Connecting the Valley is the priority of our economic development arm, made up of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business & Industry, which runs our Connect Program, and the Greater Wilkes-Barre Growth Partnership, which runs our Chamber Foundation.
Five years ago, we embarked on a journey to restore, re-brand, and re-imagine the Chamber, guided by our fundamental principles of a strong commitment to community, business, workforce, and economic development. As a result, we have seen transformational changes in the community and in your Chamber. As a community, the Greater Wyoming Valley has grown its business base and has attracted new businesses to the area. We have done so by leveraging a coalition of our ABCs (academic, business, and community) leaders to incubate innovation around entrepreneurial, economic, and community development. More importantly, we have accomplished this through strategic regional partnerships to truly make the Wyoming Valley a great place to live, work, and play.
In 2020, the Chamber Foundation helped to get 24 COVID-19 assistance loans approved, resulting in $1.9 million in funding, 260 retained jobs, over 150 businesses engaged, and over 20,000 online engagements. This was delivered through our Connect Program, our entrepreneurial and economic development arm that utilizes a regional partner network to ensure that all entrepreneurs, startups, and existing businesses have access to the resources, providers, and facilities necessary to grow in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Our foundation also started the 2020 Luzerne County Ready initiative, which helped businesses get back open sooner during the COVID-19 lockdown earlier in the year.
Alongside the Chamber of Commerce, we have made strides in our diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative and project pivot that has allowed us to reach out to over 300 businesses in our area and come up with solutions to help business industries in our area pivot in the COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 world that will be a part of the new normal. Additionally, we have worked with our Women's Council, Young Professionals Council, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council to diversify our programming and outreach to engage a broader group of passionate community leaders who can push our organization forward. In 2021, we also started a brand new Nonprofit Council to assist the charitable organizations in our region and connect them with much-needed resources locally.
None of this work could be accomplished without the generosity of our foundation supporters. Our entire team thanks all our contributors for allowing us to impact our community through projects funded by the foundation to continue pushing our community forward. If you would like to support our efforts in the Wyoming Valley and contribute to the Chamber Foundation Pledge, please contact the Chamber team for more information.