Venango economic panel elects officers, outlines mission

Staff Writer

Members of the recently formed Venango County Economic Development Authority readied themselves to get down to business Tuesday with an election of officers and adoption of mission and vision statements.

Tim Brooks was elected chairman of the board, Rod Griffin was elected vice chairman, and Albert “Chip” Abramovic was elected secretary-treasurer.

The authority’s mission statement is “To foster a diverse county economy and quality of life through strengthening the regional infrastructure, workforce, recreational and cultural amenities to create a compelling climate for the growth of new and existing businesses.”

The vision statement is “To create an attractive and inviting destination for businesses and individuals through the development of a unifying entity that will serve as the first contact and front door to existing and prospective businesses.”

Both statements were ratified unanimously by the panel.

Authority director Emily Lewis submitted a staff report in which she outlined the latest updates on the Cornplanter Square project, which entails the redevelopment of the former Mellon Bank building on Oil City’s North Side.

The authority is applying for a Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission grant, which has a funding ceiling of $100,000 and requires a dollar for dollar match. The authority will use these funds, if awarded, to replace the roof of the Cornplanter Square building.

The authority explored the option of applying for a National Park Service grant, but the Cornplanter Square building is ineligible as it is not on the National Register of Historic Places.

Lewis said the authority’s intent is to work with the state’s Historic Preservation Society to get the Oil City commercial district designated with a level of significance to be eligible for future grant opportunities.

Lewis also said in her staff report that the authority is working to expand the existing fiber-optic line from Venango Regional Airport to several locations throughout the county, including Sandycreek Industrial Park, the Joy building and the Franklin water plant.

The authority voted to submit a request to Venango County to be approved as the designated lead economic development agency for the county.

The panel will next meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 20, in room 100 of the Courthouse Annex.