chamber move 7

Exterior of the new Lancaster Chamber headquarters at 115 E. King St.

About a year ago, the Lancaster Chamber kicked off a $6.8 million capital campaign to fund its recent move to 115 E. King St., which it called a key part the organization's evolution to serve more businesses.

At its annual dinner Wednesday, the chamber announced that a $50,000 gift from BB&T put it over the top.

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The gift was BB&T's second to the campaign, following its $1.2 million matching grant that launched it. And it will be followed by a third, with BB&T announcing that will match 33 cents of every dollar up to $100,000 in a goal of reducing the chamber's debt load.

Like the first gift, the second two come from the $10M the bank promised to spend creating "sustainable, thriving-wage jobs" in Lancaster County to ease the impact of its layoffs here after acquiring the former Susquehanna Bank.

"Thanks to you, our vision has been realized," said chamber President and CEO Tom Baldrige. "It wasn't just about remodeling an old building. At its heart, this project was about connecting the Lancaster County business community for bigger and better things for you and your employees."

He also announced that a ribbon-like metal sculpture framing the stage was a replica of the Conestoga River created by local sculptor George Mummert, and will be placed in the atrium of the chamber's new building to symbolize the connectedness of the business community.

The chamber moved away from its traditional membership model earlier this year, and board chairwoman Mary Kohler said more than 325 businesses have already committed to being investors or supporters in its new model.

"We are going to take the incumbent worker, the people who are already in jobs in your company and mine, and make them more effective," Kohler said.

She cited a recently announced SkillUp Lancaster initiative led by the Lancaster County Workforce Development Board that offers free online training as one example.

"This is needed to help individuals excel and advance," she said. "It's also going to help provide a pipeline of skilled workers for our businesses."

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