PPL updates net-zero carbon emission plans

PPL Corp. of Allentown has set a new goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The company is currently on track to achieve a 70% reduction from 2010 levels by 2035, and an 80% reduction from 2010 levels by 2040, it said.

The latest goals, which cover greenhouse gas emissions from generation and other sources, reflect updated forecasts, analyses and ongoing business as well as the company’s expanded efforts to invest in the research and development of clean energy technologies.

“PPL is fully committed to driving innovation that enables us to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and ensuring a balanced, responsible and just transition for our employees, communities and customers as we advance toward our clean energy goals,” said  Vincent Sorgi, PPL president and CEO.

PPL is undertaking a company-wide effort to enhance its clean energy transition strategy and is working with a global consulting firm to assist it in its efforts.

Azzur Labs expands into Chicago area

Azzur Labs, which is headquartered in Schnecksville, is expanding into a new location in Chicago.

The Chicago Lab, which will be run by Cecil Runyon, will be opening in the third quarter of 2021 to meet the company’s growing demand for professional analytical testing and consulting services for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and health care industries in that region.

Runyon had been running Azzur’s Raleigh-based operation, which it established in 2018.

Jorge Marques Signes will be taking over the Raleigh-based operations.

“Azzur Labs is excited to welcome both Cecil and Jorge as leaders on our team,” said Kym Faylor, President of Azzur Labs. “They both play an integral role in our ability to grow alongside our valued clients and the rapid growth of the life science industry.”

With full-scale operations in the Lehigh Valley, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Raleigh, and San Diego, Azzur Labs provides professional analytical compliance testing and consultative services for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries.

FedEx announces plans for an additional 1,000 new hires

After announcing in May that it plans to hire 1,000 workers for its Breinigsville facility, FedEx announced today that it is looking to hire an addition 1,000 workers for positions throughout its Lehigh Valley footprint.

The company said the additional help is needed as online sales continue to increase as the economy rebounds.

Open positions are available for package handlers to load and unload packages.

Many of these positions may become full-time job opportunities as the company continues to expand capacity in response to ongoing customer demand, it said in a release.

FedEx said it is looking to hire for day, night and weekend positions.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old, but no specific training or education is required.

Career coach launches consulting firm to serve ‘the great resignation’

Shelley Maley –

With so many people changing careers after the COVID-19 pandemic, Shelley Maley of Macungie, said it was the perfect time to start her new career coaching firm, Dreamcatcher.

“People are calling it ‘the great resignation,’” she said.

According to a recent report by Monster, 95% of employees are currently considering changing jobs and 25% are actually planning it.

“And I think that statistic is on the low side. I think more people are seriously considering a career change,” she said.

Malley said recent job figures show that 4 million people resigned from their jobs in April, almost double the amount of who left their jobs in April of 2020.

“When everything changed with the pandemic, people were able to better determine their priorities,” she said.

For example, many decided they wanted to continue working from home, but their employer was expecting them to come back to the office five days a week so they were looking for a new career.

“A lot of people don’t know how to navigate that,” she said.

So to help with that transition, Dreamcatcher Career Coaching LLC can help with figuring out where to go next and how to get there.

Her services include helping with job search strategy, career exploration, interview practice, resume refreshing and personal brand development. She has a background in human resources management, Malley worked as a career development coach for Lehigh Carbon Community College for years, before making the transition to owning her own consulting firm.

She is a credentialed Global Certified Career Coach.

Most of her clients are young professionals recently graduated from college who are looking for guidance establishing the right career path, but she is also seeing more people making that mid-life change after 10 or 20 years in a particular field.

Since her services are offered remotely, she can perform the coaching services for clients globally – she does have one client in Australia, but most of those seeking her help are in Pennsylvania and New York.

In the quest to hire workers, Spherion says: Get a job, win a car

A Ford Mustang is the grand prize in a sweepstakes Spherion is holding to recruit workers. PHOTO/FILE –

With the difficulty in finding workers for manufacturing jobs in the region, a local employment agency is getting creative in its marketing to potential staff.

Sara Frassinelli, whose family owns seven local franchises of Spherion Staffing, worked with the company’s national marketing department to come up with an innovative way to get workers’ attention – a sweepstakes.

“It has been a challenging time for many businesses to find workers amid this current labor shortage,” said Phil Frassinelli. “We hope that with this sweepstakes program we are able to help reinvigorate the community and help our clients fill positions with talented individuals.”

Sara Frassinelli said the sweepstakes is also about retaining employees as the contest will last through the summer.

“Retention is as important as recruitment right now. Sometimes you have someone work for three days and then disappear,” she said.

She said everyone working for Spherion, including new hires, will be given sweepstakes tickets for every week they work.

Each week a prize is drawn and someone in the company will win a prize, such as a Go Pro camera or Nintendo Switch. The grand prize, which will be awarded in September, is a new Ford Mustang in the official Spherion color, orange.

All totaled the company plans to award more than 150 prizes to individuals contracted and working for Spherion. Weekly winners will be randomly selected across the more than 200 Spherion offices across the country, including those in the Greater Lehigh Valley.

So many staffing agencies are offering sign-on bonuses and raises right now in an attempt to recruit workers, Spherion was trying to come up with something different that would get people’s attention,  Sara Frassinelli said.

“To the demographic we’re targeting, winning a Mustang would be a really big deal. They’re going to want this,” she said.

The company has been getting the word out about the sweepstakes through its social media accounts as well as through word of mouth through existing staff.

Some of their corporate customers have even let them put up signage in workplaces with the hope that workers will share the information and encourage others to come work for them, versus another staffing agency.

Cuzin’s Pub & Grill brings new look to Allentown’s West End

A bartender taps a Guinness beer at Cuzin’s Pub & Grill in Allentown. PHOTO/STACY WESCOE –

For more than 20 years Jack Callahan’s Ale House was a popular West End Allentown Irish pub, but with mostly bar seating the pub did not survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now a new pub has found a home at 2027 W. Tilghman St, Cuzin’s Pub & Grill.

Owned by Bazz Jarous and Donnie Nimeh, Cuzin’s is vastly different than the pub it replaces. The brothers gutted the building adding space and seating, a larger kitchen and a vastly different atmosphere.

Gone are the dark green walls and wooden bar. In their place are a large steel topped bar and tables with a modern styling, with gray walls and flat-screen TVs and remodeled bathrooms.

Even the outside is different. The owners took out a front wall and replaced it with a large glass garage door, which opens up to a new patio.

Jarous said when he and Nimeh began planning their new establishment they weren’t thinking about making such drastic changes.

“We were excited to bring something new and fresh to the area,” he said. “We just knew it wasn’t our flavor. We didn’t have a look we were going for. We wanted to get rid of the booths and add high top tables and it ended up we redid the whole thing.”

Cuzin’s serves gyros cut in threes for easier eating. PHOTO/STACY WESCOE –

The menu is also different. Instead of focusing on Irish-style fare, the menu leans more Mediterranean. While most of the items are standard pub fare, such as burgers, hot wings, salads and quesadillas, menu items also include hummus and gyros. As they get more settled they plan to more Mediterranean-style items to the menu, Jarous said.

The full bar offers 20 beers on tap and a full cocktail menu.

Jarous has experience in the restaurant industry; he owns the East Side Bar and Grill and the East Side Family Restaurant on the city’s East Side.

Now he’s excited to join the West End neighborhood with Cuzin’s. The neighborhood seems to be excited too. Their soft opening, which wasn’t advertised, was successful. People found them and there has been a steady crowd of customers, he said.

“We hadn’t had a chance to advertise, but a lot of people are in walking distance to here, so they came in and it was nice,” he said.

For now, Cuzin’s is open seven days a week from 3 p.m. to midnight, but the partners hope to expand their hours to cover a lunch crowd as they gain experience and add staff.

IronPigs become first sports team to sign student endorsement deal

Carley Barjaktarovich signs on to become the first official Iron Pigs Athlete. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs have become the first professional sports team in the nation to take advantage of a change in NCAA rules, which now allow student athletes to accept endorsements while still playing for a university.

The team has signed Lehigh University star softball player, Carley Barjaktarovich, as its first official “IronPigs Athlete.”

“She’s an outstanding athlete and an incredible student and we think it will be a real win-win for us to have her,” said Mike Ventola, media relations manager for the IronPigs.

He explained that as of July 1, NCAA athletes were allowed to accept endorsements for the use of their own name, image, and likeness while still competing for their university. Such endorsement deals were previously banned by the association.

Barstool sports was the first company to sign an endorsement deal with college athletes, but the IronPigs were the first sports team to sign such a deal.

Ventola said the team is excited to be a trailblazer in the idea.

“We’re hoping we’re trend setters by being the first,” he said.

While he is unaware of any other major or minor league team pursuing a similar deal, he hopes the idea catches on because not only is it an earning opportunity for student athletes, it’s a way to prepare them for a career post-graduation.

“What we’re hoping is that it can start a trend for other athletes to do what they can to start thinking about the future. Many will go on to a career in professional sports, but not everyone’s dreams will be fulfilled. This is being proactive with their careers,” he said.

Barjaktarovich, who was already working part time in ticketing for the team, will now work with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs on social media, merchandise and appearances, specifically on Thursday, July 22 when the IronPigs will be hosting Softball Night.

She said she was excited about her new role.

“I’m honored to be given this opportunity and am very excited to represent the IronPigs organization as a collegiate athlete,” said Barjaktarovich. “It is a little surreal to be a part of something so new that will have a huge impact on college athletes for years to come.”

PPL tops Disability Equality Index for its culture of inclusivity

PPL Corp. of Allentown is among 272 businesses across the country being recognized for their efforts to include people with disabilities.

The company received a top score of 100% on the 2021 Disability Equality Index (DEI), making it among the best places to work in the country for people with disabilities.

PPL Corp. was the only Lehigh Valley-based company to make the list, however companies with a presence in the region such as Starbucks, Dun and Bradstreet and CBRE were also on the list with scores of 100%.

The DEI is a joint initiative of Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). It is an annual benchmarking tool to help companies build a roadmap of measurable, tangible actions that they can take to achieve disability inclusion and equality.

“We want all individuals to realize their full potential and no barrier — visible or invisible — should get in the way of that,” said PPL President and CEO Vincent Sorgi. “We’re proud of the work we have done to provide new opportunities and pathways to success for many facing challenging situations. We also realize that our work is not done and we will continue to find new ways to break down barriers and help all our employees, colleagues and friends in our communities grow and thrive.”

The DEI measures performance indicators related to organizational culture, leadership, accessibility, employment, community engagement, support services and supplier diversity.

PPL was recognized for such things as providing expanded mental health resources and mentoring individuals through Disability:IN’s NexGen Leaders program.

The company also hosts an annual supplier diversity conference to further expand the diversity of the businesses that provide the company with products and services.

It also has PPL’s Day in the Life program to connect with college students on the autism spectrum, or with other disabilities with career opportunities in the energy field.

This is the fourth consecutive year PPL has been recognized on the DEI list.