CAN DO, Inc., Greater Hazleton’s economic development organization, reflected on the theme of transition and growth as the organization held its 65th Annual Dinner Tuesday at Capriotti’s Palazzo.
The dinner was centered around marking the end of Board Chairperson Bill Magnotta’s three-year term and the transition to Joseph Lettiere as CAN DO’s new president & CEO.
Lettiere said, “It has been quite a year for CAN DO. The combination of a pandemic; the retirement of Kevin O’Donnell, who had been president of CAN DO since 1984; the turnover of three staff positions; onboarding multiple employees while working remotely; and, quite possibly, the most significant amount of economic activity this community has ever seen were all met with perhaps one of the most productive years in the history of the organization. I’m not sure I can properly convey how appreciative I am of the entire staff of CAN DO. Each of them embrace our mission to improve the quality of life in Greater Hazleton through the creation and retention of a full range of employment opportunities with a sense of pride and a love of community.”
Magnotta remarked about CAN DO’s ability to adjust and reorganize during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as Kevin O’Donnell’s retirement but also spoke about some of the organization’s accomplishments throughout his tenure as board chair.
“The growth and long-term stabilization of CAN DO financially was amazing and I was glad I came along for the ride,” he said. “The new development, the expansions of existing companies and, most importantly, continued additions of new job opportunities for the Hazleton area was exhilarating.”
Magnotta added, “After many years of planning, the new ingress and egress for Humboldt Industrial Park is entering its final stages with the connection of White Birch Road with Penn DOT’s expansion to Interstate 81. The Hazleton area has arrived as the strategic point between major cities and roadways that our founders thought it would be years ago. As I said before, the credit goes to those who had the vision, guts and determination over the years. And to the hard work of former and current staff and volunteers who have donated their knowledge, experiences, and all-important time throughout these many years.”
In honoring Magnotta’s time as board chair, Lettiere said, “In every action, Bill’s passion for the organization was evident. The role of Chairman of the Board for CAN DO meant a great deal to Bill. Whether it was early morning, after hours or in between, Bill always made time for the organization and his advisement was always sound. Looking forward, the work done during his term will help set the path for years to come as we’ve implemented a strategic plan that moves CAN DO toward facilitating workforce development efforts and combining job creation efforts with ways to help make this community more livable.”
During the dinner, Donna Palermo received the 2021 Chairman’s Award. Palermo has served on the CAN DO Board of Directors for more than 30 years and was chair of the Community Relations Committee for the past three years. The CAN DO 2021 Partner of the Year Award was presented to the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce and accepted by Chamber President Mary Malone. The Chamber was honored for its decades-long partnership with CAN DO on activities and events throughout Greater Hazleton but most notably for the way the Chamber helped unite business and community leaders and organizations in response to COVID-19 to form the Greater Hazleton Recovery & Resiliency Task Force.
Lettiere, along with adviser Charles Burkhardt, also recognized the graduating students of the CAN DO Student Action Committee, which is involved in developing and planning community service projects such as CAN DO Community Christmas and Operation: CAN DO. Burkhardt thanked the students for remaining dedicated to their roles despite the challenges of the past year.
“I think it was a valuable experience for all of us and I hope the students can take what they learned about adapting to challenges and use it to their advantage in the future,” he said. “Once again, we had a very innovative and intelligent group of students serve on our Student Action Committee this year. From attending virtual board meetings to assisting with the development of the logo for the new Hazleton Works workforce education and training campaign, these students remained steadfast in their dedication to CAN DO.”
Sponsors for the 65th Annual Dinner were: Lehigh Valley Health Network Hazleton, Biros Septic & Drain Cleaning, Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services, Community Bank, OneGroup, First National Bank, Site Services Group, Meiser & Earl, George Leib Well Drilling & Water Systems, Penn State Hazleton, Northeast PA Manufacturers & Employers Association, PPL, Tri-Mountain Ventures, and Mid Penn Bank.