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Watch FLEX Presents Livestream May 21

FLEX will award a new young professional with the title of Young Professional of the Year on Friday, May 21, at the 10th annual FLEX Presents.

The event will take place at 6:30 p.m. and will be live-streamed on Facebook. Learn more about the event and the amazing nominees in this month’s edition of the FYI (pages 17 – 20).

This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s May 2021 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

FLEX Member Highlight: Valerie Perry

Just a few months after winning the Get on the Trail grant contest, Valerie Perry has launched her new business—A Bite of History Food Tours.

Based in Franklin, these tours take groups around downtown for “exceptional, immersive experiences.” As they walk, Valerie shares history of the Oil Region, with stops at 5 to 8 tasting locations. Food can change, but some items enjoyed by tour-goers include smoked cheeses, bubble tea, and rosemary shrimp.

“I absolutely love to get people excited about traveling and exploring. All participants so far have been local, but have still learned something new,” Valerie said. “We all can get set in our ways, especially when it comes to places we visit each day, and it takes getting outside of that to see the remarkable.”

The tours start Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. for about three hours, and each group has 8 people (although it may increase as COVID restrictions lift). Normally, tours will occur May-October, but Valerie was eager to get it up and running, so she started them in March this year.

Not only does attending a food tour help Valerie’s new business, but it also supports the many participating small businesses who benefit from the ticket purchases.

Launching a business has been a learning experience for Valerie and she is continuing to learn new things. She appreciates the support from the City of Franklin, Franklin Retail Association, Oil Region Alliance, and Small Business Development Center.

To learn more and schedule a tour, visit

This article was published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) April 2021 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.

FLEX – Ugly Sweater Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our Ugly Holiday Sweater Contest and thank you to everyone who entered and voted! We were able to collect many donations for our food drive and have fun while doing it.

See below for contest winners & entries:

Zack Sheffer – Most Hideous
Kat Thompson – Most Festive
Ashley Sheffer – Most Likely to Belong to Your Grandma
Alicia Bidish – Most Beautifully Tacky

Left to right: Elizabeth Yale-Ivell, Adam Brozeski, Megan Weber, Shane O’Neil, Rachel Stiller, Sydney Herdle, Hannah Stiller

This article was published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) January 2021 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.

2021: The Year of Intentionality & New FLEX Officers

For many of us, 2020 brought the opportunity to spend more time at home. You may have used this to get projects done, work on personal goals, strategize for your business, or enjoy some much-needed relaxation.

As we head into a new year, and eventually are able to spend more time out and about, it is easy to overwhelm ourselves with resolutions and things to do. We suggest that you take a step back and consider what you are doing because you feel like you should, versus what you could do to live more intentionally.

How often have you been “busy,” but at the same time you don’t feel like you are accomplishing much? It’s easy to fill our calendars with events, meetings, and volunteering, without being intentional about our involvement. Busy is a term thrown around in both our personal and professional lives and often bragged about, but there is a difference between being busy and doing meaningful work.

“Busy is not a badge of honor. It only leads to greatness if you are working for a purpose and making progress towards goals that serve it,” said Brian de Haaff in an article on Aha! Blog.

We certainly encourage you to give your time and effort to others and for our community, but it’s okay to say no to sometimes, in order to make room for work you can do more purposefully.

Instead of making lists of ways to do more this year, we encourage you to focus on ways to be more intentional in 2021.

Meet the 2021 FLEX Officers

This article was published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) January 2021 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.

FLEX Holiday Happenings

As the holidays approach, there will be less gathering this year, but that doesn’t mean there has to be less connection and community.

Like most of our 2020 events, we are taking our Christmas Party & Food Drive online.

Ugly Holiday Sweater Contest & Food Drive

To participate, all you need to do is:

Take a photo of yourself in an ugly holiday sweater holding  items you plan to donate to the food pantry.

Email the photo to FLEX at

Drop off your food drive donations by 12/21 to one of the following locations:

  • St. John’s Episcopal Church (1145 Buffalo St, Franklin) – leave them on the porch of the Rectory (the house to the right of the church)
  • Venango Area Chamber of Commerce (24 Seneca St, Oil City) – there will be a box inside; hours are M-F 9AM-4:30PM
  • Raymond James – First Street Financial (6 East 1st St, Oil City) – the box will be inside here, too; hours are M-F 8:30AM-4:30PM

Can your business be a drop-off for donations? Email us at

On December 14, we will share all the submitted photos to the FLEX Facebook page and have people vote with “likes” until Christmas. Winners will receive a gift certificate to a local business!

Volunteer Opportunity at Salvation Army

Also in December, FLEX is giving our time to the Salvation Army. From 1 to 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 12, FLEX will prepack food bags that will be distributed to area families who signed up to receive Christmas Assistance.

To keep volunteers safe, masks are required and social distancing will be practiced. Also, those wanting to volunteer MUST REGISTER through the United Way Get Connected site, because we are limited to 10 volunteers.

Learn more & sign up to volunteer at:

No matter what your holidays look like this year, we encourage you to support local organizations and businesses as much as you can.

If you’d prefer to limit your time out in public, some other ways to show support include:

  • Like and share Facebook posts
  • Give a positive review online
  • Tell a friend about a local business you love
  • Purchase gift certificates or local items online
  • Order takeout
  • Make a monetary donation

Although this year is different, it is still the “most wonderful time of the year” and we hope you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

This article was published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) December 2020 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.