By RICHARD F. BELISLE
CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Lured by the ability to buy health insurance at group rates, more than 80 new businesses - more than half with five or fewer employees - joined the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce last year, the group's vice president said Tuesday.
William Pukmel said the health insurance benefit gave the chamber one of its highest membership retention rates, 94 percent, in 1996. "An average year's retention rate is 85 percent," Pukmel said. The chamber ended the year with 756 members.
Many of the new businesses are sole proprietors who work out of their homes, he said.
The total employment of chamber members exceeds 20,000 workers, Pukmel said.
He said 428 of the members, about 57 percent, have fewer than five workers. Another 114 firms, 85 percent, have fewer than 25 employees. The chamber has 37 firms that employ more than 100 workers, he said.