Shenango Chamber Creates Foundation, New Virus Aid Initiatives
SHARON, Pa. – The Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce has established a 501(c)3 with the Community Foundation of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio and launched a new initiative to assist businesses by providing personal protective equipment and other aid.
The two efforts aim to better meet the needs of the Shenango Valley community and expand the chamber’s approach to problem solving, the chamber said in a news release.
Both the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber and the Lawrence County Regional Chamber of Commerce have associated foundations, which have been successfully used to generate additional funding to benefit their communities for years, said Sherris Moreira, executive director of the Shenango Valley Chamber, in a statement.
“After many discussions with chamber leadership and with Kyle English of the Community Foundation, we believed it was in the best interest of the Shenango Valley Chamber to take this step toward growth,” she said.
The name of the new fund is the Shenango Valley Chamber Charitable Fund.
“It is a privilege to be able to broaden our partnership with the chamber in order to assist them in expanding their charitable outreach throughout our community,” added Kyle English, executive director of the Community Foundation of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio. “The leadership that Sherris and the organization as a whole have displayed over the past few months in particular has benefited not only local businesses, but also valley residents who would not be helped otherwise.”
The foundation will give the chamber the ability to receive funding for more community and economic development projects and also offer its partners and donors the opportunity to benefit from that designation, said Shane Nugent, president of the Shenango Valley Chamber’s board.
“Simply put, it’s a tool to open up more funding sources to help positively impact our community,” he said.
The need for the foundation became especially apparent during the coronavirus pandemic, as the chamber assumed a greater community leadership role in coordinating support for the restaurant and small retail community. That included gift card giveaways and partnering with social media pages such as the Shenango Valley Takeout page and the Shenango Valley Retail page, as well as coordinating community mask giveaways and helping connect funders to unseen needs in the community.
Out of those needs, the chamber developed the #TeamShenangoValley initiative.
“For example, even after the community mask giveaways, we found small businesses, day cares and churches were coming to us to get more masks, so we partnered with foundations and businesses to put together 200 PPE Business Packs,” Moreira said.
The PPE Business Packs were created through a collaboration between the chamber, Community Foundation, Buhl Regional Health Foundation, Community Action Partnership of Mercer County, Servpro of Mercer County and West Central Job Partnership. They include antibacterial gel, 20 nonsurgical masks, five cloth masks, cleaning wipes, a string backpack and useful COVID-19 business information.
The packs are free to any small business in the Shenango Valley and Mercer County area with fewer than 50 employees, Moreira said. They are available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday at the chamber’s office, 41 Chestnut Ave.
“West Central Job Partnership is proud to partner with the Shenango Valley Chamber on behalf of the many Mercer County small businesses who support and employ our workforce,” said Eric Karmecy, division chief of West Central Job Partnership,.
Another part of the #TeamShenangoValley initiative is the sponsorship of small retail and restaurant gift card giveaways on popular social media sites such as the Shenango Valley Takeout Facebook Page or the Shenango Valley Retail page.
“Businesses such as Knox Law out of Erie, Howard Hanna of the Shenango Valley and LPL Financial in Hermitage have sponsored the purchase of local restaurant and retail gift cards to giveaway on social media to not only support those locations but to give them some promotion as well,” Moreira said. “It’s just another way our business community helps each other out during a time of need.”
The chamber also is meeting the needs of the community with its #SupportOurFirstResponder initiative, though which bulk lunches and desserts are purchased by local businesses for local frontline workers.
To date, the initiative has helped coordinate a $17,000-plus investment back into the local restaurant, catering and candy community since the shutdown started as well as show support for more than 54 different police and fire departments, hospitals, doctor offices, other medical teams, essential workers and volunteer organizations serving the Shenango Valley and Mercer County community in a front line capacity.
“These are unprecedented times and the chamber is just trying to pivot to the needs of our community-at-large,” Moreira said. “Now is the time to prioritize helping our business community to survive and thrive, working together as a team to get through this together.”
For more information, contact Moreira at 724 981 5880 or [email protected].
Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.