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New chamber official in June

Gary Beilman, president of the Wayne chamber, left, Ann O’Reilly, president of the Southern Wayne Chamber, Debbie Gillette, executive director of the Pocono Lake Region chamber, listened as Donna Labar, executive director of the Wayne chamber, reported before the Wayne County Commissioners on April 10.
TRR photo by David Hulse

By David Hulse
April 16, 2014

HONESDALE, PA — It’s been talked and written about since last December, but at midnight on June 1, a new Chamber of the Northern Poconos (CNP) will become a reality.

The new CNP will include the merged resources of the 83-year-old Wayne County Chamber of Commerce (WCCC), the Pocono Lake Region Chamber of Commerce (PLRCC) and the Southern Wayne Chamber of Commerce (SWCC).

Debbie Gillette, interim executive director of the CNP, told the county commissioners on April 10 that the start date coincides with state approvals for the chamber’s articles of incorporation.

A mission statement presented to the commissioners said the CNP will be the “voice of business” in the region, inform consumers and advocate “for responsible growth, industry, local business and tourism, thus enhancing the region’s quality of life.”

A joint meeting of the three chambers’ Wayne and Pike county members voted approval of the merger on January 15 and presidents of the three chambers signed a consolidation agreement.

Lorraine Kloss, an officer on the board of the PLRCC credited Todd Stephens, past president of the WCCC and Jim Shook, president of the PLRCC, with getting the merger ball rolling.

“Sometimes you bounce an idea and sometimes they go away and sometimes they gain momentum. Now we’re at a great starting point,” Stephens said.

Shook confirmed his role in the early stages, but said that all the offices have had a part. “We’re all united to benefit members more in everything we do,” he said.

Gillette, who currently is executive director of the PLRCC, said the CNP will have a state-of-the-art website. The new chamber will be assessing bids for its first marketing publication, “Navigate the Northern Poconos.” The new guide, prepared by joint staff, will include all 725 members of the new chamber, Gillette said.

Commissioners Chair Brian Smith expressed the commissioners’ pleasure in past work with the chambers. “Everything that has been done has been positive.”

Smith especially credited the chamber- sponsored Leadership Wayne program which, in instructing participants about county government, has provided “graduates who are messengers of the facts” about how government works.

Smith compared the merger to county efforts. “That’s why we’re excited about the merger. We’re working for one Wayne County.”

Gillette said bylaws for the CNP have now undergone “final revision.”

According to a statement provided to the commissioners, the chamber’s new board will have 15 to 21 members, six each from each of the existing chambers.

It will be “expanding from there,” Gillette said.