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Q & A with Bill Leandri, Back Mountain Chamber of Commerce, Executive Director

Luzerne County’s Back Mountain Chamber formed in 2012 and has steadily grown in its scope and activities. A board of 25 volunteers from area businesses and non-profit community organizations governs the Chamber, which boasts approximately 130 members. While the organization was formed primarily to promote and support the businesses of the Back Mountain area (Lehman Township, Harveys Lake, Dallas, West Wyoming and Wyoming), it has expanded its role to one of cooperation with other chambers and businesses throughout the region. Happenings caught up with executive director Bill Leandri to gauge the business outlook in Luzerne County’s Back Mountain region.

Background: I grew up in Luzerne before moving to the wonderful Back Mountain area where I have lived for the past 30 years.I served as president and CEO of Luzerne Bank for years then began working with the Back Mountain Chamber in 2013.

Why is the Chamber of Commerce important to the community? We continue on our three primary goals: community, culture and commerce. We offer programs and perform several community services including mentoring, access to information, community education, food drives, etc. Culturally, we bring at least one new cultural event to the Back Mountain such as last year’s Back To Paradise Jimmy Buffet tribute concert.

What programs does the Chamber offer? We constantly try to entice new business to come to our area and are always promoting the business of our existing members. Besides our large Business Expo held each spring at Misericordia University, we also have an Economic Summit Breakfast; these are two of our major business events along with others held throughout the year. We also are currently planning our third Annual Mardi Gras Awards Dinner, at which time we recognize outstanding individuals and businesses in the Back Mountain area.

Future Plans? Expand our market, keep growing by increasing our membership and to creatively come up with new ideas and services for our members and our communities.

Most rewarding aspect of working with the chamber? Working with all of our Board of Directors and our members. Membership within the Chamber has grown substantially and we are continuously adding new members.

Responsibilities as executive director? Improved communications, growing membership and getting actively involved in all chamber activities and business relationships.

Family: Wife Christine, owner of the Christine Leandri Music Studio in Luzerne; four daughters.

Education: Undergraduate degree in Economics  and MBA in Finance from Wilkes University. I also completed further banking education at Bucknell University and attended the Stonier School of Banking at Rutgers University. National bank CEO program.

Proudest Accomplishment: Being a director and advisor to four of our local colleges, being a founder of Leadership Wilkes-Barre and participating in many superb community organizations. Most of all I am thankful for my family, friends and the many wonderful people I have had the opportunity to get to know in our area. I thank God for my church and the faith and strength it has given me.

Favorite place in Northeast PA: The Back Mountain area!

Favorite quote: One from my boyhood—Davy Crockett’s, “Be Right, Go Ahead,” as well as Charles Dickens,’—”We forge the chains we wear in life.”