All posts in Chamber Blog

Finding Your Why


“What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?” Simon Sinek asks this in his TED Talk How Great Leaders Inspire Action, in which he talks about the importance of finding your “why.”

In her acceptance speech at FLEX Presents, Ashley Cowles, the 2019 Young Professional of the Year, referenced this TED Talk. “People aren’t inspired by what you do or how you do it; they’re inspired by why you do it,” she said.

All 12 of our nominees, plus many other young professionals throughout the region, are constantly giving back and making a difference in our community.

Whether it’s volunteering for a nonprofit or event, running a business, serving on a board of directors, or going above and beyond your typical duties in your career, finding your “why” and going back to it often can make the long hours and hard work easier, even on the most difficult days.

How do you find your why? Think about what you are passionate about and what you hope to see happen as a result of your work.

“I have days when I wonder why I put so many hours into my business and the community, but I always go back to why I do what I do, which keeps me going,” Ashley said.

Ashley is co-owner of Core Goods, a new store in Oil City, as well as program manager at the Venango Chamber, where she heads the Be Here initiative and helps with FLEX. She also volunteers with the Oil City Main Street Program, Venango Area Community Gardens, and the Oil City Vineyard Church.

“In a nutshell, my why is to make our community a place where everyone can thrive, whether it involves having access to nourishing, locally grown food, gardening with your neighbors, helping those in need, or simply enjoying the quality of life in Venango County.”

Finding your why can help you have a purpose-driven life, resulting in positive change, the ability to inspire others, and personal fulfillment.

Most of us know what or how we do what we do—but do you know why you do it?

Congratulations nominees and to Ashley Cowles, the 2019 Young Professional of the Year!

(Find more photos from the event on the FLEX Facebook page)

FORCU Celebrates 45th Anniversary


The Franklin-Oil Region Credit Union (FORCU), is celebrating its 45th year of providing financial products and services to approximately 7,600 members in Venango County. Chartered in 1974, FORCU was originally founded by the employees of Franklin Steel.  What started as a way for employees to save and borrow money has grown into a state-chartered, federally insured, full service financial institution.

Tonya Sharrar, Business Development Specialist at FORCU, explains that being a member at a credit union is different than being a customer at a bank. When you join FORCU you are not a customer, but a member and co-owner. With locations in both Oil City and Franklin, membership is available to anyone who lives works, worships, volunteers, attends school, or owns a business in Venango County.

Their staff of 20 highly trained professionals will continue to enhance their ability to provide members with superior service by staying on top of advancements in technology and offering a wide range of new products and services to simplify banking and provide even more convenience.

In honor of their 45th anniversary, FORCU will be giving back to the community.  As their way of saying thank you, they will perform acts of kindness for 45 days.  The employees worked together to come up with ideas of different things to do each day throughout Venango County. In addition to giving back, they are also celebrating by offering Spring loan promotions.

Visit www.for-cu.com for more information.

This article was published in the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s May 2019 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

Meet Our Board – Ryan Bell


Ryan Bell, plant Manager at Webco Industries in Oil City, joined the Venango Chamber Board of Directors just this year.

Originally from the region, Ryan resides in Rockland Township and is married with four children and one grandchild. He has been a member of the Rockland Volunteer Fire Department for 15 years and a coach for youth football at Cranberry Elementary. He also enjoys fishing and shooting sports in his free time.

“I appreciate the opportunity to move back here with my wife to make a life for our family and raise our children in the community that I have always called home,” he said. “We are an outdoors family, so the opportunities Venango County offers make it a perfect fit for us.”

Ryan’s career has always been in the pipe and tube industry, in which he worked for Sawhill Tubular and Wheatland Tube prior to joining Webco in 2004. He became involved in the Chamber’s Advocacy Committee last year and is the committee chair for 2019.

“The Chamber Board is a very diverse group and I see my role as bringing a voice and perspective from manufacturing and industry,” he said. “I hope to see the Chamber continue to build upon its current role as a business connector in our community as well as continuing to represent the voice of our area businesses through advocacy.”

This article was published in the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s May 2019 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

Oil Heritage Festival Preparations Underway – Get Involved Now!


Forty-one years of Oil Heritage Festival have been celebrated by the community, because of generous sponsors and volunteers.  Planning happens almost year round, but your Chamber is now in full tilt;—securing entertainment contracts, reserving venues, and preparing for all the promotion for the 2019 OHF.  Now is the time to let us know if you’d like to support the festival and your help can come in many ways. 

Financial sponsorship assures that we can hire the musicians, print the programs, and provide the awards and prizes for events going on within the festival.  Regardless of how much, every donation is appreciated and is your vote of confidence that you value community celebration.  We often hear that businesses or community members are ready to get involved and wish to add a new event or come and volunteer during the festival.  This is a great way to get to know your community better.  Let us know if we can find a job for you.  We can use you for a short time or fully immerse you in the festival experience.

We understand that many small businesses have a modest amount of time and money to give, but still want to be connected.  We’ll be collecting items or complete baskets for our raffle once again and will have placemat advertising available.  Believe it or not, deadlines for our print materials are quickly approaching. You’ll find more information about sponsorship and advertising in the insert in this newsletter. Let us know if we can help you find the best way to get involved in Oil Heritage Festival this year.

Read about the festival and find printable and online forms on our website at oilheritagefestival.com or facebook.com/OilHeritageFestival.

This article was published in the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s May 2019 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

Wanango Welcomes New General Manager


Wanango Country Club is proud to introduce their new General Manager Eric Thompson.

Eric is a PGA Associate Professional with over 15 years of experience in the golf industry. From the town of  North East and an Edinboro University graduate, Eric recently moved to Oil City with his wife, Deb, and their two children, Carter, 7, and Peyton, 4. 

Eric loves to play golf, teach others how to golf, hunt, fish, and spend time with his family. They are all looking forward to getting to know Venango County and meet new people. Welcome Eric and family!

If you’d like more information, visit Wanango’s website at www.wanangocountryclub.com, or call (814) 676-8133.  

This article was published in the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s May 2019 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.