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Happy Thanksgiving!

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
-- President John F. Kennedy, 1963

On behalf of myself, Louise and the kids, I would like to wish all of you a very happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving!

Bioscience Forum Coming to TCMC on January 7

Sen. BlakeI am excited to announce that on Monday, January 7, 2013, I will host a Bioscience Forum at The Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton.

This event will highlight the progress achieved thus far by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Regional Bioscience Initiative (NEPA RBI).  The goal of the NEPA RBI coalition is to implement an eight-county strategy to increase career and business opportunities within the life sciences industry cluster by bringing together regional leaders in science, education, industry, government and community to expand the life science industry sector of Northeastern Pennsylvania. 

The Honorable C. Alan Walker, Secretary of the Department of Community & Economic Development, will serve as the keynote speaker.

More details will be announced in the near future!

Governor’s Trade Mission to Visit Growing Markets in South America in 2013

JobsIt is imperative that we continue to look for creative solutions to grow Pennsylvania’s economy and create good jobs. Creating Pennsylvania jobs is my top priority in Harrisburg and I remain focused on increasing the participation of Northeastern Pennsylvania small businesses in the global marketplace through export sales.

Some of the greatest opportunities for economic growth in Pennsylvania lie in emerging foreign markets such as Brazil and Chile – two of the fastest-growing markets in the southern hemisphere.

From April 6 through April 15, a Pennsylvania delegation, led by Governor Tom Corbett, will embark on a trade mission to Brazil and Chile in an effort to open the door to new market opportunities in South America for Pennsylvania businesses. 

The trade mission is made possible through a partnership between the Team Pennsylvania Foundation, the state Office of International Business Development (OIBD) and the Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED). 

As a member of the Team Pennsylvania Foundation board of directors, I encourage any small businesses looking to grow your business internationally to consider participating in this trade mission. The Team Pennsylvania Foundation will provide funding assistance through a scholarship program to selected Pennsylvania small businesses looking to participate in the trade mission. This scholarship is intended to provide financial assistance to enable qualifying companies looking to participate in the upcoming Jobs First Mission to Brazil and Chile.

For more information on the trade mission or to apply for a Small Business Scholarship, visit www.paglobal.org   

Apply Now for LIHEAP Heating Assistance

LIHEAPWhile we were mostly spared of frigid temperatures and snowstorms last winter, Northeastern Pennsylvanians are preparing for a much colder and longer winter this year. As the temperature begins to drop, everyone, no matter their financial situation, should be afforded the means to keep their home and their family safe and warm.

Pennsylvania's Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is now accepting applications for the program’s helpful cash grants and crisis grants for the 2012-13 heating. Cash grants are sent directly to the applicant’s utility company and crisis grants help people who are in danger of immediately being without heat.

For more information on LIHEAP and the income guidelines, click here or call the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095.

Applications can be printed online and turned into a local county assistance office. Eligible families are also encouraged to apply online through Pennsylvania’s COMPASS website.
 If you have any questions or require assistance in filling out your LIHEAP application, do not hesitate to contact one of my district offices.

JobTrakPA: Putting Pennsylvanians Back to Work

JobTrakPAOur unemployment rate – especially in Northeastern Pennsylvania – is consistently higher than the national average so creating jobs and getting Pennsylvanians back to work is a necessity. In order to attract economic development and jobs to our area, we need to continue to build and develop a highly skilled workforce.

Pennsylvania’s new JobTrakPA program – administered at Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges – presents a great opportunity to both unemployed workers and workers looking to broaden their skills to receive the training they need to get back to work fast.

JobTrakPA courses are designed to retrain and upgrade skills to meet a critical shortage of qualified workers to fill job openings in high-growth industries including: Advanced Manufacturing; Energy Distribution, Production and Conservation; and Healthcare Information Technology.

JobTrakPA training courses are available in Northeastern Pennsylvania at Lehigh Carbon Community College, Luzerne Community College, and Northampton Community College. For more information about the program and to find out how to enroll, visit www.jobtrakpa.com

Another great resource for Pennsylvania job-seekers is the state Department of Labor and Industry’s Keystone Works program. Keystone Works connects unemployment compensation claimants with up to eight weeks of on-the-job training delivered by employers who have job openings they need to fill. While receiving training, claimants will continue collecting UC benefits instead of wages.

The training is in high-priority occupations leading to career-focused employment. Pennsylvania residents collecting regular, state-funded UC (the first 26 weeks of benefits) with weeks remaining that meet or exceed the length of training are eligible to participate in the Keystone Works program.

For more information on participating in the Keystone Works program, click here. If you are a business that wants to partner with the Keystone Works program, click here.

Military License Plates Now Available

American FlagPennDOT has made available a new series of license plates designed to honor veterans and active duty members of the Armed Forces who have received medals.

The new plates display the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star for Valor and Bronze Star.

PennDOT also offers specialty plates honoring individuals who served in the military and in major conflicts, ranging from World War II to Operation Enduring Freedom.

For more information on the specialty plates, click here. Applications must be requested through an approved organization’s local representative.

DoNotCallPA Do Not Call List

Few, if any, people enjoy dealing with the seemingly endless stream of telemarketing calls to our home and cell phones. By registering your numbers to the state’s Do Not Call list through the Office of Consumer Advocate, you will be protected from receiving unwanted telemarketing calls for five years from the date of the enrollment.

Enrollment to both the state and National Do Not Call lists is free.

Stay Connected

For updates on this and other legislative initiatives, stay in touch with me on the Internet through my website or on Facebook. Facebook

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