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 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.