All posts tagged chamber

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.

Chamber Education Committee Update – November 2019


Local businesses continue to express finding employees is one of their biggest barriers. Population decline, skills deficits, and failed drug tests are often listed as reasons enough prospective employees are lacking, but you may be surprised to learn that lack of knowledge about available jobs may be the largest contributor to the shortage of qualified applicants.

There are those who are simply unaware of the number of open positions, that span from entry level to high skills trades and professional careers. Then there are those who assume that they are not a good match for the available jobs, because of a mismatch in the skills possessed and the advertised job description/requirements.

Unfortunately, it has become common to hear that many people do not have a familiarity with our local businesses, what they do, and what job opportunities they have available. There appears to be many opportunities to bridge gaps between communities.

Long gone are the days when multi generations of family members worked for the same businesses, passing along information about a business’s  products, services, and culture of the company, typically accompanied by a special kind of pride.

Most recently, 10th grade students from Oil City High School visited several local businesses including Klapec Trucking, Webco, Millcraft, Pepro, and USA Choice. Oil City High School Principal Scott Stahl remarks: “These tours were very valuable for students, but just as impactful to the teachers who had the chance to chaperone the tours.” To include all high school teachers and 12th grade students, Scott has planned for presentations throughout the school year, with business leaders addressing teacher and student groups. Chamber President Susan Williams has been assisting in making introductions between educators and businesses.

Local school districts Valley Grove, Cranberry, and Titusville invite business representatives to assist them in providing seniors with realistic mock interviews, after thorough preparation in preparing a resume, application, and cover letter. Several Chamber members and staff have or will participate as volunteers and report that the students are remarkably prepared for a job search.

Businesses who are interested in participating in career readiness programs can contact the Chamber to be identified for future presentations and volunteer opportunities.

Additionally, businesses can continue to submit their information to be included in the Job Shadow Resource Guide and to have Job Posters created for use by the schools, by visiting  venangochamber.org/education-committee-2019.

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

Mixers, More Than Just Networking


Business After Hours Mixers have long been a main stay of Chambers of Commerce. These short gatherings, just at the end of the workday, include refreshments, a few door prizes and a mix of other chamber members. While those who attend may vary depending on a mixers host, the location and scheduling, there are members who frequently attend and those who never do. If you are the latter, we’d like to suggest you consider a few of the reasons you might want to give a try.

Relationships – Mixers are hosted by businesses to invite others to visit their location, sometimes to celebrate an accomplishment, or perhaps just to give exposure to products and services. Either way, attendance is a show of support that is always appreciated. When you visit a member’s event, they understand that you are busy but still willing to show them support with your attendance.

Information Gathering – We often think we know our community, but in the busyness of our own lives, we often miss the changes taking place. From new staff members to significant investments in products, services or infrastructure, information can often best be gathered through a visit, and a mixer can be a unique opportunity to get inside a business.

Preparation for Your Mixer – You may not be planning it now but hosting a mixer might be something you want to do in the future. It’s best to attend other mixers to get a sense of what you’d want to do as a host. Just like any social invitation, those who you have supported are most likely to support you.

There are several mixers still planned for 2019, each an opportunity for you to test out these suggestions. One of those mixers is hosted by FLEX and will be held in the courtyard of the Venango Chamber on August 22. FLEX members promise to help you build better relationships with local young professionals, learn about how to better engage them, and will set a great example for your next get together. We hope to see you there!

This article was published in the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s August 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.