Forward Lawrence Hires Benjamin Bush as New CEO

NEW CASTLE, Pa. – Forward Lawrence, a partnership between the Lawrence County Regional Chamber of Commerce, Lawrence County Economic Development Corporation and the Lawrence County Regional Chamber Foundation, said in a news release late Monday afternoon it had hired Benjamin Bush as its new CEO.

The appointment fills a leadership post that had been vacant since the departure of Alex McCoy in February 2022.

“I am honored to have been selected to become the next CEO of Forward Lawrence. I am looking forward to working with the board, staff, businesses and community stakeholders to build upon the region’s assets to further make Lawrence County not only a great place to do business but also a great place to work, live and play,” Bush said in the news release.

During the interview process, two recurring themes were often expressed by board members, he said. One was the need to build good working relationships with county stakeholders, “from its businesses and educational institutions to its municipal, county and state elected leaders,” and he touted his ability to build “exceptional working relationships with community stakeholders” and listen to the different voices.

“Moving Lawrence County forward requires consensus, and consensus starts with building effective working relationships,” he said. “I look forward to developing those relationships and working with all stakeholders to further increase the economic vitality of the region.”

The second theme was the need to focus efforts on existing business and industry, he continued.

“As 80% of economic growth and development comes from within a community’s existing businesses, it makes perfect sense to focus these efforts proportionally to ensure local growth is fully realized,” he said.

Bush most recently served as a district director for the leadership of the Pennsylvania Senate. Before that, he served for more than seven years in the U.S. Army in intelligence, ending his military career in 2013. He attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he received a bachelor’s degree in 2014 and a master’s degree in public affairs with a concentration in local government administration in 2022.

“I’ve had the pleasure of building a relationship with Ben over the last several weeks and find him to be both very thoughtful and very thorough,” Kimberly Koller-Jones, chamber board president and executive director of the Hoyt Center for the Arts, said. “I think it was his preparedness that stood out above other applicants, as well as his commitment to service and producing results through action and advocacy.”

Within days of accepting the job, Bush began familiarizing himself with projects and programs and brought his family to tour local schools and neighborhoods, she added.

“Ben’s previous experience and qualifications are impressive and will lead us forward in Lawrence County. Ben’s due diligence during the interview process proved that he was prepared to step into the CEO role and make positive changes in the county. We’re excited to get to work and introduce him to our stakeholders,” said Lisa Nentwick, president of the economic development board and economic development adviser for FirstEnergy.

“Ben’s experience in public affairs and economic development will be a huge running start to his ability to quickly lead the Forward Lawrence efforts for Lawrence County. He brings a deep understanding of the policies, state departments and agencies needed to help foster and drive change for our region,” said Judy Shaffer, search committee member and president of Ellwood Specialty Steel Group.

Bush will assume his new post in July but will be introduced to community stakeholders at meetings scheduled over the next few weeks, including Forward Lawrence’s upcoming annual golf outing June 26. An introduction and meet and greet will be held over dinner following the tournament at 2 p.m. at The Avalon Field Club in New Castle. Dinner-only tickets are available for purchase HERE.  

Pictured at top: Benjamin Bush, the new CEO of Forward Lawrence.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.