All posts tagged chamber of commerce

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.

Plan Your 2020 Mixer Now


In the past year, we have featured three articles about the art of the Business After Hours Mixer. We know how quick calendars can fill up, so we invite you to start planning for 2020 right now.

Are you interested in hosting a Business After Hours Mixer in 2020? Several businesses have already reserved a date for the coming year. Contact the Chamber as soon as possible to secure a date.

Not sure if hosting a mixer is right for your business? Contact us to learn more about the benefits of hosting an event and learn about the many options to ensure your event meets your goals for spotlighting your business.

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

Creating a Positive Experience For You and Your Intern


Jessica, left, and Heather, right, are the Chamber’s amazing interns!

Summer is finally here and for many of us, we are fortunate to have a college intern (or two) joining us for the next few months. It may be tempting to think of extra staff as the opportunity to boost your office with some affordable help and, let’s be honest, many interns will spend a good bit of time doing busy work, fielding phone calls, filing stacks from our desks, and running errands.

But if that’s all they’re doing, we’re wasting a wonderful chance to infuse our offices with new ideas and energy, while short changing their experience. So how can you and your intern make the most of your time together?

Start with a Plan

Before your intern’s first day, you should have a good idea of what their daily tasks will include. Discuss what goals you have for your time together and invite your intern to share what they hope to take away from this work experience.

Invite Input

We all talk about engaging young people, so once you are together, take the time to meet regularly and ask for feedback on your business.  Take advantage of what your intern is currently learning in school and find ways to incorporate this newfound knowledge in what you’re doing, even if it may be a little uncomfortable.

Be a Great Example

Make sure you are always modeling good behavior. Having the extra help in the office is not a good excuse for you to slack.  Be on time, dress as you would expect them to dress, and remember how you talk about others will reflect on the character of you and your business.

Let Them Know You Care

Ask your intern to share their career goals and be willing to share your journey.  By letting them know what has worked for you AND what hasn’t, you can help them envision the many possible paths (even bumpy) to success. Genuinely attempt to learn what’s most important to them, personally and professionally, and invest time into supporting their priorities.

Have Fun!

Most interns will have some anxiety, at least initially, as they try to fit into your office culture.  Make sure to take some time in your day, or at least week, to invite a little down time.  A quick walk for coffee or ice cream or a few minutes laughing about something funny can help lighten stress they may be experiencing, allowing them to be far more productive.  It will make your day more fun too, if you are doing it right.

Introduce Us

We’d love to meet your intern!  Please give us the chance, by stopping by our office, bringing your intern to our next Chamber event, or sending us a message so we can reach out directly. We want all those spending time in the region to have the best summer ever, with the possibility of staying in or returning to Venango County sometime after graduation.

FLEX will host an Intern Appreciation Luncheon on August 2nd at Komatsu in Franklin. Any students, interns, or young professionals are invited to attend. Find more information at venangoflex.org or on their Facebook page at facebook.com/venangoflex.

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

Chamber President Attends Chamber Day in Harrisburg


More than 90 state and local chamber representatives from across the Commonwealth gathered in Harrisburg on June 4 for the 2019 Chamber Day at the State Capitol.

The annual event is co-hosted by the PA Chamber of Business and Industry and the Pennsylvania Association of Chamber Professionals during one of the busiest times of the year in the Capitol, as state elected officials work to finalize the 2019-20 budget.

The event provides a forum for constructive dialogue between local chamber officers and policymakers on key issues important to the state’s business community and the best ways to improve the Commonwealth’s business climate.

Venango Chamber President Susan Williams remarks “Chamber Day provides Pennsylvania leaders the opportunity to represent the united business voice that our membership represents.  Multiplied across the state, we are able to convey the needs of our businesses and learn about what’s happening at the state level to address them.”

The program featured several panel discussions focusing on a wide range of topics, including workforce development; transportation and infrastructure in the Commonwealth; and community revitalization. 

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

Venango Chamber First Quarter Wrap-Up


At the end of the first quarter of another year, we are excited to share how much has already been accomplished by you and your chamber.

Continuing to follow our strategic plan and the commitment to connect business to business, the Chamber’s Annual Dinner brought together over 200 business representatives to celebrate success in the region. 

To add to the excitement, the new website at www.venangochamber.org was launched that very day. The new website put our member businesses front and center, sharing the stories of what they do and providing a dynamic directory that will continue to add promotional value to each listing.

This quarter, members met on several occasions, including the Lee James Business Mixer, the Oil City High School Career Fair, and the Cranberry Mall Expo. April, we’ll host our first Membership 101, where you can learn how to best utilize your membership listing.

Leadership Venango met each month, in January at UPMC, in February at Clarion University – Venango, and in March at Komatsu Mining Corp.  After two more sessions, this first class of 13 will graduate on May 22.  Save the date to join them for their celebration that evening from 5 to 7 p.m.

Planning is well underway for the Oil Heritage Festival, with a few tweaks planned to this year’s event.

A new offering for members are Tech Talks, held on the third Friday of each month, at the Chamber from 8 to 9 a.m.  This round table discussion is perfect for those who are already established on social media, looking for peers to network with, and share tips or explore challenges.  Contact us if you are interested in participating in the next meeting.

Now that Spring has arrived and we all begin to move about more, we invite you to stop by the Chamber, let us know a great time to visit you, or check out our calendar for the next chance to meet up at an event!

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