Great topic Karla.
NEPA, for a variety of reasons, has a strong distrust of the private sector when it comes to employment. Part of me believes that there is an almost hereditary memory, if you will, back to the coal mining days when Coal Barons raped and pillaged the land and its communities. Regardless, when your largest employers in a region are the government (and you are not home to, say, an Air Force base) then that says a lot about a community. The ironic part is that the large number of governmental jobs (be they local, state, or federal..."Da Depot") in turn reinforces the notion that the best jobs aren't be had in the private sector. It all seems to be a vicious circle of sorts that will eventually come crashing into itself one day when "Da Depot" closes (which it will...).
Speaking of the "Da Depot", ever notice that when there is even a slight threat to Tobyhanna Army Depot the local chambers of commerce come rushing in Marines on a beachhead? It's been my experience that they DON'T do the same when there is a similar threat in the private sector. Trust me, I know. Reason? I'm not sure, but see above for at least a partial explanation. When the people who supposedly push for private sector economic development seem more interested in government-sector jobs, well maybe that leads to what you are discussing regarding Neiman Marcus.
Now I don't fault Neiman Marcus for wanting to build a low cost distribution facility in NEPA. In fact they should be welcomed with open arms. But there are valid questions to be asked about the kinds of industry being attracted to NEPA and the efforts (or lack thereof) to diversity the economy...which includes fostering the vigorous entrepreneurial spirit you rightfully noted. To the best of my knowledge the local chambers of commerce don't do much when it comes to diversification or entrepreneurship. In fact, the local Small Business Development Center is run by the University of Scranton (in cooperation with the federal Small Business Administration and the PA Department of Economic Development)...anything appear to be missing in that equation?
We have low paying jobs and a high unemployment rate in NEPA in part because we tolerate it...
...we tolerate elected officials who seem more interest in self enrichment than community enrichment (Bob Mellow & countless others).
...we tolerate local chambers of commerce that seem interested in protecting existing businesses from labor competition and maintaining an economy that is overly dependent on the public sector for jobs.
...we tolerate and perpetuate stereotypes about ourselves that are not self-serving. We are defeatest and we don't question authority nearly enough in NEPA. It's no wonder it took the FBI to take down the judges in Luzerne County, Bob Mellow and countless others...we kept re-electing these people who were harming our communities! For example, Bob Mellow should have been thrown out office the moment he, as as sitting Senator, started serving on the board of the local "Blue" (a business he played a part in regulating as a member of the PA Senate...conflict of interest anyone?).
In the end, all of this will continue until we demand something be done about it. Period.
For the record, I'll be cross posting this on www.sgalbert.com, as I am never one to not recycle content.
Thanks again Karla for the great topic & I apologize in advance for any typos.