CARBONDALE – When John Gorel came on board as Executive Director of the Greater Carbondale Chamber of Commerce last October 31st, the 39-year old made it his primary goal to use his voice for small business.

“This area and this region have shown so much growth and presence in recent years. We’re thriving and expanding in wonderful ways. It’s vital to our overall economic stability to maintain this growth and to see area businesses continue to grow and strengthen,” Gorel said. “I want to be the voice for these businesses … to help them be more successful, and to bring these businesses together by creating bridges among one another.

“In the short time that I’ve been here, I’ve walked the streets of Carbondale to meet as many businesses owners as possible. I want to get to know the people involved and what they’re work is all about,” Gorel added. “People want to be heard, and I enjoy talking with them, to listing to their many stories and finding out what their needs are. And since our Chamber extends beyond Carbondale’s city limits, I’m also meeting folks in and around the nearby lower and upper valley areas -- across Lackawanna, lower Susquehanna, and Western Wayne Counties. For everyone to achieve success, we all need to work together.”

To help accomplish his bridge-building vision, Gorel is engaging in work force development. “One of our initial plans is to hold classes here in the Chamber building for resume writing, to help jobseekers of all ages better prepare for a new job. Along with these sessions, we want to hold mock interviews with the Chamber and area HR executives -- again to better help prepare both those looking for a job and those needing to fill available positions. Such developmental seminars will not only help market the Chamber itself, but we can better enable area businesses to grow stronger and to develop in more positive ways.”

Gorel noted that “a coding committee is also in the works for computer application development. This ties in with my goal for workplace development by offering a way to help people better understand and keep up with today’s ever-changing technology. We plan to open these seminars to adults and kids alike, and we’ll hold them here in the Chamber building. Like it or not, technology is here to stay, and everyone – businesses and individuals – need to keep up. The Chamber can definitely help with that.”

Down the road, Gorel “would like to partner with the Y to develop a youth board comprised of school kids. This could be a great way for kids to learn hands-on basic business skills, including how to apply for a job and dress for an interview, how to talk to a prospective employer, the importance of punctuality. And as a way to help smaller businesses with only a few employees enjoy some of the benefits that larger companies have, I’m also looking into health insurance plans that offer enhanced group rates to Chamber members.

“New goals and new plans take time to develop and put into place,” Gorel said. “There’s a lot to do and a lot to prioritize. I really enjoy the interactions among different people and various businesses, and things just have to be taken one step at a time. But I’m very optimistic about this new position and the future for local area businesses.”

Gorel is very familiar with the area and said he has a “strong passion for the people and small-business atmosphere here.” He grew in Forest City and spent much of his childhood with his grandparents in Carbondale. The Penn State business management graduate previously worked as the general manager of a Susquehanna homeowners’ association. Gorel and his family reside in Fell Township, where he actively participates in his children’s sports activities. Prior to taking the reins from outgoing director Laure DeCarlo, Gorel was a Chamber board member. He resigned from the board when they offered him the Executive Director’s position.

Gorel explained that the Chamber is membership driven, and “area businesses are invited to join us. As members of the Greater Carbondale Chamber of Commerce, businesses can network through periodic events and regular ‘mixers.’ Fundraising events also offer two-fold opportunities that bring awareness to businesses while giving back to the communities. Through a social media and website presence, newsletters and more, our members benefit from greater opportunities for their respective growth through communication with one another. We currently have an estimated 200 members who find their annual $150 membership fee is a positive investment in their future.”

As posted on their website, the Chamber’s mission fosters economic vitality for its members by creating public and private partnerships, educational opportunities and advocating for businesses in its communities. The Chamber opens doors through effective communication, seeks innovation through partnerships irrespective of size, and it improves the quality of life in the communities it serves. For additional information or to become a Chamber member, contact Executive Director Gorel at 570-282-1690 or visit www.carbondalechamber.org. The Chamber office is located at 27 N. Main Street.