The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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May 2, 2014

New chamber president focused on Routes 11-15 bypass

SHAMOKIN DAM ­— The new leader of the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce vows that the Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway will come to fruition and that its construction is a personal goal.

Bob Garrett, announced Thursday as the chamber’s new president and chief executive officer, retired in August from the state Department of Transportation, where he “was instrumental in supporting the broad-based coalition that was successful in passing the transportation revenue enhancement legislation now known as Act 89 of 2013,” according to his chamber biography.

“He will really benefit the Valley specifically in what will be the most significant event of the next 10 years: the Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway,” said Jim Barbarich, the chamber’s board chairman who had served as interim president since June.

Garrett said the planned $615 million, 13-mile Thruway, which will be funded through Act 89, could bring a “resurgence of this area,” with new jobs and economic development opportunities.

Garrett, a former mayor of New Berlin, also said he will work on other important goals in his new role, including increasing membership and developing more partnerships like the one between the chamber and Leadership Susquehanna Valley, which helps train and educate potential leaders in the region.

“We’ll see what we can do” to develop more training opportunities, Garrett said.

Garrett said he also has experience in economic development, including facilitating the siting of the Allenwood Federal Correctional Complex.

For Garrett, who has spent the past several years living in the Harrisburg area, driving north on Routes 11-15 to the chamber headquarters in Shamokin Dam “felt good.”

“It really does feel like I’m coming home,” he said.

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