Chamber details goals with 2018 plan

PHOTO PROVIDED Pine Creek is just one of many area streams that attracts anglers, as well as boaters, photographers and others who have a love of the outdoors. Developing and expanding a beneficial working relationship with the state Fish and Boat Commission is one of the goals for the Lycoming County Visitors Bureau, according to a report the agency has released. Among its other goals is a plan to update the website for the visitors bureau and its parent organization.

The Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce has released its 2018 Plan of Action detailing goals and predictions for local business, tourism and economic growth throughout its 133rd year of operation.

Among the chamber’s goals is the furthering of its partnership with Project Bald Eagle in an effort to stem the opioid epidemic.

“The drug problem which plagues our region and the country must be met head-on and our chamber is committed to being involved in this fight,” the document says.

“We’re excited to have been a part of that since the beginning,” said Vincent Matteo, chamber president and CEO.

In a section dedicated to ongoing and new actions to aid economic development, the chamber lists a goal of helping people in recovery find jobs. Matteo said several chamber members have shown a committment to considering those in recovery as well as former inmates for employment.

“Our role is to connect the business community in these efforts,” he said. “It’s also helping the businesses because it’s tough to get employees now.”

Matteo added the chamber has met with representatives from organizations such as CleanSlate and with other chambers around the region to further efforts against addiction in the area.

“I think there’s some real momentum you’re going to see in the next couple of months,” he said.

Other new goals for economic development include collaborating with local school districts and manufacturers on a “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing” program.

Also on the education front is the development of a “Future Careers” expo aimed at educating local high school students about career opportunities available locally, particularly STEM careers, and the skills and education needed to qualify for those opportunities.

“That’s all part of workforce development,” Matteo said. “These are things that, individually, don’t have a big impact but, collectively, have a big impact.”

He added the goal is to let students know that there are good jobs available right at home.

Another piece of the economic development puzzle is the development of “Project Wood” at the Timber Run Industrial Park. Matteo said this is the code name for a potential deal bringing a new company to the county.

“That’s a company that is looking at moving into the area,” he said, adding the industrial park is in Brady Township. “They’re in negotiations with the county on that land. Assuming everything goes right, we’re close to closing that deal.”

Local buzz indicates the gas industry is alive and well in Lycoming County, and the chamber echoes that in its action plan, stating:

“In 2017, we saw the natural gas industry continue to pick up, and hiring virtually at every business working in our gas fields including, but not limited to, our natural gas pipeline related companies.”

“They’re hiring now,” Matteo said. “When that happens, and a lot of those people are living here, you’re going to see an uptick in people shopping, going to the movies, getting gas. It’s really a good thing.”

The chamber’s action plan also includes goals for the Jersey Shore Area Chamber of Commerce to explore partnerships that support the Jersey Shore River Town Initiative as well as borough and recreation board sponsored activities such as the Susquehanna River Fanny Float.

For the Montoursville Chamber of Commerce, goals include hosting a PM Exchange at the Bush House Estate, exploring the possibility of replacing the banners on Broad Street and supporting the Montoursville Borough Recreation Board with the annual Christmas tree lighting and administering the Christmas Tree Lighting Fund.

Promoting The Wilds of Lycoming County has been something constituents have pushed for over the years, and the chamber recently entered into a partnership with the PA Wilds Center, a nonprofit organization that works to integrate conservation and economic development, in the hopes of doing just that.

Goals with that partnership in mind are shown in a section denoting actions for the Lycoming County Visitors Bureau.

The bureau’s goals for the year include enhancing outdoor travel marketing opportunities through the recently established PA Wilds Marketing Team, and exploring and developing new outdoor products in relationship with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, according to the document.

Another goal for the chamber is to address its outdated website, as well of that of the Visitors Bureau.

“Both websites need updating, and that’s part of what we’ve budgeted for this year,” Matteo said. “Make them more interactive for people, easier to maneuver and find the information you need. It’s been a long time coming for the both of them.”