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CDL Scholarships Available for Wyoming County Students

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CDL Scholarships Available for Wyoming County Students

As the demand for certified truck drivers continues to grow, classes at the Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center’s CDL Training Center near Dimock are filling faster. The current count of successful graduates of the 150-hour course stands at about 130 having passed the 100 graduate milestone in June 2022. Opportunities for students have grown along with enrollment, thanks to the ongoing support of companies that need new drivers to fill their own ranks due to growth in the industry and positions left open by retirees.

“We started very small with two trucks,” said Tammi Mowry, financial aid director and adult continuing education office coordinator for the SCCTC. The addition of two more big rigs, trailers of different sizes, a dump truck, and a deluxe driver trainer simulator have helped students explore a greater variety of options available to them upon completion of the course. “We’ve received an enormous amount of support from the industry,” Mowry related. “If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have the additional equipment needed to support the program’s growth.”

Material contributions, corporate donations and even funding through the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) are fueling the tremendous success of this program. Business owners and managers participate as Advisory Board members to keep school administrators abreast of changes in the industry. They also have opportunities to meet students prior to graduation at recruitment events.

“As a feeder program, SCCTC has produced more well-rounded students than any other CDL training school in the area,” said Matt Austin, president and CEO of Eastern Freight Systems and several other businesses that routinely employ truck drivers. “We are actively engaging with every class, contributing to the students’ exposure to the vast number of transportation opportunities that we are able to provide them upon graduation.”

Austin’s companies, including Holcombe Energy, have hired more than 40 drivers from the school so far. Fresh graduates are mentored for up to six months as they learn to apply their education to job-specific tasks. “We are routinely impressed with the students regulatory knowledge, which makes our continued education easier to grasp,” Austin stated.

Students learn that there is much more to operating a big rig, dump truck, or water hauler than just moving it from point A to point B. According to Bob Bennie, trucking foreman for GasSearch Drilling Services (GDS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Coterra Energy, proper loading and unloading procedures, as well as proper radio communication skills via a CB and two-way radio are equally important facets of operation that must become second nature before a new driver can strike out on their own. GDS recently hired its 14th driver from the program and, with 20 more open positions, Bennie is eager to continue filling the ranks from SCCTC.

According to Patrick Musheno, director of safety at Meshoppen Transport and subsidiary Susquehanna Gas Field Services (SGFS), the need for drivers is increasing due to a number of factors. “The current driving force is aging, and new drivers are not lining up quickly enough to fill that gap,” he remarked. “We must do what we can to interest others in a driving profession.”  

SCCTC administrators are finding new ways to bring people, including veterans and high school students, into the program, and the school has also added a third instructor. Students give the CDL Center high marks too, crediting the instructors for spending ample time preparing them for testing and building their confidence.

“They basically taught me how to drive,” said Layne Koziol of Susquehanna, who graduated from the summer 2022 session. “They’re all great people there.” Koziol was immediately hired by Nelsen’s Tree Service in Binghamton, NY, where he is working his way up through the ranks to drive a Freightliner.

One initiative that has gathered steam over the past year is the opportunity for 18-year old high school students to use Coterra’s EITC funding to enter the CDL program and obtain a CDL license at no cost.

“This program is tremendously successful, and it is our fastest growing cohort at the school,” said Mowry.

Last year, Coterra’s external affairs manager Bill desRosiers challenged Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce president Gina Suydam to spread awareness by offering 10 such scholarships to Wyoming County students.

“Coterra supports Wyoming County Chamber’s workforce development efforts by allocating additional scholarships to the Susquehanna County CDL school to Wyoming County students,” desRosiers stated. “This funding is available to high school students interested in a career in driving or those who want to bolster their resume.” The scholarships are available to high school seniors and juniors who are 18 years old and interested in a CDL.

Whether you are a high school student or an adult learner, now is the time to inquire about upcoming sessions and financial aid. Class B permits can be used for driving dump trucks, water tankers and cement mixers, which can provide a steady income while the driver pursues the Class A license, which allows them to drive combination vehicles like tractor trailers.

Since June 2022, alone, the CDL school has enrolled 39 students, 12 of whom received the high school scholarship. “A lot of students are interested but don’t know how to pay for it,” Mowry related. “There are so many funding opportunities out there for tuition assistance.” Tuition assistance for adults can come from the Workforce Initiative and Opportunity Fund, Veterans Education and Training Services, and the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. Some companies cover all or part of the tuition for employees to complete the course, as their certification increases their flexibility and value on the job.

“In short, the SCCTC CDL program is critical to our success and has become a vital source of extremely qualified drivers,” Bennie stated.

“If not for schools like SCCTC, it would be much more difficult for trucking companies to fill their empty seats,” Musheno agreed.

Classroom seats are already filled for the first session of 2023, which starts in February. Though the start date for the next session has not yet been confirmed, Mowry is taking names of those interested. To learn more, interested readers can log on to www.scctc-school.org  or call 570-278-9229.

 
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Keystone College Business Accreditation

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KEYSTONE COLLEGE BUSINESS PROGRAMS RECEIVE REACCREDITATION

Four Keystone College business programs have been reaccredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE), recognizing them as among the world’s best in business education.

The Keystone programs reaccredited by the IACBE are the college’s bachelor’s programs in accounting, business administration, sport and recreation management, and the associate of science program in business administration. The programs were originally accredited by the IACBE in 2014.     

“The (Keystone College) Division of Business, Management, and Technology at Keystone College has demonstrated compliance of its business program(s) with the IACBE Accreditation Principles through a rigorous process of self-evaluation and independent peer review. In addition, the Division of Business, Management, and Technology has demonstrated a commitment to continuous improvement, excellence in business education, and advancing academic quality in its business programs and operations,” the IACBE stated.

With its headquarters in Overland Park Kansas, the IACBE was founded in 1997 and is nationally-recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The IACBE is the leader in mission-driven and outcomes-based programmatic accreditation in business and business-related education for colleges, universities, and other higher education institutions whose primary purpose is excellence in teaching and learning. The IACBE has hundreds of member institutions with campuses worldwide and has accredited thousands of business and business-related programs in the United States, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Central America, and South America.

Keystone’s Business, Management, and Technology Department prepares students for success through excellence in academics and  hands-on-learning with faculty and industry leaders.

“Keystone College is honored to gain reaccreditation by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education,” said Patricia Davis, Ph.D., professor of accounting and program director of Keystone’s accounting, business, hospitality, and supply chain management programs. “This recognition is the direct result of the excellence and dedication of our talented faculty and students. We are proud to offer business programs at Keystone that are second to none. Our successful alumni working at the top levels of their respective professions are absolute proof of that fact.”

 

Recognized as one of the best educational values in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Keystone offers more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree options in liberal arts and science-based programs in business, communications, education, natural science, environmental science, and social sciences. Located 15 minutes from Scranton, Pa. and two hours from New York City and Philadelphia, Keystone is known for small class sizes and individual attention focused on student success through internships, research, and community involvement.

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Vosburg Neck State Park

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Couple’s Dedication to Howland Preserve Leads to New State Park for County

The process of opening the Howland Preserve to the public in 2006, maintaining and enhancing the property, and bringing it to its present status as Vosburg Neck State Park was anything but easy. Many entities and individuals forged lasting partnerships with the North Branch Land Trust (NBLT) to whom the property was bequeathed in 2003. And many people in attendance at the Sept. 29 dedication event had personal connections to the property. But no two people have poured as much of themselves into the project than Doug and Ali Wilson.


In 2013, the couple was paddling down the North Branch Susquehanna with river guide David Buck of Endless Mountains Outfitters when they and the rest of their sojourn crew pulled into a basic river access point at the Howland Preserve. It was the first time that the Wilsons had come off the river there, and the towering pines that lined a pathway to the old Howland homestead, the large barn and its companion farmhouse intrigued them.


But trash left behind by previous visitors was plentiful, and there were trees growing out of the eaves of the house, which showed other signs of neglect. “It was clear that things weren’t being taken care of,” Ali remembers. “It did not feel like it had been a happy place for years.”


Dave Buck explained to them that the Howland Preserve had been donated to the NBLT to be accessible to the public for recreation. Benefactor Ernie Howland and his closest friends had envisioned the 669 mostly forested acres as a public park.


“Dave said, ‘This place needs to become something, but we need someone young to help us out,’” Ali related. The NBLT board members were mostly older, they learned, and more inclined to administrative duties than the type of infrastructure and maintenance that the Preserve needed. “They had the vision but not the energy.”


The Wilsons had been married since 2009 and were both teaching in the Tunkhannock School District – Doug in graphics arts and animation at the high school and Ali as an arts instructor at the intermediate center. As if they weren’t busy enough, something about the property called to them, even though it also spoke of an enormous amount of work. A series of tenants had all but destroyed the interior of the house, and the barn was open to the elements.


“As a little girl, I rode by here going to Camp Lackawanna and saw how Marion (Howland – Ernie’s mother) took care of it and how beautiful it was,” said Ali. “We saw a glimpse of hope that it could become something that could be given back to the community.” As for the house, “We saw the potential of a park ranger living there – not necessarily us.”   


While they continued to reside at Lake Winola, they began working on the Vosburg Neck property with the permission of the NBLT board. They formed the Friends of the Howland Preserve with a new Facebook page and began attracting others to the historic property. The Friends group officially became a non-profit in 2016 at the encouragement of the NBLT.


While enlisting friends who had the most experience with plumbing and carpentry to concentrate on the house, “the barn started going through some fluffing too,” Doug explained. For many years, lumber had been stored in the rafters, and it had to go. Not surprisingly, there were also layers of bird waste.


A close friend of the Wilsons was looking for someplace rustic where he and his fiancee could get married. As a trade off for using the barn, the friend and his friends conducted the first massive clean-out of the once stately building. As there was no seed money for the project, bartering work for use of the facilities became a common practice that is still in place today.


The Big Red Barn, as it is now affectionately called, proved popular as a venue but needed to be brought up to code. Maps and plans needed to be drawn up and submitted. A parking area was designated, and new doors were hung. The process was arduous but was completed in 2015 with support from organizations like the Endless Mountains Heritage Region (EMHR).


“Once we got boots on the ground down here, it became apparent that anything we could do would be our legacy work,” Doug stated, “Even if it was just five miles of mountain bike trails.”


Establishing and maintaining trails through the wetlands and up the hillside away from the river was another facet of the project that succeeded with outside support, including the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau (EMVB), which provided funding for trail signage that matched that of neighboring Camp Lackawanna. The EMVB has also helped fund the promotion of the annual Rocking the River event with Room Tax grants. The focus of Rocking the River has shifted to the trails with a Howland Preserve Trail Race that has been spearheaded and co-planned by board member and avid runner, Ben Robinson.


High school students and Boy Scouts pitched in too. By 2016, the combined 1,000 acres of the camp and the Preserve boasted trails for hiking and mountain biking, and the Susquehanna River that wraps around the Vosburg Neck had been named a vital component of the National Parks Water Trail system.


Completed in 2018, the exterior of the house was painted a warm yellow hue and enough of the building had been restored that Doug and Ali moved in and became the property’s unofficial managers – literally a second full-time job for the couple. Mowing alone takes Doug eight hours per week. Trail maintenance is never ending, as are improvements to the barn, which has been host to numerous weddings, class reunions and public events that benefit the Howland Preserve.


The Wilsons credit former NBLT executive director Paul Lumia for suggesting to the state that the DCNR take over the property and make it a state park, leading to the first serious visit by state officials in 2013. They visited again after Sen. Lisa Baker pushed for a feasibility study as part of the 2016 state budget.


The fact that so much work had been done to structures and trails and that a very strong Friends group was already attracting new visitors to the property helped increased the viability of the proposal. But the cost, estimated at $12- to $13-million, brought the plans to a screeching halt.


“They were interested but didn’t have the funds,” said Ali. “A lot of balloons were deflated. Even some DCNR officials told us to let it go and that it was never going to happen.” But the Wilsons did not lose heart, as the Howland Preserve had become home for them and their son, Huxley. “I think we brought a good vibe to it,” Ali suggested.


Things began to change rapidly at the beginning of 2022. The value of natural gas began to skyrocket at the onset of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, and updated court interpretations of the Oil & Gas Lease Fund started in 1955 made it clear that the money collected through the leasing of state lands for gas production should go right back to providing natural recreation for the citizens of Pennsylvania.


“Those funds are dedicated to conservation, recreation, flood control, and land acquisition,” DCNR deputy secretary John Norbeck explained. He, DCNR secretary Cindy Dunn and Baker began having regular meetings with Gov. Tom Wolf, who was on their side from the start.


Recently appointed NBLT executive director Ellen Ferretti called the Wilsons in February and put them on alert. As Ali recalled, “She said something like, “I need you to be aware that talks have started to make Howland Preserve a state park. It’s a long shot but it could happen.’” Subsequent communication with the NBLT and DCNR seemed promising.


“The stars aligned with the state budget,” Baker noted in her address to project partners and supporters at the dedication event. In fact, $56,000,000 was set aside as part of Wolf’s overall $700,000,000 environmental budget toward the creation of not just one, but three new state parks, the other two being in York and Chester counties.


“While I only started at North Branch Land Trust in mid-November of 2021, I have come to know Ali and Doug as hard working and dedicated advocates for the vitality and well-being of the natural resources and habitat so abundant at the Howland Preserve,” Ferretti offered. “It has been and continues to be our pleasure to work with them as we transition to being part of the magnificent PA DCNR state park system.”


The future of the Wilson’s and Vosburg State Park is uncertain, but they are no less excited about the elevated status of the Preserve. The State is continuing their lease for now to assist with the transformation as new Park Ranger Nick Sulzer and staff move into another large house on the property.


“Doug and Ali, along with the rest of the Friends of the Howland Preserve have been vital in providing information and history on the Howland Preserve. They will continue to be an integral part of the planning process,” Sulzer stated in an email. “DCNR values its partnerships with stakeholders and volunteer groups that provide the added support to keep our parks clean, safe, and enjoyable. After the transition of the park is complete, our hope is that the Friends group will continue to support the park and its visitors with their volunteer services.”


A site plan is underway with improvements to parking areas and the installation of restrooms at the top of the list. Trails will likely be expanded and the river access improved and possibly even paralleled with a motorized watercraft access point.


The changes are welcomed by the Wilsons as well. Most importantly, they will get a much-deserved break from many of their maintenance duties. “We’re definitely staying on to help with the transition and as Friends of Vosburg Neck State Park,” Ali maintained.


“Ali and Doug have been amazing stewards of the Howland Preserve,” said Jean Ruhf of the EMVB. “It’s wonderful to know that they will continue to be involved with the new State Park.”


Cain Chamberlin of the EMHR echoed her sentiments, calling the Wilson’s efforts “nothing short of awe-inspiring” and exemplary of what the EMHR looks for in heritage partners. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with them through educational programming, events and projects that will showcase and enhance the new park,” he stated. 


That’s music to the Wilsons’ ears, the teachers in them looking forward to the addition of a ranger station, welcome center and interpretive displays. “We’re going to be able to focus on other projects,” said Doug. “They still want us to run events and educational programs.”


The park will start playing a larger role in the curriculum for area school students, who will be invited to participate in a variety of initiatives.

“We are so excited to be working with the state,” Ali added. “They have been so welcoming and willing to work with us.”  

– Written by Rick Hiduk


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Bartron Supply Inc. – Generational Success

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Family, farmers, and friends are the foundation on which Stark & Jennie Bartron built Bartron Supply. Founded in 1948, the business sought to support the local farming community. Stark Sr. was fond of a particular green tractor on his farm – the John Deere. With high hopes, Stark Sr. asked Jennie to write a letter to John Deere expressing his interest in a dealership. The letter was approved, and Bartron Supply became the first John Deere Dealer in Northeast Pennsylvania.

Over the years, the Bartron family and the business grew. They expanded their product lines to include Husqvarna, Honda power equipment, and Bobcat’s compact construction equipment line. Bartron Supply became a staple name to the people of Wyoming County, from farmers to operators to homeowners. In 1980, Stark Sr. stepped down as CEO as they welcomed his son, Stark Bartron II, as the company’s new owner. And in 2014, after almost 35 years, Stark II handed down the business to his son, Stark Bartron III, and daughter, Bekah Frisco. And under this new duo, Bartron Supply saw growth unlike ever before.

 

In 2018, Bobcat approached the Bartron family with an opportunity for expansion. Having found great success in Tunkhannock with Bobcat’s equipment line, they knew this was the next step in growing with the company. By June 2019, they had opened their first extension, Bobcat of Binghamton, in Binghamton, New York. Continuing their expansion, they set their eyes on Honesdale, opening store number three in March of 2020 – Bobcat of Wayne County. And this fall, Bobcat of Wayne County will be moving into its brand-new dealership, currently under construction in Waymart.

 

The journey to today was not always easy. In 1977, a devastating fire tore through the original building. Far from repair, the Bartron’s decided to rebuild, opening the new store less than a year later just across the road. And in 2011, crisis struck again in the form of a flood, leaving Bartron Supply’s showroom under 3-feet of rushing water. Damaged but not destroyed, they cleared the old showroom and added the now-standing 10,000 ft showroom onto the old building. The employees set up temporary trailers to keep the farmers, businesses, and residents up and running during construction. Through all this misfortune, the Bartron family remained resilient. They have a legacy to protect and will keep moving forward.

 

Next year, Bartron Supply will be celebrating 75 years in business. Success is so much more than the years in business. Bartron Supply measures success in the day-to-day interactions with their customers and the relationships they have cultivated along this journey to 75. None of Bartron Supply’s success would be possible without their hardworking and dedicated team. The Bartron Supply family extends their gratitude and love to the wonderful people of Wyoming County for the generations of customer support!

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Family-Run Auto Parts Store Builds
Upon 45-Year Reputation

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The Mile Hill Auto Parts family of employees includes (from left)
Chris Henry, Tim Henry, Robert Drobish,
Tom Henry, Melissa Stonier, and Seth Johnston.

In 1977, Tom Henry of Tunkhannock decided to build and operate a tire shop on Route 6 just west of town. Before he finished construction of the building, some friends convinced him that what the area really needed was a new auto parts store. With $35,000 in inventory and one employee besides himself, Mile Hill Auto Parts opened to the public and has been at the same location for 45 years.

The Henry’s property stretched to the river and, in the 1980s, a community ballpark opened bearing the NAPA name, the national auto parts supplier with whom Mile Hill has had a successful licensing agreement since the start. Tom built a two story addition in the 1990s as the business continued to grow. When the Tunkhannock bypass was constructed on the south side of town along the river, the property was split, but the ball field and the store remained intact. “It’s sort of an icon,” said Chris Henry, who purchased the business from his uncle in 2021 and officially took ownership on Sept. 1. “It grew in leaps and bounds and it’s been on a fairly steady trajectory ever since.”

Chris moved with his parents, Earl and Shirley Warner Henry, to Florida in the 1960s. Though he remained in the Sunshine State after finishing his education and starting to build his experience in retail sales, he enjoyed trips back to Pennsylvania. “I’ve always wanted to move here,” Chris related. “Even though it wasn’t officially home, it always felt like home.” Chris married Allison Hnatko, whose family was from the Lake Winola area.

With four full-time and two part-time employees, Chris embarked on an expansion of the product lines and the retail side of the business, including Milwaukee auto tools, which have proven popular with customers. He has also enhanced his towing section and the store’s hydraulics line. “We’ve invested in larger-capacity equipment to make bigger hoses because we believe the demand is there,” Chris stated, adding that the need for larger hoses is driven by the natural gas industry, which he had in mind when he added more heavy duty parts for repairing trucks, skids steers, back hoes and the like.

Having sold various commodities over the years, including real estate, Frito Lay products and wholesale groceries for a large Florida-based chain, Chris has seen many sides of the purchasing public and how tastes and expectations are constantly evolving.

He credits the continuing appeal of Mile Hill Auto Parts to both high-quality merchandise and the personality and professionalism that staff members present to the public. “I think it’s still important to the majority of people to patronize a locally owned business,” said Chris. “If somebody’s got a problem with an older vehicle or tractor, they come here.” But not as many people are restoring older vehicles, and there are fewer farmers to serve. The non-DIYers, as he calls them, and many female customers go to the competition in part, he suggested, because they are more visually appealing. Chris feels that a methodical make-over of the store will attract some new customers who will, in turn, experience Mile Hill’s unique brand of customer service.

He installed new lighting in the store and reconfigured the sales space with the addition of more shelving, all of which he considers image boosters.

Chris also hired Melissa Stonier of Tunkhannock to serve as Mile Hill Auto Parts’ first customer relations manager, focusing on both in-store sales and wholesale selling to auto repair shops in the area. Melissa is a popular server at the Tunkhannock Moose Lodge who was out of the work force for several years to have a child. Melissa said that she is enjoying putting her people skills to use as she meets more people in the community and works to meet their auto service needs. “I think there’s a real opportunity for growth for her,” Chris stated. “I feel that she’s gown a lot professionally already in the time that she’s been here.

The staff continues to be a mix of family and family friends and includes Tim Henry, Seth Johnston, and Robert Drobish. While Tom has officially retired, he stops by the store almost daily and still likes to mow the grounds.

Mile Hill Auto Parts has an active Facebook page on which users can find out the latest product additions and bargains. The store is open from 7 am to 5:30 on weekdays and 7 am to 1:30 pm on Saturdays.

570-836-4746
milehillautoparts@gmail.com

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Top 5 Reasons Your Business Should Sponsor Community Events

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At some point, many businesses are presented with an opportunity to sponsor a community event in their area. While you may be reluctant initially because of the financial and time investment involved, there are several reasons to sponsor that can have a positive impact on your business.

  1. Great Publicity
    Even if it’s only for a day or two, putting the spotlight on your business can have some major long-term benefits. You’ll gain significant exposure overnight and can get your brand in front of a much larger segment of your demographic. This will often result in an influx of new leads and ultimately customers.
  2. Networking Galore
    Building solid relationships is the key to opening new doors for any business. The more quality contacts you have, the more opportunities will come your way. If you’re looking to quickly expand your network and gain meaningful business relationships, sponsoring an event in your area is a great way to do so. The best part is that it requires very little effort and energy on your part, and most contacts will come right to you.
  3. Improved Reputation
    Reputation management is serious business these days, especially when you consider how quickly a brand’s reputation can spike or plummet because of online reviews and social media. A positive reputation is a fundamental component of generating initial leads and is integral to long-term sustainability.

Sponsoring an event is great because it shows that your business has a legitimate interest in local causes and that you want to contribute to the enrichment of your community.

  1. Stronger Brand Equity
    An improved reputation almost always results in your business being perceived as more credible and trustworthy. In turn, your demographic is more likely to associate your brand name with something positive, which automatically strengthens your brand equity.

This is important because it goes way beyond the day or two that you sponsor a community event and can have a long-lasting effect. In some cases, this can be the catalyst for increased customers and clients for years down the road.

  1. It’s Fairly Affordable
    While it’s true that this type of sponsorship comes at a cost, it’s pretty minimal when you compare it to many other forms of local marketing. For instance, print and radio ads can greatly exceed the cost of sponsorship and may only yield a fraction of the results.

In many cases, sponsoring an event is a one-time thing. However, you can potentially reap the rewards for years to come. It’s especially effective for local brick-and-mortar companies who are primarily trying to reach a limited demographic within their city or region.

If your business is ever approached to be a sponsor, it’s definitely something you should consider. With five strong reasons to sponsor a community event, the pros vastly outweigh the cons. Not only can this help you forge valuable relationships and bring in immediate leads, it can boost your long-term brand equity significantly.

The Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce offers several opportunities annually for your business to gain positive exposure through event sponsorship. To become a sponsor for the Midsummer Mingle, July 21, 2022 or Patriot Day Golf Tournament see the event pages for each and choose your sponsorship level. An investment in your community is an investment in your business.

Resource: https://rmi-solutions.com/top-5-reasons-businesses-should-sponsor-community-events/

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