Chamber plans launch party for Be Here program

From staff reports

The Venango Area Chamber of Commerce is starting its Be Here initiative with a launch party from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26, at Karma Coffee Co. on Seneca Street in Oil City.

Be Here is focused on attracting and retaining young professionals in the Venango County area and shifting attitudes community members have about the area, chamber program manager Ashley Cowles said.

The goal of the initiative is to promote opportunities to live, work and enjoy recreational opportunities in the region.

“We really want people to have a more positive view of the area,” Cowles said.

The event at Karma Coffee will include beer tastings from the Blue Canoe Brewery in Titusville, snacks, raffle prizes and a live launch of a new website.

Cowles said the chamber is working to help the area thrive with features such as an arts scene, culture, outdoor recreation, entertainment, volunteer opportunities, education and a sense of community.

“I’m ecstatic to return to my hometown and the chamber to head a project like this,” said Cowles. “A lot of people don’t realize how great this area really is and how much we can grow, and I’m going to work hard at spreading the word and helping this happen.”

Be Here began as a survey, in which responses were gathered from 222 people who live or have lived in Venango County. The chamber also held focus groups with local human services representatives to discuss employment issues, including attracting and retaining the right employees.

The chamber has also visited local high schools to speak with students about opportunities in the area.

The chamber will develop the Be Here program through focus groups, working with the FLEX young professional group and collaborating with local organizations.

“We want to remind people that while the area may have its issues, we are a great area and there are still things to do, jobs and ways to be successful here,” said Cowles said.

Anyone who wants to attend the launch party is asked to make a reservation at (814) 676-8521 or