Penn State Wilkes-Barre Grant Will Help Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber Expand Business Services

LEHMAN, PA — Penn State Wilkes-Barre will provide a $50,000 block grant to the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce to expand business services in the Innovation Center.

The grant is the first step in acquiring funding to renovate a portion of the Innovation Center for the development of the Innovation Squared Project, including an entrepreneurial and business training lab.

Downtown Wilkes-Barre has become a hub for entrepreneurs, with the Innovation Center housing 14 businesses, Wilkes University’s Small Business Development Center and Wilkes University’s Allen P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise.

The Innovation Squared Project will continue to fuel local entrepreneurship with a multi-faceted program designed to create high-wage e-commerce jobs, revitalization of downtown and workshop, according to the press release.

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/business-local-news/153616357/PSU-grant-helps-chamber-expand-business-services

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Wilkes University Student Wins Democratic Nod For Wilkes-Barre City Council

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Beth Gilbert, a 20-year-old Wilkes University student, easily won the Democratic nomination for City Council in District C, saying voters wanted youth and change in city government.

And change will come, as three of the five council members will be new come 2016, along with a new mayor and a new controller, according to unofficial results.

Gilbert, who will be a senior next year studying political science and international studies, said she felt it was her time to seek political office.

“I didn’t want to wait four more years to run,” Gilbert said Tuesday night. “I’m young and I think voters wanted younger people, new faces, to serve on City Council.”

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/153590457/

Progress 2015: Wilkes-Barre, Pittston Lead Charge In Revamping Downtown Ecomomic Atmosphere

Shopping outside from store to store has almost become a thing of the past in some areas. But don’t tell that to downtowns in the Wyoming Valley, especially Wilkes-Barre and Pittston.

Downtown shopping in both communities is thriving thanks to the advancements each city has made over the past several years. Couple that with the excitement and enthusiasm of business owners and residents and youv’e got a recipe for success. The success in downtown Wilkes-Barre starts with Public Square.

Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association President John Mayday, who is a resident of South Wilkes-Barre and does all of his shopping in the downtown area, said the excitement and enthusiasm is something he hasn’t seen before. And it can only get better, he said.

“New businesses are constantly moving in,” he said. “Our mission is to create the opportunities for our customers and residents to come downtown. They’re been absolutely well-received by the public.”

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/business-home_top-local-news/152539268/Downtowns-looking-up

Wilkes-Barre Mayoral Candidates Talk Crime

WILKES-BARRE, PA — The five mayoral candidates sat before about 200 citizens Monday evening in the ballroom of Wilkes University’s Henry Student Center to lay out their platforms and answer questions on their plans if elected.

The Wilkes-Barre Downtown Residents Association, a nonpartisan organization, held the two-hour long forum, the first of which to bring all city mayoral candidates together before the public. Eileen Kenyon, coordinator for DRA, said the association sponsored the event to give people in the area a chance to come and listen to what the candidates had to say.

“We have to elect a mayor, and we hope this will let them make an informed decision,” she said.

Each candidate gave a brief opening statement before association members moderated a question-and-answer session during which they broached such topics as unpaid pensions of city employees, how to attract wage-earning residents, their assessments of city hall and city resources, and crime.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/wilkes-barre-mayoral-candidates-talk-crime-1.1875532

Wilkes University Breaks Ground On $1 Million Campus Gateway Project

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Wilkes University is on a mission.

The product of a 20-member committee, the university’s Gateway to the Future Strategic Plan was launched two years ago to stake out pathways for meeting future challenges.

That proposal took a literal spin Thursday, as university and elected officials broke ground on a $1 million walkway project to connect the campus with the heart of downtown Wilkes-Barre, the latest endeavor in the six-year plan to chisel a traditional residential campus out of the Diamond City’s urban landscape.

Within the last year, the university has pledged more than $30 million in upgrades to the campus, including a $33 million science center and an additional $3 million in renovations to the University Center at 169 S. Main St., the future site of the of the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership.

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/home_top-local-news-news/153093061/Wilkes-launches-$1M-gateway

Two Wilkes-Barre Police Officers Assaulted By Drunken Driver

WILKES-BARRE, PA — A city police officer sustained a possible broken nose and another officer was punched in the face while arresting a suspected drunken driver early Sunday morning.

The incident happened on South Main Street near Ross Street when officers Daniel Roper and Erica Oswald stopped Steven Santiago, 33, for driving a vehicle without headlights.

During the traffic stop, Santiago exhibited signs of intoxication and was asked to exit his vehicle. While standing near the back of his car, Santiago refused to submit to a breath test, according to the criminal complaint.

Santiago admitted he consumed alcoholic beverages before he was stopped by police, the complaint says.

Read more:

http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/152641077/W-B-cops-assaulted-in-DUI-scuffle

Wilkes-Barre Among Nation’s ‘Cheapest’ College Towns, According To New Study

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Tuition, books and direct spending aside, Wilkes-Barre is among the 30 cheapest places to go to college nationwide, according to a new analysis. The big reason: Housing is dirt cheap — about 30 percent of the national average.

Wilkes-Barre was 26th in the list, which was topped — or bottomed, cost-wise — by Memphis Tennessee, where the overall cost of living is 26.7 percent less than the national average. Don’t bother asking for the college town with the highest cost of living; the website that devised the list is, after all, cheapestcolleges.org.

Wilkes-Barre’s overall cost of living was 79.8 percent of the national average, But a look at the numbers under that percentage show we aren’t all that cheap in most categories.

Of six categories used to judge the cost of living, Wilkes-Barre is higher than the national average in four — miscellaneous, transportation, utilities, and groceries — and just under the national average (97 percent) in health costs. But, boy, do we make up for it housing.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/151499742/

More People Moving Into Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Region Than Out

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PLAINS TOWNSHIP, PA — More people are moving into the region than leaving.

Migration into Luzerne and Lackawanna counties is on the rise and much of the immigration is coming from New York, New Jersey and elsewhere in Pennsylvania, according to the 2014 Indicators Report from the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development at Wilkes University.

The report, unveiled Thursday morning to business and civic leaders who filled the convention center at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, analyzed 120 indicators in areas such as demographics, population and migration, jobs and the economy. It was the ninth year for the event, said Teri Ooms, executive director of the institute.

Ooms highlighted the 2010 Census, which shows a growing population for the first time since the 1950s. Some are from the low- to moderate-income demographic and some earn a middle- to upper-middle income, the report showed.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/more-people-moving-into-region-than-out-1.1690955

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Expert: Low Voter Turnout Could Eat Into Wolf’s Margin Of Victory

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Democratic candidate for governor Tom Wolf seems the clear front-runner for Tuesday’s primary, but an expected low voter turnout could shrink his margin of victory significantly.

“I can see him winning by 4 or 5 percent,” said Dr. Thomas Baldino, professor of political science at Wilkes University. “I’d be surprised if he won by 13 percent, or even double digits.

The hype of an increasingly aggressive and negative ad campaign won’t change the fact that voters — particularly Democratic voters — usually don’t show up for midterm primaries or elections, Baldino said.

“It won’t be any historic low, but it’ll be low,” Baldino said. “In the aggregate, a registered Republican is more likely to vote than a registered Democrat.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/expert-low-voter-turnout-could-eat-into-wolf-s-margin-of-victory-1.1688714

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Wilkes University Buys Bartikowsky Building

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Fresh off a $33 million science center construction project on its campus, Wilkes University announced plans Wednesday for a central location for its school of business.

But it will spend less than one-tenth what it did for its last building project.

The university announced it would spend $3 million to renovate the University Center on Main, at 169 S. Main St., transforming it into the new home of the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership. The recreation center and Gambini’s Cafe will remain in the building. The school of business will use 35,000 square feet of the 82,000-square-foot building.

In addition, Wilkes University has purchased the former Bartikowsky Jewelers building at 141 S. Main St. for $1.2 million from the Bartikowsky family with the goal of renovating the 25,000-square-foot space to accommodate administrative offices and a student services center, which includes the registrar and financial aid offices, human resources and accounting offices.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1236395/Wilkes-University-buys-Bartikowsky-building

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In Search Of Progress, Downtown Wilkes-Barre Evolves

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA —In South Main Street’s first block, several storefronts are empty on the east side and recent demolitions on the other side have a dress shop waiting to reopen and a jewelry store working to re-establish itself.

Further down, the building that houses a longtime retailer has been sold and the former Bartikowsky’s building is expected to be soon owned by Wilkes University.

Changes have come to South Main Street — the city’s main retail artery — but sustained progress has remained elusive.

Jim Bellezza, owner of Bell Furniture at 95 S. Main St., purchased the building that houses the Outlet Army Navy Store at 113 S. Main St. for $159,000 on Jan. 3. An empty lot separates the two buildings and Bellezza plans to renovate the building and expand his business.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/news/1112993/In-search-of-progress-Downtown-W-B-evolves

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Report: NEPA Economy Is Turning Around

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 2013 annual report by The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development indicates Northeastern Pennsylvania is showing signs of an economic turnaround.

The eighth annual Indicators Report, to be released and discussed at a forum Thursday at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, tracks the region’s performance on an array of categories, including demographics, public safety, jobs and the economy.

“The annual Indicators Report serves as a yardstick for measuring growth and trends in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Patrick Leahy, Wilkes University president and chairman of the institute, which is a partnership among Keystone College, King’s College, Luzerne County Community College, Marywood University, Misericordia University, Penn State Wilkes-Barre, The University of Scranton, and is owned and managed by Wilkes.

Reports covering more than 120 indicators for Lackawanna and Luzerne counties, as well as statewide data, will be discussed next week.  And reports from the institute’s five task forces also will be provided to show data on health and health care, jobs and the local economy, education, housing, transportation and land use.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/523150/Report-NEPA-economy-is-turning-around

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Jobless Rate Jumps To Nine-Month High

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unemployment in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metropolitan area shot to a nine-month high in June, according to data released today by the state Department of Labor and Industry.

The rate hit 9.3 percent, up sixth-tenths of a percentage point from May. It was the region’s highest jobless rate since September, when it was 9.7 percent.

“It’s negative, there’s no question, but it’s not as bad as it sounds,” said Anthony Liuzzo, Ph.D., a business and economics professor at Wilkes University. “It takes the wind out of our sails a little bit when we see numbers like this.”

The region’s unemployment rate remained Pennsylvania’s highest for the 27th consecutive month.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/business/region-s-jobless-rate-jumps-to-nine-month-high-1.1352249

More Wilkes-Barre/Wyoming Valley Hurricane Lee News

Market Street Bridge

Image via Wikipedia

PPL Electric cut power to the Wilkes-Barre City flood zone at 5 pm today.  This was done to avoid a major power failure.  Water and electricity do not exactly mix well.

The Pierce Street Bridge between Wilkes-Barre and Kingston is closed to traffic along with the 8th Street Bridge, Water Street Bridge, Stone Bridge, and the West Nanticoke Bridge.  The South Cross Valley Bridge has water near the Plymouth Township exit but it open.  The North Cross Valley Bridge is open.  Pictures on the Times Leader website show water getting close to the bottom of the Market Street Bridge at 11 am this morning.  The Market Street bridge also closed last night. To see their pictorial from around Wilkes-Barre, click here: http://www.timesleader.com/news/Images_from_evacuations.html

Kingston has set an 8 pm curfew until further notice.  No vehicular or pedestrian traffic will be permitted after 8 pm.  West Pittston has set an 8 pm curfew until further notice and Edwardsville has set a 9 pm curfew as well.

Another evacuation site is opening at Hanover Senior High School with a capacity of 500. The GAR shelter has reached capacity.  The Solomon Plains shelter may still have room.

Shickshinny evacuated 200 residents.  70 percent of buildings in the borough will be flooded if the river hits 38 feet.

Students at Wilkes University and Kings College were evacuated and the schools closed.

Wilkes-Barre General is open, safe and in emergency mode.  Other WVHCS facilities may be evacuated and/or closed.

Luzerne County has called for the evacuation of 50,000 residents in unprotected areas.

NEPA Higher Education Institutions Prosper Despite Economic Uncertainly

Brennan Hall, University of Scranton, at Scran...

Image via Wikipedia

Institutions of higher learning in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Metropolitan Area are thriving.  Even during hard economic times.

The University of Scranton set an all-time undergraduate enrollment record this fall with 1,059 students enrolled.  The university received 9,045 applicants – the largest pool of applicants in the school’s history!

King’s College saw a record number of new students enrolling for the fall semester.  The school’s full-time enrollment of 2,025 sets a record as well as receiving a record number of applicants (2565).

Wilkes University will welcome 570 freshmen this fall, up from 497 last year.  The enrollment this fall will tie for the second highest number of students in the school’s history.

Keystone College will welcome 1400 full-time and 400 part-time students this fall.  The highest enrollment since the school’s founding.  330 new freshmen will swell the student body.  Over 500 students will be living on campus this year, a record number.

Marywood University will have 1,100 students living on campus this year after constructing three new dormitories. This is the most students to have ever lived on campus.

Misericordia University set a record for applications received.  This year’s 2,011 applications represent a 24 percent increase over last year’s record number.

Downtown Wilkes-Barre Becomes A Destination – Kings And Wilkes Play Large Roll

Location of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropol...

Image via Wikipedia

In 2001, downtown Wilkes-Barre hit bottom.  There was no reason to go there and the merchants who remained wanted out.  Kings College and Wilkes University tried to keep students on campus and played down their downtown Wilkes-Barre locations.  Now, on the verge of 2011, things are reversed.  Businesses are relocating downtown, Wilkes and Kings proudly show prospective students downtown Wilkes-Barre and the downtown is now viewed as a “destination” by Wyoming Valley residents.

How did this miraculous transformation occur?  Four community meetings were held which drew 1,000 people.  These meetings spawned Diamond City Partnership, a public-private alliance for downtown revitalization http://www.wbdcp.com/about.htm.  After years of hard work and “seed planting” center city Wilkes-Barre is “the place to be” again.

King’s College and Wilkes University have invested over $30 million dollars in downtown Wilkes-Barre by expanding and renovating their campuses.  There are 6,500 students between both schools.  With the abundance of clubs, bars, restaurants, stores, coffee shops, the Kirby Center and a 14-screen Cineplex, downtown Wilkes-Barre is a draw for students and residents alike.  This renaissance is helping the recruitment efforts of both colleges and is attracting new downtown residents who are looking for city-living in a “walk to everything” environment.  More residents downtown will help spur more economic development.

I think this line sums it up.  A visitor at the Kirby Center was overheard saying “Wilkes-Barre?” “Who knew?”