel and establish Penn State Cancer Institute’s Cancer Assistance and Resource Education – or CARE – Center within Hershey Medical Center,” he said.
“Gifts supported lifesaving equipment at our community hospitals and covered the costs of a new ambulance and isolettes for Life Lion’s fleet,” he added. “Thanks to the support of so many, Penn State Health has a very bright future. This is good news for the many thousands of people we serve each year, and we are truly grateful.”
The campaign, which began in 2016, was focused on the three key imperatives of a 21st century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by serving communities and fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship, Massini said.
“Through their extraordinary support, our donors have recognized the tremendous potential that our faculty, students and staff have to enhance human health,” said Dr. Kevin Black, interim dean of Penn State College of Medicine. “In just six years, supporters have more than doubled our scholarship endowment and provided critical resources for recruiting and retaining leading faculty across many disciplines.”
The funds will reduce student debt, add new teaching tools and strategies, create stronger research collaborations, develop novel therapeutics and increase access to cross-cultural training and community outreach initiatives. “Words cannot express our deep appreciation for all the ways our alumni and friends have made the College of Medicine greater,” he said.
Within Penn State Health and the College of Medicine, top campaign gifts and priorities included:
More than $165 million raised for children’s health by Children’s Miracle Network, Four Diamonds and THON and through gifts made directly to Penn State Health Children’s Hospital
A $25 million gift from Highmark Inc. to advance research, education and care at Penn State Cancer Institute
More than $54 million for research through existing funds and 36 new endowments to support discovery in diverse fields or to advance medical innovation
“Over the last six years, I have been privileged to see the Penn State Health and College of Medicine community – faculty, physicians, students, administration and staff, alumni and friends – join together to overcome unprecedented challenges and achieve unparalleled success,” said Peter Tombros, volunteer campaign chair.
Harrisburg’s Strawberry Square is getting an atrium makeover that will add conference rooms and a new stage area.
The Strawberry Square Development Corp. said it will be replacing the atrium Chocablock Clock ball machine which has been part of the downtown mall since 1988 with a more versatile first floor stage and performance area and a cantilevered 2nd floor conference and meeting room overlooking Strawberry Square.
Brad Jones, president of Harristown Enterprises, Inc., owner of Strawberry Square, said, “We will miss the ball machine Clock as a long-time feature of Strawberry Square, but our ability to repair and maintain it has become more challenging over the years.”
As tenants have changed over time, the company expects the enhanced stage area will be much more welcoming to performers and special events of all types, he said.
“In addition, we will be creating a unique open-air conference and meeting room on the second floor which will enhance our ability to attract professionals and allow our existing tenants – and others needing conference space – to use a very special and exciting new place which will showcase this wonderful downtown hub of education and innovation.”
Pyramid Construction has been hired as the contractor for this project along with architect, Chris Dawson from CDA Architects.
The project is expected to begin this fall and be completed by the end of the year.
The Chocablock Clock audio-kinetic ball machine, designed by the late George Rhoads, was installed in the Strawberry Square atrium in 1988 by Rock Stream Studios from Ithaca, New York.
Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Teamsters Local 776 signed a three-year contract June 30.
The collective bargaining agreement is effective July 1 through June 20, 2025.
“Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s Teamster-represented employees play an essential role in the excellent care we deliver to our patients,” said
, president, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
“We are proud to have worked together with our Teamster representatives to reach a new contract with competitive wages and benefits,” she said. “The agreement ensures that Hershey Medical Center is positioned to retain and recruit a talented workforce.”
Highlights of the new agreement include:
Guaranteed market-driven wage increases for each of the three years of the contract
Maintenance of employee contribution caps for health care costs
Creation of career paths for current and prospective employees through the addition of select “trainee” and “advanced” positions
Market-driven position upgrades to ensure the organization’s ability to recruit and retain employees
Teamster Local 776 represents approximately 1,100 Hershey Medical Center employees who work in various fields including food services, patient transport, housekeeping, facilities and other technical services.
Penn State Health has renamed its IBD center in Hershey the Carlino Family Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, in recognition of a $5 million gift from philanthropists Peter and Marshia Carlino.
The health system’s first named center, the Hershey facility brings together experts from multiple specialties to enhance diagnosis and treatment and pursue cures for patients with inflammatory bowel diseases, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
With their gift, couple established two endowments to support faculty and research infrastructure at Penn State College of Medicine and added to the existing inflammatory bowel diseases patient support fund they created in 1998.
The new Peter and Marshia Carlino Faculty Endowment will support physician-scientists with a dual focus on clinical care and research. Previously, the Carlinos established three early career professorships, a research professorship and an endowed chair position.
The couple also established the Carlino Family Inflammatory Bowel and Colorectal Diseases Biobank Endowment. The biobank now includes blood, DNA and surgical specimens collected from more than 4,000 patients who have consented to having their tissues used for basic science research.
“We are truly grateful for Peter and Marshia’s commitment to advancing IBD care and research that will ultimately save and improve countless lives,” Penn State Health CEO Steve Massini said in a release. “Their support over more than 20 years has been instrumental in developing our nationally recognized IBD program, and their continued generosity ensures that our teams can provide the highest level of coordinated care to patients across central Pennsylvania and beyond. The Carlinos’ gift solidifies their already strong legacy, and we are honored that the IBD Center now carries their name.”
An idea to bring underserved communities in Dauphin County information on creating wealth turned into a successful center for innovation and entrepreneurship for central Pennsylvania.
Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, with a mission to help the underserved receive educational opportunities, started the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) about three years ago.
Today, that center is recognized as forward thinking and successful, in part because it is led by a well-respected entrepreneur and not an academic, said John Sider, vice president of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern Pennsylvania, which collaborates with the center.
The entrepreneur, Jay Jayamohan, was recruited by the university to help the community understand what funding opportunities exist and how to start a business.
Jayamohan said he leads the effort that strategically positions HU to have a greater impact – economic and social, by having innovative thinkers and entrepreneurs from in and around Central Pennsylvania coming together with students and faculty to collaborate on ideas and solve problems.
After initially turning the job down, a board of trustee’s member convinced him that while larger regions are attractive, the central Pennsylvania region had nothing like this and he could make a greater impact here, he said.
He does this with his team which includes Jamal Jones, MaDonna Awotwi and Michael Hughes.
“Our goal is to create an economic ecosystem that can compete with other areas,” he said. “Our focus is on training the next generation of entrepreneurs, creating technological advancements and scientific discoveries through new startups and fostering innovation here at HU and throughout the area.”
The focus is on those who are economically disadvantaged and minority populations, he said.
Jayamohan said models like this center exist in areas with large universities and they work. “This shows that we can develop economies in smaller areas.”
The center has three main programs: the launchU, a Shark Tank-like program for high school students and community members to bring business ideas forward; The Blend, a program that offers information and expert advice to companies in their infancy; and an incubator which provides space and four paid student workers to help startups build.
Joy Boudreau, who took part in The Blend’s Business Acceleration Program, won more than $8,000 for her business, Joy of Events Group LLC. The six-week program sponsored by M&T Bank helped her establish credit, create a business plan and gain access to capital, among other things, she said.
“It culminated with a pitch to the judges, and it means a lot,” she said. “It has given me credibility and exposure.”
The incubator, which Jayamohan said gives startup businesses about $100,000 worth of space and labor for up to 18 months, currently has eight companies.
“This provides powerful support right here in the region,” he said. In fact, the program has been so successful, HU is opening new space in Strawberry Square by late fall to make room for 20 more companies.
One of Jayamohan’s success stories is a black woman who is a veteran with PTSD. He said she created a communication app that keeps veterans with emotional and addiction issues connected so after they leave rehabilitation programs, they are not on their own.
“Here’s where we are helping founders that are rooted here solve problems that are found here,” he said.
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