(Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, PA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 01--HAZLETON -- Donna Palermo, president and chief operating officer of the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce, announced Friday that she will retire on May 1 following 26 years with the economic development organization.
Palermo has served as president the past 13 years and has been instrumental as an advocate for several improvements to the Hazleton area's business landscape. Among the notable projects taking place while she held her post were: a stretch of Route 924 was expanded from a two-lane road to a five-lane road, the Broad Street Corridor Project, and continued expansion of the Humboldt and Valmont industrial parks.
She was also instrumental in preserving and improving attractions in the greater Hazleton region. She worked closely with Eckley Miners' Village to stop a potential closing of the facility in 2009. The chamber was also successful in securing funding to build the Nescopeck State Park Environmental Center.
"Our entire region -- and especially the city of Hazleton -- owes a debt of gratitude to Donna Palermo for her tireless effort and leadership to make Hazleton a better and safer place to live and to work," said state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke.
Palermo was hired at the chamber in June of 1988 as its executive secretary and she moved up the ranks of the organization holding positions including administrative assistant, vice president of operations, interim president and finally being named president in May of 2001.
Palermo brought stability to the position at a time when the economy was sky high and going through a recession. While she's served as president, the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce has gone through four chamber presidents and is looking for its fifth.
Chamber Board Chairwoman Liz Maguschak noted the time and efforts Palermo has dedicated to making sure the chamber's members were best served.
"Donna's commitment to the chamber and to the entire Greater Hazleton community is to be commended," said Maguschak. "Donna built this chamber up to be one of the very best chamber's in the state and we wish her nothing but the best in her future endeavors. She has given us her complete assurance in assisting us in finding the next leader for the organization and will help us through this transition."
In 2007, the chamber moved into new headquarters at Citiscape, marking the first time in the chamber's history that the organization occupied its own office space.
"Working with so many people dedicated to moving the chamber and community forward, was the most enjoyable part of my job," said Palermo. "To meet and work with people so committed and dedicated to the organization and community was an experience that will remain with me for the rest of my life."
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