New Director Takes Helm at Shenango Valley Chamber

SHARON, Pa. – Promoting Mercer County’s lifestyle assets and encouraging greater collaboration are among the initiatives Olivia Brown looks to pursue as the new executive director of the Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce

Brown started her new role Monday, coming from Primary Health Network where she worked as mobility manager. She succeeds Sherris Moreira, who left the chamber in January for a position at OhanaLink Technologies in Hermitage.

The selection committee considered about a dozen qualified candidates and narrowed that field down to a group of three before choosing Brown, says David Grande, a commercial banker at First National Bank and president of the chamber’s board of directors.

“One of the things we tried to focus on was somebody who had an energy, somebody who had a love for the community, somebody who was familiar with our community. And that matters, at least our search committee felt that it did,” Grande says. “We’re really excited to have her.”

Brown, a native of Greenville, says working in Sharon the past four years made her realize the potential of the Shenango Valley and its component communities.

“They have good bones, if you will. It’s a great place to raise your family,” she says. “There are things to do here with your family that I don’t think a lot of people take advantage of, and I’m looking forward to building on that here at the chamber.”

Click HERE to watch our 3 Minutes With interview featuring Brown and Grande.

Regional assets she cites include Buhl Park, the Shenango River, Shenango River Lake, Kraynak’s, local schools, the architecture in downtown Sharon and proximity to shopping centers in Grove City and Niles. The Shenango Valley Mall has “great potential,” she adds.

Brown plans to meet with chamber members to learn what they’re looking for from their chamber membership, she says. She also wants to discuss ways to attract people to the Shenango Valley and get businesses involved with “creating a bigger sense of community” and bringing more awareness to the region.

One of her biggest initiatives is promoting collaboration to “figure out how we can make the Shenango Valley blossom even more than it already has,” she says.

“It’s getting there,” she continues. “In the last four years, a lot of new businesses have come in.”

Collaboration is “a big thing that we can have her work on” over the next six to 12 months, including with other Mercer County chambers, Grande notes.

“We’re looking for her to build upon what we’ve started,” he says. “Obviously we took a little bit of a break last year when it comes to getting together with other organizations.”

Grande – who also serves on board of Penn-Northwest Development Corp. – says he would like the chamber to re-establish a strong relationship with that organization and capitalize on synergies between the entities.

“The chamber can play its part when it comes to economic development, but it is more of a quasi-community development organization,” he says. “We’re not a pure economic development agency, but we want to be a partner at the table for that.”

As pandemic-mandated restrictions are eased, Brown says she is confident the chamber can return to hosting events. In May, it looks to host the Mercer County 40 Under 40 celebration, a collaboration of four chambers that will take place at Buhl Park.

Pictured: Olivia Brown, the new executive director of the Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.