Penn-Northwest Development Corporation (PNDC), a county-wide, regionally focused economic development
organization is seeking a high-energy, strategically-focused, action-oriented executive who fosters innovation
and change, possesses strong sales and marketing expertise, and is passionate about driving sustainable job
growth. The Executive Director will develop and implement a county-wide economic development strategy,
create a Mercer county brand, and aggressively pursue business recruitment and retention efforts. The
Executive Director will work in collaboration with existing organizations and stakeholders, investors, C-level
leaders, and site selectors to coordinate and champion the tremendous strengths of the county and the region.
Mercer County is located in the epicentre of North America’s largest
population and business markets. Strategically positioned at the
intersection of a major East-West interstate system (I-80) connecting
Chicago and New York City, and a major North-South freeway that
provides easy access to Toronto, Canada and Charlotte, NC, Mercer
County is the ideal location for businesses seeking access to the
largest business and consumer market in North America. More than
half of the nation’s major markets, including 24 top industrial markets,
and half of Canada’s metropolitan centers lie within a day’s drive.
Mercer’s proximity to major airports in Pittsburgh, PA, Akron, OH and
Cleveland, OH and additional
regional air facilities located in
Youngstown, Greenville, Grove City, Venango Regional, and Erie provide
global access to world-wide markets. Extremely low cost-of-living, relatively
low land costs, a workforce known for its strong work ethic, abundant
recreation areas, and proximity to metropolitan areas create a phenomenal
quality of life which makes Mercer County a remarkable world-centered
community in which to live, work, and play.
Mercer County is also located in the middle of
“The Tech Belt Initiative,” a partnership between
the Allegheny Conference on Community Development in Pittsburgh, PA; the
Greater Cleveland Partnership in Cleveland, OH; and, the Youngstown/Warren
Regional Chamber. These organizations along with other geographic partners have
identified a “Technology Corridor” designed to reinvigorate the region by building
on its unique civic, educational, healthcare, and industrial institutions.
The Tech Belt Initiative (TBI) covers an inter-state region of 7.2 million people that would be the 4 th largest
industrial/technology region nationally, with a potential economic impact of more than $1B in annual academic
R&D. Currently, 700+ companies employ over 25,000+ in bioscience enterprises alone. The Tech Belt Initiative
enhances the reach of the Federal Technology Based Economic Development (TBED) Strategy.
Mercer County’s leading industries include Sharon Regional Health System, Wheatland Tube, Duferco-Farrell
Corporation, Prime Outlets, General Electric (Locomotive), UPMC Horizon, Grove City College, Thiel College,
Westminster College, US Investigative Services, and First National Bank (FNB). Mercer County is also home to
many unique entrepreneurial enterprises such as Joy Cone – the world’s largest ice cream cone baking company;
Winner International – creators of “The Club” anti-theft device for automobiles: and, Wendell August Forge –
one of the last remaining forges in Pennsylvania.
FOCUS ON THE FUTURE – The Best is yet to come!!
Mercer County and its inhabitants are eternally optimistic about the future. There is a
pervasive attitude of hope that permeates the region and fuels the passion for
continued change and growth.
Mercer County and the region have multiple options available to drive future
investment and job creation. Penn-Northwest Development Corporation (PNDC) plans
to actively pursue initiatives that will position the county to take advantage of an
improving economy and sustain competitive advantage in the interim. PNDC’s
development plan envisions a five-phase approach to foster increased investment and
Marketing – re-energize national and regional contacts with site selectors, developers, corporate real
estate executives, federal and state ‘lead’ producing agencies, and community stakeholders with a focus
on business attraction (recruitment) and retention.
Project Management – actively purse infrastructure improvements to support growth.
Site Development – develop “Shovel Ready” sites for development. Re-purpose existing sites and
facilities to support new investment.
Financing – use existing funds provided by the Mercer County Industrial Growth Fund (MCIGF), Small
Business First Program (SBF), and Financial Packaging Support Services to enhance investment and job
creation opportunities. Seek and/or create new funding sources.
Start-up and Entrepreneurial Development – support and coordinate organic growth opportunities
through entrepreneurial programs in conjunction with Grove City College, Penn State, Youngstown
State, Westminster, Thiel College, Slippery Rock University, Edinboro University, Gannon SBDC and
REGIONAL AND COUNTY OVERVIEW
Mercer County is a regional asset and is included in the Youngstown-Warren-
Boardman, Ohio-Pennsylvania MSA. While the current County unemployment rate of
8.0% is slightly above the state average (7.4%), it is below the national average (9.1%) as
reported in May 2011. The good news is that in a recent Manpower survey (March
2011) employers within the MSA – including Mercer County – expect to hire at a small,
but steady pace during the remainder of 2011.
Through the efforts of PNDC and their partners, Mercer County has developed and continues to develop,
industrial sites throughout the County.
These sites provide the synergy and infrastructure services necessary to support
both mature companies and growing enterprises. A new industrial site is being
developed by Mercer County near the intersection of I-79 and I-80 that does not
appear on the map to the right.
Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) Properties – Over 500 acres of property is
available for manufacturing or distribution within six of the existing industrial
parks. Keystone Opportunity Zones reduce taxes to almost zero. PNDC
maintains an onsite inventory of sites and buildings available in Mercer County.
Financing is also available through low interest loans for both land and buildings.
One of the industrial parks has been specifically designed to support technology-based and entrepreneurial
enterprises. LindenPointe is a 115 acre innovative business campus with designated planned technical park
zoning and carefully developed covenants to protect property values. The master plan calls for a “campus like”
environment that will differentiate LindenPointe from other real estate developments.
LindenPointe is a collaborative effort between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, KAKE Development, Inc., the
City of Hermitage, and the Penn-Northwest Development Corporation to create a new vitality for economic
development in the region. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania invested $2.5 million in LindenPointe which
assisted the local partners with site acquisition and infrastructure development to bring to the market a high
end, shovel ready, mixed-use planned technical park. The LindenPointe project is a model $6 million public-
private economic development initiative.
LindenPointe is driven by a focused, collaborative effort to help businesses grow, to increase the number of
small and medium sized entrepreneurial businesses in the region, to diversify the local economy, and to create
quality employment opportunities in the community. Economic development efforts are dedicated to improving
the community and its quality of life through new investment, strengthening and diversifying the local business
base and new job creation.
LindenPointe boasts: high quality planned technical park development, a parkland setting, walking trails and
landscaping, comprehensive storm water management facilities, lot sizes from 1 to 20 acres, and room for
growth – 100+ acres.
“Pride that Shows” is the proud slogan for the Mercer County workforce. The regional workforce encompasses
over 700,000 people within a 30-mile radius. The workforce is highly skilled and defined by dedication and a
strong work ethic. Many residents of Mercer County work in Ohio and residents of Ohio work in Mercer County
because of the proximity. The percentage of residents living and working in Mercer County is estimated to be
78.9%. Mercer County’s workforce is comprised of education, health and social services (23.7%), manufacturing
(20.1%), and retail (13.4%), and other (42.8%). Worker profile: private wage or salary (82%), Government (11%),
and self-employed (7%).
COST OF LIVING COMPARISON
The Cost of Living in Mercer County is exceptional and compares very favourably to other major metropolitan
areas that are within a 1 hour drive. The COL contributes to the phenomenal quality of life in the region
including urban amenities that are easily accessible in either Pittsburgh, PA or Cleveland, OH. Access to Lake
Erie for sailing and water sports is also a short drive North from Mercer County via I-79.
Sample COL comparisons for cities within Mercer County (Mercer, Sharon, and Greenville) compared to
Pittsburgh highlight the differences that contribute to qualify of life.
COSTLIV Pittsburgh Mercer United States
Overall 87 82 100
Grocery 96 100 100
Health 88 94 100
Housing 62 48 100
Utilities 122 115 100
Transportation 102 96 100
Miscellaneous 97 99 100
COSTLIV Sharon Pittsburgh United States
Overall 76 87 100
Grocery 100 96 100
Health 94 88 100
Housing 30 62 100
Utilities 115 122 100
Transportation 96 102 100
Miscellaneous 99 97 100
COSTLIV Pittsburgh Greenville United States
Overall 87 78 100
Grocery 96 100 100
Health 88 94 100
Housing 62 36 100
Utilities 122 115 100
Transportation 102 96 100
Miscellaneous 97 99 100
MERCER COUNTY – TOP 50 EMPLOYERS
Rank by Employment
1. Sharon Regional Health System 18. St Paul Homes 35. Adesa Pennsylvania Inc.
2. UPMC Horizon 19. Grove City Area School District 36. Sheetz Inc.
3. State Government 20. Hermitage School District 37. Dean Dairy Holdings Llc
4. Wal-Mart Associates Inc. 21. Primary Health Network Inc. 38. Diversified Family Services Inc.
5. John Maneely Co. 22. Thiel College 39. Mercer Area School District
6. General Electric Co. 23. Federal Government 40. West Middlesex Area School District
7. George Junior Republic 24. Advanced Monobloc Corporation 41. Range Resources Appalachia Llc
8. Duferco Farrell Corp. 25. Combined Systems Inc. 42. Sharpsville Area School District
9. First Nat'l Bank of Pennsylvania 26. Greenville Area School District 43. Interstate Chemical
10. Grove City Medical Center 27. Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV 44. Reynolds School District
11. Farrel Area School District 28. Comprehensive Children 45. White Cliff Leasing
12. US Investigations Svcs Llc 29. Lakeview School District 46. International Timber
13. Grove City College 30. Sharon Coating Llc 47. Ellwood Crankshaft & Machine
14. Estes Express Lines 31. UPMC Community Medicine Inc. 48. Orchard Manor Inc.
15. Mercer County 32. M C A R Inc. 49. Best Wings USA Inc.
16. Joy Cone Company 33. Community M/H & Counsel Ctr Mrcr Co. 50. Eat’n Park Restaurants Inc.
17. Sharon School District 34. HLW Fast Track Inc.
*Pennsylvania State Government includes all state employment except Pennsylvania State University, SEPTA and the System of Higher Education.
Outstanding educational opportunities exist in public and private schools in the
County. Mercer County is supported by 14 quality K-12 School Districts. Many
students go on to some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the
Advanced educational institutions abound in Mercer County including the following 4-year colleges: Grove City
College, Thiel College, Westminster College, Penn State – Shenango Campus; and nearby (outside the county)
Slippery Rock University in Butler County, and Allegheny College in Meadville. The County’s educational
offerings also include Butler County Community College (LindenPointe, Hermitage, PA); the Mercer County
Career and Technical Center (Mercer, PA); and, the Sharon Regional Health System Schools of Nursing and
Radiology (Sharon, PA).
More than half of the nation’s major markets, including 24 top industrial markets, and half of Canada’s
metropolitan centers lie within a day’s drive via I-80 and I-79. Mercer County is also serviced by multiple air
facilities including Pittsburgh International, Cleveland International, and regional air facilities located in Akron,
Youngstown/Warren, Greenville, Grove City, Venango Regional, and Erie. Rail service is provided by Conrail via
the Bessemer & Lake Erie Line.
The overall cost of doing business in Mercer County is extremely competitive and driven by relatively low real
estate and labor costs. PNDC works aggressively with its supporting members, local, regional and state
industrial development specialists to offer attractive finance and tax incentives. Numerous industrial parks
provide attractive location alternatives.
Utilities are competitively prices and provided by a variety of sources such as: Pennsylvania Power, Peoples
Natural Gas, CNG, Shenango Valley Water Company, Bell Atlanta, AT&T, and Comcast.
QUALITY OF LIFE
Mercer County is quintessential Mid-America. Located in the rolling hills of North Western Pennsylvania, the
County is populated by several small towns with active “main streets” and inhabited by people who value
religion, service to country, family values, hard work, and independent thinking.
Wages in the community are competitive and the cost of living is very attractive and driven by low real estate
costs. Educational institutions are strong and respected, crime rates are extremely low, recreational
opportunities abound, and some of the best cultural, sports, and entertainment venues are only an hour drive
away. Consequently, Mercer County offers the best of both worlds - small town living combined with easy
access to an extensive array of urban amenities.
The character of the “community” can be understood by its history and
institutions. One of the first Mercer County industrialists of the era, Frank H.
Buhl, in conjunction with his wife, Julia F. Buhl, developed Buhl Farm Park for
the benefit and enjoyment of the community. The 300-
acre site includes an artificial lake with sand beach, picnic
groves, pavilions, playgrounds, a golf course, tennis
courts and casino. All of these amenities are free to the
public and cost of maintaining the park is provided by a
Another successful area businessman developed the Avalon at Buhl Park which
offers world-class amenities such as golf, swimming, tennis, dining, fitness, a wine
bar, kids/activities and child care, and business/conference facilities all for a very
nominal yearly fee. An individual can belong to The Avalon for $600/year with no
initiation fee, no minimum payments, and no assessment.
Hermitage, PA is home to Hillcrest Memorial Park and “The Avenue of Flags.” Originally
conceived to honor the 53 American citizens who were held in captivity for 444 days
during the Iran hostage crisis, the “Avenue” exists today as a symbol of the renaissance
of American patriotism. The Avenue of Flags is one of the few remaining displays in the
county which marks a time believed to be the beginning of a rebirth of American
In 1981, community leaders came together to form the Community Foundation. The Community Foundation is
a public, non-profit charitable organization designed to attract and invest permanent endowment resources,
with the purpose of enhancing the quality of life for the residents of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio, in
accordance with the charitable intentions of its donors who wish to leave a legacy. To fulfill this mission, the
Community Foundation will:
Identify and support community-based charitable purposes in the areas of health, education, economic
development, human services, historical, cultural and environmental activities.
Help to shape responses to community needs through philanthropic leadership, commitment, and
Demonstrate accountability and integrity in the management of resources.
The Community Foundation has grown to $43 Million is assets and has given over $31.2 Million to community
initiatives. The Foundation is comprised of the Shenango Valley Foundation, the Northern Mercer County
Community Foundation, Trumbull County Community Foundation, Lawrence Community Foundation, and the
Grove City Foundation.
These few examples capture the spirit, community pride, and life style that characterize and drive the residents
of Mercer County and the greater regional community. Mercer County and the North West region of
Pennsylvania is a great place to live, work, and play.
STATE AND LOCAL ASSISTANCE
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Mercer County through PNDC possess a myriad of financial tools and
tax incentives to help businesses grow and prosper. Tax Increment Financing, Tax Abatement and other options
to support new and existing businesses are available to support investment and job growth.
THERE ARE 28 AGENCIES WITH APPROXIMATELY 36 EMPLOYEES THAT ARE INVOLVED IN ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT IN MERCER COUNTY. SEVERAL REGIONAL (OHIO AND PENNSYLVANIA) ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATIONS ALSO EXIST THAT IMPACT MERCER COUNTY. PNDC MUST WORK IN
COLLABORATION WITH ALL STAKEHOLDERS TO SUPPORT INVESTMENT AND JOB GROWTH. SOME OF THE
ORGANIZATIONS ARE LISTED BELOW:
Mercer County: http://www.mcc.co.mercer.pa.us
Mercer County Regional Planning Commission (7) http://www.mcrpc.com
Mercer County Redevelopment Authority
MPO-Municipal Planning Organization/PADOT
Mercer County Career Link/Workforce Investment Board/Partner Agencies
Penn Northwest Professional Center-One Stop
Penn Northwest Development Corporation
Certified IDC (4 FT, 1 PT) http://www.penn-northwest.com
Mercer County Industrial Development Authority
Gannon SBDC-Entrepreneurial Center (1)
Northwest Industrial Resource Center (1)
Field Offices NW Commission/LDD (1)
Shenango Valley Industrial Development Corporation/IDC
Mercer County Soil Conservation Service (5)
Mercer County Convention and Visitors Bureau (3)
Agricultural Extension Service
Agricultural Development Council
Mercer Area Chamber of Commerce (1 PT) http://www.mercerareachamber.com
Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce (3) http://www.svchamber.com
Valley Shenango Development Corporation (0)
Farrell Community and Economic Development Department (1PT)
Sharon Economic Development Committee (0)
Hermitage Economic Development Committee (2+)
Shenango Valley Enterprise Zone Corporation (1PT)
Shenango Valley Authorities:
Sharon Industrial Development Authority
Sharon Redevelopment Authority
Farrell Redevelopment Authority
In addition various downtown revitalization or main street programs and initiatives
Greenville Reynolds Development Corporation/IDC (Split-ED and Utility Companies) (3)
Greenville Area Economic Development Corporation (2)
Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce (3) http://www.greenvillechamber-pa.com
In addition various downtown revitalization or main street programs and initiatives.
Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce (3) http://www.shopgovecity.com
I-80/I-79 Development Corporation/IDC (0)
In addition various local downtown revitalization or main street programs/initiatives.
Lakeview Area Industrial Corporation/IDC (0)
Northwest Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission: http://www.nwcommission.org
Community Foundation: http://www.sv-foundation.org
Tech Belt Initiative: http://www.techbelt.org
The Penn Northwest Development Corporation is a 501(c)3 private non profit
economic development corporation serving Mercer County, PA. Governed by a 48
members board, 45 private sector directors and 3 public sector directors the
Mercer County Commissioners, Penn Northwest was incorporated in 1985. Penn Northwest services are
delivered by a 4 person corporate staff and 3 affiliate agency staff on site at the Penn Northwest Professional
Center, Mercer. PNDC’s operating budget is $500 thousand and the organization has assets totalling
approximately $6 Million.
Board Chairman: Kenneth Faulconbridge, Northwest Savings Bank
Executive Director: Larry D. Reichard (Retiring after 25 years)
Penn-Northwest Development Corporation’s mission is to attract new business and industrial investment,
provide outreach and retention services to support the retention and expansion of value added business and
industry, and provide coordination and support services in direct support of economic development attraction,
retention and expansion activities throughout the Mercer County regional service area.
Implementation of mission objectives is undertaken in the spirit of cooperation and teamwork integrating a
wide array of resources in support of public and private business and industry growth and development
Functions and Operations:
The Penn-Northwest Development Corporation conducts a variety of programs in direct support of economic
development in Mercer County and surrounding areas. Overview of program offerings and activities:
Industrial Outreach and Retention/BREP: PNDC initiated in 1988 the Mercer County Industrial Outreach Call
Program for the purpose of contacting existing business and industry and offering assistance in support of
industry retention and expansion activities. PNDC and the Team Mercer County Business and Retention and
Expansion Program systematically calls upon industrial and manufacturing firms, virtually all value added firms in
the County, on an annual basis. Recognizing the importance of a strong proactive call program, this activity
continues now in partnership with the Commonwealth of PA Business Retention and Expansion Program, BREP,
under the auspices of the DCED.
Economic Development Marketing: PNDC conducts a proactive marketing program to a local, regional, and
multi-state network of realtors, brokers, builders, and build to suit specialists. Sites and facilities available are
routinely distributed through an e-mail broadcast network system advising of the opportunities available
throughout Mercer County. Marketing is conducted in support of local IDC’s, County, and municipal
government entities countywide. PNDC provides professional services in support of inquiries received.
Project and Prospect Coordination/Integration of Development Resources: Penn-Northwest routinely provides
project management and coordination services in direct support of economic development projects and
prospects interfacing with a vast array of public and private service providers at the local, regional, and state
Financing Support Services:
Mercer County Industrial Growth Fund, MCIGF: Penn-Northwest manages and administers a $4.0M revolving
loan fund in partnership wit the Shenango Valley Enterprise Development Zone Corporation for the purpose of
assisting new and expanding value added industrial and manufacturing firms in the Shenango Valley and Mercer
County. Purpose of the partnership, established in July 2007, is to streamline the loan application, review, and
approval process. Combined assets, cash available for loans and receivables of the partnership are in excess of
$8.0 Million dollars.
Financial Packaging Support Services: Penn-Northwest provides financial packaging services to local IDC’s, and
municipalities as requested, in support of sites development activities throughout Mercer County, as well as
packaging services in direct support of business financing applications as submitted from private business and
private developers. Total financial packaging services since 1992 have resulted in approximately $125M in loans
and grants to assist economic development projects in Mercer County which have leveraged over $550M in
private investment throughout Mercer County. Some examples include: $993,410,993 total reported
public/private investment to Mercer County; projected job creation – 8,187; retained jobs – 13,121 and Steel
Valley Assistance Program established 1986; Year one: $900,000 disbursed as grants to local projects, $100,000
in loans. A PNDC revolving loan fund was created in 1987: 95 loans closed; Over 12 million in loans closed to
Mercer County companies (1987-present). Total project investments: $95,994,911; projected job creation –
1691; retained jobs – 2,567; $1,500,000 current availability of funds.
Administrative Support Services:
Mercer County Industrial Development Authority, MCIDA:
Penn-Northwest manages and administers the activities of the MCIDA. Since assuming administrative
responsibilities of the Authority in 1995, over $70M in tax exempt financing has been issued to eligible business
and industry, and non-profits in Mercer County. In addition, the MCIDA has played a very proactive role in the
strategic planning process in Mercer County supporting the Economic Development Organizations Business Plan
and the County Strategic Plan Update.
Shenango Valley Industrial Development Corporation, SVIDC: In January 2005 Penn-Northwest assumed the
administrative responsibilities for the SVIDC. As such Penn-Northwest provides administrative support, project
coordination and management services, and facilitation of development activities for the SVIDC. Economic
development functions parallel and complement the mission and objectives of the Penn-Northwest
Industrial Sites Development Services and Assistance:
Penn-Northwest with oversight of its Sites Committee and Executive Committee provides assistance and support
to local IDC’s to implement industrial sites development throughout Mercer County. Most notable efforts
include the Prime Outlets, Jackson Commerce Park, and Penn Northwest’s own Stateline Industrial Park,
Hermitage and currently plans are in process for the development of Exit 15 Mercer, property owned by the
Mercer County Board of Commissioners.
Additional support has been provided for the planning and redevelopment of the SVIDC Legacy Commons,
Broadway North and South and the Henry Evans Industrial Park industrial area in the Shenango Valley,
LindenPointe, and the, Greenville Reynolds Industrial Parks.
Effective June 7, 2000 Penn-Northwest was approved as an Industrial Development Corporation, IDC, in accord
with the requirements of the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority. In accord with new DCED
guidelines Penn Northwest was redesignated as a certified IDC in 2009.
Co-Located Agency and Organization Services and Support Functions:
Entrepreneurial Assistance: The Gannon Small Business Development Center, SBDC, provides in-house business
planning services in Mercer County including business planning, financial analysis, market planning and research,
international trade/export, environmental services, and various business planning workshops and educational
programs for new and existing business activities in Mercer County. Visit www.gannon.edu for additional
information and specific services available.
Technical Assistance: The Northwest Industrial Resource Center, NWIRC, provides in house technical assistance
in Mercer County including human resources assessments and development, operations assessment and
process improvement for manufacturing technologies, materials handling, and quality systems/ISO 9000,
business and accounting system development as well as market expansion and export assistance. Visit
www.nwirc.org for additional information and detailed program offerings.
International Trade: The NW Commission in 2007 established field offices in the one stop providing assistance
for expansion and development of international trade opportunities in the Mercer County area. Field office
provides a gateway for the full complement of programs and services offered by the Commission in the eight
county NW region. Visit www.nwcommission.org for additional available services and assistance.
Mercer County Soil Conservation Service: Recently located within the Professional Center, the Conservation
Service routinely interacts with the One –Stop agencies. Visit www.mercerscd.org for additional details.
Other Economic Development Support Activities:
Penn-Northwest participates in a variety of other support activities including the Mercer/Lawrence Workforce
Investment Board, the Pennsylvania Economic Development Association, the PA/Ohio Workforce, Oh-Penn,
Collaborative, and the Northwest Regional EDC Committee.
Penn Northwest staff maintains membership in the PA Economic Development Association. Penn-Northwest’s
Executive Director is a past member of the PA Economic Development Association Board of Directors, is a Past
Chair of the PEDA IDC Committee, Northwest Region, and a Past Chair of the PEDA Conference Committee, as
well as maintaining various other organizational affiliations.
Penn-Northwest is a past member of the Northwest Regional Planning and Development Commission Board and
Executive Committee, Northwest PA Entrepreneurs Network, Co-Chair of the NW Regional Alignment
Committee, Northwest IDC Committee, and the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, NAIOP,
western PA Chapter.
In January of 2011 private sector leaders in Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio announced the formation of
the Open Alliance for Economic Growth (the “Alliance”). With guidance of a small planning group, the Alliance
began as an initiative to help support mutual and complementing goals of economic development and business
support organizations operating in and adjacent to Pennsylvania’s Mercer County and encourage regional
collaboration to produce economic growth.
An independent study was commissioned to provide an objective assessment of the current environment in
Mercer County, Pennsylvania for supporting the Alliance’s goals. This work was needed to help determine the
most effective way to operate the Alliance. Funding for the study was provided by the Strimbu Memorial Fund
and Angelo and Jenny Mastrian Family Trust of the Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio Community
Foundation and by Winner International.
Fifty-two individuals representing business, civic, community, and professional leaders were interviewed as part
of the independent study to gauge support for the goals of the Open Alliance for Economic Growth and to
canvass their ideas for consideration. Each interview was private and lasted over one hour. Subjects included
views regarding leadership in the community, the role and effectiveness of chambers of commerce and
economic development groups, the economy in general, priority job creation projects, community attitudes
towards change, and more.
Findings of the study were presented to the planning group in May. The takeaway from this work is that strong
evidence exists that an effort such as the Alliance is needed. The Alliance could help support the individual
efforts of the 2 County’s four chamber of commerce groups, its economic development organizations, and
public/private groups in the area. It could also help provide needed information and bring the community
together to better address pressing quality of life challenges and competitiveness issues.
The interviews with community leaders elicited several common themes ranging from long held perceptions to
views regarding current challenges.
First, there is deeply imbedded provincialism that has stymied efforts over the years to develop
collaborative initiatives at the intra and inter-county levels. The refusal to come together to solve
mutual problems has contributed to sluggish growth. Contrary to other more successful locations in the
state and elsewhere, in Mercer County, there is a strongly held notion that groups are better off
working independently of each other. In this sense, leaders of business and public interest organizations
have an unfortunate tendency towards accepting and perpetuating a belief that the whole is not greater
than the sum of the parts. A good example of this is the fact that Mercer County is one of just a few
counties in the state where its individual local chambers do not belong to either a larger metropolitan
chamber or a countywide chamber. This extremely localized focus results in restricted buying power for
members of the individual chambers, poor marketing impact, low political clout, choked networking
experiences, and diluted, confusing county messages affecting the overall business climate.
Secondly, while those interviewed represent a good cross-section of leaders in the county and region,
virtually to a person, they believe that new leadership is needed to get things moving in the right
direction. The collective view is that there is a dearth of “take charge, get-it-done” aptitude. They yearn
for strong action that can punch through the negativity they perceive is prevalent. As leaders they have
witnessed plenty of disappointment over the years when their past actions were thwarted by what they
perceive to be parochial, political, or self-interests that blocked more progressive actions. At the same
time, there is deep concern that young professionals are not stepping forward in significant numbers to
help address problems. This contributes to the view that the county and region lack direction.
Thirdly, there is a strong sentiment that information about what is going on in the community and with
some organizations’ activities is not being shared. This is a particular problem for the Penn Northwest
Development Corporation where it is believed that communication is “played close to the vest” and that
only a select few really know what is going on. In such an environment, it is easy to see how running
with rumors takes the place of credible information. The community yearns for more information about
what its public leaders and private business and economic development organizations are doing to
Fourthly, and not surprisingly, the “grass-is-greener” sentiment is widely accepted as true. The people
do not need data to back up their view that places outside of Western Pennsylvania have much more
going for them in terms of economic opportunity. Unfortunately, the more accepted it is that success is
to be found elsewhere, the more difficult it becomes to see and nurture homegrown opportunities.
Success that begets success is almost always organic, not engineered. That is, it comes from building on
assets found within the local environment. Whether it is an individual who finds strength from within to
move forward when faced with difficulty, or a community that pools its talents and resources to address
problems, or a small business that marshals resources from available local sources to expand, or a larger
business that encourages its employees to transform its products and services and thereby continues to
thrive and grow, all share a common thread of working with what is readily available, rather than
waiting for outside intervention.
Finally, and most significantly, while the community struggles with issues of complacency when it comes
to economic opportunity, there is a more powerful sense of pride in place. Mercer County and Western
Pennsylvania has experienced plenty of discouragement, but that has not extinguished hope that these
communities will once again be strong and thriving.
The study included recommendations for advancing the Open Alliance for Economic Growth as a viable means
for addressing these issues. It concluded that the Alliance could help promote county and regional assets,
disseminate information, serve as catalyst and broker of resources for transformative projects, and facilitate
regional (intra/inter-county) initiatives. In doing so it can provide a needed boost of civic adrenalin and help
address the systemic issues noted above.
Specific recommendations were provided for having the Alliance initially remain as a volunteer initiative versus
incorporation as a separate not for profit organization requiring full-time staff. It was not recommended that the
Alliance be formed as a merger of or as a holding company for any existing groups.
Rather, it is envisioned that the Alliance’s current planning group be reconstituted as a smaller steering
committee to advance strategic priorities. Examples of such priorities might include long range projects
concerning community revitalization initiatives, entrepreneurial development, higher education collaboration,
and regional economic partnerships. The Steering Committee will establish a Working Committee of
organizations and civic interests charged with developing a prototype project to directly address the systemic
Additionally, recommendations were advanced for improving the organizational performance of two
organizations facing immediate challenges: the Penn Northwest Development Corporation, and the Shenango
Valley Chamber of Commerce. These management and operational findings have been referred to the
respective executive committees of each group for consideration.
The Executive Director represents PNDC on all issues of economic development in the furtherance of stated
corporate goals and objectives and in the interest of the community. Responsible for the development and
formulation of economic development policy including but not limited to internal and external marketing, sales,
and action plan implementation. Recommends actions or programs in the interest of area wide development as
authorized and takes actions to implement such programs. Daily supervision of staff and all related
administrative matters. Reports to the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors of the Corporation.
PNDC seeks an individual who can champion the tremendous opportunities and energy that exists in Mercer
County and the region. The entire community including corporate, government, cultural, business, and
philanthropic leaders have joined together in this initiative to make the world aware of the advantages of
working, investing, and living in the region.
PNDC seeks a proven leader who understands the importance of a strong, cooperative, and coordinated regional
program. The organization seeks an individual who is action‐oriented and can leverage relationships, resources,
energy, and partnerships to attract new business and retain and expand existing business in the region.
ORGANIZATIONAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Charismatic, collaborative Executive Director to lead Mercer County’s economic development programs and
initiatives. Accountable for positive job creation in high-quality positions, as well as the recognition of Mercer
County as a desirable and competitive location for business growth within national and regional site selector and
Primary Position Responsibilities include but are not limited to:
Set PNDC’s strategy and vision for economic development
Responsible for public and private investor relations
Responsible for organizational and community team building
Primary contact with site consultants and relocation businesses and implement initiatives to significantly
raise awareness of Mercer County and the region and create strong project flow
Provide one-stop-shop for regional data, permit process information, available real estate, financial
incentives, and workforce resources
Establish and maintain a regional asset database
Engage with regional EDO’s and companies to optimize local growth opportunities
Maintain business contacts to help solve company specific growth/ operating problems
Branding, Marketing and Public Relations
Serve as PNDC’s primary spokesperson
Represent the region to prospective clients, media, industry associations, development entities,
corporate CEOs, and public sector, non-profit, and foundation leaders across a broad national and
Develop and articulate a brand for Mercer County
Develop a marketing strategy
Collaborate with other regional EDOs and leverage area resources and talent to ensure the efficient
delivery of PNDC’s primary services
Build a sustainable organization by securing adequate funding and prioritizing long-term resource
Hire, supervise, and invest in the professional development of key staff
Serve as an objective provider of economic development facts for advocacy efforts by other
Report PNDC’s performance against pre-defined annual goals and targets
Recommend and administer Board policies and procedures
Develop an annual work program and supporting budget
FUNCTIONAL COMPETENCIES AND EXPERIENCE
Relationship / Team Builder
Demonstrated ability to build and maintain partnerships on a regional, national, and international basis.
Demonstrated ability to build a strong organizational team and local partnerships.
Established Leader and Executor
Demonstrated experience leading an organization with a senior team of 4 direct reports
Proven ability to develop peer business relationships with CEOs of large and mid-sized companies
Experience in day-to-day decision making and trade-offs related to running an organization
Proven ability to translate organizational strategies in to measurable results
Successful Collaborator and Partner
Demonstrated ability to work with disparate stakeholder groups in public and private settings to drive
Ability to successfully manage, recruit and serve a wide range of investors
Demonstrate experience dealing with stakeholders, investors, C-level global leaders, and site selectors
to coordinate, magnify, and articulate the tremendous strengths of the region worldwide.
Demonstrated “been there, done that” leader who can tap into similar economic development case
studies from their own personal experience
Demonstrated success with strategic branding, marketing, sales and promotion.
Economic Development Experience
Proven economic development practitioner experience
Strong relationships within national economic development and site selector circles
Experience in county or regional organizational setting preferred
CEcD designation (or equivalent) preferred but not required
Mercer County/Regional Relationships
Possess strong relationships (or ability to develop) with regional leaders, influencers, and investors
“Honest Broker” – Recognition across sectors as an objective, authentic, and credible leader
Action‐oriented, “get it done” economic development professional with a passion for change and a
willingness to think regionally
Work Ethics – integrity, strong service orientation, confident yet modest, and assumes responsibility
Demonstrated experience as a visionary – the ability to see beyond today
Demonstrated creative drive – the ability to identify new solutions and “think outside the box”
Experience selling concepts and generating the excitement necessary to propel successful
Proven political skills
Strong understanding of public finance, public incentive programs, and capital investment considerations
Expertise crafting regional public/private partnerships
Strong written and verbal communication skills, particularly public speaking
Managing People and Performance –Manages people to help them achieve full potential and to attain
exceptional individual and team performance.
Leading and Directing – Inspires and leads through clear vision and directions, organizing and enabling
resources and making critical decisions.
Managing and Leveraging Relationships – Invest in relationships to successfully influence and build
shared goals and achieve optimal organizational solutions and results.
Communication and Presenting – Shares ideas and information across diverse audiences and entities to
drive organizational performance and effectiveness.
Strategic Thinking – Attuned to changing dynamics facing the organization; leverages sharp
organizational acumen to develop opportunities and strategies for organizational success.
Analyzing and Deciding/Problem Solving – Makes sound rational decisions by thoroughly analyzing all
aspects of a problem or issue.
Planning and Organizing – Plans and organizes detailed course of action that ensures successful
accomplishment of organizational initiatives and objectives.
Executing for Results – Drives performance through expert management and execution of
organizational plans and activities.
Fostering Innovation and Change – Embraces and promotes innovation and change as a way to enhance
personal, team and organizational effectiveness.
Maintaining Self Awareness and Impact – Maintains objectivity about own self; manages impact of self
on others, and actively learns from experience to maximize positive impact.
Achievement Focus – Strive to reach challenging work and career goals.
Adapting to Change and Stress – Adapts and responds well to change; manages pressure effectively and
copes well with setbacks.
Upholding Standards – Consistently adheres to and upholds clear professional and ethical standards
that complement those of the organization.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR YEAR ONE EXPECTATIONS
Define and articulate Mercer County’s economic development vision and strategy with key stakeholders
(e.g. Board and other area EDOs)
Establish credibility within Mercer County and regional investor community as evidenced by strong
Identify and hire talent to fulfill organizational goals
Standardize shared services and infrastructure practices with local partners
County-wide and regionally coordinated retention model re-energized
Collaborative protocols implemented, tested and refined for cross-EDO projects and efforts – coordinate
with chambers and all local EDO’s
Attraction and Expansion
Regional asset database updated with all relevant public investors’ information
Attend key attraction conferences with site selectors to showcase Mercer County
Expansion capabilities marketed to key local companies
Mercer County brand and marketing strategy developed
Retention, expansion, and attraction materials developed for Mercer County and area EDO use
Build and increase Mercer County momentum within the local community
Develop engagement and update models for all Mercer County and regional investors
Actively reach out to potential investors to build overall investor pool
Graduate Degree in the following or related fields: Business, Economics, Finance, Planning, Real Estate
Development, or Public Administration.
Salary will be competitive and commensurate with experience and qualifications - base, incentive bonus, and
Nominations and applications, along with a complete resume and four references should be sent to:
David P. Smith Jacob Sullivan
Executive Vice President and Senior Associate
Economic Development Practice Leader
DHR International DHR International
APPLICATION DEADLINE: IMMEDIATE OR UNTIL THE POSITION IS FILLED.
Created: July 6, 2001
Approved: July 8, 2011