News & Events

The Alliance Chamber of Commerce, located in Alliance, Ohio, has been a staple in the community for over 85 years, providing leadership to its members, protecting their interests while promoting its businesses. With a membership totaling almost 400, the Chambers tradition of community leadership continues strong into the 21st century.

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"Another Billion Back"

COLUMBUS - Governor John R. Kasich joined Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer to announce a $1 billion rebate to Ohio's private and public sector workers' compensation customers, as well as a major new investment in worker safety research and training. Dubbed "Another Billion Back," the rebate comes on the heels of last year's $1 billion rebate for workers' comp customers. Both rebates were made possible by strong investment returns in the workers' compensation fund.

"Sound fiscal management and a well-executed investment strategy continue to put BWC in a position where it can return money to its customers-Ohio's employers-but also to workers in the form of initiatives that help them stay safe on the job," said Kasich. "Ohio continues its effort to transform the workers' comp system to be a better partner with employers and workers to help them succeed and stay safe, and the ability to make these types of significant rebates is part of that effort."

BWC's preliminary annualized return of investments was 8.9 percent over the last three fiscal years, including 13.3 percent in 2014. The State Insurance Fund net assets stand at $7.7 billion and its funding ratio far exceeds target guidelines set by the BWC Board of Directors. If approved by the BWC Board of Directors, eligible private and public employers would receive a rebate equal to 60 percent of premiums paid during the July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013 policy year (calendar year 2012 for public employers). The proposal will be presented to the board at its August meeting, and if approved in its September meeting, BWC could begin issuing checks as early as October.

Another Billion Back seeks to build on last year's $15 million investment in safety intervention grants with several initiatives that will ultimately enhance the safety, health and wellness of Ohio's workforce. Additionally, special safety training is proposed to reduce injuries among firefighters, whom frequently have very high workers' comp rates due to the dangerous and risky nature of their work.

"BWC's Division of Safety and Hygiene is a national leader in promoting safe and healthy workplaces," said Buehrer. "Our safety services provide a superior return-on-investment. We want to encourage more and more employers to put safety education resources to work to keep their workers safe and reduce their workers' comp costs. Our new safety initiatives will make these efforts more effective and accessible for employers."

Buehrer added that BWC is also embarking on a safety campaign themed Better Business Starts with Safety, Safety Starts at BWC to reach Ohio employers and encourage them to take advantage of BWC's safety services before experiencing a workplace injury or illness. The campaign is a result of the safety commitment made as part of last year's Billion Back initiative, which also tripled safety grant funding to $15 million for each of fiscal years 2014 and 2015.

Another Billion Back is an example of BWC's work over the last four years to be a better partner in improving Ohio's business environment and helping encourage the state's economic revival. Sound financial and operational management has also allowed BWC to:

" Reduce average base rates for Ohio's private employers, bringing combined four-year collections down $409 million.

" Reduce average rates for public employers by an estimated $70 million, placing them at their lowest levels in at least 30 years.

" Commit $1.2 billion in transition credits to Ohio employers as part of the conversion to prospective billing.

" Expand safety funding, which resulted in allowed claims dropping below 100,000 for the first time.

*Eligible employers must be in good standing and have paid their January 1 to June 30 premiums.

JIM FISH MEMORIAL ANNUAL GOLF OUTING

The Golf Committee is once again working hard to plan the Annual Jim Fish Memorial Golf Scramble. This year's scramble will be held at Tannenhauf Golf Club on Monday, September 8, 2014.

There will be a 12:30 p.m. shotgun start. The cost is $75 per person which includes 18 holes of golf, half a cart, lunch and a steak dinner.

Proceeds for the "50/50" drawing will go to the American Cancer Society in memory of the late Jim Fish.

The committee is still looking for door prizes and hole sponsors. If you would like to be a hole sponsor or donate a door prize, call the Chamber office at (330) 823-6260.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) have charged the SBDC with the goal of helping entrepreneurs start, sustain and grow their business, while promoting the development of an innovative, entrepreneurial culture. We are devoted to assisting aspiring entrepreneurs develop winning companies that create jobs, strengthen the economy, produce a profit and reinvest in the community.

Start-up business candidates seeking assistance from the SBDC are required to attend our Small Business Orientation (SBO). This is a no-cost, two-hour seminar outlining basic knowledge that every entrepreneur should know. This includes resources available to the encountered in business start-up, the business planning process and some of the financing options. Once the SBO is completed, a counseling session can be scheduled with a counselor. Sessions are on an individual basis and are held confidential. All Ohio counselors sign annual confidentiality agreements with the State SBDC office.

In summary, the SBDC is staffed with well-educated, experienced and certified business advisors who are here to assist you. The center provides general management advice and counseling to start-ups and existing businesses throughout Stark and Wayne counties and our services are provided without charge, on a confidential basis. Business owners and potential entrepreneurs are encouraged to take advantage of the services and, when appropriate, recommend the center to business associates and friends.

Please visit www.cantonsbdc.org - email info@cantonsbdc.org or telephone 330-244-3290 for more information.

Chamber News

Join the Eastern Stark County Safety Council Save Money on Your Worker's Comp

Thousands of Ohio employers find value and workers' compensation premium savings by actively participating in their local safety council. The Alliance Area Chamber of Commerce sponsors the Eastern Stark County Safety Council. We passed out over $50,000 in rebate checks to our members in 2011.

The only cost in participating in safety council is the cost of the monthly lunch and the benefits are numerous.In addition to premium savings, the Eastern Stark County Safety Council can help you:

Learn techniques for increasing safety in your workplace;

Learn how to better manage your workers' compensation program;

Network with other employers in the Alliance community;

Access useful, money-saving workers' comp and risk management information.

To qualify for the BWC Safety Council rebate you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

Enroll in local safety council by July 31, 2014

Find a list of Ohio safety councils at ohiobwc.com.

Attend 10 meetings or events between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015

At least eight of the 10 meetings must be safety council meetings. Up to two of the 10 can be external educational options outlined below, but all 10 can be safety council meetings.

A person can represent only one policy number with his or her attendance at a safety council meeting or external training event. The attendance of any employer representative qualifies to meet the attendance requirement.

Employer has the option to gain credit for up to two meetings through attendance at BWC's Division of Safety & Hygiene (DSH) safety training courses or industry-specific training, or another safety council special event, seminar or workshop. Safety council monthly meetings do not qualify for meeting credit for any employer not enrolled in that safety council.

DSH safety training credit is available for training conducted at the Ohio Center for Occupational Safety and Health (OCOSH) in Pickerington or one of its branches.

No matter the duration of the training or special event, attendance applies toward only one external training credit.

Safety training conducted at the employers' workplace or online does not qualify for the safety council rebate program eligibility.

It is the employer's responsibility to submit documentation to his or her safety council by June 30, 2013, for attendance at non-safety council training or events to qualify.

Documentation must be an official certificate of attendance or transcript.

CEO must attend any one safety council sponsored function or meeting

CEO attendance counts as credit toward one of the 10 required meetings.

If a CEO represents multiple policy numbers, his/her attendance fulfills the CEO attendance requirement for all policies, but counts as meeting credit for only one policy number.

The CEO credit must be fulfilled at a meeting of the safety council in which the employer is enrolled.

Submit semiannual reports for the 2014 calendar year

2-percent premium rebate

O Employers not enrolled in a group-experience rating program, meeting these program eligibility requirements, will receive a rebate of 2 percent of their annual premium and will be eligible for a 2-percent performance bonus rebate.

O Pending BWC Board of Directors approval in May, group-experience-rating program employers who meet the program eligibility requirements will be eligible for a 2-percent performance rebate.

O The rebate offer excludes self-insuring employers, state agencies and employers participating in BWC's group-retrospective program. However, BWC encourages everyone to become active safety council members.

O BWC cannot calculate a performance bonus for employers entering into a third-party transaction in the benchmark period.

O Employers must have active coverage status and no outstanding BWC balance to qualify. Also, employers with active coverage status but an outstanding balance will have the rebate applied to any money due to BWC. In addition, employers may not have cumulative lapses in workers' compensation in excess of 40 days within the last 12 months.

O Employers who meet the participation eligibility requirements will be eligible for a 2-percent performance bonus rebate.

2-percent performance bonus

O Employers who reduce their frequency or severity by 10 percent or more below the previous year's frequency or severity, or employers who maintain both frequency and severity at zero will receive an additional 2-percent refund of their annual premium.

For information about joining the Eastern Stark County Safety Council please call the Alliance Area Chamber of Commerce at 330-823-6260.

Rate-Reform Accomplishments Highlighted at Ohiobwc.com

BWC's comprehensive rate-reform effort began in 2007 with the goal of making sure every Ohio employer pays the appropriate rate for their workers' compensation insurance coverage. The key to actuarial soundness is having employers paying rates based on the risk they bring to the system and not one cent more. In just three years, our efforts are paying off.

Since July 2007, Ohio's average base rate stands at $1.95 per $100 of payroll, a reduction of 35 percent - the lowest level in two decades. While Ohio rates once ranked among the highest in the U.S., they are now in the mid-range for the nation at 20th, according to a comparison study by the BWC's Actuarial Division.

Today, more employers are seeing significant cost savings, which is helping to create a more attractive environment for future business investment. You can learn more about the success of rate reform and its positive impact on Ohio firms by going to the Bureaus website at www.ohiobwc.com

Upcoming Events

Business After Hours

The Alliance Area Chamber of Commerce "Business After Hours" will be at the B.P.O. Elks #467 and will be held, Thursday, August 28,2014, 606 Glamorgan St., Alliance, OH from 5-7 p.m., Free Admission & food. RSVP by August 21, 2014.

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