The demise of the anthracite industry left Luzerne County with the scars of almost a century of uncontrolled mining activity. As anthracite was mined, gouged, and scraped from surface mines and from deep within the earth, an ugly and lasting remnant of coal mining was almost permanently left behind.The residue of coal mining is culm: the shale, rocks, stones, coal dust, and remaining bits of anthracite that were removed before ready-for-market anthracite coal – those valuable “black diamonds” – were loaded into railroad cars. By the time the coal mining industry came to its inevitable but dramatic demise in January of 1959 with the Knox Mine Disaster (covered in detail in the history section), mountains of culm dotted the landscape throughout Luzerne County and Pennsylvania’s anthracite region. These enormous culm piles were the permanent and ugly remnants of the industry that had made Luzerne County wealthy.Culm piles, scarred landscapes, dilapidated breaker buildings – like the Huber Breaker in Ashley so evident from I-81 – were the daunting handicap that our four cities, our 36 townships and 36 boroughs, the county commissioners, private developers, and Luzerne County’s economic development organizations faced as they looked into the future.After the billion dollar clean-up from the 1972 Hurricane Agnes flood, with jobs disappearing by the tens of thousands, and the population of the county declining as precipitously as it had once rapidly risen, the future of this beautiful part of Northeastern Pennsylvania looked pretty bleak. But, just as every cloud has a silver lining, those enormous culm piles ultimately offered the community’s economic development organizations the land they needed to create a tremendous selection of industrial and business parks.Indeed, thanks to some of the best economic development organizations operating anywhere in North America, the future for everyone that lives and works in Luzerne County could not be brighter.
An Even Stronger FutureEverything about Luzerne County points to an even stronger economy in the future. Thanks to our strategic location and our remarkable diversity, the revitalization and growth that this county has experienced in recent decades promises to continue and get even stronger.There are several key factors that make Luzerne County an exceptional place to own and operate a business. Luzerne County employs an exceptionally large number of people in innovative manufacturing jobs. These new high tech manufacturing employers are hiring men and women from our career schools, colleges, and universities; giving young, highly educated Luzerne County natives good reasons to stay here in Pennsylvania and Luzerne County. Even with all that manufacturing employment, our employment base is incredibly diverse. Throughout the county, we employ significant numbers of well-educated, well-trained men and women in health care, education, government, construction, finance, retail, and wholesale trade.Although the top fifty employers in Luzerne County represent a cross-section of some of the most respected companies in America, and employ thousands of men and women throughout the county, they still represent just a fraction of the total employment picture. The typical employer in Luzerne County is a small business; about 70% of our workforce is employed by a small business with fewer than ten employees.