Local economic development experts assess 2013

Could this be the year New York metro businesses look anew at NEPA?
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20 Under 40: JenniferDessoye

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Dr. Jennifer Dessoye is assistant professor of occupational therapy at Misericordia University and owner of Bright Beginnings Early Learning Academy (BBELA). Discontent with the early education curriculum and understanding of human development and neurolo (read more)

20 Under 40: Amy Hlavaty Belcher

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Amy Hlavaty Belcher, 39, owner and artistic director of Abrabesque Academy of Dancing, believes that for those who have been given much, much is expected. “I just try hard to do my best,” she said. I have been blessed with many opportunities and many gift (read more)

20 Under 40: Christopher Hetro

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Chris Hetro, 33, works hard and plays hard. “A strong work ethic is important, but finding balance outside of work is important because life is too short and you need to enjoy it,” he explained. As an electrical engineer and project manager at Borton-Laws (read more)

20 Under 40: C. David Pedri

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For attorney C. David Pedri, 37, it’s all about a combination of qualities that contribute to success. “My philosophy is simple: be open and honest, treat people the way you would want to be treated, with respect, and work hard to attain your dreams. The (read more)

20 Under 40: Ed Frable

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Ed Frable, 28, believes “if I work hard and stick to my word, good things will happen. My crew will not be deterred. We will re-evaluate our game plan and not give up until the job is complete,” explained Frable, the owner/operator of Ed Frable Constructi (read more)

20 Under 40: William H. Bender II

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William H. Bender II, CFP, CIMA, CRPC, loves what he does. “I’m lucky. I come to work every day excited to help the people and institutions we work with,” explained Bender, 34, first vice president at Bender Wealth Management Group, Merrill Lynch. The fam (read more)

20 Under 40: Angelo Venditti

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Angelo Venditti, 38, heard a call to the helping professions early on. Geisinger Northeast’s chief nursing officer answer was to volunteer for his local fire company. After high school, he became a paramedic, then enrolled in nursing school. Three years a (read more)

20 Under 40: Donald Mammano

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At 20, Donald Mammano began his own company, while attending the University of Scranton. Mammano, now 33, and president of DFM Properties, recalls, as a youngster, holding a flashlight while his father fixed the kitchen sink. “From that point on I was fas (read more)

20 Under 40: William J. Fennie III

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William J. Fennie III, 27, is always knocking on the proverbial door, because he knows one day, one will open. As an investment specialist with Integrated Capital Management (iCM) he cannot take “no” for an answer. “I make cold calls every day to invite f (read more)

20 Under 40: Marcus Magyar

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As an advisor at CAPTRUST Financial Advisors, Marcus N. Magyar, CFP, 30, provides comprehensive wealth management and investment portfolio services to business owners, executives, families and high-net worth individuals. His multi-disciplinary team of pro (read more)

20 Under 40: Heather Davis

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Heather M. Davis, 33, director of marketing and communication, is responsible for creating, overseeing and implementing a strategic marketing and comprehensive communications plan for The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC). She is also responsible for pr (read more)

20 Under 40: Alexandria Duffney

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Alexandria Duffney, 30, is competitive by nature and loves a good challenge. These qualities have led her to her position as associate director of graduate admission at Wilkes University. Here she works with prospective students interested in enrolling in (read more)

20 Under 40: John Culkin

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John Culkin’s tenets inform: “Less haste equal more speed; the same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg, it is all about what you are made of, not the circumstances surrounding you; and don’t ask someone to walk a mile in your shoes, bef (read more)

20 Under 40: Conor O'Brien

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“What could be worse than getting to the end of your life and realizing you hadn’t lived it,” mused Conor O’Brien.” As co-founder and executive director of the Scranton Fringe Festival, O’Brien, 25, is responsible for leading the development of the overal (read more)

20 Under 40: Jessica Siegfried

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Jessica Siegfried, 38, is senior designer with BlackOut Design Inc., where she is responsible for all creative design at the full-service agency, from traditional branding and print to collateral and front end web design. “I’ve always had an interest in t (read more)

20 Under 40: David Johns

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David Johns’ career path has been shaped by his diverse experiences. As director of structural engineering at Greenman-Pedersen Inc., Moosic, Johns, 39, ensures that his engineering and consultant teams provide clients with their best effort. “We complete (read more)

20 Under 40: Robyn Jones

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Robyn Jones, 38, president of ReferLocal LLC, has learned just as many lessons from her business successes as she’s had from her failures — and she believes it’s important to share that knowledge with her employees. After graduating from American Universi (read more)

20 Under 40: Nisha Arora

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Nisha Arora, 36, tries to be the best version of herself every day. As general counsel for ERA One Source Realty Inc., she realized she cannot control other’s behavior so “I try to focus on myself and how I can be better,” she explained. Arora’s responsib (read more)

20 Under 40: Justin Sandy

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Starting at a young age in Hazleton, Justin C. Sandy, 33, found a passion for running. He became a member then a coach for Misericordia University’s cross country and track and field programs. “It was at Misericordia that I also garnered the profound sati (read more)

20 Under 40: Dr. Ariane Conaboy

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As a doctor of internal medicine at Physicians Health Alliance, Dr. Ariane M. Conaboy, 34, realizes the importance of human life and how fragile it can be at times. Conaboy graduated from Scranton Prep and the University of Scranton with a double major in (read more)

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Value of inherited Caddy is dubious

Q: I am now the owner of a 1978 Cadillac Seville Grand Opera Coupe. This was my grandmother’s car and one of a few hundred made of this model. It is not running, but I believe that is due to it sitting. It is all original and has very few miles. What is t (read more)

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For Jeffrey Box, president and chief executive officer of NEPA Alliance, has one wish. “My hope is that Washington gets its collective act together so that business in northeast Pennsylvania, as well as the rest of country can start growing again without the uncertainty of taxes and the deficit affecting their business decisions. My prediction is that they will get their act together and that we’ll soon see some progress.”
Box said NEPA Alliance has struggled in recent months to generate interest in its small business loan programs because of the uncertainty about the economy and those big commitments that the business needs to make when they’re borrowing money.
On a different note, in 2013, Box sees Hurricane Sandy reigniting interest in moving business operations from the New York metro area to Northeast Pennsylvania. He said that goes for residential moves, as well. “My view is that many times in history when we’ve seen experiences like that storm it forces a lot of people, business leaders and just residents to rethink where we live and why. We’re certainly not immune to our own environmental issues in northeast Pennsylvania, but when you look at the map, we’re in a great proximity to the New York/New Jersey metro area for residential growth again and also for business relocations.
“Everyone in economic development has talked for years about the lower cost of living and the overall high quality of the workforce in northeast Pennsylvania — those are still for real and when you start thinking ‘Wow, we’ve had two hurricanes in 13 months, maybe there’s a safer place to operate my business,’ I would argue that that’s northeast Pennsylvania.”
The NEPA business climate may be more cooperative than some realize.
A new state program, a DCED initiative, PREP (Partnerships through Regional Economic Performance) integrates areas historically served by industrial resource centers (IRCs); industrial development organizations; local development districts (LDDs); and Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs). For the last year and a half, NEPA Alliance joined to form the Northeast Pennsylvania PREP Partnership, one of 10 PREP regions in the nation. Now they are moving into year three and the partners, said Box, have all come together.
The business community needs to know that the partnership is here to serve them and is cooperating and partnering like never before, Box said.
Bill Moore, president and chief executive officer of the Wilkes-Barre Chamber, would said that things are improving. Slowly. “We are beginning to see some signs of a strengthening economy,” said Moore. “I believe that those signs point in a positive direction for 2013.
“One indicator is a slight year-to-year increase in personal income. While the gain is only 4 percent, it is nonetheless an encouraging signal that Greater Wilkes-Barre and the nation may be seeing positive movement. The average local income increased to $36,889 and also out-paced the rise in inflation.”
Another positive measure, said Moore, is that sales of new and existing homes in Luzerne County are ahead of last year’s numbers. Retail reports, he said, portend a strong end to the year, with heavy turn-outs and spending on both “Black Friday” and “Cyber-Monday.” Commercial construction also seems to be ending the year slightly ahead of 2011. Unemployment numbers, while unacceptably high seem to be headed down. More workers are entering the workforce (i.e., looking for work) and unemployment rates are down slightly for the region to about 8.7 percent, from 9.5 percent in June, Moore said.
“All of these would seem to be pointing to a positive move in the region’s economy. Economists are predicting a slow 2.2 percent to 2.7 percent growth in the economy for 2013. While not strong, it is forward progress. Most businesses, however, are holding their cards close to the vest pending the outcome of budget negotiations in Washington. Should the Congress fail to act on the so-called ‘Budget Sequestration,’ all bets are off. But on balance, I believe that we will see a slow, steady regional growth.”
Our region, said Penny Cannella, president of Penn’s Northeast, will face many challenges and opportunities in 2013.
“I think growth with continue to be modest or flat for the first and second quarter due to the uncertainty of how Congress and the White House are going to work out the fiscal cliff issues. In addition there are numerous questions to be answered on how health-care reform is going to impact business, investment and job creation. Once the details and implementation is more clearly understood we should see change in business spending and job creation. Other factors are the sluggish European economy and the slow growth in China which will continue to impact export demand. However, low mortgage rates and pent up demand should result in increased home sales and building.”
Even with significant job creation in the region this past year, said Cannella, the jobless rate in the Luzerne/Schuylkill, Lackawanna and Poconos are the highest in the commonwealth with the exception of Philadelphia. Penn’s Northeast, said Cannella, will continue to work in collaboration marketing NEPA with our partners.
Cannella said Penn’s Northeast anticipates that northeast Pennsylvania will continue to see growth in the health care, warehousing, transportation and manufacturing sectors of the economy. Penn Northeast’s workforce development institutions are continuing to align worker training programs with employer needs, she said. “In the coming year and into the future, the NEPA Regional Bioscience Initiative is going to have a positive influence on economic development for the eight-county region. Building on the existing investment in the region in the life sciences this collaborative interaction between the colleges and universities, intellectual capital and the existing business base should prove to have lasting positive impact on the broader economy.”
Many at the Scranton Chamber, said Amanda Marchegiani, communications specialist, said the eight-county economic development strategic plan will be impactful to 2013 and will help the region focus on the bioscience sector.
Also, in concert with MetroAction, the Scranton Chamber said the Luzerne County Small Business Loan Program will help small businesses with financing and starting or expanding their business. The loan program just recently transitioned from the Luzerne County Flood Recovery Loan Program.
As always, she said the chamber is hoping that 2013 holds growth of the region in economic development with the Technology Incubator Facility as well as with their small business loan programs, and hopes to continue to build connections with local businesses and work together and to help northeastern Pennsylvania prosper and grow and to welcome new businesses to the region.
Chamber staff said the economic forecast for the region will include much, among others, that big ‘H’.
“Health-care reform or ‘Obama Care, is going to force small business owners to evaluate their current benefits and look towards what will be required of them in 2014.”
Marcellus Shale advancements, the TCMC inaugural graduation in May, continuing regional partnerships and collaborations are all in the immediate future, said chamber staff, as are new dignitaries in office and how they will affect government. Also to look forward to in 2013: The first season in new PNC field with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and a new president at the Scranton Chamber as long-time president, Austin Burke, steps down..
While Scranton’s commuter tax is a no-go, what will go will go in 2013.