Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce - About us

Chamber History

 

Williamsport Lycoming Shamber of CommerceOctober 2010

This is the eleventh in a series of articles taking a look back at the Chamber's history in celebration of its 125th Anniversary.  The Chamber was founded on December 15, 1885 as the Williamsport Board of Trade.

            Throughout the years an important economic development issue has been the need for adequate air transportation in and out of Williamsport Regional Airport.  Unfortunately, it remains an issue to this day.  Back in 1973 the Chamber received written requests from a number of their members regarding the airport and a cut in services.
            It seems that because of low booking numbers and the oil and gas concerns of the early 1970's, Allegheny Airlines would curtail the number of flights at our airport.  The problem became exasperated in 1973 when, according to an attachment to the Chamber Board Minutes of November 28, 1973, Allegheny's fuel allocation remained at the 1972 levels.  This level of allocation "did not take into consideration" the merger with Mohawk Airlines and the increase in service that resulted.  Allegheny applied for an increased allocation under the emergency hardship rules and was evidently denied. Allegheny believed, according to the Minutes, that they could control the situation by holiday cancellations and weekend flight reductions.  Although the Minutes are not 100% clear, it seems that the President had made a speech regarding the crisis and this caused further concern to Allegheny.  The Minutes go on to state Mr. King (Note: I assume representing Allegheny but that is not clear) informed the Chamber that the airline was trying to determine what flights would have to be cancelled throughout their system during the month of December.  Furthermore, the rumor running rampant at the time was that Allegheny was considering cancelling service to and from Williamsport completely as part of their attempt to deal with the crisis.  In an attempt to squash the rumor, according to a letter sent from the Chamber General Manager Henry W. Codd to the General Manager of GTE Sylvania, Allegheny was looking system wide at possible cuts to conserve fuel but as to cutting all service to Williamsport "There are no grounds for such a general statement"
            As I have written before, the more things change, the more they remain the same.  As with 1973, the airport and the number of flights remains a concern to the Chamber and business community today. While the issue of only one airline and an insufficient number of flights and seats available is not the result of a gas crisis, the issue of how to improve service so our airport will become more of an asset to local businesses and our economic development efforts is just as important today.
            Another issue that took some of the Chamber's attention in 1973 also rings true today. In 1973, then Governor Milton Shapp was looking to increase the state's revenues to address a fiscal crisis facing Pennsylvania.  It appears the solution by some in Harrisburg in 1973 was the same that it is today - increase taxes on businesses and individuals as opposed to cutting to "live within our means".  As a result of the Governor's proposal, the Chamber took the following position:
            "The Executive Committee at a recent meeting called upon state legislators, from both sides of the aisle, to carefully weigh any considerations leading to increasing the tax burden on consumers, business and industry in Pennsylvania.
            This request came as a result of the Legislative Action Committee's deliberations on new tax proposals as advanced by the Speaker's Committee on Tax Reform, the Governor's Task Force on Fiscal Policy and Governor Shapp's most recent proposals all aimed at producing revenue required to cover the state's operating costs through June of 1972. 
            Opposition expressed to proposed elimination of the present exemption from taxation of new plant equipment.  To impose a tax on new equipment was felt to be detrimental to industrial development efforts in Pennsylvania and to expansion of existing manufacturing operations.
            Above all was the appeal to our legislators to assume an attitude whereby expenses and income can be brought into line lest we again face, in two years, a similar "fiscal crisis"."
            Then as now, the Chamber was concerned about new taxes, unbalanced budgets and many government officials having the attitude that businesses could be taxed at ever increasing amounts without repercussions to the economy.  It appears our government did not learn that lesson in 1972.  Let's hope they learn it in 2010.