The Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce has elected a new slate of officers for 2021 – and, with an eye to COVID-19, is gearing up to do what it can to help local businesses survive the pandemic.

“This year, our focus is not only on economic recovery, but entrepreneurial growth and workforce development,” Chamber president and CEO Karen Groh told LebTown, noting the Chamber “will continue its strong advocacy with the our legislators, to make sure we are representing the voice of our members and addressing the issues most impacting their operations.”

Chamber board chairman Brett Holland said the goal for 2021 “would be to continue to support our local community, work forces development, be a point of contact for information regarding help that is available and assist towards helping our neighbors and friends get back to a healthy place, especially on their balance sheets!”

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Holland, of Stifel, is returning for a second term as chairman. Although the board chair typically serves for only one year, he said “there have been exceptions in the past.” The reason this time, he explained, “was the partial shutdown during 2020, the Chamber being limited with its in-person events, and overall unique year.”

Groh said the chair’s position is one “not only of leadership but exposure.” Holland, she said, “has been a great leader throughout this year and has provided a great sounding board, along with the rest of our officers, in guiding some of our more difficult decisions. But Brett has had little opportunity to utilize the public exposure to not only make connections for him, but to advance his goals for the chamber. Having the same board leadership will also help to have continuity as the Chamber continues to recover from the impact of the pandemic.”

Besides Holland, the slate of officers for 2021 are chair elect Christine Horn of Columbia Cottage, first vice chair Trevor Williams of Leitzel’s Jewelry, secretary and corporate treasurer Derrick Kreiser of Bayer HealthCare, and members-at-large Warren Wohlfahrt of Millet Plastics Inc. and Jennifer Thompson of VF Corp.

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New directors joining the board this year for three-year terms are Michelle Jimenez of Champion Personnel, Gregory Miller of Eastern Electrical Systems and Dr. Jessica Orner of Ideal Wellness Family Practice.

Returning for a second term on the board are Bill Bering of Bering Real Estate, Thomas Harlow of WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital, Warren Wohlfahrt of Millet Plastics Inc. and Jamie Yocum of G.F. Bowman. Brynn Mason of Lebanon Valley College will begin her first full three-year term after completing a partial term for a previous seat.

Looking forward, Groh said the Chamber “will continue to be a leading force in disseminating information for businesses including grant and loan programs, mentoring and educational opportunities, and federal and state guidelines and restrictions. We will serve as a connector, mentor, and resource for businesses and will continue to provide educational programs specific to recovery and business growth.”

The Chamber meanwhile continues to participate in regular meetings with the Pennsylvania and US chambers, she added, “providing outreach on the issues we hear are most important to business recovery and growth. We hope that local and state officials (as well as federal) can work in a bi-partisan manner to provide pandemic relief needed by those businesses most affected by restrictions and shut-downs.”

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Holland praised Groh for doing “all the heavy lifting” in terms of keeping Chamber business on an even keel during uncertain times.

“As in other communities around our country, Lebanon businesses suffered in very much the same way,” he said. “Hospitality and restaurants were certainly most negatively affected.”

Over the past several months, Holland, said, “the Chamber assisted the county with the CARES Act money after Lebanon County received those funds from the Commonwealth. Even with the delay of receiving the funds, the county’s leadership along with the Chamber were able to get through the process of distributing those funds to businesses that were in need.”

He credited the efficiency of Groh and her team for processing the money more quickly than many other counties in the state.

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