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    Wilkes-Barre, PA – Wilkes-Barre Connect, the entrepreneurial and economic development arm of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber, announces the official launch of the PARKS Portal, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, to streamline the process in which businesses in the Hanover Industrial Estates can request and access services to facilitate growth in Northeastern Pennsylvania. 
    The PARKS Portal is a digital platform which allows businesses to request a variety of services at a click of a button, replacing the traditional method of businesses navigating a complex system of endless programs and providers.  More importantly, by submitting a request through this FREE platform, businesses will receive a customized and executable strategy to meet their needs in a fraction of the time. 
    “Too often in economic development, we continue to add layers to an already complex system of programs, forgetting about our end-user – in this case the businesses” said Joseph Boylan, Executive Director of Wilkes-Barre Connect.  “The PARKS Portal not only simplifies the request process but delivers a customized solution aligned with the right provider and program, to ensure businesses have immediate access to services they need to grow in Northeast PA.”
    The PARKS Portal features access to five major components at a click of a button:  workforce, transportation, financing, academic-industry partnerships, and internships.  Each component is aligned with industry experts in our existing provider network, to ensure the most accurate programs and services are delivered.  Wilkes-Barre Connect is proud to partner with several organizations within our provider network on this initiative, including NEPA Moves (a partnership between the Scranton Area Foundation and Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia); PA CareerLink; Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern PA; Penn’s Northeast; and Northeast PREP. 
    “NEPA is experiencing an economic and industrial boom like we’ve never seen before,” said John Augustine, President & CEO of Penn’s Northeast. “Through the efforts of Wilkes-Barre Connect, these companies are being provided the resources they need to expand their growth and will be able to continue to create quality jobs for years to come.”
    The PA Department of Community and Economic Development has been a driving force behind the launch of The PARKS Portal, funding the pilot program through the Engage! initiative. 
    “At DCED we understand that processes and procedures for starting and expanding a business can be a barrier for entrepreneurs across the commonwealth,” DCED Secretary Dennis Davin said. “We are proud to support Wilkes-Barre Connect and the PARKS Portal to facilitate the exchange of resources and promote business growth in the region.”
    The PARKS Portal will be available immediately to tenants in the Hanover Industrial Estates – one of the most active industrial parks in Commonwealth – housed within the recently launched site www.hanoverindustrialestates.com.  In addition to providing services, the portal is equipped to measure the economic impact of the program to determine the scalability of the platform.  The goal is to not only strengthen the business climate in Northeastern PA, but to develop solutions that can be applied across the Commonwealth.
    “Business is booming in the South Valley Corridor with unprecedented private investment being made by national companies to create thousands of new jobs that are placing great demand on our workforce development network,” said State Senator John Yudichak.  “Companies that are creating jobs and investing in northeastern Pennsylvania deserve a clear and efficient access point to the resources they need to grow their businesses.”
    The PARKS Portal is a solution derived from the research conducted by Wilkes-Barre Connect, as part of the 2018 PA DCED Engage! Program.  During that time, data was collected and analyzed to identify two main barriers preventing businesses from growth opportunities in Northeast PA:  Time and Communication.  The current method of navigating the complex web of programs that relies too heavily on several communication lines, and the time it took to identify the correct provider was prohibiting development from occurring at the pace in which private industry operates. 
    About Wilkes-Barre Connect:
    The Wilkes-Barre Connect program, powered by the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber, aligns business with appropriate providers, services, and locations to meet the goals and objectives defined within their strategy. Acting as a catalyst for business development in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Wilkes-Barre Connect formulates strategic partnerships with the academic and business community to spur business and job creation, and retention.  Connect features core partnerships between Penn State University (through INVENT Penn State), Wilkes University (Small Business Development Center; Family Business Alliance; The Institute; and the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship), Ben Franklin Technology Partners, and the Diamond City Partnership.  More information about Wilkes-Barre Connect can be found at www.wilkesbarreconnect.org. 



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