Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland honors contributions
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.