Downtown Wilkes-Barre Rebound: Our best days are still to come

The heartbeat of any community is its urban center, and Luzerne County is no different. We are fortunate that Wilkes-Barre, with its long history and having survived the residential exodus into suburbia decades ago, is our urban center. Like the flowing water in the Susquehanna River, Wilkes-Barre, too, is moving forward in a kind of renaissance.

Private investors are adding downtown residential units and entrepreneurs, who could build their businesses anywhere in the country, have set up shop in the downtown. Many of the new downtown residents are young people happy to be within walking distance of work, dining, shopping and entertainment, as well as the nearby levee system where they get some exercise.

Thanks to the city’s entrepreneurial climate, Wilkes-Barre’s heartbeat is getting stronger. We’ve been building the infrastructure for more than two decades and coordinating resources to support job-creating entrepreneurs. The downtown is home to the Innovation Center on South Main Street, a business incubator that includes the Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Penn State Wilkes-Barre Launch Box. The facility provides entrepreneurs access to a world-class conference room, networking space, meeting rooms and technology. The downtown also hosts Wilkes University’s incubator, as well as other successful entrepreneurs.

The Chamber’s Wilkes-Barre Connect program and its strategic partners are well positioned to assist every type of entrepreneur, from technology to shop owners to restaurateurs. This group includes Ben Franklin Technology Partners NEPA, Wilkes University’s Small Business Development Center, the Family Business Alliance, Diamond City Partnership, the Launch Box and Institute.

More via guest columnist @ken-okrepkie, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania Regional Manager, Pocono Northeast in The Times Leader