Friday, January 21, 2022

A Growth Mindset: Gregory Scott, the new CEO of the CBICC, sees opportunity in Happy Valley

When Gregory Scott talks about his new role as the president and CEO of the Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County (CBICC), he gets excited.

And with good reason.

Scott knows a great opportunity when he sees one – and the chance to join the CBICC was one that he just couldn’t pass up.

“When this opportunity came up, it really piqued my interest, just because of the nature of the job and what I enjoy doing and the experience that I could bring to it,” Scott says. “I got really excited by it. I spent a lot of time talking to the previous president, Vern Squier, about what the role is and what the opportunity for influence and impact in the community was.”

It didn’t take long for Scott, who was selected as Squier’s replacement by a 13-member search committee, to jump on board. He officially started with the CBICC on October 11.

Scott has an impressive resume. He was the senior vice chancellor for business and operations at the University of Pittsburgh, leaving in 2020 to return to Centre County. Prior to that, he spent 15 years at Penn State in a variety of roles – assistant vice president for finance and business, director of commonwealth services in the Office of Physical Plant (OPP), and manager of construction services-OPP. He also worked at Rutgers University and was an officer in the Civil Engineer Corps for the United States Navy.

Scott is a Penn State grad, with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He later earned an MBA from National University.

Although he bleeds blue and white, Scott says he enjoyed his time at the University of Pittsburgh.

“It was a career opportunity for me to step into the lead spot and run a business operation, running the business side of a university. It was an opportunity to go to a school in many ways similar to Penn State. It’s a state-related institution, a large research-focused institution. The differences are pretty stark – you’re going from a rural area to an urban setting,” Scott says of the move to Pitt.

Back in Happy Valley, Scott will have some large shoes to fill as he takes over for Squier, who led the CBICC for 11 years.

“Vern, through his hard work, really brought the CBICC to a level where I believe we have a great reputation and we are relevant in the community,” Scott says. “We have a solid financial base that we can work from and be able to continue to do our programs and press forward in support of businesses and the community.”

Everywhere he looks in the region, Scott sees growth. Whether it’s the housing boom or the job market, the growth is undeniable.

“We’re finding that the workforce travels pretty far to have good-paying jobs here in the Centre Region,” Scott says. “On the business side, the growth that you’re seeing is on the retail side, or maybe even the hospitality side. You’re seeing a lot of new restaurants popping up.”

Over the course of his first two months on the job, Scott has been looking at what’s next for the CBICC and the region.

“I’m not interested in just maintaining an organization. I look at it and say, ‘How do I take it to the next level and what does that next level look like?’ I am super-excited. I don’t view it as a challenge … I look at it as an opportunity,” he says. “We’re coming out of a very difficult couple of years. One of my bosses used to say, ‘Don’t let a good crisis go to waste.’ How do we look at the pandemic and the crisis we just went through and really leverage it for the good?”

And while he doesn’t have all the answers, he knows that as time goes by, he’ll be able to put together a clearer picture of what his vision for the CBICC looks like. In the meantime, he’s thrilled to be back in Happy Valley with the opportunity to do great things.

“Growing up here, I love this place and I love what it represents,” Scott says. “We need to have a growth mindset, keep this place healthy, and just make it a great place to live and work.”