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Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland honors contributions

Jeff Himler
| Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Murrysville Mayor Robert J. Brooks (left), who has investment interests in Pittsburgh's Pirates and Penguins professional sports teams, compares his ring for the Penguins' recent Stanley Cup victory with the 1979 World Series ring worn by former Pirates player and retired broadcaster Kent Tekulve. Tekulve introduced Brooks, who was honored at the Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland's annual dinner Oct. 3, 2017 at the Ramada Greensburg Hotel and Conference Center in Hempfield.
Jeff Himler | Tribune-Review
Murrysville Mayor Robert J. Brooks (left), who has investment interests in Pittsburgh's Pirates and Penguins professional sports teams, compares his ring for the Penguins' recent Stanley Cup victory with the 1979 World Series ring worn by former Pirates player and retired broadcaster Kent Tekulve. Tekulve introduced Brooks, who was honored at the Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland's annual dinner Oct. 3, 2017 at the Ramada Greensburg Hotel and Conference Center in Hempfield.
New Kensington resident David Hanna addresses guests at the Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland's Oct. 3, 2017 dinner in Hempfield. He was honored for his volunteer service on the boards of several county organizations and his past role chairing the Economic Growth Connection.
Jeff Himler | Tribune-Review
New Kensington resident David Hanna addresses guests at the Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland's Oct. 3, 2017 dinner in Hempfield. He was honored for his volunteer service on the boards of several county organizations and his past role chairing the Economic Growth Connection.
Jane Heiple of Ligonier Borough will fill the new position of director of the Westmoreland Forum for Workforce Development. Her new role was announced at the Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland's annual dinner Oct. 3, 2017 at the Ramada Greensburg Hotel and Conference Center in Hempfield.
Jeff Himler | Tribune-Review
Jane Heiple of Ligonier Borough will fill the new position of director of the Westmoreland Forum for Workforce Development. Her new role was announced at the Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland's annual dinner Oct. 3, 2017 at the Ramada Greensburg Hotel and Conference Center in Hempfield.

Economic development involves more than attracting employers.

President James L. Smith told those attending the Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland's annual dinner Tuesday that the organization and its local partners have taken steps to provide the skilled workers that employers need and the places that those workers will want to live.

Smith introduced Jane Heiple of Ligonier, who is starting in the new role of director of the Westmoreland Forum for Workforce Development. It's a position made possible by contributions from county agencies and area school districts.

Heiple has worked for school districts in the Somerset, Bedford and Philadelphia areas, including as a public school administrator.

“If we can't supply companies with the things that they need, then they'll move,” Smith said. “How do we find that next generation of workers? We've got to offer them the kinds of things they want. If we don't, they'll go somewhere else.”

Heiple said one of the night's honorees, Murrysville Mayor Robert J. Brooks, has helped his community develop the assets that can attract residents and employers.

“Murrysville sets a phenomenal example for us all to follow,” Smith said.

In a tribute video, community officials praised Brooks' contributions, initially as a councilman, to development of parks, a library and a new shopping plaza in Murrysville.

Murrysville “used to be a place you come from. Now it's a place you go to,” said Brooks, who was praised for being among investors who have kept the Penguins and Pirates teams in Pittsburgh, adding to the region's economy.

Also recognized was David Hanna, former Southwest Region president of First Commonwealth Bank.

A lifelong resident of New Kensington, he is past chairman of the Economic Growth Connection's board of directors. After retiring from First Commonwealth Bank in 2010, he continued to serve the institution through 2016, as an adviser.

Smith said Hanna's volunteer efforts on boards for numerous human service and cultural organizations have bolstered quality of life in the county.

Hanna has served on the boards of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and Penn State New Kensington, the Greensburg YMCA and the Westmoreland Arthritis Foundation, historical society and symphony.

He played a key role in local fundraising campaigns for the United Way, March of Dimes, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Westmoreland Cultural Trust.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622.

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