Monday, June 13, 2022

Good morning. Inflation is continuing at a breakneck pace, with prices rising 8.6% over the past year, the government reported on Friday. But the IRS is here to help. The federal agency last week raised the mileage reimbursement rate for business travel. For the second half of 2022, the rate will be 62.5 cents per mile, up 6.8% from the current rate of 58.5 cents.
Pictured from left: Jess Seburn, M&T Bank; Natalie Wech, M&T Bank; Joy Boudreau, Joy of Events Group; David Femi, M&T Bank; Gail D’Angelo,  M&T Bank, and Jamal Jones, Harrisburg University.  photo submitted

Bank-run pitch program awards grants

Joy Boudreau knew it was risky trying to build a wedding-planning business in the middle of a global pandemic.
  • But she had an inkling that once Covid-19 loosened its grip, people would want to gather again.
  • So late last year, she left her job at Widener University Commonwealth Law School in Harrisburg to pursue the business -- Joy of Events Group LLC -- full time.
  • Boudreau took another step forward last week when she was named first-place winner in a capital-area pitch competition sponsored by Buffalo-based M&T Bank. The prize was $8,000 that Boudreau plans to use to advertise her company.
  • “The pitch process was, in itself, a great learning experience,” added Boudreau, a Camp Hill resident who was born in Cameroon and grew up in Bloomsburg.

What process: The Multicultural Small Business Innovation Lab, which was open to entrepreneurs who are Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx and Asian American.
  • M&T Bank unveiled the lab last year in its home market of Buffalo. 
  • Harrisburg was the second market to host the program, under a partnership between the bank and the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology
  • Forty Harrisburg-area entrepreneurs took part in the lab, which ran from May 5 to June 9. 
  • It included education in areas such as business planning, accessing capital and marketing.
  • Businesses had to be less than three years old with less than $350,000 in annual revenue.
  • “Our Multicultural Small Business Innovation Lab series is an important step in M&T’s work to encourage and invest in entrepreneurism in the communities we serve,” said David Femi, head of M&T’s multicultural banking and diverse market strategy, said in a statement. “These multicultural businesses, when guided and supported, can make a difference in people’s lives and uplift our communities.”

How did it end: With the pitch competition won by Boudreau, who leads a team of three part-timers. 
  • Her company is focused on weddings and other social occasions but she hopes eventually to branch into corporate events.
  • A second prize of $4,000 went to Tomisheri Tilman of Mind Body Rest. Kyiana Goodling of nail salon Klawed by Kitty won third prize of $3,000.
  • M&T provided $10,000 toward the prizes. Dauphin County commissioners kicked in another $5,000.

What’s next: M&T is planning to offer the lab later this year in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a market M&T entered with its purchase of People’s United Financial.
  • M&T, which has assets of $155.1 billion, operates throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and New England.

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Quick takes

WHAT SOLD: Westside Plaza, a Chambersburg-area retail strip. Lititz-based real estate firm S&S Singh Partners paid $2.84 million for the property at 875 Lincoln Way West, according to Franklin County deed records. The seller was Florida-based Timber Development
  • Two spaces, each 1,200 square feet, are available for rent in the 57,400 square-foot center., which is anchored by specialty retailer Surplus City.
  • S&S Singh, which owns more than two dozen properties in the U.S. and Canada, recently paid $4.08 million for State Street Plaza in Lemoyne.
  • The Westside acquisition was led by the firm's COO, Randy Sohal, along with senior partners Sukhjit Singh and Sarjit Singh. 
  • The new owners said they are planning upgrades to the center, which was built in 1997.

WHO'S SPENDING: PPL, which provides power to a broad swath of Central Pennsylvania. Last week, the Allentown-based electric utility unveiled a five-year plan for investing $4.3 billion in its Pennsylvania infrastructure.
  • The money will go toward replacing aging infrastructure, making the grid more secure and adding digital smart-grid technology.
  • PPL also will invest in systems that facilitate connections to customers with solar-energy panels, which often entail a two-way flow of power, according to company spokesperson Ryan Hill. 
  • The company plans to spend $975 million this year, $900 million in 2023 and declining amounts in subsequent years, according to a presentation to investors.

The background: PPL has about 1.4 million power customers in Pennsylvania. The company also sells electricity and gas to customers in Kentucky and Rhode Island.


WHO’S BUYING Frontier Group of Companies. The Buffalo-based redevelopment company has bought what were two of the country’s largest coal plants, including the Bruce Mansfield plant in Shippingport, northwest of Pittsburgh. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

  • In a press release, Frontier said it aims to decommission the plants, clean up pollution and redevelop the sites.
  • The Bruce Mansfield site occupies about 660 acres along the Ohio River. It shut down in 2019.
  • The other plant is the Ashtabula power station on Lake Erie in Ohio. It shut down in 2015.
  • The plants had been owned by Energy Harbor, the former generating division of electric utility FirstEnergy.

The background: Power companies have retired dozens of coal plants over the last few years, in part because they could not compete with newer, cheaper natural gas plants.

  • However, it has not been easy figuring what to do with the power stations, which are saddled with environmental liabilities.


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Compiled and written by Joel Berg

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