by Dave Gardner
Those who believe historically staid and parochial Scranton has not joined the 21st Century with leadership might shake hands with Amy Luyster, vice president of The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce.
Luyster, a living testimony to the word “strategic,” joined the chamber in 1998 and as one of four vice presidents now oversees all workforce aspects of the chamber’s industrial and economic development operations. This includes the program known as Skills in Scranton, which is charged with developing modern job training for workers.
In addition, according to the chamber, Luyster is, “responsible for the coordination and implementation of marketing strategies for The Scranton Plan and providing site location and financial assistance to firms interested in moving to or expanding within Lackawanna County.”
During her long tenure with the chamber, Luyster has held the positions of economic development manager, research and marketing director and Scranton Plan administrator. She also was named as a “Top 20 Under 40” by the Northeast Pennsylvania Business Journal and a Northeast Woman by the Scranton Times-Tribune.
According to Luyster, she received a strong foundation from her parents who consistently taught her the value of hard work and the beauty of attaining personal goals. This message included the concept that success will follow if a person stays focused and goal oriented.
Exposure to a series of strong female professionals has had a big influence upon Luyster. She also accredited current chamber president Bob Durkin with being a huge supporter and a professional mentor.
Luyster joined the chamber at age 22, and found it inspirational that the organization’s vast resume of community and economic development can be traced back to the aftermath of a shining moment for America.
“The mission here actually goes back to 1945 with the Murray plant which built aircraft wings during World War II,” said Luyster. “After the war ended a program was created for capital to keep the plant opened, and I feel committed to be part of the club that has carried on that legacy.”
Luyster is firm that, during her professional career, she has not suffered from the type of gender-related issues now capturing many national headlines. Instead, she has enjoyed great acceptance in an environment of community and is made to feel welcome by her peers.
She feels called to the promotion of women’s leadership within a level playing field. On occasion, Luyster finds herself pondering what type of opportunities will be available to her daughter in adulthood as the nation evolves.
“In my case, I believe my greatest strengths are analytical problem-solving that is flexible and adaptive,” said Luyster. “I also follow through on commitments, and it is interesting to think about how my daughter will eventually be able to apply her individual skills.”
From a big-picture perspective, Luyster enjoys being part of a team committed to making Scranton attractive with commerce, thriving arts and culture. The city’s recent success with re-development of the downtown on Penn Avenue stands as a testimony to the possibilities that exist, and all evidence points to the city’s colleges as continuing economic drivers.
The chamber is now operating two business incubators within the city with the proven goal of nursing entrepreneurs to the position of established business operatives. Luyster stated that cooperation between the various players in the total economy is superb, and programs such as Skills in Scranton toil to develop real-time job skills that can alleviate the nagging problem of modern workforce expansion.
“We also must mentor young professionals to create the next generation of partnerships with our industry sector,” said Luyster.
She confirmed the challenges now facing business leadership may arrive in new forms. This comes into focus when remembering, from a recent historical standpoint, a Scranton downtown that was declining with empty storefronts and a lethargic level of activity.
“Scranton’s downtown costs are now lower than within many other cities, and therefore our real estate inventories have become very tight,” said Luyster. “As a result, we have to develop an adaptive reuse of the downtown and refocus our beautiful buildings if we are to meet the growing needs for business locations.”
Bob Durkin, president of the chamber, readily describes Luyster as intelligent, hardworking, and as a leader who understands the organization’s core mission. He credits her with exceptional skills in strategic thinking, planning, writing, organization and coordination that brings people together, and that she is clearly representative of the region’s upcoming leaders that are often female, loaded with talent and tuned into accomplishment.
“Amy can match multiple situations with multiple roles,” said Durkin. “She’s ready for the position she holds and understands focus using various private sources for investment.”