All posts tagged be here

Three Years of Be Here


In early 2016, Venango Chamber President and CEO Susan Williams met with a few Chamber board members about a problem we were facing in Venango County–people talking negatively about our area.

Fast forward to January 26, 2017, and the launch of Be Here, focused on changing the narrative of our region and attracting and retaining people here.

It’s been a fun and eventful three years since this program started and as we head into 2020, we’re excited about the impact it has made, and we’re looking forward to seeing what this year holds.

Find more information about Be Here’s three year anniversary on the Be Here blog: beherevenango.org/ three-years.

This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s January 2020 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

2019: A Year in Review


Written by Susan Williams, Chamber President/CEO

In 2017, the Chamber’s Board of Directors crafted five year strategic plan, with three overarching objectives:

  • Create stronger business to business connections within the Venango Region
  • Develop the next generation of business leaders for the Venango Region
  • Be the business information connector for the Venango Region

Each year, we review these objectives, along with our commitment to ensure the sustainability of the Venango Chamber, considering what has been accomplished to date and where our resources will be best focused in the future.

Your stories and news continued to be the focus of the VenangoWorks! newsletter, with recurring features on education, leadership and advocacy. With the assistance of the Chamber’s summer interns, social media posts were more engaging with members and the community.

Monthly Tech Talks held at the Chamber were in response to members’ requests to convene technology natives, to discuss best practices and share favorite tools and tactics. Chamber staff welcomed regulars and new attendees on the third Friday of each month at 8 a.m.  Take-a-ways were shared in the following newsletter.

While mixers and the Chamber’s Golf Outing were modestly attended, a perfect August day drew 100 members and guests to the Annual Steak Fry at the Oil City Boat Club. Oil Heritage and Cranberry Festivals were blessed with perfect weather and great member and volunteer support, continuing a tradition of community pride.

The Annual Awards Banquet and FLEX Presents celebrations set the stage for recognizing business, non-profit, and individual accomplishments. 

The Chamber’s Education Committee added several teachers and administrators this year, to better identify the challenges and opportunities to connect local business to our schools.  By gaining a better understanding of school mandates and goals around career exploration and planning. We can now be better partners in responding to those activities that prepare a workforce for local employment.

FLEX members (now over 120) met several times each month, for social and volunteer activities, and held four professional speaker events this year.

The Be Here Initiative, with Program Manager Ashley Sheffer, was more visible than ever in 2019.  Community members met for Community Conversations, more than 50 attendees learned about visioning and giving great customer service at a ZingTrain workshop, and billboards displayed across the County demonstrated why now is the best time to Be Here. Ashley met with students and teachers at local schools, helping them better understand the attributes of our area.  Students from Rocky Grove volunteered as ambassadors, delivering maps and brochures to local businesses and visitor stops.

The Advocacy Committee hosted candidate forums in the Spring and Fall, with those running for Venango County Commissioner.

Leadership Venango graduated its first class of 13 in May and the new class of 12 began their year with a one-and-a-half-day retreat, before beginning monthly leadership classes.  The inaugural class completed projects that not only helped them gain a better understanding of the relationship between education and workforce, but created tools to advance these relationships.

Chamber President Susan Williams, Executive Assistant Tessa Byham, and Program Manager Ashley Sheffer attended the annual Pennsylvania Association of Chamber Professionals (PACP) conference in October, where they continue to learn how your chamber can be most impactful in our mission to build, serve and promote regional business.

As change comes faster, your staff seeks to be on the cutting edge of nurturing a thriving business environment in Venango County.

This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s December 2019 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

Visioning for Ourselves & Our Community


Where do you hope to be in 10 years? What growth do you wish to see in your business in 5 years? What is your goal of a certain project you are working on for the next month?

You may have an idea in your head of what you want the future to look like, whether it’s for your personal life, career, or a smaller project or situation, and writing a vision can help make that happen.

On November 6, about 50 people came together at Wanango Country Club for a Zingtrain Workshop hosted by our Be Here initiative. Based out of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Zingtrain is part of a community of businesses that started as the Zingerman’s Delicatessen and has grown to add a coffee shop, bakery, candy shop, restaurant, and much more.

After spending years visioning for themselves and practicing great customer service, Zingerman’s added Zingtrain to their group of businesses with the goal to not only provide training to their own employees, but also to share what they’ve learned with outside organizations and individuals.

We brought Zingtrain to Venango County for a full day—half about “Creating a Vision of Greatness” and the other half on “The Art of Giving Great Service.”

You can learn more about our ZingTrain Workshop at beherevenango.org/zingtrain-visioning, and be sure to check out the “ZingTrain Tip of the Month,” a new feature in our 2020 VenangoWorks! Newsletters.

This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s December 2019 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

New Be Here “Youth Ambassadors”


Ashley Sheffer, Program Manager at the Venango Chamber, recently met with two local groups of students and trained them to be “Be Here Ambassadors.”

At Rocky Grove High School, Ashley talked to about 20 junior and senior high students of the gifted classes. These  students learned about Be Here and opportunities in the area, and participated in an activity to become official Ambassadors. The presentation was covered by The Derrick & The News-Herald and the story can also be found on the Be Here website at beherevenango.org/news.

Ashley then visited the eAcademy, a new program of the Venango County Economic Development Authority in collaboration with Clarion University – Venango focused on teaching high school students leadership and entrepreneurial skills.

The four students, all from different school districts—Cranberry, Oil City, Rocky Grove, and Titusville—along with teach Taylor Snyder, heard a similar presentation, then became Be Here Ambassadors.

Are you interested in your class, employees, or organization learning about the Be Here initiative? Ashley is happy to come in and speak to them! Contact her at (814) 676-8521 or acowles@venangochamber.org, and learn more about the initiative by visiting beherevenango.org.

This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s October 2019 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

Be Here Quarterly


Our Be Here initiative was launched in January 2017 with a goal to change the narrative of our region, attract and retain people here, and work together to help our area thrive.

There have been many topics that come up often, such as workforce, community development, and quality of life.

We’re hosting the first Be Here Quarterly on Wednesday, March 27, as a way to bring the community together and discuss challenges in our region and how we can work together to come up with solutions.

Learn more about Be Here Quarterly by visiting beherevenango.org/be-here-quarterly.