All posts in Chamber Blog

There’s No Better Time…


There is no doubt that these are tough times for business, but I had a few experiences this week that really made me think about their strategies. The first was a call I received from a regional pharmacy that proposed a service they wanted to offer to small businesses. It sounded like a worthwhile benefit to businesses and their employees but as I heard the proposal it was clear that this is a strategy that they are taking to connect to communities. This is a chain of stores that has insisted that they cannot justify chamber membership, as they have so many stores located across communities. What a perfect opportunity for me to suggest…there is no better time for them (and others) to belong to their local chamber and connect to communities! The network is in place and ready to go.

Today I stopped by the mall, something I do much less often these days. The deals are great and I snagged a couple summer bargains at a national chain store. As I headed for the checkout I was surprised to find that it was gone, forcing shoppers to join a line at the jewelry counter. As I waited behind two other customers more gathered behind me. With only one store associate at the check out, the process was slow. I observed other employees rearranging clothes and lingering near by. One woman behind me rethought her purchase and returned it to the rack. It occurred to me …there is no better time than now for businesses to consider offering extraordinary customer service. Perhaps you are like me, pausing a bit longer before heading out to shop or before picking up that extra “want not need” item. I think you’ll agree that it’s the service that will often make the difference in whether we proceed with a purchase.

While reviewing one of my social networks this week I ran across a comment by a local resident suggesting the lack of good restaurants in our area. It’s not an unusual comment but in truth there are plenty of eateries close by that offer good food and unique small town experiences, but they don’t tell their stories very well. There is no better time for restaurants and other small businesses to rethink how they market themselves. It’s not just about more advertising, but finding ways to create buzz, find a following and toot your own horn. The chamber is a great place to start. We’d love to make sure everyone knows who’s in business.

Tell me how you would finish this sentence. There’s no better time…

Getting Ready for Summer


I’m thinking about the shift in gears that takes place about now at the Chamber.  There is a note-able change that occurs in our office that seems to permeate everyday.  Festival Season is here!  Every other phone call we receive seems to be related to the whens and the wheres of what will go on during Oil Heritage Festival.  The office will begin to look different as our windows display sponsors, boxes of printed materials arrive and supplies are pulled from storage.

While this is the most obvious shift in office, there are others.  We greet far more visitors that are traveling through the Oil Region or returning to visit family.  I think there’s a change that goes on for me as well.  It is much more appealing to get out from behind my desk (which I definitely do all year round, but…) and hit the streets.  Networking goes full tilt!

What does all this mean for you and your business?  There are new and different opportunities with every season, not only in your shop but through the Chamber.  It’s the perfect time to  check in with us or flag me down. Let’s prop open the doors and raise up the shades and show everyone we’re open for business and ready for Summer in Venango!

Arts in Venango


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Arts in Venango County are nothing new. The communities that scatter Northwest PA have a long history of all genres from Painters and Potters to Singers and Dancers. Creative Writers have found the serene setting to provide a great background for their Art, often enhance by a colorful history to provide a subject for their fact or fiction. The region has produced artists that are world renowned, as well as those who are obscure. And then there are those committed individuals who may not fit the description of artists themselves but have a passion for supporting the arts and making sure that they are available to all ages.

Recently, new attention has been given to the arts as a potential economic driver, most notably in Oil City. The last year has proven that indeed this is an effort worth paying attention to, as the community has attracted several home buying, engaged, artists looking for an affordable friendly community to pursue their passions. The good news is that under the urging of Suzanne Gagliardo (a community leader and artist herself) and the enthusiastic cooperation across communities, representatives from Franklin, Titusville and Oil City are now meeting regularly to discuss how the communities, all sharing the common trait of Route 8, can work together to market this valuable characteristic of being an Arts Region. Without question this is a winning scenario for all. Visit our Links to the Arts to learn more about this region and for a truly unique view of what’s going on go to visit the Artists Ning – social networking site. Be inspired!

Twittering Not for You?


It’s been no secret that I’ve been a great proponent of twittering.  But I have heard plenty of resistance in just about any gathering I’ve been in recently.  The responses are very predictable.  “I don’t have time”, “I don’t care what other people are doing”, “Why would anyone care what I’m doing?”  These are all understandable, but the same comments are usually followed by questions about exactly how twitter works and what people are twittering about.  Clearly there is interest.

So why do I twitter?

  • I don’t have time – often for traditional exchanges.  I still prefer any opportunity to meet face to face and always enjoy a lengthy phone conversation, but twitter allows me to carry on quick exchanges that I might otherwise miss. I also connect with friends, peers and members that I have not been successful in staying in touch with previously.  This works!
  • I DO care what other people are doing! I receive a steady stream of communication from others that have great information to share. It might be a member or community member sharing an opportunity or news.  Often it’s an “expert” who’s passing on valuable information. Occasionally it’s just fun.
  • It turns out that there are a few people out there that do care what I’m doing (or sharing). The truth is that it is often when we’re writing, talking, promoting our businesses it’s hard to tell if anyone cares. With twitter you’ll likely know.  The feedback can be immediate.  The ability to quickly adapt the way I present my message is easy. Oh, and my tweets are not always about what I’m doing.  They just may be about what you’re doing.

I’m sure this won’t we the last you’ll hear about my thoughts on twitter.  If you’re one of the skeptics, that’s O.K. We’ll welcome you when you’re ready.  We Do care what you’re doing!

Flights of Fancy & Trails


This morning I stopped in the coffee shop, Spilling the Beans, for a morning brew. It’s always a great place to see the locals but today the morning men’s coffee clutch was busting at the seams. It always makes me smile to see these men who have worked so hard all their lives, in business, family and community, just sharing what they know and having a great time. As always I can hear the voice of my friend Ron Black, a voice of wisdom and always a fun and interesting story!

As I added cream to my coffee I was pleased to realize that I had happened upon one of the displays of painted birdhouses that will be raffled off to benefit the Allegheny Valley Trails Association. Each was uniquely created by a local artist. Several of these artists may surprise you, as they are better known as a bank teller, physicians’ assistant or teacher. When I looked curiously for more than the 4 I could see, Ron Black informed me that there were several other locations where more are displayed. They include The Oil City Library, Transit Art Gallery, Spilling the Beans, The Franklin Library, Feldman’s and Something Clever.

This fund raiser, organized by Melody McFate, a local artist and bicyclist, will help the AVTA with maintenance of the more than 40 miles of paved biking and hiking trails in the region. Tickets for the birdhouse fund raiser are $1 or 7/$5 and may be purchased at the locations where the houses are displayed. The winners will be announced at Franklin’s May Mart on May 3rd. For more information you can email Melody McFate at rwmmdm@comcast.net.

The Oil Region’s bike trails are a real treasure. If you haven’t visited them recently, there’s no better time!

Barb Frampton

Barb Frampton

Becka Swartzlander

Becka Swartzlander

Bev Pritchard

Bev Pritchard

Carol Slye

Carol Slye

Carolyn Porter

Carolyn Porter

Charlie Whipple

Charlie Whipple

Chris Hood

Chris Hood

Diane Stephenson

Diane Stephenson

George Cooley

George Cooley

Greg & Sarah Merkel

Greg & Sarah Merkel

J Howison back

J Howison back

Jennifer Howison

Jennifer Howison

Jill Mattson

Jill Mattson

Jill Mattson-back

Jill Mattson-back

Jeff Fonzo

Jeff Fonzo

Joe Keebler

Joe Keebler

Jude Braymer

Jude Braymer

Judy Leasure

Judy Leasure

Kay Woods

Kay Woods

Margherita Emanuele

Margherita Emanuele

Mary Hamilton

Mary Hamilton

Mary Kay Lowrey

Mary Kay Lowrey

Maureen James

Maureen James

Maureen James

Pam Marterella

Phil Wilson

Phil Wilson

Savita Joneja

Savita Joneja

Tom Douglass

Tom Douglass

Tom Huston

Tom Huston