In the wake of the Equifax data breach, there has been much discussion about the effects of the breach, and how to protect yourself if you were affected. Even though I confirmed that I was not affected by the breach through Equifax’s website, out of an abundance of caution I chose to freeze my credit reports with each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. You can check whether you were impacted by the Equifax breach here: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/am-i-impacted/.

Although I’ve (thankfully) never been a victim of identity theft, I chose to freeze my credit reports because unfortunately I’ve witnessed clients who have experienced identity theft – it’s expensive, time-consuming, and can quickly ruin your financial independence. For a window into what can be involved in an identity theft case, check out the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft website at www.IdentityTheft.gov.  To me, the small headache of lifting the freeze when I want to open a new account is a worthwhile step to help avoid a devastating identity theft situation. Continue Reading How To Freeze Your Credit Reports

I had the great pleasure of attending the Ephrata Area Chamber of Commerce Fall Dinner. The speaker for the evening was Rebekah Gregory. Rebekah is a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombings from April 2013. Even though the attack cost her left leg, it gave her such a thankfulness for her life, and a mission to live going forward. She said a number of times during her message that she wanted to make sure that she did all the things on one leg that she had never gotten around to doing on two.

Rebekah’s optimism is a gift. This is especially true when terrible events seem to happen one after another in the world. I want to thank the Ephrata Area Chamber of Commerce for a great time to connect with other business leaders in the area, for a wonderful dinner and for an important inspirational message.

Aaron Marines is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University and practices in a variety of areas.

It’s no secret that our firm loves technology. In an effort to provide more efficient service to my clients, I routinely try out new apps and technologies to evaluate whether they would help me do my job more effectively.

I recently tried out one app that quickly achieved “can’t live without it” status: TextExpander by Smile Software. Continue Reading How TextExpander Can Save You Time

Last week, the finalists for The Great Social Enterprise Pitch were announced. In case you haven’t been following along, The Great Social Enterprise Pitch is a Central Pennsylvania-focused business plan competition organized by the Lancaster Community Foundation and ASSETS.

The following five social enterprises will compete at the Live Pitch event on October 6, 2017 at the Ware Center:

  1. Bridge – connecting communities through shared experiences.
  2. Green Matters Natural Dye Company – bringing pollution free color to the textile industry.
  3. Lancaster Fellow Foodies – making​ ​healthy​ ​dinners​ ​easy​ ​while​ ​creating​ ​meaningful​ ​jobs​ ​and​ ​advancing​ ​eco-friendly​ ​farming.
  4. Language Beyond Borders – building communication, bridging cultures, creating jobs.
  5. Meraki Mocha – empowering people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through a farm-to-table café.

Tickets for the Live Pitch event can be obtained for $10 here. Doors open at 5:00 pm for a business expo, pitches begin at 7:00 pm. The pitches are followed by keynote speaker Tyler Gage, the cofounder of RUNA, a social enterprise company that makes beverages with guayusa from the Amazon rainforest. I hope to see you there!

Matt Landis is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University Commonwealth School of Law and works regularly with business owners and entrepreneurs.

Over the past few months, I’ve had the privilege of participating in SCORE Lancaster-Lebanon’s Roundtable held in conjunction with our firm’s membership in the Southern Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce. Each Roundtable is held on a monthly basis with representatives of various local businesses, with each meeting focusing on a different area of business. In my experience, the Roundtable is a great opportunity to learn about different aspects of businesses and it’s extremely valuable to listen to and learn from the experiences of other attendees. Continue Reading SCORE Roundtables Offer Valuable Learning Opportunities for You and Your Business

For a long time after I moved to Lancaster County I kept my area code 570 cell phone number. Every time I gave that number to a store clerk they would stop, have to quickly delete the 717 they typed automatically, and ask me to repeat my number again. Revenge comes tomorrow when all calls throughout the 717 area code will require 10 digit dialing. Too late for me though, since I switched to 717 last year. Drat.

This process is part of adding a new overlay area code, area code 223, that will be assigned to new numbers later this year because we are about to run out of numbers to give out. To prepare for tomorrow’s switch, think about:

  • Adding the 717 area code to your cell phone contacts;
  • Making sure any call forwarding systems include the 717 area code so the messages reach you;
  • Making sure your clients and vendors have their area code entered into your company’s contact database; and
  • Adding the 717 area code to your website and other marketing materials (to confirm to your customers you do not have one of the new 223 numbers).

Additional information on the change can be found on the Pennsylvania Utility Commission’s website and in LancasterOnline’s continuing coverage of this issue.

Brandon Harter is an attorney and technology guru at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from William & Mary Law School and advises clients on issues of Business LawCivil Litigation & Dispute ResolutionMunicipal Law, and Information Technology & Internet Law.

In an era of ever expanding uses for our smart devices, we know that we rely to some extent upon cloud based services. (I almost said smartphones until I responded to a text on my Huawei Watch while typing that sentence). These come in many flavors such as software-as-a-service (SaaS or “sass”) platforms like Office 365 or Gmail or infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS or “I don’t have any idea how to pronounce this so I call it i-a-a-s”) platforms like Amazon Web Services. But explaining the differences between these tools can be tough. Continue Reading Don’t SaaS me! – What exactly is Software-as-a-Service?

Lancaster’s business and technology community continues to get noticed on the national stage. Earlier this month, it was announced that the Rise of the Rest 6.0 Tour will be coming to Lancaster on Tuesday, October 10, 2017. Rise of the Rest is a pitch competition for entrepreneurs, sponsored by AOL co-founder Steve Case, that gives startups the opportunity to win a $100,000.00 investment. Continue Reading Attention Central PA Entrepreneurs: Startup Pitch Competition Coming to Lancaster

It was my pleasure to attend the recent Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry presentation of the “Changing Nature of Banking in Central PA.”  The presenters were Brian Bisignani of Post & Schell and Dave Hornberger and Andria Linn of Orrstown Bank.  They spoke about topics ranging from the effect of the recent bank acquisitions in central Pennsylvania, to the growth of community banks in Lancaster County, the challenges of marketing to millennials, the decline in retail sales, and cyber security and phishing attacks.

One of the things that struck me was that over thirty percent of all of the cash deposits in Lancaster County were affected by the recent bank acquisitions, or “roll ups” to use the term that Dave frequently called them.  In a very short amount of time there have been huge changes in local banking, affecting both banks and their customers.

Dave did a great job of summing up the concerns I have heard from many bankers over the past few months.  He noted that very big banks can be competitive because of their rates and lending base.  Smaller community banks gain customers by emphasizing their flexibility, with a faster speed to market and more personal customer service.  While these are all necessary, especially the personal level of service, they are not everything that our customers need.  Continue Reading Trends in the Banking Industry

As a recent graduate of Leadership Lancaster’s Core Class and member of the ACHIEVE Committee, it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the programs that Leadership Lancaster offers to Lancaster County. For more information on my experience, check out the following series of Reflections on Leadership Lancaster posts: About One Month In, Part Two, and The Finale.

Earlier this year, Executive Director and fearless leader Deb Rohrer announced that she would be retiring after 10 years of serving Leadership Lancaster. The announcement was the beginning of a search for a replacement to fill Deb’s big shoes.

The search came to an end last week when Leadership Lancaster announced that Kate Zimmerman, currently Program Director of Leadership Lancaster, would be promoted to the role of Executive Director. To anyone familiar with the program over the past few years, Kate and Deb have been a great leadership team for the organization, so it comes as no surprise that Kate was selected for the role. Continue Reading Leadership Lancaster Announces New Executive Director