The Back Mountain Chamber of Commerce
Since 1992, the Back Mountain Business Association has strived to connect businesses with one another and with the community, and to provide positive input through monthly meetings and workshops.
In 2005, the Economic Development Council of the Back Mountain was formed to address the need for the region to exert some positive control over its economic future.
The leaders of both organizations including Chip Morgan, president of Wilkes-Barre Bookkeeping and the president of the Back Mountain Business Association, Lynn Banta of the Twin Stacks Center and chair of the Economic Development Council, Mike MacDowell, president of Misericordia University, and Realtor Carl Goeringer, along with their respective Boards of Directors, have decided it is time to meld both organizations into one dynamic entity, the Back Mountain Chamber.
The plans for this transition have taken time and planning. Input from local businesses was solicited. Morgan noted that the top concerns of local businesses were that the organization should bring the businesses together with the community and that membership fees should be reasonable.
“The goal of the Chamber will be to help create local jobs by attracting new businesses to the area, while offering current business owners networking opportunities and discounted services with reasonable fees,” Banta said.
Morgan said the membership fee will include reduced fees for workshops, health insurance, saving plans, and involvement in the annual Back Mountain Business Expo.
The Back Mountain Chamber will cover an area slightly larger than the geographic area of the Dallas and Lake-Lehman school districts.
“There are more than 5,000 businesses in this area,” he explained. “The population in the Dallas and Lake-Lehman school districts is larger than that of the City of Wilkes-Barre.”
“This new Chamber will work to address the needs of all types of local business, whether it be brick and mortar, home-based or internet,” said founding Back Mountain Business Association member Elva Valentine, owner of Valentine’s Fine Jewelry in Dallas.
Jill Kryston, owner of home-based business, Defining Manners, said the BMBA has helped her network with other business owners and attract customers. She is excited to see what the Chamber can do for her.
“The BMBA helped with getting to know people in the community, making contacts, and creating name-brand recognition,” she said.
Frank Lombardo, owner of Cook’s Pharmacy, in Shavertown, said the community is spread out.
“It is not a walk-around town,” he said. “I have a sidewalk in front of the store, but people don’t use it, they use the highway.”
Lombardo hopes to see the Chamber take an active role in helping businesses market themselves.
The Back Mountain has several assets that draw people from every part of the Wyoming Valley, Morgan explained, such as two state parks, two universities, The Lands at Hillside Farms, Harvey’s Lake, and the Back Mountain Trail system.
According to Banta, one of the most exciting changes will be the addition of paid staff.
“We are currently interviewing candidates for the position of executive director,” she said.
“The Back Mountain Business Association and the Economic Development Council have both been run with volunteers. While our volunteers have done a great job, an executive director will allow the organization to expand its membership and also to expand the services it provides to those members.”
One idea already being used to create awareness will soon receive an update that will make it even better. The Economic Development Council’s website will re-launch in early January at the new web address, www.backmountainchamber.org. This new site will provide a one-stop resource for Back Mountain residents and businesses and will include a community calendar, details on upcoming events, and information on what Chamber members have to offer. Morgan hopes it will become a place where people can go to see what is going on in the area and to keep them in the loop with Chamber activities and events.
For more information on memberships and meetings, contact the Back Mountain Chamber at 570-675-9380.