November 2016 Newsletter
A Word from the Director
It is difficult to believe that Summer is gone, Autumn is now upon us and Winter is just around the bend.  As Thanksgiving approaches, it is always wise to reflect on the things we are thankful for including friends, family and the beautiful area we are lucky enough to call home..

Here at  the Chamber, we certainly consider ourselves very fortunate to be supported by such wonderful and committed member businesses and individuals who truly value the communities in which they live and work.  At a time when many Chambers are experiencing significant dec lines in m embership, or in some cases closing the Chamber doors altogether, the Cohase Chamber of Commerce continues to grow its membership and provide meaningful and impactful events and programs that help to make our region stronger and more appealing to businesses, visitors and residents.

As November comes to a close, we will also begin our membership renewal process and ask for your continued support in 2017.  We strive to make membership affordable and our membership fees continue to be among the lowest in the nation.  However, our Chamber can only survive and continue its mission with your financial support. We thank you in advance for your membership renewal and for any additional sponsorship dollars you may be able to provide us.

Wishing, you and your family a delicious Thanksgiving holiday full of love, warmth, good food and thankfulness.



Erik Volk
Executive Director
cohasechamber@gmail.com
(802) 518-0030 

Upcoming Events

Please visit our main WEB page or Calendar of Events at   www.cohase.org for more details on any of these events as well as other events scheduled in our region..


November 16 -  Cohase Health Insurance Forum, Woodsville NH
December 5  - Cohase Economic Summit (Invitation Only), Bradford, VT
Janaury 15 - Cybersecurity/Digital Marketing Workshop (reschedule)
January 23 - Cohase Chamber Annual Meeting, Fairlee, VT
February 4 - Haverhill Community & Business Showcase, Woodsville, NH
Health Insurance Forum Scheduled for November 16

Join the Cohase Chamber of Commerce, Cottage Hospital and Little Rivers Health Care for an informal forum to clarify some of the confusion regarding health insurance choices, issues and obligations for New Hampshire and Vermont on Wednesday, November 16 from 2:30-4:00 PM at Cott age Hospital, 90 Swiftwater Road, Woodsville, NH. RSVPs are requested for planning purposes. Please RSVP to cohasechamber@gmail.com or by phone at
(802) 518-0030 if you plan to attend.


In today's ever changing health insurance environment, health insurance choices for both businesses and individuals can be confusing. Understanding the choices, issues and solutions can help both employers and employees make educated decisions about the best health insurance solutions for them and their specific situations. Confusion on this topic is especially relevant in our region where many businesses employ individuals from across state lines. In addition, both employers and employees can have different understandings of what employers' obligations are regarding health insurance.

This forum will consist of brief presentations from experts in both individual insurance plans as well as business and "shop" plans for both New Hampshire and Vermont. This will be followed by a question and answer period to address audience members' questions and concerns. Additional time will be available at the end of the program for individual consultations. Light refreshments will be served and door prizes will be available. Attendees will be entered into a free drawing for valuable prizes.

Cohase Small Business Financing Forum Held

The Cohase Chamber of Commerce sponsored a Small Business Financing Forum on Tuesday, October 4, 2016 at Alumni Hall in Haverhill Corner, NH.  Over 25 people attended to learn more about the variety of funding sources and business assistance resources available to them in both New Hampshire and Vermont.  Our speakers for the evening included Ross Hart from the Vermont Small Business Development Center, Chris Wellington from the Grafton County Economic Development Council and Leah Furey from Community Capital of Vermont.  Attendees included a broad
array of 

A broad array of participants attended, including those who are running or are planning to start businesses in the retail, food service, food production, personal services, professional services, agricultural, recreational and creative arts sectors.

Thank you to our speakers, our audience members and to Court Street Arts for hosting this valuable event.
Wood Products Industry Forum Sees Record  Attendance

The Chamber and the Green Mountain Economic Development Corporation (GMEDC) co-sponsored a public forum on the challenges facing the region al Forest Products industry.  The event, held on Wednesday, October 5 at the Bradford Academy Building was attended by over 1 00 p articipants.  These participants represented loggers, foresters, truckers, saw mill operators, power plant operators, elected officials and others impacted directly or indirectly by the Forest Product industry.

The program began with a panel discussion which included Peter Condaxis, Chief Forester of the Ryegate Power Station; Bob Moses, President of Britton Lumber; Ryan Kilborn, Chief Forester/Principal with Meadowland, LLC, Markus Bailey, Co-owner of Redstart Forestry and Bruce Limlaw, Owner of Limlaw Chipping and Land Clearing. Various challenges, opportunities for growth and suggested actions were discussed.  Additional speakers included Paul Frederick, Wood Utiliization and Wood Energy Program Leader, who provided an extensive presentation on the industry's history, current trends and challenges.  

The remainder of the meeting was spent in a "town hall" style discussion where attendees asked questions and provided their perspectives on the challenges facing the industry.  Participants were also introduced to representatives of a wide variety of organizations affiliated with the industry who briefly explained the purpose and goals of their respective organizations
and how they can assist people involved in the industry.

The partners involved in this conversation are committed to ongoing conversations leading to positive action items,as the sustainability of this industry is critical to the North Country economy.  Stay tuned for more information from the Chamber on these efforts!

Many thanks to Marvin Harrison, Cohase Chamber Board Member and Treasurer; Bob Haynes, Executive Director of GMEDC and Jared Duval, the Director of the Working Lands Program in Vermont for organizing this much-needed event! 
Haverhill Business & Community Showcase Membe r Discount

Help support the Woodsville High School chapter of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) by  hosting a booth at the Best of the Haverhill NH Area Business & Community Showcase.   Chamber members receive a 20% discount off the standard registration fee of $50

The event is scheduled for  Saturda y, February 4, 2017 in the Dr. John Bagonzi Community Building at Woodsville High School. Inside and outside booth spaces are available. Businesses from throughout the Cohase region are encouraged to participate and need not be located within Haverhill, NH. 

This free to the public Community Showcase will allow you to 
  • Showcase your products and/or services
  • Sell your products 
  • Make face to face contact with potential customers (including fellow vendors)
  • Host demonstrations or workshops for hands-on interactions with your customers
  • Distribute promotional materials
  • Find new employees
As part of the event, businesses (or individuals) are also encouraged to enter the Mac & Cheese Challenge.  Prizes will be awarded in Company, Organization and Individual categories.

Space is limited so don't delay!

For guidelines and more information about the event, click here.

For a registration form, please click here.

Note:  When completing the registration form, please note that you are a Chamber member and enclose $40 instead of the normal registration fee of $50.
Member Moment
This month we are pleased to speak with Josh Allen, co-owner of Alarmco, Inc. Alarmco is a provider of Security, Surveillance and Fire Alarm systems based out of Bradford. They also provide service contracts, consultation services, as well as other services described below.They are located at 989 Mink Hill Road, in Bradford, Vermont and can be contacted at (802) 222-4245. Visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AlarmcoVT . Their WEB site is currently under construction but will be updated soon at www.alarmcovt.com.
 

Tell us a little bit about how the company started and what you do.
My father originally started the company in 1993 so we're in our 23rd year of business. 
My business partner Craig (Bania) and I bought him out in January. Craig was a coworker of mine at a previous job.   Our primary business is fire alarms,  security and surveillance cam eras but now we have branched off into other things like telephone s ystems, data networking and
Josh Allen
other lo w voltage options like audio/visual and home automation. We actually do quite a bit of other stuff. For example, we are putting in a complete surround sound system for Valley Floors. We recently put in an access control gate for Topsham Hill Campground, which is new for them,and a fiber optic network for Camp Lochearn. Almost all of the low voltage stuff can be tied together  in some way.  Even when trends change, we are so diverse that we can do a lot of different things. 

What are your biggest business challenges?
Probably one of the hardest things is the rate at which technology is progressing and keeping up with all the new products.  Also, one of the fears moving forward is finding qualified staff especially with River Bend having closed their Electronics Technology and Residential Wiring program. Finding someone trained and willing to learn this field will be a challenge for us going forward. I do look forward to getting someone out of a technical program that we can offer a career to. I did the Co-Op program through River Bend when I was there and worked for my father's company. There is a lot of value in that training. College is not always the answer. I am the perfect example. I own three businesses.

Who are your customers and what is your service area?
We do everything from low-end residential right up through high end residential and commercial. We cover all of Vermont and New Hampshire. We are doing a project right now in Bennington, Vermont and we also have a project in Colebrook, New Hampshire. Most of our business is within an hour of Bradford. The nice thing about Bradford is that it is pretty central and you can get just about anywhere within an hour. We service all types of businesses including a lot of convenience stores and a lot of banks.  

How many employees does Alarmco have?
We have five full-time employees and one part-time secretary. Our employees have a wide variety of skills. Craig and I have nearly twenty years in the telephone business and we have been through a lot of schooling and training. One of our employees is a Master Electrician and two are retired military service members that were trained in electronics.

Any advice you can give on running a successful business?
As an employer, after working in corporate America, I realized that putting my employees first is going to build a better quality business. If you treat your employees well and take good care of them, your company will automatically grow. Great customer service is also very important. Being able to respond quickly to a customer within an hour versus putting them on a schedule several days out goes a long way. We service an average of 400 customers and 70% of our work is return business.
Ask The Chamber

Q.  I recently heard that WEB sites need to now be ADA compliant or they could be sued.  Is this true and I am in danger?

A.  At the current time, for the vast majority of our members, it is highly unlikely.  However, some law firms, especially in larger metropolitan areas have been issuing demand letters to some businesses. These letters allege that those businesses are in violation of the American With Disabilities Act (ADA) if their sites cannot be effectively used by the visually impaired, hearing impaired or those with other disabilities.  The majority of the targeted businesses have been larger restaurants, hotels, banks or retail businesses with large on-line ordering components. Municipal sites and other non-profit sites have also been issued these letters, although again, predominately in larger metropolitan areas.

The ADA is enforced by the Department of Justice (DOJ), which is currently in the process of amending legislation to clarify the requirements for WEB sites as they relate to the American Disabilities Act. These changes are expected to be released in 2018.   For now, it is generally recommended that websites should aim to conform to the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Levels A and AA. Most advocacy groups also encourage websites to satisfy those standards.  You can see what these requirements are by clicking here.

The good news for potential defendants is that most businesses would likely only face an injunction that would force you to come into compliance although this could possibly include compensation for associated legal fees.  Much of this will depend on the state you are sued in and what has happened with previous cases, if any, in your state.  Unfortunately, what constitutes compliance is still somewhat unclear. Since the Chamber is not authorized to give legal advice, we would encourage you to speak to your attorney about his/her thoughts on the issue.  In addition, be sure to mention to your site developer that you want to minimize the possibility of someone claiming your website is not accessible by adhering to the WCAG guidelines mentioned above.
Member Updates
  • Bradford Elementary School is looking for local business representatives who would be willing to serve on their Project Based Learning committee.  This initiative seeks to create more authentic learning experiences and provides funds to students and teachers to fund projects.  Meetings will be no more often than monthly and likely quarterly.  Anyone interested should contact Matthew Brankman, Principal at  802-222-4077 or by email at mbrankman@beschool.org.
  • Green Mountain United Way would like to remind non-profit organizations in Vermont, they can post volunteer opportunities for free on the United Way's Volunteer Opportunity page.  Simply go to www.gmunitedway.org/take-actions/volunteer/ and click on "List a Volunteer Opportunity."
  • Five-Oh Pizzeria has relocated to Bradford, Vermont from Fairlee and is now located at 134 Main Street in downtown Bradford.  They have recently made beer and wine available at their new location as well as delicious pizza, appetizers, subs and more!
  • Safe Ship in Bradford, Vermont is happy to announce that Emilie Osgood is now a notary public!  See Emilie or Laurie for all your notary needs!
  • The Old Church Theater is seeking feedback in their QUICK End-Of-The-Year Survey.  Win one of eight 2017 season tickets, a $60.00 value.  Drawing is at the Annual Meeting on November 13.  Click here to take the survey.
  • Oxbow High School's Class of 2019 has started it's Three Way Winner discount card which  lets you shop at local stores with a discount while helping to raise funds for the class of 2019.  The cards are $20.  For more information, contact Patti Valley at pvalley@oxbowhs.org or Lomond Richardson at lrichardson@oxbowhs.org.
  • Copeland Furniture of Bradford recently won the Green Leaf Award at the annual Pinnacle Awards dinner for the Wave Bedroom group. Wave blends the pure simplicity of Midcentury Modern design with 21st century computer aided manufacturing technology. Mike Gaskell of Copeland Furniture wrote the code that instructs CNC machining centers to carve a seemingly random wave pattern. See the Wave group and other Modern designs at copelandfurniture.com.
Cohase Chamber of Commerce |802.518.0030 | cohasechamber@gmail.com| www.cohase.org
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