Chamber Helps Indiana County Businesses Move Forward |

LLast year was a year of progress for Indiana County, with new economic developments and educational initiatives designed to help lead the county out of the pandemic years and into an optimistic future.

While staffing issues and inflation were concerns, Indiana County’s business community continued to show its resilience in adjusting to changing times with a brighter path ahead.

The Chamber maintained a strong membership base and furthered our efforts to sustain Indiana County’s business community and improve the overall quality of life. During the most recent fiscal year ended September 30, 2022, the Chamber added 29 new members, bringing our current total membership to 570.

Our membership retention rate is 94.4 percent, which is higher than in recent years and one of the higher numbers among our chamber peers. This helps reaffirm that our members view the Chamber as a resource for supporting businesses and as an advocate for our business community. It also underscores that our members take advantage and are satisfied with the products and services we offer.

The workforce remained a hot topic in Indiana County and at the Chamber in 2022. In April, the Chamber was proud to announce a brand new initiative called Excellence in Education Awards. In partnership with Colonial Motor Mart and Colonial Toyota, the Excellence in Education program throughout the school year will highlight diverse students and teachers from each of the county’s seven public school districts as well as the Indiana County Technology Center (ICTC), culminating with the Indiana County Excellence in Education Awards on May 8, 2023.

At this banquet, one student and one teacher will be chosen to each receive a brand new car donated by Colonial. The Excellence in Education program recognizes students based on a combination of factors including academics, extracurricular activities, community involvement, technical ability, work experience, and essential skills.

Continuing the educational partnerships, in May the Chamber completed the third year of Indiana County READY, a foundational skills certification program adopted by all seven Indiana County school districts. Despite some existing educational challenges, the Chamber was proud to recognize nearly 250 juniors and seniors across the county who have been certified Indiana County READY.

To improve the relationship between the business community and Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), the Chamber has partnered with the IUP to develop a brand new student discount program. Developed and marketed with the help of students at the university, the Talon Ticket began its pilot program in the fall of 2022. The Talon Ticket is expected to expand throughout 2023, with businesses across the county being invited to participate.

We continue to make improvements and create more ways for our members to connect and encourage more business-to-business connections. Here are some of the highlights:

• After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the Chamber hosted the Second Annual Indiana County Women’s Summit on February 8 at the KCAC. The event, dedicated to the professional, physical, psychological and emotional well-being of Indiana County women, was a huge success with keynote speaker Aradhna Oliphant as well as breakout sessions on financial foresight, safety and self-defense, and mind/body health.

• On May 6, we hosted the State of the County Address with all three Indiana County Chairmen. The event, which has been held as a virtual event for the past two years, took place in person to a packed house at the Hilton Garden Inn. The event provided an opportunity for the community to pose questions to the commissioners on a variety of issues important to Indiana County residents.

• The Chamber hosted its third annual Indiana County Chamber Golf Outing with a new month and location. The event, held at the Links at Spring Church on May 26th, saw more than 100 golfers on a beautiful day to kick off Memorial Day weekend and enjoy a fun round of golf.

• The Seventh Annual Indiana County Business Hall of Fame was held June 23 at the Indiana Country Club. The event recognized newcomers JL “Red” Douds, Rose Reschini, Jack Delaney, Louis Tate, Mark Zilner and James “Jimmy” Stewart. The sold-out event is still one of the highlights of the chamber year.

• The Chamber’s Governmental Committee continued to actively seek to provide our members with better resources on laws and matters affecting business. The Chamber’s annual Eggs and Issues Breakfast provided another opportunity to fulfill this task with a grand event on September 1 at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex (KCAC).

• This year the Chamber and our Marketing Committee have continued to be active in creating marketing opportunities for our members. Member Spotlight videos were a highlight as the Chamber promoted various members through a three to five minute video feature that is broadcast on Facebook.

• The Chamber’s Young Professionals Organization (YPO) hosted many great events to help emerging business and community leaders expand their networks, opportunities and experiences.

• The Chamber supported the Indiana County Leader’s Circle during its October 27 awards ceremony to recognize ATHENA Award recipients, male leaders and female leaders. The event, held at the Indiana Country Club, continues to highlight volunteerism in the county.

• The chamber continues to have a regional presence through the media and representatives in various committees and commissions.

The Chamber’s purpose is focused on providing great products and services to our members while working with local and regional leaders to improve the economy and quality of life for Indiana County. Our staff – Jill, Susan, Steven and I – want you to get the most benefit and value from your membership, and we’re here to help. We encourage you to keep getting involved as we have a number of things in store for the future to prepare for an exciting 2023!

If you need help at any time, call, email or visit the chamber. You are always welcome. Thank you again for your important support.