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Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce celebrates 150th anniversary


Scranton, PA - Surrounded by actors clad in historical garb ranging from the 1800s to present day, Mary Ellen Coleman spoke about what powers the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce during the chamber’s 150th anniversary celebration Wednesday night.


“You cannot tell the chamber’s story without the community,” said Coleman, the chamber’s first female chairwoman in the early 1990s. “The chamber was founded by the visionaries who banded together to create a board that would foster growth for our city.”


The chamber celebrated its sesquicentennial at the Scranton Cultural Center with a mix of song, dance, history and messages of support from area businesses. Musical performances ranging from rock ’n’ roll to a capella to jazz intermingled with dance routines, speeches by notable past and present chamber members and video messages from businesses thanking the chamber. About 530 people were in attendance for the event, which had 69 sponsors from throughout the region.


Gov. Tom Wolf congratulated and commended the chamber during his filmed message.


“Together, we’re priming the pump to attract the private sector to expand and succeed,” he said. “This is an exciting time in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and the chamber is a big reason for that success.”

As a former chairwoman of the chamber, witnessing the organization’s 150th anniversary “was just phenomenal,” Coleman said after the celebration.


“If you think of what the chamber has done for this community and continues to do, you just have this feeling of, ‘Wow, I was a very small part of the growth’,” she said. “I often think, What would be without the chamber because they’re the driving force behind our growth and our community.”


The celebration could not have gone better, said chamber of commerce President Bob Durkin.


“There’s an understanding in the chamber of commerce that you can’t do things the way you used to do it,” he said.


Instead of having a guest speaker and dinner, the 150th anniversary celebration allowed them to showcase the chamber’s history along with “homegrown talent,” Durkin said.


“Overall, I think the impact was one that people leaving here would see Scranton as a progressive city where people are willing to try something different and do something exciting,” he said.

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