All posts tagged venango chamber

Chamber Interns Reflect on Experiences


Heather Hondel and Jessica Wilson, our interns at the Venango Chamber, were recently back for winter break! Heather has worked for us for two summers and Jessica joined our team last summer.

They are excited to reflect on how their experiences at the Chamber affected their studies and what they have learned over the last semester that now applies to their work at the Chamber. 

Heather Hondel

Working at the Chamber has greatly influenced my college experience. I have utilized marketing skills I gained at the Chamber in my classes, such as when I served as the Chief Marketing Officer in my e-Commerce class and as the Publicity Officer for Grove City College’s Swing Dance Club.

Working with Chamber Staff has given me the ability to work as a team on projects in my classes, as many of my entrepreneurial classes involve heavy amounts of teamwork and planning.

This semester, I took a class entitled Managing a Growing Enterprise. I was placed in a team that fulfilled various roles in a company that we managed for six simulated quarters. It showed me how to be quick on my feet and change strategy in an instant when outcomes were different than initially anticipated. This has helped me generate problem solving skills that I can take into the workplace.

This class also opened my eyes to how connected all the roles in a company are and how to work together to accomplish goals. I now realize the importance of understanding the big picture with the overarching vision of a company, while working to generate a thorough understanding in my own role and how that contributes to the vision.

Throughout the course, my management team presented weekly executive briefings containing strategy updates. This class will be incredibly influential on how I work as an intern at the Chamber and in life in general.

Heather is a junior at Grove City College studying Entrepreneurship.

Jessica Wilson

After a few weeks working at the Chamber this summer, I knew this experience was going to change the way I work and what I want my life to look like. During my time at the Chamber, my view of small and local businesses drastically shifted.

Previously, I did not think about local business or how and why they are important, but after my experiences, I realize what a vital part these businesses are for a community. This has greatly impacted my life at school; I now see the local community as a place I want to be.

I am also more intentional about supporting and work in the community. This appreciation for local business has informed several projects and the courses I am taking at school. 

One of the classes I took last semester focused on the task patterns and best practices in designs, and it enabled me to think more critically about how and why things are set up the way they are. It also empowered me to think objectively rather than subjectively about important business decisions.

As I come back to work at the Chamber over break, thinking about best practices and objective critique are at the forefront of my mind. I see these ideals shaping the way I work on personal and group projects. Understanding the why behind design and content choices is an integral part of good work and I am so pleased to be able to practice what I have learned in class at the Chamber.

Jessica is studying Communication with concentrations in PR and Integrated Media at Geneva College and plans to graduate in the spring.  

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.

Gaining Advice & Strategies at Monthly Tech Talks


With so much required of a business owner, it can be easy to put marketing at the bottom of the list. Between paying bills, training employees, working with vendors, and the everyday operations of a business, who has time to update a website and post on social media?

Marketing, however, plays a huge role in attracting customers and building relationships. Without marketing, how are people going to get to know you and learn about what you have to offer?

In February, we began a series of “Tech Talks,” to bring members together to discuss strategies for marketing their businesses and organizations. The idea was brought to us by Jessica and Saxon with Child Development Centers Inc.

“As we were working on growing our organization’s marketing, we needed a way to brainstorm with other advanced users and to get new ideas,” said Saxon.

“Each month, we leave with new strategies and a better understanding of marketing, and we are also able to learn more about other businesses and organizations in our region,” said Jessica.

Natalie Cubbon with the Oil Region Library Association (ORLA) has been a regular at the monthly Tech Talks and has been applying what she’s learned to her organization.

“Tech Talks at the Chamber allow me to grow as a digital content creator & social media marketer,” Natalie said. “Being able to learn from other businesses and organizations is so valuable and has been a great opportunity to form connections within our community.

Tech Talk topics have ranged from photography and videography, to online crisis management and analytics and measurement.

Our next Tech Talk will be Friday, December 20, and the topic will be “Instagram and Facebook Stories.” The Tech Talks are held on the third Friday of each month from 8 to 9 a.m. at the Chamber Office (24 Seneca Street, Oil City).

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

Chamber Welcomes Matt Deal to Board of Directors


Matt Deal, funeral director and owner of Morrison Funeral Home in Oil City, was appointed to the Venango Chamber’s Board of Directors at the October monthly meeting.  Matt will begin his first three-year term in January 2020. Matt will be featured in an upcoming “Meet the Board” article.

We would also like to recognize Carol Williams and Alan McBride, who are finishing up their board terms this month. Thank you, Carol and Alan, for your years of service and dedication.

Find a list of all our board members here.

Leadership Venango Holds Second Session: Maximizing Clean Communications


The 2020 Class of Leadership Venango met on November 13 at PennDOT’s District 1 Office in Oil City to discuss “Maximizing Clean Communications.”

The day began with a welcome from Jim Foringer, District Executive of PennDOT District 1. Jim provided an overview of PennDOT District 1 territory and responsibilities, helping the class better understand the scope of work that comes out of our region.

The rest of the morning was spent with Jill Harry, PennDOT District 1 Press Officer and Ashley (Cowles) Sheffer, program manager of Be Here. Jill shared her experience working in Media Relations. She reviewed how to appropriately and effectively connect with different types of media to provide them the information they are seeking, while best representing your business or organization. Ashley provided insights on how to use social media to connect with customers. She reviewed the features of the social media platforms to market your business. Jill and Ashley engaged the class in several interactive exercises.

Over lunch, Lucas Salusky with Identity Studio & Design took a class photo on the steps of the Venango Museum and took each class member’s professional headshot.

Betsy Kellner, Executive Director of the Venango Museum, gave an overview of the museum and demonstrated their Theatre Organ. Several class members were visiting the museum for the first time. Cindy Urban, President of Klapec Trucking Co (KTC), and Greg Lander, Vice President of KTC, joined the class for lunch. Greg is also a 2019 Leadership Venango graduate.

To begin the afternoon, Brian McNulty, Assistant District Executive at PennDOT District 1 and 2019 Leadership Venango Graduate, gave a presentation about Project Management. He provided an overview of PennDOT projects and explained the process they use, beginning with the goals in mind.  Brian then worked with the class to explore how this process could work for them with the Leadership Venango team projects.

The remainder of the day was spent with Susan Hileman, Strategic Business Advisor for Northwest IRC, on Effective Communication. The class learned about communication channels and barriers and discussed verbal and non-verbal communication and listening skills. Susan also talked about communication across different generations and cultures.

While class feedback showed that every part of the day was appreciated by participants, many cited the value of being reminded to actively listen and suggested they would be more mindful of this, in returning to work and home.

Find bios for the 2020 class of Leadership Venango here.

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