Archive for April 2015

INTERN INSIGHT: Intern Experience

Written by Chamber Intern Britton Heim READ HIS BIO HERE

Britton HeimI recently ended my internship at the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce as an entrepreneurship intern. One might ask, “what in the world does an entrepreneurship intern do?” Well, I’ll tell you! Basically I became a creative mind for the Chamber that researched various entrepreneurial and start-up communities and then devised ways in which the concepts used by other organizations could be altered and adapted to promote an entrepreneurial, start-up community right here in Wilkes-Barre.

I began to realize all of the great resources we have here in Wilkes-Barre. We have incredible academic capital coming out of Wilkes University, King’s College, and the other surrounding schools that have the potential to really drive the economy here. We also have prime transportation location as we are positioned right along I-81 and very close to I-80. There are also very many larger corporations in the area that have the ability to help small start-ups grow.

I started to realize these things through the research I was doing and this inspired me to begin to explore Wilkes-Barre a little more. As I walked around on different occasions I noticed all of the empty store fronts on Washington St., Northampton St., and many others, but with the knowledge I had gained at the Chamber I could see the big picture. I pictured what it would look like if these store fronts were filled with innovative little specialty shops and student start-ups. I could see the image of the college town I have heard so many local leaders talking about and it inspired me to become part of this future.

Wilkes-Barre is an amazing little city with great potential, and it’s getting there as we see more and more businesses pop up; Franklins on the Square, the Wilkes University Business Incubator in the Luzerne County Bank Building, and so many other small businesses that are up and coming. We just need more people to see the big picture. When you walk the streets and see those vacant shops don’t think it’s just a vacant building, think of all of the different businesses that would thrive with the store front and how great it is that that store front is there for the taking for that perfect store. Soon enough Wilkes-Barre will return to its former glory, but we need more people to see the potential this city has. Through my internship at the Chamber and all of the amazing people there I got to see a whole new side to Wilkes-Barre I never would have otherwise. My internship was an invaluable experience that gave me a whole new insight on this city and really motivated me and inspired me to stay in the area and help push this city in the right direction.

I would like to thank everyone at the Chamber for the experience they gave me and I look forward to working with you in the future.

Want to become a Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber Intern?
Apply NOW for Summer 2015 at


It’s All About Business!

There is a truly one-of-a-kind program that is marking its 37th anniversary of teaching Pennsylvania high school students (juniors and seniors) to both understand and celebrate why “free enterprise” is vital to the American way of life. Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW), internationally-acclaimed for its excellence, will host more than 2,200 students this coming summer in its exciting seven-day journey into the world of business. Participants will act the parts of senior management in modern-day companies that will face the same challenges that all American firms do and particularly those in Pennsylvania.

With our economy still “recovering” from one of the longest recessions in our history, teaching young people to understand and cherish our private enterprise system has never been more important. Said John Trombetta, president and CEO of PFEW’s parent organization, the Foundation for Free Enterprise Education, “All of the statistics show that the vast majority of young adults are woefully ill-informed about how the private sector works. These young people will soon take their places as leaders of our communities, our state and our nation. Teaching them to understand and appreciate the challenges that face all Pennsylvania businesses has never been more important.”

Each summer, PFEW holds five, one-week individual sessions in July and August. The focus of the week is to group the participants (strangers at first) into “management teams” of senior executives who have inherited imaginary “companies.” These teams, under the guiding hands of “executives-on-loan,” called Company Advisors, operate their firms for a computer-simulated three-year period of time. To add a sense of reality, they are competing against two other student “companies” manufacturing and distributing the same product. They work with balance sheets, statements of income, market share surveys, etc., etc., and must also react to a variety of external factors. Oil embargos, inflation, union strikes, are but a few of the “unknowns” that these young entrepreneurs must deal with as they operate their businesses. Sound familiar?

A PFEW marketing team takes a “time out” from working on their Marketing/Advertising Presentation for their company’s product.

A PFEW marketing team takes a “time out” from working on their Marketing/Advertising Presentation for their company’s product.

PFEW is designed to give every participant, in broad brush strokes, an idea of what is germane and pertinent to the business world of today. Each day’s activities include presentations from world-class business people from a list that reads like who’s who in Pennsylvania. The students hear about: Business and Finance, the Role and Relationship of Business and Government, Taxation, Business Ethics, Labor Relations, and much, much more. Is it effective?  Said Cade Emlet from Altoona Area High School in Blair County, “I am at a loss for words to express how grateful I am to have attended Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week on a scholarship. Every moment I have spent here I will look back upon in years to come and smile. I learned so much in such a short time, but everything I learned will be incredibly valuable. This has not been any old summer camp, nor has it been a simple lesson in business; this has been the experience of a lifetime. Everyone deserves a chance to attend this astounding program!”

The Chamber is proud to support PFEW to give our local students an eye-opening experience like Cade described. We encourage our local companies and civic organizations to provide sponsorships for our students and, if possible, volunteers for the sessions. (PFEW is completely a product of the private sector.) Every student attends PFEW on a fully tax-deductible $575 scholarship (the actual value of the scholarship exceeds $1,500) which is provided by a local firm. Each student wears the name of their sponsor throughout the week and also corresponds with his or her sponsor following graduation to report on what they learned. PFEW is also an approved organization through the PA Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program through the Department of Community and Economic Development.

If you would like to learn more about this award-winning program and how you can help, you can visit their website at or contact John Trombetta, President of the Foundation for Free Enterprise Education at (814) 833-9576 ext. 106 or e-mail him at PFEW is open to all current sophomores and juniors in Pennsylvania and information on attendance, as well as program applications, can also be found on the website. Questions can be directed to Ms. Amber Goss, Schools Assistant for PFEW, by calling her office at (814) 833-9576 ext. 103 or emailing her at


Casara McCleaf- Economic Development Intern

Casara McCleaf

Casara McCleaf is a sophomore at Wilkes University double majoring in math and computer science. She is an economic development intern at the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber for the Spring of 2015.


Where are you from?

I grew up in a small town between Gettysburg and the Mason-Dixon Line called Carroll Valley, Pennsylvania.  I now live in Sturdevant Hall at Wilkes University, of which I am the Resident Assistant for the school year.

What do you hope to do after college?

After college, I hope to settle down in a small town filled with farms and friendly people.

How about NEPA?

I would settle down and live in NEPA for the rest of my life if I found a good job and my family was happy here.

Why did you choose Wilkes?

I almost went to Duquesne, but decided to go to Wilkes University because they offered a greater number of majors that I was interested in besides Pharmacy.  I also greatly appreciated the small-size of the campus and the close-knit community.  Also, my brother attends Wilkes University, so he was a major part of my decision to go to Wilkes.

I wanted to stay within “short” driving distance of my house, so I only looked into schools in Pennsylvania and Maryland, and choosing Wilkes is what brought me to NEPA.

I chose to change from Pharmacy to a dual major in Mathematics and Computer Science because I have always had a passion for math and knew that my logical reasoning and math skills could pair nicely with the widely sought after computer science major.

What are your impressions of NEPA?

My first impression of Wilkes-Barre was that it was a city, there was a lot of buildings and only a little grass.  This was a stark change from my hometown.

Most people I know from this area talk about the pizza.  When I first told people I was going to go to Wilkes, they all told me “the place to go for the best pizza”.

When I leave here, I will remember this area most for the experiences I have had here and for everything I have learned while I was living here. I will remember the city for the accessibility of its stores, most of which are walking distance from campus, and its frigid winters.

What do you hope to do when you graduate?

When I graduate, my dream job is to work as a cryptographer.  I would love to work for the National Security Agency.

Are there any businesses you wish were in NEPA?

I wish someone would open a coffee shop which delivered coffee and baked goods in NEPA.  If I could create my dream job, it would incorporate math with helping people with special needs or children with bad home-lives.
Want to become a Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber Intern?
Apply NOW for Summer 2015 at

MEMBER IN-FOCUS: F.M. Kirby Center

Written by Chamber Intern Meghan Flanagan READ HER BIO HERE

CSC_0591F.M. Kirby Center Executive Director Will Beekman and Director of Operations Drew Taylor hosted a backstage tour and talk for the Chamber of Commerce Interns, contributing to the interns’ weekly experiential activity.

During the tour, Drew Taylor explained the history of the F.M. Kirby Center building, and guided the interns through the layout of the theater, explaining how it has evolved since its transition from a movie theater to a performing arts center.


Perhaps the most complicated and intriguing aspect of the F.M. Kirby Center is its various names. Drew Taylor explained that throughout the years, from its opening in 1938 present day, the theater has had three different titles. The F.M. Kirby Center was first known as the Comerford Theater.

It became the Paramount Theater in the late 40’s, when the government broke up Comerford’s chain of theaters. To complicate this further, another theater opened across the street from the Paramount, and took the name Comerford. The Paramount name changed again in the 70’s in honor of the Kirby Family, who donated a large amount of money in order to keep the theater open.

The tour included the main theater area, where Drew Taylor spoke about the changes that took place when the theater became the F.M. Kirby Center. The seats were replaced entirely by new, larger chairs, and a two stories were added to the top of the stage house because high ceilings were needed for the movement of scenery and lighting.


Despite these changes, many aspects of the theater are original, and maintain the building’s historical roots. All of the decorative plaster, brass doors, and some of the lighting, particularly the use of Lumaline bulbs, are original.


The interns were able to see the downstairs dressing rooms, where performers can stay and shower, and the laundry room, where travelling acts can care for their costumes. The tour ended in what is now the gallery area, used for catering and pre and post show receptions. Drew Taylor explained that this room was a nursery in 1938, a place where parents could leave their children to play while they watched a movie.


Executive Director Will Beekman spoke to the interns about the art of marketing and booking performers, and how that process is a delicate balance act between offering a price that agents will be excited about, while still being able to practically satisfy the needs of the business.

The F.M. Kirby Center invests $40,000-50,000 yearly in events that support its mission. Will Beekman says “We do a Classical Arts Series every year because that is part of our mission. I would like to say that is what makes us the Kirby Center, doing events like the opera, world music, modern dance, ballet.”

The F.M. Kirby Center supports this mission, as well as its overall operation, by the aid of donors, the recruitment of members, grants, and by booking popular performance acts.


Want to become a Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber Intern?
Apply NOW for Summer 2015 at!