GROVE CITY, Pa. – Penn-Northwest Development Corp. will use information provided during a summit later this month to inform its upcoming work plan, Executive Director Rod Wilt says.
On July 28, Penn-Northwest will host its inaugural Mercer County Economic Summit at Grove City College in Grove City, Pa.
“What I hope to take away is a realistic snapshot of where we are and a very hopeful vision for where we can go together,” Wilt says.
Every November, Penn-Northwest presents its comprehensive economic development strategy for the upcoming year, and what is discussed July 28 will be “an integral component of how we craft our strategy to what we’re going to be working on in 2024,” he says.
The morning-long program, which will begin at 8 a.m. at Staley Hall of Arts and Letters, will feature six panels of local experts discussing topics ranging from manufacturing to tourism and recreation. Rick Siger, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, will deliver the keynote address.
Wilt, who was hired in September 2020 to head Penn-Northwest, was inspired by reading an article about a similar event in Washington County.
“As is the case with many of the things that I see out there, the best ideas are stolen,” he says.
The six panels will focus on key segments of the Mercer County economy. Each will feature community leaders representing education, manufacturing, health care, recreation/tourism, workforce development and elected officials.
“As we looked through our program of work, which is our comprehensive economic development plan, we focused on these five or six different areas of the economy where we felt it would be interesting for the community to hear from,” Wilt says.
Panelists will be asked two key questions, he continues.
The first question is their perception of the state of affairs in Mercer County – whether they see the county moving forward, falling back or just treading water. The second is how they feel about the future, including what obstacles they see and what areas of the county need to be improved to make it a more attractive place to live, learn, work and play.
“Because the panels are only a half an hour to 40 minutes in length, I don’t want to get bogged down with a ton of questions. I want people to hear from our leaders in those various sectors,” Wilt says. “And I want people to leave with a realistic sense of how things are but also be uplifted about the future. I think we’re going to hear a bullish message about the various sectors of our economy.”
Tickets can be purchased at Penn-Northwest.com/event. Admission includes continental breakfast and lunch. Tickets are $50 for Penn-Northwest members, $100 for nonmembers.