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Tessa Celebrates One Year at the Chamber


When I accepted the position of Executive Assistant at the Chamber last July, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. I was definitely nervous about the change, especially as I was just going back to work following maternity leave. But this job has been an incredible experience, has taught me so much, and has given me some amazing opportunities.

In the last year, I have met many people who are dedicated to bettering our region. I got to participate in the Chamber’s first ever Leadership program, which has been invaluable as I navigate through my new position and responsibilities. Working for the business community and seeing the great things happening right here has been fun, at times challenging, and always rewarding.

I wouldn’t be able to say this without thanking Susan and Ashley, for making me feel welcomed and immediately like I was a part of their team, for trusting me and supporting me, and creating such a positive work environment.

Thank you to everyone who has introduced themselves, helped me out at an event, provided guidance or just offered a friendly smile. I look forward to many more years at the Chamber!

Written by Tessa Byham

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

Venango County Economic Development Update by Emily Lewis


Emily Lewis is the Executive Director of the Venango County Economic Development Authority.

The Venango County Economic Development Authority has had an exciting start to the year. After a significant amount of behind the scenes work on the Oil City National Bank building, physical changes are beginning to take place at the facility.

Canfield Development of Pittsburgh was selected through a competitive bidding process to perform environmental abatement of the facility as well as interior demolition of obsolete utility systems, false walls, furniture and fixtures, etc.

Once this process is complete we will have a clean canvas to paint our new vision for the building, but don’t worry, we are working to preserve as much of the historic integrity of the structure as we can, keeping the original vaults in place and removing marble panels and original wood doors to store in a safe pace and re-use in the new design.

KLA roofing of Everett, PA was selected to replace the existing leaking roof. All of this work is expected to wrap up by October of this year and we are hoping to squeeze in the replacement of exterior doors and windows before the snow flies.

The building, constructed in 1926 is a solid structure that we believe can be renewed to its former glory, though banking operations are not in its future. Rather, we are working to develop a business innovation center in the upper floors of the building, providing a space for entrepreneurs and new businesses to foster there next big idea.

As for the first floor, we have been working with a private business owner to create a brew pub. This will serve as a gathering space for both the tenants of the building and the community.

In 2019 we will see the launch of the eAcademy at Venango and the addition of my very first staff member, an Entrepreneurship Program Manager. The eAcademy at Venango is an extension of the highly successful eAcademy program at Linden Pointe.

The original eAcademy was established in Hermitage, PA in 2014 and is a program that fosters and encourages an entrepreneurial mindset. In our program, high school seniors from 6 different school districts in the Venango area will spend half of their school day from September to May being trained in entrepreneurial and leadership curricula. Classes are 75% experience based learning and 25% lecture based learning.

There is no exact procedure that guarantees success in entrepreneurship education and training. Yet there is a common thread – that a mindset guides the decisions empowering entrepreneurs. We believe that anyone, not just those who want to start a business, can benefit from understanding and applying an entrepreneurial mindset to any situation that demands change in their life.

This program is designed to immerse students in learning about economic development, their local region, and the essential aspects of the unlimited opportunities a different way of thinking can provide. As students learn the academic knowledge, the startup methodology, and individual skill sets they will apply it all to the creation of a startup business with a working prototype.

Through a partnership with Clarion University the eAcademy will be housed at Clarion University Venango Campus and will be managed by the Entrepreneurship Program Manager. I am over the moon to bring this program to Venango County and give students in our area the opportunity to interact with our local businesses.

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

ORA Publishes 2019 Visitor Guide


The Tourism Promotion Advisory Council, a committee of the  Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry & Tourism (ORA) has recently published the newest version of the Oil Region National Heritage Area Visitor Guide (pictured right). This magazine style guide is full of area amenities and historical information.

Following a “trails” theme, the guide takes you through the region touching on heritage, recreation, and attractions as well as culture, food and drink, and shopping. There are also detailed maps of local cities and descriptions of local parks.

It’s packed with activities, events, and things to do in our region as well as great photos and information. A PDF version will be available on the oilregion.org website in the coming weeks.

Grab your copy at the ORA office, located at 217 Elm Street in Oil City, or at the Chamber.  If you’d like a larger amount of copies to have at your business, call Emily at (814) 677-3152.

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

Cross Pollination is Good For Business


If you have ever watched a bee visit flower to flower in your garden, you understand how this species is vital for the garden’s life. This same principal should be applied to the community of business and development. Cross pollination is essential in our region as small businesses struggle to prosper and evolve to the needs of the consumer.

Located in the southern tier of Venango County, Emlenton is a community like many others in our region that requires connectivity to other businesses for survival.

One business, The Barnard House Bed and Breakfast, is striving to promote the special qualities that make the valley unique.

A Mother’s Day Tea themed “Women Celebrating Women” and planned for May 11 has been uniquely created by 11 regional businesses found in Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Crawford, Sharon and Venango Counties. These 11 businesses are owned or co-owned by women.

When businesses share in the development and creation of an event, there is so much more to offer the consumer. The Mother’s Day Tea is beautifully set in an aesthetic and intimate atmosphere along the river. The event will feature items prepared by Chef Don Ras and 70% of the foods served will be regionally grown and produced.

It is their hope that other businesses in our region will continue cross pollination in other venues. To learn more about this style of networking or to make a reservation for this event, please call (724) 867-2261.

The 11 business involved in this event include: Core Goods, DiVani Chocolatier, Do The Macarona, Going With The Grain, Grateful Life Farm, Mirakai Farm, Plot Twist Farm, Sandra Jackson Photography, Stella’s Sundries, The Singing Sparrow, and The Barnard House Bed ‘n Breakfast.

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

Student Employment Event 2019


Would your business hire someone directly out of high school? Do you have or anticipate that you will have open positions? Would you like the opportunity to meet this potential workforce in one day? Be a part of the Student Employment Event happening this spring!

Register by April 15 by visiting bit.ly/2019SEE

For more information, contact Sarah Campbell at scampbell@vtc1.org or (814) 677-3097 x1137

Sponsored by the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce, Oil Region School Counselors Association, School & Industry Partnership Group, and the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce.