Archive for Chamber News – Page 2

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

Presidents of Wilkes University and Kings College Join Together for Distinguished Speaker Luncheon

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: ​Rev. John Ryan, C.S.C., Ph.D., President, King's College; Wico van Genderen, President and CEO Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber; Peter Danchak, ‎Regional President, PNC; Michael E. Dennen Senior Vice President, PNC; Patrick F. Leahy, Ed.D.  President, Wilkes University​

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: ​Rev. John Ryan, C.S.C., Ph.D., President, King’s College; Wico van Genderen, President and CEO Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber; Peter Danchak, ‎Regional President, PNC; Michael E. Dennen Senior Vice President, PNC; Patrick F. Leahy, Ed.D. President, Wilkes University​

Breaking new ground for the downtown, Dr. Patrick F. Leahy, President of Wilkes University and Rev. John Ryan CSC, President of Kings College gave insight into their institutions’ ventures for improving the city of Wilkes-Barre. On Thursday, February 19, 2015, at the Westmoreland club, more than 50 community and business leaders met to hear about the improved relations between the two schools. This dialogue, hosted by the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Speaker Series, gave many local business leaders and opportunity to ask the presidents questions in an open panel. The panel allowed both school presidents to make an impact on the businesses in the downtown area. Talking about the improvements and the expansion of the schools allowed the local businesses leaders to see the direction the schools will be going.

It is clear that mutuality and teamwork is a cornerstone to the relationship between the schools leaders. When asked about the event, and what Rev. John Ryan took away from it he happily stated;

“I think this dialogue reinforces good feelings and good ideas. Our destinies are linked. The well being of the city is what brings us all together.”

President Leahy felt that a mutual commitment with Father Ryan will lead to success.

“I am delighted alongside Father Ryan in stating our continued sustained mutual commitment in the redevelopment of the downtown, which can honestly be one of the great college towns in the US.”

President Leahy had spoken on a positive outlook for the area.

“Our efforts in the future will be a benefit to all the residents of Luzerne County and the benefit of our two colleges. It will be much more attractive for the students from our schools to come downtown.”

Moderating the panel was Wico van Genderen, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber is excited to connect academic, business, and community leaders to hold important discussions.  We must leverage the capital that exists – right here at home – to bring bold, exciting advancements that improve our region through strategic investment and partnerships.  Dr. Leahy, Fr. Ryan, and their respective institutions are prime examples of this practice,” said van Genderen.

Opening the event was Peter Danchak, Regional President of PNC. PNC sponsors the Distinguished Speaker series and is an active member of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce. The Diamond City Partnership co-sponsored the event.

Government Affairs Committee plans survey, workshop series

The Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee met recently at WBRE-TV.  Elizabeth Graham, 2015 Board Chair of the Chamber of Commerce, spoke about the mission of the committee and her dedication to supporting the committee’s decisions through the Chamber’s board.

Joseph Boylan, Vice President for Economic Development, then spoke about the future collection of data from the Chamber members about what topics are most important to them, so that the committee knows on which issues they should focus. There was a brief discussion about the highlights and improvements needed to be made in planning the Annual Legislative Breakfast held in October.  Boylan then introduced the concept of the Legislative Roundtable Series to the committee.

As the first order of business, Boylan spoke about the future collection of data from the Chamber members.  The committee discussed the use of a short survey to narrow down the legislative interests of the members.  The survey was discussed in great detail as to length, format, topics to be included, and strategies for distribution.  The committee members agreed on a rating-style survey in which Chamber members would rank each issue by the level of importance the issue was to them.

The Chamber hopes to discover which issues affect its members the most, so the Chamber can make better decisions that will help the most businesses in the area. This survey will be the first step to making the committee a better, more member-focused committee seeking to improve the area in the best ways for business.

Also included in this survey will be a question as to whether Chamber members want legislative updates available to them via the Chamber website.  This is a project into which Boylan believes will benefit the members greatly.  Among the information looking to be included in this section of the website are bill texts and summaries, the record of local legislators’ votes, the position which the PA and the Wilkes-Barre Chambers hold, and the legislative calendars.  These sections are believed to be the most pertinent information for local businesspeople.  The sections voted to be important on the survey will be included on the website in the future.


The Annual Legislative Breakfast will be held in October again in 2015 The Chamber is also currently working on the construction of a Legislative Roundtable Luncheon Series.  This series would involve Congresspersons individually speaking to small groups of businesspeople in the Wilkes-Barre area about topics in which they specialize.  The Chamber is currently compiling a list of committees for each Congressperson and a list of businesses related to the committees of which the Congress people are ranking members.  These Roundtable Luncheons will be this spring 2015.

The Government Affairs Committee is comprised of a group of Chamber members who debate current legislative topics to determine the best course of action for the community. The Committee Chairpersons are Robert Bee, Vice President and General Manager of WBRE, and Carmen Magistro, Senior Relationship Manager, Vice President at M&T Bank.  Membership on the committee is open to managers from Chamber member businesses. For more information contact

Citizens’ Voice: Chamber honors pair of award winners

WILKES-BARRE — A Wilkes-Barre-based technology company received the Small Business of the Year Award on Wednesday night at an event that showcased the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber’s upgraded website and use of social media.

Dennis Cook

Dennis Cook of Lightspeed Technologies, 2014 Small Business of the Year

Dennis Cook of Lightspeed Technologies accepted the award at the chamber’s 130th annual dinner, attended by nearly 600 people at Best Western Genetti Hotel and Conference Center. PNC Bank sponsored the award.

Founded in 1997, Cook said Lightspeed Technologies’ professionals work behind the scenes to build network infrastructures that support companies’ day-to-day operations. The company operates 24-7.

“Today, Lightspeed continues to provide local people with high-tech jobs in our hometown,” Cook said. “Our team is comprised of many bright young people with families who are committed to their communities.”

John Metz Sr. and the Metz family were the recipients of the Distinguished Citizen Award, sponsored by Luzerne Bank.


John Metz, Sr. – 2014 Distinguished Citizen

Metz serves as executive chairman of Metz Culinary Management, a Dallas-based firm which specializes in providing dining management for health care, educational and corporate accounts.

Metz’s entrepreneurial spirit led to the opening of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s only Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Pennsylvania’s first Wolfgang Puck Express at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs casino in Plains Township as well as T.G.I. Friday’s restaurants along the east coast and several Krispy Kreme locations.

“Everything we do is about our people and our partner clients,” Metz said. “What really makes us special is our people.”

Wico van Genderen, chamber president and chief executive officer, praised Metz and the culinary management empire he and his family built that operates from Maine to Florida.

“It’s an amazing story,” van Genderen said. “It’s the 18th largest culinary management organization in this country, located right here.”

Van Genderen also recognized Lightspeed Technologies, saying, “That’s a very smart team of individuals.”

“What they do is really cool in taking technology and making it an enabling tool and taking that technology and accelerating it for businesses today,” he said.

People who attended Wednesday night’s event were encouraged to check out the chamber’s upgraded website at and social media sites. They also were asked tweet their experiences and photos with the hashtag #GWBCCC, representing the dinner’s title, “Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber Click Connect.”

Van Genderen also displayed a video highlighting the greater Wilkes-Barre area as a great place to live, work and experience and asked others to share it. The video can be found at

“This is a fabulous place we all live in,” he said. “We all need to be really proud of that because it’s really an amazing place.”

Read the original article by Denise Allabaugh at