County chamber chapter in Mt. Pleasant settles in to new site
By A.J. Panian
Published: Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Deborah Salopek said it hasn't taken very long for the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce's Laurel Highlands chapter to reap the rewards of its recent relocation to Shop Demo Depot in Mt. Pleasant.
In a decision driven largely by the desire for increased accessibility and visibility, the chapter had sought to move from its original location along Church Street in the borough, said Salopek, the chapter's manager since April.
In July, the cross-town move took place to the facility operated by Westmoreland Community Action, a Greensburg-based nonprofit, at 23 W. Main St., One Cooks Way in the borough.
Shop Demo Depot — a nonprofit partnership of three regional agencies that is managed as a WCA program — accepts tax-deductible donations of surplus and reusable building supplies from businesses, manufacturers and the public.
Shortly after the move, Salopek said she started receiving more visitors during her office hours at the new site.
“People who were there to see Shop Demo Depot have started stopping in,” Salopek said.
One of them is Tom Caldwell, president-elect of the Rotary Club of Mt. Pleasant.
When the office was on Church Street, parking was so difficult that Caldwell would park at the Diamond Street lot across from the Gazebo, which is several blocks away, and walk there, he said.
“I have a cane, so I always made sure I had a good reason to go,” Caldwell said.
“Where Debbie is at now, the parking's much better, and she's going to have a much easier time of it.”
On Friday, the chapter office hopes to welcome even more new faces during a ribbon cutting ceremony from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The actual ribbon cutting event will take place at 11:30 a.m. followed by refreshments and networking.
Chad Amond, president of the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce, called the move “the last stepping stone we needed to raise our profile and demonstrate our presence in the Mt. Pleasant area.”
“Our new motto is, ‘Now open for your business,'” he said.
In early 2012, the Laurel Highlands Chamber of Commerce merged with the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce, becoming a separate branch under the much larger entity in an effort to further promote its members.
At the ribbon cutting ceremony for Shop Demo Depot, which the chamber was present for in spring of that year, Amond said he discussed the possibility of relocating to the site with Tay Waltenbaugh, Westmoreland Community Action's chief executive officer.
“The office that we had on Church Street was a fine space, but it lacked the parking for members to stop in, pick up a brochure and set up a meeting with Debbie because it was difficult to stay for any length of time,” Amond said.
“I said to Tay, ‘There is so much great parking space here, if you have any space the chamber can occupy, let me know.' He did and the rest is history.”
Waltenbaugh said Amond's idea made perfect sense.
“It was a great idea, and it's a great partnership,” Waltenbaugh said.
Already, the presence of the chamber office at Shop Demo Depot has lent to a symbiosis of sorts benefitting both entities.
“It seems like the opportunity to create some nice synergy. We like to have visibility and foot traffic; and as a chamber we like to drive those kinds of things for our members, too,” Amond said.
Increasing membership in the local chapter is another reason for the move, he added.
“Our membership is strong, but we feel we have a lot to offer potential new members in Mt. Pleasant Borough, Mt. Pleasant Township, Scottdale, East Huntingdon, Donegal ... all over the local area,” Amond said.
“If you see a strong chamber, you usually see a strong community,” he said.
The benefits of membership include opportunities for networking, group purchasing and professional advocacy efforts, he said.
In addition, membership for most companies costs $200 annually, Amond said.
“There are a whole lot of things that kind of investment goes toward,” he said.
The chamber plans to install a sign along Main Street in Mt. Pleasant outside Shop Demo Depot to let the public know the local chapter's office is located there now.
“I think it that's a good idea, once there's a sign up they'll do even better,” said Caldwell, who added that Salopek will speak on Oct. 1 about the local chamber chapter's goals at that month's meeting of the Rotary Club of Mt. Pleasant.
General office hours for the chamber's Laurel Highlands Chapter are from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and appointments are advised.
For more information on the ribbon-cutting event or to RSVP, call 724-834-2900 or visit westmorelandchamber.com.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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