E r i e R e g i o n a l C h a m b e r a n d G r o w t h P a r t n e r s h i p M a g a z i n e w w w . E r i e PA . c o m O c t o b e r / N o v e m b e r 2 0 0 9
Investing in Our Future Barber National Institute Erie School District Shriners Hospital
Special Feature Exclusive Q&As with Erie County Executive Candidates
United Way of Erie County is creating real, lasting change by focusing on the building blocks of a better life-Education, Income and Health. Together, we can improve lives and build a stronger community. Thatâ€™s what it means to Live United. Find out how you can help by visiting UNITEDWAYERIE.ORG.
Er ie R egional Chamber and Growth Par tnership M agazine
w w w.EriePA.com
President’s Perspective..................... 2 Welcome New Investors...............3-4 Employment That Works: Barber Industries Pays Off for Companies, Community................6-9
Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership Mission Statement Leadership to attract, retain and expand business.
Board of Directors
Gregory S. Baldwin Jr. John J. Barber John C. Bloomstine C. Angela Bontempo Dr. Jack D. Burke Kurt F. Buseck Carl M. Carlotti Terrence W. Cavanaugh Rosanne Cheeseman Gary L. Clark Joel Deuterman Harvey E. Downey Mary L. Eckert Dr. Antoine M. Garibaldi Thomas C. Hoffman Thomas Kennedy Chuck Knight Leonard Kosar
John P. Leemhuis Jr. John T. Malone James E. Martin James W. Martin Michael P. Martin Char Mashyna Marlene D. Mosco James R. Napier James Rutkowski Jr. Matthew Schultz Timothy G. Shuttleworth Ronald A. Steele Noreen A. Stegkamper David M. Tullio Russell S. Warner Michael Weber Thomas J. Wedzik Matt Wiertel
President/CEO Jim Dible
Vice President, Chamber Claudia Thornburg
Vice President, Economic Development Jacob A. Rouch
GE Grant Fuels Revolution in the Erie School District...................... 12-15
The Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership held a press event to recognize six of its top investors during the past year, including the Black Family Foundation, City of Erie, Erie Community Foundation, Erie County, Erie Water Works and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. The six organizations were recognized as “Diamond Investors,” a new category of Chamber membership recognizing their support for the Chamber’s key initiatives and programs, such as the Erie Ambassadors program, Tap Into Erie business attraction campaign and the REthink Erie community college effort.
Defying the Odds, Erie Shriners Hospital Looks to the Future....................16-17 Leadership Insights: An Interview with Barry Grossman...................20-21 Leadership Insights: An Interview with Mike Kerner...........................24-25 2009 Fall Member Fest..............26-27
Vice President, Growth Partnership Mary Bula
Contributing Writers Erika Howland Jennifer Smith Susan Weiner
Cover Photo Art Becker
Tungsten Creative Group
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Julie Graff, Sales Executive 814.454.7191; firstname.lastname@example.org
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Erie is a growing center of excellence for services to children. We are proud in this month’s ERIE Magazine to feature three of the many organizations in the region helping us achieve that status. With 10 grandchildren living elsewhere in Pennsylvania but blessed with good health and educational opportunities, I know our family has much to be thankful for, and we are. That was driven home to me yet again by reading about the challenges others face and what our three featured institutions do to help.
“A good education is the best economic development plan,” Superintendent Dr. James Barker is quoted as saying.
Erie Shriners Hospital, the Barber National Institute and the Erie School District are distinctly different entities with a common bond: They tend to the physical and intellectual growth of children (and adults as well).
The Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership could not agree more with Dr. Barker on that point. And it’s obvious by its commitment of financial and human resources that GE is passionate on the subject as well.
They are also a significant economic asset to the region, and the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership cares a great deal about that. But as you read about each, I hope you feel the same pride and emotion I did about what they do for children.
The Erie School District is one of the top five employers in the region. But its product is what’s important. That product is the student who will emerge capable of competing in the global market. As Dr. Barker is quoted as saying, “When a community has a reputation of growing creative knowledge workers, people will come to your shore. That shore of success can be Erie, Pa.
When I toured the Shriners Hospital earlier this year, I had a flashback to more than 50 years ago when I underwent back surgery and spent months in a children’s hospital in Elyria, Ohio. I was scared, my Mom and Dad were scared, but the folks at that hospital became part of our family. So I related immediately to what Joy Mellish said, whose daughter, Emily, has been a Shriners patient. “The minute you walk in Shriners they know you and you feel that. More importantly your child, who is already scared, feels that.” Then when you read about the Barber National Institute, I hope you recognize the unique nature of the treasure we have there. My wife, Judy, volunteers there, and I along with many others have read stories in classrooms during Dr. Seuss Week. What always impresses me most is the compassion and warmth of the teachers and other staff members. And I know I’ve only seen a very small part of what happens on a daily basis. Many of us know of the Institute’s existing services, but here you will read about three new ones launched in 2009: Familybased mental health services, Adult Autism Connection, and Blended Case Management. You will also read about Barber Industries, which provides income for 320 adults with developmental delays/disabilities. Did you know that in the last five years they inspected and assembled 40 million jewelry boxes for Clark Box in Jamestown? Or that 4 million jars of grape jelly were processed for Welch’s? Or that 450 customers are served daily at the Institute’s three eateries? Neither did I.
The Erie School District is featured with emphasis on its partnership with the GE Foundation Developing Futures in Education program, a true publicprivate partnership providing a five-year, $15 million grant to the district.
We all, and perhaps most importantly the business community, need to engage in supporting and moving forward what the Erie School District and GE Foundation have undertaken that you will read about on our pages.
This edition of Erie also includes leadership insights in a Q&A format with Erie County Executive candidates Mike Kerner (R) and Barry Grossman (D). I feel compelled to comment on one similarity between the two that speaks volumes to me about their character and their toughness. They both noted that they are fans of the Cleveland Indians. As a lifelong (which means long-suffering) Indians fan who is married to a Cleveland native with an even greater passion for the team, I can attest to the candidates’ loyalty in the face of adversity. Whoever wins will be tested when they reach office. Being Indians fans has prepared them well.
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is the leading charitable funder and advocate of Type 1 Diabetes research worldwide. The mission of JDRF is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research. Ms. Lee Ann Baran 1700 Peach Street Suite 220 Erie, PA 16502 (814) 452-0635
Verizon/The Cellular Connection
Verizon Wirelessâ€” premium retailer, full-service cellular phone sales, service and accessories. Mr. Don Beveridge 3852 Peach Street Erie, PA 16509 (814) 864-9416
[welcome new investors Mazany Contract Interiors
Mazany Contract Interiors is a contract furnishings dealership involved in all aspects of commercial, institutional and healthcare environments. Our capabilities include computer design and space planning, furnishings, panel systems, window treatments, flooring and wall covering. We are authorized for GSA and state contracts. Mr. Ronald A. Mazany Union Station 163 West 14th Street Erie, PA 16501 (814) 878-0078
Rob Kocur, Independent Marketing Director Mr. Rob Kocur 1003 Hayes Street Erie, PA 16504 (814) 490-7933
Knepper Press Corp.
Knepper Press offers fullservice printing, mailing and fulfillment. Our 10 color perfecting press and new full web press set us apart from most printers. We specialize in magazines, catalogs, direct mail and corporate advertising. We also utilize 100 percent wind power. Mr. Karl Hughes 2251 Sweeney Drive Clinton, PA 15026 (724) 899-4200
Maxim Healthcare Services
Maxim serves the needs of adult and pediatric patients who require care in the comfort of their home. Mr. Philip Yob 2341 West 8th Street Erie, PA 16505 (814) 453-7540
If you know a company or organization that wants to invest in Erie and in their business, please contact Sara Galbreath, sales executive, at (814) 454-7191 or email@example.com.
At Office Depot, in addition to office essentials, you will find a variety of products and services in our catalogs and on our website, including solutions for design, print, ship, furniture, technology, breakroom, and promotional products. Mr. Ronald Mazza 200 Corporate Center Drive, Suite 300 Moon Township, PA 15108 (877) 353-9100
Mary Carlotti Agency, Inc.
Comprehensive personal, business insurance products along with a wide range of financial and banking products. Ms. Mary Carlotti 1430 West 38th Street Erie, PA 16508 (814) 866-0085 (continued next page)
November 5, 2009 Signs Now 2232 W 23rd Street, Erie 5 - 7 p.m. Reservations required name tags will be provided.
December 9, 2009 Ambassador Center 7794 Peach Street, Erie 5 - 7 p.m.
We look forward to seeing you at these networking events for Chamber investors. Please RSVP to the Chamber at (814) 454-7191 or firstname.lastname@example.org. 3
[welcome new investors
Harborcreek Township is Erie County’s third largest municipality by population. With areas of agriculture, open space and low density housing, as well as family friendly suburban neighborhoods and a growing business district, Harborcreek Township truly offers something for everyone. Mr. Dean Pepicello 5601 Buffalo Road Harborcreek, PA 16421-1698 (814) 899-3171
National MS Society Western PA Chapter, Erie Branch Office
Located in the heart of downtown Erie, Bertrand’s Bistro is where you will experience fine French cuisine in a casual and relaxing atmosphere. Serving more than 100 wines and using locally grown ingredients, Bertrand’s diners experience fine French food made carefully with fresh ingredients. Bertrand’s is a PA Preferred member, committed to the purchase and consumption of products grown and processed in Pennsylvania. Mr. Bertrand Artigues 18 North Park Row Erie, PA 16501 (814) 871-6477
Your full-service printing, copying and mailing partner. We can handle your project from graphic design through printing on our four-color plus coater press. Our full bindery can professionally finish your job. We are your source for direct mail including: mailing list, NCOA, tabbing, inserting, and addressing. Mr. Jeff Haines 10575 West Main Road North East, PA 16428 (814) 725-1955
Fralo Industries, Inc., is a precision sheet metal fabricator of metal components and finished assembles. We are ISO-9000; registered and Rohs-compliant. Our Erie plant is more than 60,000 square feet and includes laser cutting, CNC punching and forming, robotic welding and powder coating. Mr. John Bauman 1651 East 12th Street Erie, PA 16511 (814) 454-7396
ADP provides business outsourcing solutions to help your company reduce labor costs and remain in compliance. From payroll to time and attendance to human resource management, ADP can help all size companies in all industries. Mr. Ken Polk 305 Spindrift Drive Williamsville, NY 14221-7815 (814) 460-4570
If you know a company or organization that wants to invest in Erie and in their business, please contact Sara Galbreath, sales executive, at (814) 454-7191 or email@example.com.
Erie’s full-service wedding planner, offering an array of packages creatively executed to make your wedding day one of a kind. Specializing in beach weddings and “day of” decorating. “When you need help... tying the knot.” Ms. Valarie Moore 6405 Pepper Court Erie, PA 16505 (814) 449-9499
Carpet and flooring sales and installation. Mr. Joe Baumann 3645 West 12th Street Erie, PA 16505-3541 (814) 833-1615
Automatic Data Processing
The Wedding Planner
Haines Printing Co.
Joe B’s Carpet Connection
Founded in 1956, the chapter provides quality programs and service to an estimated 7,000 Pennsylvanians affected by MS. Serving 26 counties in Western Pa. Also raises money to fund research into the cause and cure of MS. Ms. Colleen Szymczak 2115 West 8th Street Erie, PA 16505 (814) 464-2900
Fralo Industries, Inc.
Registration Sign in begins at 11 a.m. and continues through 1 p.m. in the Waldron Campus Center, located on West 7th Street next to the Gannon Arch. Opportunities • On-site Admissions for High School Seniors • Scholarship Contests in Foreign Language, Biology, English, Engineering, Education, and Chemistry (pre-registration required) • Admissions and Financial Aid Presentations • Conversations with Faculty, Administrators and Coaches • Academic Presentations • Campus and Building Tours • Tour the new Robert H. Morosky Academic Center and newly renovated Zurn Science Center
register today @
Unable to join us for Open House? Call to arrange a personal tour around your schedule!
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Employment that works
Barber Industries pays off for companies, community By Jennifer Smith
Many people are surprised to learn that Barber Industries is one of Erie’s top 20 employers, providing paychecks for more than 320 adults with developmental delays/disabilities. It’s no surprise, however, that this unique program is a win-win for employees and employers. “We serve two customers really—the individual with the disability and the employer,” explained Joshua Bowman, manager of adult day operations and vocational services. For more than 20 years, individuals have been matched with employers in three ways: • Direct Hire: Matching and training employees for permanent placement within a company • Services at Your Facility: Providing on-site grounds keeping and cleaning services • Services at Our Facility: Completing contracted work at four locations on East Avenue, West 16th Street and in Corry and Girard The process begins with assessment and includes ongoing training to build 100 percent independence—all at no cost to the employer. Whether the work is done on or offsite, you receive the same stellar service that is synonymous with the Barber National Institute, said John Barber, president and CEO. 6
injuries, less turnover and a higher honesty rate.
“You can expect the highest quality of work—we always strive to make sure the customer is completely satisfied,” Barber said. In fact, many companies are so confident with the work, they ship the product directly from Barber Industries to their customer, added Paul Causgrove, department manager of adult services. More than 400 businesses in the Erie region have utilized Barber Industries’ services on both one-time and longterm projects. And the benefits go beyond cost savings. “An employer who is open-minded can reap the benefits of a good employee,” Bowman said. Studies have shown that people with developmental delays tend to be more reliable—with fewer sick days and
“Our people are extremely proud of what they do and getting a paycheck,” said Causgrove, adding their job gives them an income, a social network and allows them to be an active participant in the community. No matter what their duties entail, Barber Industries’ workers all share one common job. “They are ambassadors—breaking down myths and misunderstandings about disability,” Bowman said.
2009 marks launch of 3 innovative new programs Every year the Barber National Institute, a gold investor in the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership, touches 3,500 lives— through a range of services including early intervention, an inclusive preschool, an Autism Center of Excellence, an approved private school, job training and placement and residential options including community group homes, lifesharing and supported living programs.
By the Numbers 40 million jewelry boxes inspected, assembled in last five years for Clark Box in Jamestown 4 million jars of grape jelly processed for Welch’s 2 million drinking straws bagged/tagged in Corry for Whirley Industries 10 tons
bolts, washers and nuts packaged for ILS
customers served daily at Terrace Garden Café, Lakefront Restaurant & Coffee Shop
“There’s no reason why the people in this region shouldn’t have access to the very best services in the country,” said John Barber, president and CEO. Which is why in 2009, the Barber National Institute launched several new programs to help better meet the needs of children and adults with developmental delays and cognitive challenges including:
Family-based mental health services Because autism affects the entire family, the Barber Institute has created a new program that addresses the needs of the entire family. The family-based mental health services program, which is the first of its kind in Pennsylvania, was specifically designed for children and adolescents on the autism spectrum who are at-risk for psychiatric hospitalization or out-of-home placement. In the past, families had to seek help from multiple providers in multiple locations, explained Nina Ferraro, clinical coordinator of mental health and behavioral services. “With a team that includes a mental health therapist and behavior specialist, we’re able to wrap around the entire family,” she said, providing structural family therapy, case management and 24/7 crisis services. The intensive eight-month program is more streamlined, more targeted and more effective. “Wherever the need is, they are flexible enough to go in and help,” she said, explaining the team can deal not only with the child’s issues at school but also provide support at home to siblings or with parenting and marital issues. (continued next page)
Blended case management Navigating the system to access services can be a daunting—and time consuming task—for parents. With the Barber National Institute’s new case management program, parents of autistic children now have a partner. “Parents didn’t really know where to go,” said Kristen Costa, who helps connect families with everything from occupational therapy and medical services to transportation and emergency funds. “Now there’s someone who can help you go to meetings, know what to ask for and get the most appropriate services.” The program, which has helped more than 45 families since July, is open to any child on the autistic spectrum regardless of whether they receive services from the Barber National Institute or another provider.
Adult Autism Connection Today nearly one in 150 children is diagnosed with autism. Yet as these children turn into adults, many are left without services. The Adult Autism Connection, a medical clinic that opened within the Barber
National Institute earlier this year, offers neuropsychiatric services to help adults reach their full potential for fulfilling, productive lives. Only the second clinic of its kind in the country, the program provides a specialized focus for adults on the autistic spectrum and can diagnose those who are thought to have autism or Asperger’s or related disorders but have never received a formal diagnosis. “The traditional mental health system often considers autism as a mental health disorder,” said Dr. M. Eileen McNamara, the program’s medical director who has seen more than 80 patients since the clinic opened a few months ago. However, autism is a disorder that bridges both neurology and psychiatry, meaning patients may have problems with relationship or work productivity as well as medical issues like seizures or genetic disorders, said McNamara, who is board certified in both areas. “Accurate diagnosis is crucial,” said McNamara, who says the wrong diagnosis can lead to frustration and eventually hopelessness. “When you understand the problem, you can work around it, utilize coping strategies and that demoralization evaporates.”
Lunch is served Employees serve nearly 450 customers daily at the Barber National Institute’s three eateries – the Terrace Garden Café, Lakefront Restaurant and Coffee Shop. All are open to the public and offer daily specials and reasonable prices.
Expanded early intervention The Barber National Institute was the first organization in Erie County to offer early intervention services to children from birth to 3 years of age. Today the program, Bright Beginning, which provides in-home treatment for children with developmental delays, is planning to expand to Crawford and Warren counties. “We’re pleased to bring the most comprehensive early intervention program to these communities,” said Ferraro, explaining the EI team includes physical, occupational and speech therapists, nutritionists, audiologists as well as vision, cognitive and behavior specialists.
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Dr. Gertrude A. Barber National Institute Welcomes you
Home for Christmas The 2009 Christmas Ball!
Please join us on Saturday, December 12 from 9:00 p.m. – 1 a.m. at the Bayfront Convention Center (doors open at 8 p.m.) Enjoy dancing to the music of the popular Tennessee Backporch
Your ticket includes hors d’oeuvres and desserts, soft drinks and water, and three cocktails (cash bar also available). Complimentary valet parking. Don’t miss the most spectacular event of the holiday season! If you can’t be with us for the Christmas Ball, please consider making a donation to the Dr. Gertrude A. Barber Foundation. Your gift will benefit services to more than 3,500 children, adults and families in our community.
Dr. Gertrude A. Barber National Institute Making Dreams Come True
Reservations and donations online at www.BarberInstitute.org, or by calling 878-4096 9
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The personal service, fast loan decisions, and local focus that Marquette has offered to individuals and families for more than 100 years, now mean businessâ€”business checking, lines of credit, business loans, remote deposit capture, and more. We call it true hometown business banking because Marquette is the only bank with all of its offices located in Erie and Crawford counties. Find out just how good hometown banking can be for your business. In Erie, call Dave at (814) 455-4481; in Crawford County, call Gene at (814) 337-7929.
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GE Grant Fuels Revolution By Susan Weiner
The Erie School District, a silver investor in the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership, has been defying the odds with one success after another, most recently earning the Pittsburgh Business Times’ #1 Overachiever ranking among 500 Pennsylvania school districts for the second consecutive year. Now, funded by a five-year, $15 million GE Foundation Developing Futures™ in Education grant, awarded in 2007, the urban school district is aiming for a new excellence for every student that will infuse the Erie economy with a new generation of creative knowledge workers. There’s a revolution going on in the School District of the City of Erie.
attendance on the computer in their classroom, saving 75 minutes each week.
Look into a fourth grade classroom. Each four-member group is laying out equipment for their lesson on electric circuits. The students have batteries, bare copper wire, insulated wire, clips, wire cutters and strippers, and materials they’ll discover to be conductors or nonconductors.
After students go home for the day, 13 of the teacher’s peers will join 13 administrators in a monthly meeting to evaluate progress on the GE Foundation grant project. They compose the project’s Steering Committee.
Their science teacher encourages the students’ predictions about what they’ll make happen in this activity. With participation from a peer coach, the teacher asks questions that unleash the students’ curiosity and imagination. The teacher had more time to prepare her lesson than she would have had only a year ago. That morning she and every other teacher in the Erie School District took
Revolutionary changes are occurring in the classroom, in school district policy and collaboration, and in an IT overhaul to integrate the pieces of student life into a coherent whole. It’s all for the students’ learning experience, which will shape their futures and the future of the Erie region.
“H” is for hands-on learning “Our overall goal is to make the Erie School District the country’s first world-class urban school district,” says Dr. James E. Barker, superintendent
in the Erie School District of schools. “A good education is the best economic development plan.” “We’re here to support the district in providing the highest quality education for each student,” says Ashley Biletnikoff, the GE Transportation employee who heads a full-time grant project team of five Erie School District teachers and administrators. The largest portion of the grant goes to the new math and science curriculum. The grant paid for a warehouse full of curriculum kits, or modules—enough for every teacher and every class in every school. Students now learn science and math through hands-on lessons with tools such as stop watches, modeling clay, terrariums, caterpillars and dwarf African frogs. They communicate their experience and conclusions orally and in writing. “We want students to learn science the way scientists do—by doing,” says Cheryl Rush Dix, the district’s K-12 science coordinator, a former senior engineer at Lord Corporation and former high school chemistry teacher. Dix was one of a group of science teachers who started work on curriculum revisions in the mid-1990s. “Direct observation and firsthand experience are critical to an individual student’s comprehension and retention of science concepts. The new curriculum builds excitement and actually helps students get along better. We’re looking at education from the point of view of the students. They’re ready to do a lot more at each grade level than one might think they are,” Dix says. “Hands-on learning and inquiry open the door for students who don’t have a natural aptitude for math or who aren’t good at memorization. No one is left out,” says Tammy Baumann, the district’s K-12 math coordinator, a former high school math teacher. “As students move through the grades, the materials and concepts are built upon the previous year’s learning. Students gain a conceptual depth and become problem solvers.”
“Students start taking risks in sharing their ideas for solving challenging lessons, such as the seventh grade Growing Worms lesson to figure out an algebraic formula for rate of change,” explains Ina Fisher, former administrative program manager who was recently appointed as the district’s K-8 coordinator. “Each teacher is trained in the proper use of the modules, how to assess student progress and, most importantly, how to extend the concepts taught,” says Jim Rutkowski, teacher program manager and former middle and high school biology teacher. (continued next page)
A new kind of curriculum demands a new kind of teaching. Teachers ask guiding questions so the students are actively participating and making connections between the new topic and what they already know. 13
In addition, full-time peer coaches are available to teachers to hone these new skills. “Coaching provides on-demand, more personalized support for teachers,” says Mary Ann Piscitelli, program consultant and retired family consumer science teacher who managed a previous high school coaching program.
“C” is for collaboration Work on a K-8 coaching initiative began in 2007, sparking a change in school district policy and decision making, with unprecedented collaboration between school district administrators and teachers. Committees composed of an equal number of teachers and administrators developed the coaching model and selected the coaches based on predetermined qualifications and a scoring system – rather than on seniority. The entire grant project, including curriculum and IT overhaul, has been propelled by data-driven decisions based on research, best practices and determination of school district needs. GE’s active collaboration with the school district has been a factor in the research leading to decisions. “The GE Foundation works with a host of nationally known experts that are available to us,” says Biletnikoff. “We pull them in as needed, when the time is right.” Collaborating experts have included Joellen Killion and Cindy Harrison, co-authors of a book on instructional coaching, and Steve Leinwand from the American Institutes for Research. NASA has hosted 26 Erie School District grade five and middle school science teachers in week-long summer workshops at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. In addition, GE Transportation volunteers mentor sistrict students in every school, K-12, through GE’s FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) programs.
“GE Transportation’s IT Department has dedicated countless hours to a complete recreation of the school district’s IT system, providing project management and IT expertise throughout the District’s research and decisionmaking process. These GE volunteers also identified a way to reduce the total cost of the IT project by $1 million,” says Biletnikoff. More than 200 staff members were involved in the design and implementation process. School district teachers, secretaries, sports coaches, nurses, administrators and others who will use the system continue to provide input. The result will be a complete Student Information Management System, linking all types of student data, such as grading, attendance, scheduling and medical information. Eventually, a parent portal will be added to facilitate greater parent involvement.
Erie County Technical School
From a new math and science curriculum to a fully integrated IT system, the GE Foundation grant is opening opportunities for students to learn now and to eventually compete in a global economy. “The jobs that are going to remain here in America will require skills that go beyond the fundamentals,” says Dr. Barker. “We’re preparing students to compete in the global market. The winners in the new economy will be capable problem solvers. When a community has a reputation of growing creative knowledge workers, people will come to your shore. That shore of success can be Erie, Pa.” And what about the fourth graders and their experiment in electric circuits? The electricity they generated lit up light bulbs all over the room.
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Erie Shriners Hospital Looks to the Future as the Region’s Leader in Pediatric Medicine By Erika Howland
It’s the convenience of a top-notch children’s hospital that’s helped make a tough situation easier for Thad and Joy Mellish and their daughter Emily. Born with Spina Bifida, Emily has been forced to spend countless hours in hospitals and on operating tables to help correct her condition. Now almost four years old, Emily makes anywhere from six to 10 visits a year to the Erie Shriners Hospital. “When you pull into the parking lot it really hits you how lucky we are,” says Joy Mellish. “You see license plates from all over the place and realize we have access to this wonderful facility just ten minutes away.” The Erie Shriners Hospital, an Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership investor, is part of a one-of-a-kind international health care system consisting of 22 hospitals across North America. Since 1922 Shriners Hospitals have helped thousands of children defy the odds by offering specialized treatment including orthopedic care, burn care, spinal cord injury rehabilitation and cleft lip and palate care. In an effort to better serve those children, research and education has come to play a crucial role in the organization. In the past 20 years, more than 8,000 physicians have received residency education or post-graduate fellowship at Shriners Hospitals for Children; many of those physicians got that experience right here in Erie.
The World’s Greatest Philanthropy Known across the globe as “The World’s Greatest Philanthropy,” Shriners Hospitals have always provided medical care to treatable patients with no financial obligation to the family. While it’s made all the difference to thousands of families in need, it’s one of a few contributing factors that has most recently put the hospital in a troubling financial situation. 16
Shriners Hospital Physical Therapist Janet Noland with one of her patients.
In 2009, hospital officials announced that due to an ailing economy and the current recession, some changes would be needed to prevent the entire network from shutting down. Some ideas included changing the scope of services at each hospital, accepting medical insurance, and shutting down six facilities, including the Erie hospital. Fortunately no hospitals were shut down or had services eliminated. But as a result of the financial crisis, now more than ever the health care system is looking for ways to stay solvent. “We already have strong relationships with area hospitals but we must heighten our partnerships where we can and work together to be more efficient,” says Charles Walczak, administrator for the Erie Shriners Hospital. “We want to continue the Shriners mission but now broaden it by developing a community vision around pediatrics. We’re still here and now we’ve got a new lease on life and we need to take that to a new level.”
In Erie, specialty pediatric care is underrepresented. Since 1927, the Shriners Hospital has helped fill some of that void by offering an acute level of services that no other hospital in the region can offer. But hospital officials believe more needs to be done to bring that level of care up to where it should be for Erie’s geography and demographics. “Not only does our facility keep people from going out of the area for treatment, but more importantly it brings people in from Warren, Bradford, Kane and beyond, and that’s good for our local economy,” says Walczak. A major component to increasing the level of care came in 1999 with the creation of the Motion Analysis Lab at the Erie Shriners Hospital. Operating as the only lab of its kind in the region, movement disorder specialists work with an average of 200 children a year diagnosed with a variety of disorders related to muscle coordination, most commonly Cerebral Palsy. With state-of-the-art, non-invasive equipment, a multidisciplinary team of clinicians and engineers are able to collect and analyze information related to the child’s movement patterns, muscle contractions, and force production. “From these measures we can distinguish between the child’s primary limitations and secondary compensations,” according to Dustin Bruening, Ph.D., Motion Analysis Lab engineer. “The information guides surgeons and therapists to improve treatment planning and maximize patient outcomes.” Bruening says the new technology has changed the surgical approach of many of the hospitals physicians as there are now tools to practice evidence-based medicine unlike never before.
Expanding to Meet Increasing Demands It’s this type of technology that Erie Shriners Hospital officials say they want to see more of in the coming years. “Not only do we continue our mission, but we work as a community to broaden the needs not yet met,” says Walczak. Currently Walczak admits there is more demand than capacity for services at the Erie facility and that’s why the hospital continually recruits specialized staff. “We want the Erie Shriners Hospital to be a hub and a main healthcare attraction in our
region and that begins with bringing other specialty services here locally.” For Joy Mellish and her family, an expansion of services Michelle DeRooy, child life specialist, doing would be pre-op education with one of our patients icing on the — helping her better understand what to expect throughout the surgical process. cake. While many services her daughter needs can be taken care of in Erie, it’s not uncommon to have to head to Pittsburgh or further for certain surgical procedures. Mellish admits it can be trying at times, but that hospital staff and the convenient location makes everything easier to handle. “The minute you walk in Shriners they know you and you feel that. More importantly your child, who is already scared, feels that,” acknowledges Mellish. As the Erie Shriners Hospital looks to expand, financial stability stays at the forefront of its concerns. In the coming year, the hospital will begin working with insurance companies on payment for most services, although care will continue to be provided regardless of a family’s ability to pay. Hospital officials maintain the number one goal is treating the children no matter what the cost, while finding new ways to help underwrite the expense.
Art Becker Photo | artbeckerphoto.com
Attracting Families to Erie
“We don’t ever want to inconvenience the families,” says Walczak. “We want to continue to operate in Erie and provide an economic benefit to the area, and this is one of the best ways we know how to do that.” Mellish, who expects that daughter Emily will continue needing the services at Shriners for years to come, is happy to hear the hospital will begin accepting insurance. Mellish says when they first went to Shriners she was so grateful for the convenience of the hospital and its services she would’ve been willing to pay. “I can’t say enough good things about the Erie Shriners Hospital and what it has done for my family,” exclaims Mellish.” It’s a rare experience to find a hospital so childfriendly and so willing to help. They listen and they care and it just makes everything easier for not just me, but most importantly for Emily.” 17
[ins ights leadership
An interview with Mr. Barry Grossman (D) Candidate for Erie County Executive ERIE: What do you see as the greatest challenge facing Erie County, and how would your administration begin to address that challenge? “Like all segments of our society in these economic times, money and how it is distributed will be the county’s great challenge. “I believe my experience in running and operating seven different businesses will aid me in maximizing the ‘bang-forthe-buck’ that all Erie County taxpayers expect for their precious dollars. “‘Politics as usual’ must be left behind. This is 2009, not 1950. I am not seeking this job to reward, or hire, or enable family and friends.” ERIE: What is our greatest opportunity, and how would your administration help advance that? “My skills, I believe, include the ability to articulate visions. I have no plans to attempt to micro-manage this $400 million, 1,500-employee operation. “By surrounding yourself with honest, capable managers, the county executive is then free to promote and stump for the kind of long-term projects that will benefit our children and our children’s children. “There are success stories in communities all around us. There is no need to re-invent the wheel. Places like Scranton, Pa. and Ithaca, N.Y. have 20
implemented energy, economic, and beautification agendas that we could and should emulate.” ERIE: What are your top community and economic development priorities? “I truly believe that people want to live and work in places that are attractive and inviting. When political candidates tell voters that they will create jobs, that is laughable. The private sector must be charged with that task. But our job as government officials is to provide a climate that allows entrepreneurs to thrive and grow. “Don’t even, for a moment, underestimate what role government plays in this area. We can address abandoned and run-down properties, improve zoning laws, promote and operate attractive parks, etc. “My plan is to establish a task force to examine the various zoning laws in our county of 37 municipalities, and write a blue-print to achieve a countywide uniform zoning plan. This would enable developers to expedite sound plans and not have to try to navigate through the red tape of dozens of different municipal ordinances.” ERIE: If elected, how do you see your administration interfacing with the business community?
“There is speculation that Erie County government is anticipating abolishing the Economic Development Office, currently run by Bob Spaulding. This would be a huge error. “Bob and his staff have done a fine job of interacting with the business community in various arenas. “Government officials tend to be unfamiliar with the challenges of operating small businesses. Without constant contact with the people in the trenches, government can become unresponsive to the very sector that provides our community with jobs and tax revenue. I will not let that happen.” ERIE: Do you believe there is a need for a community college in Erie County? If so, how can it most successfully be brought to fruition? If not, what can we do to address our region’s workforce development challenge? “Yes, we need a community college in our county. Every study from Bosworth to the recent Clemens report has concurred. We need to offer low cost (approx. $2,500 per year) tuition to young people who otherwise could not continue their education. When General Electric tells us that a community college is needed, we should listen. The Regional Chamber, the Erie Community Foundation,
talking points Born: Akron, Ohio (moved to Erie at six months of age) Family: Wife, Janet, of 41 years; daughter, Rebecca Hower; son-in-law, Dr. Robert Hower; grandsons, Jackson, 6, and Jacob, 3 Education: ABD - History, Case Western Reserve University; J.D. Law, Cleveland State University; M.A. Political Science, Gannon University; B.A. Political Science; Cornell University Favorite Book: Burr by Gore Vidal Current Book: American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham Hobbies: Public speaking, reading, travel Travel: Five continents and more than 50 countries Favorite Sports Team(s): Indians, Browns, Cavs and Penn State Favorite Quote: “If I’m not for me, who will be? But, if I’m only for me, what am I?”
the Erie Industrial Development Corporation, and many others have supported it.
their own municipality. Consolidation, just for the sake of consolidation, is not the answer.”
“But we do not need a $100 million dollar bond-issue to create a fivebuilding campus as has been suggested in some quarters. All of our great area institutions (e.g. Hamot, Gannon, the Barber Center, Mercyhurst, etc.) were begun in one modest building.
ERIE: Keeping in mind the parameters defined by state law and the recent Commonwealth Court decision, what are your priorities for unrestricted and restricted gaming revenue use? How will you work with Erie County Council, the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority, and the business community to ensure those funds make a real difference for our community? “I believe that the role of the county executive in relation to the gaming funds ought to be one of taking any and all steps that will insure that the allocation of these funds be done in a manner that leaves no doubt about proper methodology. Erie Countians want to believe that their precious funds are being spent in an open, honest, fair and uncompromised decision-making process.
“There are plenty of vacant buildings in our region that could be renovated for this start-up school. I also plan to work with Senator Casey and Senator Spector to see if this project can qualify for some of the $19 billion that President Obama has earmarked for community colleges. “I will not support this project if it would require a tax increase.” ERIE: We believe smart cooperation among local governments, including Erie County when appropriate, is very important for government efficiency and vibrant public service delivery. Where do you see the greatest opportunity or need for cooperation among our local governments, and how would your administration help make that happen? “We must all work to deliver services to all Erie Countians that are efficient and cost effective. Petty fiefdoms and turf-protecting defeat such goals. We have made great strides in the last decade in accomplishing more cooperation. “Examples like moving the Erie Airport into a regional structure, water departments cooperating, the consolidated 9-1-1 center, etc. This tells us the regional government is happening before our eyes. “But let’s not be fooled into thinking that bigger is always better. Many people are happy with the services of
“I will labor intensely to guarantee the purity of the process. ” ERIE: Barry, what excites you most about the future of Erie County? “I truly love this community. Each week in my restaurant, I meet people who have moved back to this area (usually from the “sun belt”). “We have great advantages here: An unlimited fresh water supply, four distinct, beautiful seasons, no traffic congestion, the absence of debilitating natural disasters (e.g. volcanoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, forest fires, etc.) “Our job in government is to ensure that our citizens live and work in a safe, attractive and healthy environment. Prudent government spending and progressive, long-range planning is needed to keep our county prosperous. “This is a challenge that I welcome and I feel completely confident that I am up to the challenge.”
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[ins ights leadership
An interview with Mr. Mike Kerner (R) Candidate for Erie County Executive ERIE: What do you see as the greatest challenge facing Erie County, and how would your administration begin to address that challenge? “The county is mandated to provide certain services that are reimbursed by the commonwealth—but the level of reimbursement limits the county’s ability to control its own destiny. I have pledged to move heaven and earth before imposing a tax increase, so I believe we have to first cut positions and second be very stodgy in controlling the costs of the upcoming union contract renewals. That happens first by not granting cost of living increases (no one on Social Security is going to get one for the next two years, and nobody in the private sector is getting one, either), and second by fixing peremployee costs, but giving employees the ability to allocate those dollars as they choose. Finally, we should stop all new hires from being pension-eligible and instead putting them into a 401(k)type retirement plan as recommended by the Commonwealth Foundation when they visited Erie this week.” ERIE: What is our greatest opportunity, and how would your administration help advance that? “Now is the time to redo the county’s Charter. It has been 30 years since Erie County became a home-rule charter 24
county. We have the freedom to impose discipline on county government. We should institute a mandatory referendum on all tax increases and new taxes. That way we as taxpayers get to decide whether we have a 1 percent sales tax, whether we increase taxes to pay for any number of projects, and whether we balance the budget with new taxes or by cutting expenses. We should also impose term limits on all elected officials. “We have a great workforce here. I think that if we can develop a longterm plan for the county (there isn’t one now) and make smart economic development investments, we can help our 6,000 existing employers grow and make Erie County stand out as a great place to do business.” ERIE: What are your top community and economic development priorities? “I see three priorities for Erie County: There is no inland container port (for offloading cargo ships) anywhere in the USA. John Elliot from EDCEC has been doing some very preliminary work on this project. According to experts who design large sea ports, Erie is the very best spot on the Great Lakes for such a facility. The feeling is that such a facility would have a dramatic effect on shipping. There is no venture capital network in the Erie area. We should start one. Existing businesses in Erie County do not have access to much in terms of economic development unless they are building a new building. I think we should fix that problem. Banks aren’t lending, but our old-line companies, who need working capital to accelerate out of this recession, have opportunities to expand. We should help them succeed here so that they aren’t tempted to build a new facility somewhere else.” ERIE: If elected, how do you see your administration interfacing with the business community?
“Too often, elected officials go to businesses and ask ‘What can we do for you?’ That doesn’t help the business owner who has no idea what the county even does. The county executive and the staff need to do two things: 1) Be on the road. There are 6,000 employers in Erie County. We should try to visit all of them every few years. You can’t do that while you’re sitting in your leather high-back chair in your cherry-paneled office staring out the window. 2) Learn what these employers do, and instead of just asking what they need, pay attention and come back with ideas for them, even if that means hooking them in with organizations not connected to the County.” ERIE: Do you believe there is a need for a community college in Erie County? If so, how can it most successfully be brought to fruition? If not, what can we do to address our region’s workforce development challenge? “I am dead-set opposed to using county dollars to pay for a community college. If the county sponsors a community college, the county also has to pledge to fund it, and the only “sustainable source of funding” (as required by the application) available to the county is through property taxes. County Council estimates that property taxes will have to be raised each year to about a level of .7 mill by year five. “I have heard that this election is going to be a referendum on the community college. I do not know if that is the case, but I can tell you that I have knocked on a lot of doors and talked to a lot of people. There is virtually no support for a community college.” ERIE: We believe smart cooperation among local governments, including Erie County when appropriate, is very important for government efficiency and vibrant public service delivery. Where do you see
the greatest opportunity or need for cooperation among our local governments, and how would your administration help make that happen? “Regionalism is not a goal, and the county should stay out of it. Regionalism is what gave us the 911 fiasco. We took City of Erie fire and police dispatchers making between $55k and $65k per year, replaced them with an inadequate number of County dispatchers making $12.05 per hour, and here we are. “You don’t live where you live because you want to have someone else’s taxes or problems. If you live in the city, do you want your kids to have a chance to go to Collegiate, or Millcreek’s prep school? If you live in Millcreek, do you want Erie’s budget problems? “Municipalities are cooperating with each other now through such organizations such as the Council of Governments. They don’t need interference from the county. Top-down almost never works. Bottom-up rarely fails.” ERIE: Keeping in mind the parameters defined by state law and the recent Commonwealth Court decision, what are your priorities for unrestricted and
restricted gaming revenue use? How will you work with Erie County Council, the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority, and the business community to ensure those funds make a real difference for our community? “There is not going to be an ample amount of money for a couple of reasons. First, we have a competing facility in Pittsburgh, and second, Ohio is on the verge of passing its own slots law. We should therefore expect that the Authority will receive 10-15 percent less revenue five years form now, despite the passage of table games. Almost all of the unrestricted funds are allocated to the Airport and Tullio Arena bonds through 2014, assuming no revenue decline. There really is not much wiggle room. “Having said that, there is one group that was ignored in the tax relief previously—businesses. Businesses don’t get a break on their property taxes. My parents’ company, for example, pays $88,000 per year in property taxes. I would like to see the gaming authority apply future proceeds to the group that the slots law left behind—the one that employs most of us.”
talking points Born: Erie, Pennsylvania Family: Married, four children Education: MBA, Case Western Reserve University; BA Computer Science (Minor Applied Physics), Hiram College Favorite Book: Beast or Angel by Dubos Current Book: The Erie County Supervoter Address List Hobbies: Golf, gardening, firefighting, taking the kids to their functions Volunteer: Firefighter, EMT; President, Kuhl Hose Fire Department; Coach, EYSA; Adult Leader, Children’s Liturgy, All Saints R.C. Parish Travel: LOL! With four little kids, you don’t take trips, except to the in-laws Favorite Sports Team(s): Steelers, Indians Favorite Quote: “No good decision was ever made in a swivel chair” by George S. Patton
ERIE: Mike, what excites you most about the future of Erie County? “There is nothing like a bad recession to help make good things happen. Erie County is making numerous transitions all at the same time—industry is shifting from automotive to medical and electronics. The retail sector—which is frequently the backstop when the economy goes into decline—is growing as the dollar falls and Canadians can save even more by shopping here. The service sector is coming on strong. We are in the midst of making a major transition to an academic center. We are second only to State College in the number of post-secondary students, and all the schools are in the midst of expanding and differentiating—not just regionally, but nationally. We have 6,000 employers and about 13,000 unemployed. Think about what some well-planned economic development might accomplish.”
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