From the Commish
On Friday, March 25, 2011, the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce and the Future Leaders and Entrepreneurs Exchange (FLEX) joined together to recognize Venango County’s “Young Professional of the Year”. This year’s recipient was, a very surprised, Renee Spence. Young people, like Renee and her colleagues, are an integral part of our future economic growth.
Economic Development is the most important challenge that we face in Venango County. I have experienced the boom years when companies like Pennzoil, Quaker State, United States Steel, Chicago Pneumatic Tool Company and others flourished in the County. They are gone. Our County population has dropped about 15% since I graduated from High School and the new U S Census predicts another 9% drop by 2030.
This trend can and must be reversed through aggressive economic development. We are blessed with smart, young entrepreneurs. We are blessed with hard working people with good work ethics. We are blessed with good water and abundant natural resources, and we are blessed with a good geographic location being half way between New York and Chicago.
Our first order of business should be to secure the existing companies in our county. I know that this is not something that we can control but we must provide a business friendly environment and be attentive to their needs.
Second, we need to nurture home grown entrepreneurs who will follow in the foot steps of people like Joe Joy, John Reib and other great entrepreneurs of yesteryear. TO this end the Venango Chamber and FLEX are a critical part of this effort.
Third, we need to market our special assets to other companies in other states and other countries and let them know that Venango County is a great place to locate. That takes a whole lot of work by a whole lot of people.
Too often in the past, it seems that our economic development agencies have tried to hit a home run by trying to go after big companies that need many employees. I would much rather see 10 companies with 50 employees each than one company with 500 employees. No one entity is solely responsible for a company’s decision to move here. It is the culmination of a lot of things ranging from the efforts of the various economic development agencies, local chambers, local governments, existing businesses, and the attitude of the general public. There is no magic formula, just hard work and a belief that it can be done.