Interest Has Definitely Grown, Says Chamber VP
Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, does everything big. It produces big stars, like “The Rock”; big businesses leaders, like Lee Iacocca, former chairman of the Chrysler Corporation; and very big chambers of commerce.
The Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce spans two states, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and is among the 10 largest local chambers in the nation. It has nearly 5,000 members who employ more than 200,000 people.
So it’s only fitting that when this Chamber took on energy, including in Pennsylvania—a state the Pew Charitable Trust recently characterized as a rising clean energy leader—it did so in a big way.
It started back in 2008 when, like much of the country, the Valley found itself in the midst of a financial meltdown.
“Everybody was paying attention to every expense known to man,” recalls John Hayes, who sits on the Chamber’s Board of Governors and is Senior Vice President and Chief Lending Officer of the New Tripoli Bank. “And I brought up the idea that we focus on energy.”
But in recent years, interest has grown significantly, says Michelle Griffin Young, the Chamber’s Vice President of Government Affairs.
Today, there is significant interest in the Chamber’s annual Energy & Environment Outlook and Expo; its Energy and Environment Committee; and its annual award to a member business that exemplify best energy practices.
For example, when the Chamber held its annual Energy & Environment Outlook and Expo event last year, more than 150 people came, including the state’s Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection John Quigley; Chairwoman of the PA Public Utility Commission Gladys Brown; and several Congressmen.
The Chamber’s now eight-year-old Energy and Environment Committee has also become popular through its work to identify energy innovations that can benefit small businesses; highlight success stories; and work with officials to educate the business community on clean energy options and incentives.
“It used to be us recruiting people to be on the committee,” “says Griffin Young. “Now it’s people hearing about it and asking us to join the committee.”