Chief strategy officer leaves lasting mark on Cranberry

| Saturday, March 29, 2014, 12:23 p.m.

The national economy was spiraling when John Trant Jr. became Cranberry's chief strategy officer in 2007.

But the township continued to attract residents and companies, including Westinghouse Electric Co., which brought in thousands of jobs.

Now, as Trant prepares to leave for the private sector on April 1, he expects Cranberry's progress in economic development to continue.

“(Cranberry) really is an anomaly, especially in Western Pa., in that it so aggressively championed good strategic planning and following up with actual implementation,” Trant said.

Township Manager Jerry Andree said Trant's expertise has been key to Cranberry's success.

“John was able to apply his skills in pulling together folks with different views and helping to craft a common vision,” Andree said.

“He has helped us to navigate some difficult waters involving land-use issues that had properties owners pitted against each other.”

Trant, 38, who initially worked for the township part-time while studying law at Duquesne University, coordinated efforts between government and the private sector to guide economic development and land use. Trant said he hopes Cranberry officials continue to choose developments that are pedestrian friendly, connected and have public gathering spaces.

The Village of Cranberry Woods, Park Place and Bellevue Park were all built around this concept, Trant said.

He said his favorite project is the Route 228 corridor, which linked roads, residential and retail space. The goal is to attract businesses and increase jobs while maintaining commuter access.

“Connecting all those dots was the biggest challenge, and it was interesting to work with those different pieces of the puzzle,” Trant said.

“All these initiatives were coordinated from private development, to road improvement, to state road improvement, all working towards a common goal.”

The Village of Cranberry Woods, which is in the Route 228 corridor, has industry giants Westinghouse and Mine Safety Appliances and is pegged to house a new facility for PPG Industries. The Pittsburgh Penguins also are set to build a practice facility in the nearby Cranberry Springs complex.

The biggest challenge facing the township is what to do when space runs out, Trant said. Future policies about redevelopment and plans to protect open space are being discussed.

Andree said Trant, who was to make just over $114,000 this year, will not be immediately replaced. His duties will be shifted to others in the planning department.

Trant said it was a difficult decision to leave, but he is ready for new challenges.

He is joining the engineering firm Herbert, Rowland & Grubic in Cranberry, where he will serve as a consultant in municipal services and land development.

“I've never envisioned I'd be in municipal management forever,” Trant said.

Akasha Chamberlain is a freelance writer.

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