fbpx

Companies bring back in-person events, keep virtual element

With the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, companies have resumed in-person gatherings after a pandemic hiatus. 

But they’re not just going back to what they did before; it’s a different reality, and the technology used for virtual meetings during the pandemic is being incorporated into current event planning, too. The combination of in person and virtual makes these meetings even more useful – and often fun – for attendees and enables the message to reach a wider audience.  

The key is finding the right blend of virtual and in person that helps companies engage and retain employees and achieve their business goals. 

Jason Menicheschi, who leads strategy for the event division at the full-service marketing agency JPL, said the company already had a virtual platform ready to go when COVID restricted in-person meetings. 

“The event industry was hit really hard by the pandemic,” he said, as sports, entertainment and businesses shut down. 

So JPL, which is based in Harrisburg and has three additional offices, started using the virtual platform as its primary one, Menicheschi said. 

The 100-plus-employee agency produces events for such large local companies as The Hershey Co., Select Medical, The GIANT Co., the agricultural machine manufacturer New Holland, and others outside the region including Rite Aid, Total Wine & More and Kellogg’s. 

Today, some businesses are back to holding in-person gatherings, he said. 

“The whole event industry has changed,” though, Menicheschi said, with more safety and sanitary precautions taken to reduce overpopulated spaces, for example. 

Mark Lowery, director of network development for New Holland Agriculture, said face-to-face interaction with the company’s independent dealer network is required to maintain dealer satisfaction. 

Training and updates are better in person, he said. “People get to know each other.”  

“It’s important for us to provide an experience,” Lowery said. “We simply can’t do that virtually.” 

One change New Holland has made is holding large, in-person meetings less frequently. 

Ashley Garcia, marketing and events manager, handles events for High Real Estate Group and the Greenfield mixed-use community. Greenfield rebranded in the midst of COVID-19, she said, with a soft roll-out, but by 2022 annually hosted more than 150 in-person events for some combination of people who live there, work there and are members of the public. 

“We’re definitely on track for more than 150 in 2023,” Garcia said. 

Menicheschi said a benefit of in-person events is that when people get together they share best practices. “We really missed those.” 

Also, “celebrating together – that’s a feeling I think people missed,” he said, and is one of the key drivers of getting back together. 

Companies might resume a different in-person meeting schedule than before, perhaps gathering fewer times a year and adding a virtual component when they do, he said. 

JPL made its virtual platform so much easier to incorporate into events, Menicheschi said. “That broadens what people can bring to the table.” 

A virtual element allows more people to tune in. It also means speakers can be recruited from across the globe without having to fly to the U.S. Organizers only need them to be available an hour or so via video. 

The pandemic was a difficult period for many businesses, and a number of events companies closed, but the technology advances made when people had to go virtual are coming in handy now with hybrid events. 

“With any event, you’re only as good as your content,” he said, and JHL’s virtual platform can be used to accentuate that content. 

Employees are already experienced with platforms like Zoom, so they know to navigate virtual meetings. The downside to virtual, Menicheschi said, is “you can’t tell if someone is paying attention.” 

Still, virtual isn’t going anywhere. The global virtual events market size was valued at $114.12 billion in 2021 and is anticipated to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 21.4% from 2022 to 2030, according to a report from Grand View Research. 

But in person is still the only chance to hold a meeting in three dimensions, he said. “You can engage all the senses with a live event. You can only do so much on screen.” 

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer 

Celebrating this year’s Nonprofit Innovation Awards winners

After a series of video rollouts announcing the top winners among five categories, leaders in the midstate’s nonprofit space met at Wyndridge Farm in Dallastown for the Central Penn Business Journal’s 2023 Nonprofit Innovation Awards.

The Nonprofit Innovation Awards are presented to nonprofits that work to improve Central Pennsylvania in pioneering new ways. The innovation must have taken place between July 2021 and December 2022 and cannot discriminate against any protected class.

Top winners and runner ups were initially announced through four video rollouts from May 15th through the 18th. Categories included: Branding Identity / Unique Marketing Campaign; Collaboration;  Management Operations; Nonprofit Leadership Excellence and Programs.

Finalists met at Wyndridge farm on the 18th following the rollout to receive awards for their accomplishments and to celebrate nonprofit innovation in the midstate.

Sponsors for last week’s event included: Presenting Sponsor, First National Bank; Major Sponsor, Community Aid; Foundation Sponsors, Lancaster County Community Foundation, The Foundation for Enhancing Communities and York County Community Foundation; Reception Sponsors, Ephrata National Bank and Excentia Human Services; Supporting Sponsor, Goodwill Keystone Area; Celebration Sponsors, Community Progress Council, UPMC Pinnacle Foundation, WellSpan Health and York County History Center.

To see a full list of winners, purchase photos from the event and nominate for next year’s awards, please visit the award’s landing page.

Introducing the 2023 Nonprofit Innovation Awards finalists 

Central Penn Business Journal has named the finalists for its 2023 Nonprofit Innovation Awards. 

The Nonprofit Innovation Awards are presented to nonprofits that work to improve Central Pennsylvania in pioneering new ways. The innovation must have taken place between July 2021 and December 2022 and cannot discriminate against any protected class.  

A top winner and a runner-up in each category will be revealed during video rollouts May 15-18. 

The 2023 awards are held in partnership with the Lancaster County Community Foundation, The Foundation for Enhancing Communities and York County Community Foundation. 

“The 2023 Nonprofit Innovation finalists demonstrate innovation and creativity that turn ideas into action and help to build strong communities,” said Suzanne Fischer-Huettner, managing director of the Central Penn Business Journal/BridgeTower Media. “We at the Central Penn Business Journal are pleased to join with the Lancaster County Community Foundation, The Foundation for Enhancing Communities and York County Community Foundation in honoring the work done by these outstanding nonprofits.” 

The Presenting Sponsor is First National Bank. The Major Sponsor is Community Aid. The Foundation Sponsors are the Lancaster County Community Foundation, The Foundation for Enhancing Communities and York County Community Foundation The Celebration Sponsor is WellSpan Health. 

The 2023 Nonprofit Innovation Awards finalists include: 

Branding Identity/Unique Marketing Campaign 

Goodwill Keystone Area 

Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg 

Music For Everyone 

United Way of the Capital Region 

Collaboration 

Excentia Human Services 

Family First Health Corp. 

Goodwill Keystone Area 

Music For Everyone 

UPMC Pinnacle Foundation 

Management Operations 

The YMCA of the Roses 

York County Food Bank 

York County History Center 

Nonprofit Leadership Excellence 

Deborah Allen, PennCares 

Angela Dickinson, Someone To Tell It To 

Una Martone, Leadership Harrisburg Area 

Eric Saunders, New Hope Ministries 

Steven Schauder, Jewish Family Service of Greater Harrisburg, Inc. 

Programs 

Ben Franklin Technology Partners 

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region 

Central Pennsylvania Food Bank 

Community Progress Council 

Hospice & Community Care 

Rock Lititz to host job fair seeking ‘skilled makers’

For the first time, nine companies in the Rock Lititz community are joining forces to hold a Fabrication Job Fair.

It will be held from 3:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday at Pod 2, Rock Lititz, 201 Rock Lititz Blvd.

Participating companies are 4Wall Entertainment, ATOMIC, Clair Global, ChoiceLIVE, Lititz Technology Academy, Rock-it Global, Stageco, TFB Catering and TAIT.

They’re looking for welders; machinists; computer numerical control, or CNC, operators; electricians and more to work in the live event industry. Many immediate positions are available, and visitors are encouraged to bring their resumes. For more information, visit the Rock Lititz Facebook page.

“The live event industry is experiencing robust growth, and skilled makers are needed to create the spectacular sets, stages and special effects that make the Rock Lititz community a premier source of world-class products and services for live events and touring artists,” Andrea Shirk, Rock Lititz CEO, said in a release. “Our Job Fair is a first-time event to bring makers of all trades to our campus to learn of the diverse jobs that are locally available in the live event industry.”

She said the mix of expertise within the Rock Lititz community “is driving unmatched innovation, further cementing Lititz as the center of businesses supporting the live event industry.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Baby Rave, Taco Week highlight August First Friday in downtown York

Downtown Inc invites the community to “historically edgy” downtown York this First Friday, Aug. 5, a celebration of shops, restaurants, cultural venues and nightlife hot spots.

Presented by WellSpan Health, First Friday will feature entertainment, the arts, shopping and dining in three micro districts of downtown York – Market, Royal Square and WeCo.

Some of the highlights: · African American First Friday, Penn Park. Live music and entertainment, dance fitness with Toya, basketball open court, youth dance battle and activities. · Appell Center for the Performing Arts’ first-ever Baby Rave, a free family dance party. All ages are welcome, but most enjoyed by children under 8 and their families. · Elks Lodge No. 213, live music on the patio and Trivia with Lindalou inside. · Y.E.P! Youth Entertainment Program, with Cal Weary and Downtown Inc. Youth ages 12-17 are encouraged to join the fun. · HIVE artspace, explore the world of mushrooms with Hive’s August “Mycotopia” exhibit. · Central Market, open late for First Fridays. · York Taco Week, as several downtown restaurants are participating in a weeklong celebration of all things taco.

On-street parking is free after 5 p.m., and parking in one of the three downtown parking garages is free after 6:30 p.m.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Harrisburg event series announces 2022 schedule, new branding and mission

Très Bonne Année, a series of annual wine and food events in Harrisburg, has announced its 2022 events schedule. 

Since it was founded nearly 20 years ago, Très Bonne Année has raised more than $5.6 million for Harrisburg’s Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts. All funding raised through Très Bonne Année events is given towards learning experiences, STEM programs and camps and more. 

This year’s events include a Spring Wine Tasting at the Hilton Harrisburg on June 11th, a Patrons Party at the Ashcombe Mansion on Sept. 11th, a Vintners Dinner at the Whitaker Center on Oct. 7th and a Grand Gala at the Whitaker Center on Oct. 8th. 

This year, Très Bonne Année has announced new branding and mission under the theme of “Celebrate Life!” 

“We are revitalizing our offerings for 2022 to ensure we connect the community and celebrate life as we spring back to our social lives,” said Très Bonne Année Board Member Kelly Hollinger. 

The event series’ honorary guest for the year is Glen Head, New York-based Banfi Vinters. 

Christina Mariani-May, president and CEO at Banfi Vinters, has been celebrated as one of the 50 most influential women in wine and spirits, according to a statement from Très Bonne Année. 

York nonprofit to offer $15,000 in grant funding to York community events 

York-based economic development agency Downtown Inc. will be offering $15,000 in grant funding to community-wide activities such as festivals and live arts. 

Downtown Inc. announced this week that it will soon be taking applications for its third annual round of Welcoming Community Grants. 

The program, which is open to any individual organizations putting on large-scale community event in York City, will award individual grant amounts of up to $2,000 with a total of $15,000 available for the 2022 round. 

Welcoming Community Grants is administered by Downtown Inc. and backed with financial support from Better York, Powder Mill Foundation, the York County Community Foundation and in partnership with the Cultural Alliance of York County. 

“The goal of the Welcoming Community Grants grant program is to identify and provide financial support to sustainable community events that contribute to creating a welcoming and connected community for all in York City – through diversity, accessibility and cultural representation,” said Eric Menzer, Better York chair.  

The program’s letter of interest portal opens on Friday with a deadline of March 18th. Selected applicants will be invited to apply in early April. 

Venues bounce back with help from SBA funding 

Foreigner plays a show at the American Music Theater in Lancaster. PHOTO: KELLEY BREWER

The pandemic had a long tail for Pennsylvania’s music and sports venues, many of which found themselves closed into the latter half of 2021 before they could begin hosting events once again. 

As more of Pennsylvania’s adults received vaccinations and CDC guidance changed, the Wolf Administration slowly expanded occupancy limits for indoor venues- first from 10% to 15% in early March, to 25% later in the month and then to 50% in May. 

Venues then returned to 100% vacancy in June after the state’s General Assembly voted to end Gov. Tom Wolf’s coronavirus emergency declaration. 

For venues like Lancaster’s American Music Theater and Reading’s Santander Arena, reopening at partial occupancy would have resulted in further losses, meaning that it made the most sense to weather out the storm. 

“The overhead that goes into a show isn’t scalable for us. We pay the artist a fee and we have to turn the lights on the same,” said Brandon Martin, director of operations at the American Music Theater. “Those expenses don’t scale depending on how many people come to the show. We can’t open at 20% occupancy and ask the artist for 20% of their fee.” 

A majority of venues waited for full occupancy before reopening. Hershey’s Hersheypark Stadium held its first concert with country artist Luke Bryan on July 9th, 2021 while Hershey Theater and the GIANT Center held their first shows in August. 

At the Santander Arena, closing for nearly 16 months equated to millions of dollars in lost revenue. 

“The building was closed but the water was running and the power was still on,” said David Farrar, general manager of the Santander Area. 

The American Music Theater in Lancaster. PHOTO/PROVIDED

To keep the nation’s venues opened and to ensure that many businesses would be able to reopen for the 2022 season, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced two rounds of Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) funding for venues that suffered revenue losses because of the pandemic. 

“The majority of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants have gone to businesses with 50 employees or less – which means we’re reaching our smallest businesses, who suffered disproportionate impacts from the pandemic and were often left out of early rounds of relief,” Isabella Casillas Guzman, SBA Administrator said in a statement after the administration announced its final round of the grants late last year. 

The program totaled $16 billion in grant funding nationally. In Pennsylvania, that funding equated to $422.95 million. 

Area venues have pointed to the program as the reason they were able to confidently open in 2022 and plan for a robust season of entertainment.  

Dozens of venues in the midstate received funding through the program with venues receiving over $17 million in Lancaster, over $4 million in Harrisburg and $3.9 million in York. 

In the Lehigh Valley, venues received over $11 million in Reading, $9 million in Bethlehem and $10.9 million in Bethlehem. 

“As 2020 came to a close, the cooperation from all sectors of government to pass one of the largest arts bills in our country’s history, the SVOG, just in time to ensure our survival into 2021 was instrumental and invaluable to not only our organization but to our community, from our staff to performers, artist and vendors throughout the Lehigh Valley,” said Kassie Hilgert, president and CEO of ArtsQuest, the Bethlehem-based nonprofit that oversees venues that include the Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks, Musikfest Café and Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas. 

The nonprofit received $7.3 million through SVOG. 

The Berks County Convention Center Authority, which oversees the Santander Center and Santander Performing Arts Center secured $8.8 million through the SVOG along with an additional $3 million from Reading City Council. 

Santander arena saw a return to events in the fall of 2021, but the resurgence in the pandemic in the winter once again slowed down events. This year, the arena has a packed schedule of concerts and sporting events. 

“It feels like we are there,” said Farrar. “Half of 2021 we were shut down. Our 2022 schedule looks good. The first little bit has been good and the overall year looks solid.” 

The American Music Theater received $4.4 million in SVOG funding. The venue is the only one of its kind in the country to offer in-house produced shows as well as celebrity acts. 

“It was an extremely vital lifeline,” said Martin. “Speaking on behalf of the 3,000 plus independent venues that benefited from the program, it’s hard to imagine a way forward without that funding,” said Martin. “The books were battered after that long of no venue and plenty of operating expense.” 

The Steel Stacks in Bethlehem. PHOTO: JEFF AUGER

Martin added that the industry has changed now that artists, vendors and promoters know that the entire industry can crash like it did in 2020. Everything from contract language to show estimates now have a new awareness of what could happen if venues once again shut down. 

Despite that added caution, many venues are looking at a packed schedule for 2022. Venues are actually more aggressive when it comes to securing acts for their stages, said Ross Atamian, president of Stamford, Connecticut-based talent buyer, Philip Citron Inc. 

Philip Citron is AMT’s exclusive talent buyer. Atamian said that theaters have returned to making offers on shows for 2022—a barometer of the industry bouncing back. 

“Internally, there is an increased competition with everyone making offers,” said Atamian. “In 2021 there was uncertainty about booking shows. SVOG has afforded venues the ability to get their operations back to pre-pandemic levels.” 

 

Return of the “Chocolate Town Special”

The Hershey History Center is opening our newest exhibit, “Return of the Chocolate Town Special” on
Saturday, July 10th, with a special event preview night on Friday July 9th starting at 6pm.

This 1920s scene of rural life and downtown Hershey features three N scale model trains that depict the
Lebanon branch of the Reading Railroad and the significance of this transportation on the vitality and growth
of the community. Models of historic Hershey buildings, including the Hershey Chocolate factory, and
operating trolley cars, add to the historic scenery.

Visitors will have the opportunity to operate interactive scenes, sounds, and kids will enjoy a scavenger hunt.

Exhibit run July 10, 2021 thru December 2021, normal museum hours and special weekend hours.  Visit Facebook or our website for additional museum event times.

Return of the “Chocolate Town Special”

The Hershey History Center is opening our newest exhibit, “Return of the Chocolate Town Special” on
Saturday, July 10th, with a special event preview night on Friday July 9th starting at 6pm.

This 1920s scene of rural life and downtown Hershey features three N scale model trains that depict the
Lebanon branch of the Reading Railroad and the significance of this transportation on the vitality and growth
of the community. Models of historic Hershey buildings, including the Hershey Chocolate factory, and
operating trolley cars, add to the historic scenery.

Visitors will have the opportunity to operate interactive scenes, sounds, and kids will enjoy a scavenger hunt.

Exhibit run July 10, 2021 thru December 2021, normal museum hours and special weekend hours.  Visit Facebook or our website for additional museum event times.

Return of the “Chocolate Town Special”

The Hershey History Center is opening our newest exhibit, “Return of the Chocolate Town Special” on
Saturday, July 10th, with a special event preview night on Friday July 9th starting at 6pm.

This 1920s scene of rural life and downtown Hershey features three N scale model trains that depict the
Lebanon branch of the Reading Railroad and the significance of this transportation on the vitality and growth
of the community. Models of historic Hershey buildings, including the Hershey Chocolate factory, and
operating trolley cars, add to the historic scenery.

Visitors will have the opportunity to operate interactive scenes, sounds, and kids will enjoy a scavenger hunt.

Exhibit run July 10, 2021 thru December 2021, normal museum hours and special weekend hours.  Visit Facebook or our website for additional museum event times.