Forward Lawrence Drives Shared Goals

NEW CASTLE, Pa. – The Lawrence County Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Lawrence County Economic Development Corp.’s rebranding effort under the Forward Lawrence umbrella culminated last year with the launch of an updated website, restructured membership tiers and overall new look.

Forward Lawrence’s new normal in 2022 largely meant getting people back together and working together cooperatively as it strived to connect government, business and community partners with the collective goal of Lawrence County’s success, says Linda Nitch, Forward Lawrence director of economic development.

Four full-time and two-part time employees work for Forward Lawrence. The organization’s goals are to advance the local economy, support a single, actionable countywide vision and develop leaders and countywide participation.

The Lawrence County Economic Development Corp.’s efforts in securing Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grants for local businesses was a highlight of 2022, Nitch says.

The LCEDC helped LaCarte Development Co. secure a $500,000 RACP grant award to help fund the construction of a 150,000-square-foot multitenant building in Stonecrest Business Park, a 200-acre site in the borough of New Beaver, Pa.

Total project cost is estimated at $8 million and construction will begin this year. LaCarte estimates the park will be able to accommodate 1.5 million square feet of building space and employ up to 1,000 people.

The LCEDC also helped Steelite International secure its second RACP grant for $3.5 million to help fund its second warehouse expansion project, which is expected to begin in the spring. The Steelite project, with an estimated cost of $7 million, will retain 70 jobs and create 10, according to Nitch.

The LCEDC also secured a $1.5 million RACP grant that will be used to expand the facilities of Keystone Compliance, an electronic regulatory compliance testing facility based in New Castle, Pa. The expansion project is estimated to cost $3.5 million.

And the LCEDC helped secure three RACP grants to fund the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 712 Western PA Joint Apprenticeship Training Center in Neshannock Township, Pa.

The center serves the continuing education needs of journeymen and apprentices for IBEW Local 712. LCEDC’s assistance earned it the 2022 PA Economic Development Association Program of the Year award.

Meanwhile, the LCEDC’s new low-interest loan fund opened Oct. 17. The State Small Business Capital Initiative loan program generated four financing projects in the pipeline for review and approval.

Loans range from $5,000 to $250,000 and additional applications are expected in 2023, Nitch says.

In 2022, the Lawrence County Regional Chamber of Commerce saw the return of Forward Lawrence Young Professionals and the relaunch of lunch and learn sessions, now titled Noontime Knowledge.

The fourth session of Leadership Lawrence County partnered with Penn State Beaver to enhance local connections and to offer continuing education credits. Classes began in October with a 50% growth in participants coming out of the pandemic, Nitch says.

The organization’s annual golf outing saw an increase in participation, and in September the Impact Awards celebrated local businesses, organizations and individuals whose success and leadership help drive and sustain economic development in Lawrence County.

Finally, Forward Lawrence began to implement recommendations from the Elevate Lawrence County action plan.

Improving the esthetics and gateways at county business parks began with the design of a prototype park entrance sign. Pre-application for $90,000 in Appalachian Region Commission funding is in process for an entrepreneurial center feasibility study, Nitch says.

Pictured at top: The Forward Lawrence staff comprises Rudi Lyn Kurtz, Diane Richardson, Melanie DeVincentis, Paul Bucciarelli, Linda Nitch and Lyndsey Overby.