The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

April 5, 2013

Chamber chief: Routes 11-15 bypass will be a road to prosperity

By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item

— SELINSGROVE — Existing Valley businesses will be primed for a major boost by the $558 million Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway, says Charlie Ross, executive director of the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce.

“The business community will grow tremendously. There are more positives than you can count,” he said Thursday, one day after state officials announced the inclusion of the Thruway project in Gov. Tom Corbett’s $1.8 billion transportation budget.

Ross said his chamber has begun surveying area businesses that would be affected by the bypass diverting thru traffic away from the Routes 11-15 Golden Strip in Shamokin Dam, Monroe Township and Selinsgrove.

Some business owners are worried that less traffic will cut into their profits, but Ross said a good marketing strategy can combat that.

“There are challenges, but nothing that can’t be overcome,” he said.

Ross said he’s well aware of the challenges and benefits a Thruway project can present to a community.

While serving as a chamber leader in the tourist community of Garrett County, Md., Ross had to deal with a similar issue when a bypass was built and area business owners were concerned it would keep travelers from visiting the main attractions — Deep Creek Lake and the shopping district.

Ross collaborated with merchants on a marketing plan that ended up increasing tourism after the new road was built.

“If you make it attractive enough, you can do great things,” he said. “I see wonderful growth potential, from increased jobs and property values.”

The chamber’s priority will be aiding existing businesses, said Ross, adding “New businesses are just the icing on the cake.”