Women hear WCCBI presentation

President Tana Fegely welcomed members to the March 4 meeting of the Warren Woman’s Club. She introduced WCCBI President/CEO James Decker who gave an overview of activities of the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry.

The WCCBI was formed in January 2003 through the merger of the Warren County Chamber of Commerce and Warren County Development Association. The merger was intended to improve the delivery of economic, business and community development services throughout Warren County. In addition WCCBI is the Designated Economic Development Agency for all of Warren County providing for the administration of Commonwealth financing program and grant program resources to local businesses.

The Not-for-Profit (501c6) Corporation also manages a 501c3 Charitable Corporation which was carried forward during the merger in 2003. The annual operating budget is $657,000 of which 14 percent is derived from public sources. The remaining revenues are generated through member investments, property rental, event administration and direct service deliveries.

The staff at WCCBI includes James Decker, president; Melissa Anderson, director of chamber operations; John Papalia, director of the Council on Tourism; Keith Hedges, director of workforce development; Ron Benson, property manager; and Stephanie Russo, administrative assistant. The purpose of WCCBI is apparent in their mission statement: Leading Warren County to economic and community excellence.

The purpose of the 2013 Strategic Plan is Workforce Development and Education by matching available workforce skills with available job openings in a timely manner to secure business operations and promote growth and expansion. WCCBI’s primary goals are to increase the size of the Warren County workforce through recruitment of new residents.

The newest initiative is to represent all employers of Warren County by attending college and university career days promoting Warren County as a vibrant community with career opportunities in numerous fields. They will be attending the Western Pennsylvania College Association trade show in Monroeville on March 13 to gather resumes from graduating students as well as students seeking internships. This information will be screened for skill-set match and then disbursed to local employers who have identified employee needs. WCCBI will also coordinate delivery of employee training resources to local employers.

WCCBI is ready to work with Warren County School District to expand the curriculum offerings of the Career Center. They are currently working directly with the district to hire a director of career and technical education for the district who will oversee the Career Center curriculum to ensure that the skills taught within the district match the skills needed by the employers of this region.

Another Area of Focus is employer retention. By meeting the needs of local business in the business outreach program, WCCBI can target 75 to 100 businesses each year about the challenges businesses face. This information can be used for legislative change, resource development and direct involvement in projects to ensure timely completion with a minimum of interference.

The primary goal of Real Estate Development is to return the Pittsfield Elementary School property to productive use. WCCBI is currently seeking proposals and resources to complete Asbestos Abatement of the facility which has been a significant deterrent to redevelopment initiatives over the past 10 years.

Tourism goals are to improve the collaboration and communication between organizations throughout Warren County who are administering events to develop new opportunities for cooperative marketing and the sharing of resources and participants.

They also are working to develop new multi-day events to attract visitors to the county on a consistent basis. WCCBI will facilitate the completion of the Jakes Rocks Epic Mountain Biking Trails and facilitate and coordinate the development of additional permanent tourism related assets throughout the county.

Chamber operations goals are to develop programs to retain and expand the membership rolls of the organization. WCCBI, currently at 310 members, has a specific goal of 400 members. They will also develop events which highlight local member businesses and provide these businesses with information regarding pending or enacted legislation which may impact their operations.

The 2013 Event Schedule of WCCBI administered events only are:

May 17-19 – Gus Macker 3on3 Basketball Tournament and Allegheny Burger Festival

July 13 – Tour de Russell bicycle race

July 18-21 – All-American Barbecue and Regions Pro-AM 3D Archery tournament

August – Warren County Golf Open (3 day, 3 course 2 person team event)

September 21 – Gran Fondo of the Alleghenies cycling event and Fall-Fest

Mr. Decker then answered many questions from club members.

After the program, Fegely thanked Roberta Ward and Meredith McIntosh for acting as hostesses.

President Fegely presented new brochures that explain the purpose of the Woman’s Club and mission statement. It was suggested that members take brochures to share with prospective members. A new initiative was suggested to encourage current Woman’s Club members to continue to invite prospective members to club meetings. A new guest book has been started to log visitors and their contact information.

It was announced that a new policy is in place to allow caregivers to attend meetings with current members for an unlimited number of visits.

Karen Davis was thanked for organizing the Salvation Army donations. Members were reminded to save May 18 for the Woman’s Club Gala Banquet.