Greater Latrobe-Laurel Valley chamber office returns to downtown Latrobe
The Greater Latrobe-Laurel Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce marked its recent return to downtown Latrobe with a grand opening celebration for its new office and visitors center.
The Wednesday evening event coincided with a Business After Hours gathering at the chamber’s Neighborhood Visitor and Information Center at 811 Ligonier St.
The chamber previously occupied a downtown space on McKinley Avenue, behind DiSalvo’s Station restaurant, before moving in 2014 to Sharky’s Drive, off Route 30 in Unity.
The chamber eventually outgrew the latter 1,300-square-foot space and, with the expiration of its lease, began making the move to Ligonier Street in September.
“It was getting pretty cramped,” said chamber President Briana Tomack.
The new chamber center on Ligonier Street is next to an Excela Health QuikDraw laboratory testing site and occupies a former Excela medical office that relocated.
“Our lease was up and the timing was right,” chamber board Chairman Jerry Supko said of the move. “This is the perfect spot for us.
“We’re excited about the exposure and growth we’ll have from being downtown, where we should be.”
On Ligonier Street, the Chamber now occupies nearly 4,000 square feet on two floors, with a five-year lease. With that extra space, Tomack intends to increase the chamber’s displays of photographs and other items of historical interest on the main floor.
“We’re trying to expand on the items that speak about the history of Latrobe and the region,” she said, noting, “We have two big display windows in front.”
There also is a larger area to display Latrobe-themed T-shirts and other merchandise that can be purchased. A portion of the office is devoted to items from the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program. It includes house address and street signs it offers that depict the trolley made famous in the PBS children’s show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” hosted by Latrobe native Fred Rogers.
The chamber has launched a $25,000 fundraising campaign, a little more than half of which is needed to help pay for renovation of the new center by local contractor J.J. Hauser & Sons. Crews knocked out three walls to create a large, open space and created an office for Tomack, Supko said.
Much of the renovation work was covered by a $50,000 grant from the McFeely-Rogers Foundation. To raise the remainder, the chamber at its events displays a board with envelopes patrons can select corresponding to the amount they want to donate. Some of the envelopes include prizes such as gift cards from local businesses.
In addition to working space for Tomack and for Lauren Gamrat, who came on board in July as the chamber’s membership sales coordinator, the main floor includes a large meeting room, which has played host to chamber events and can be rented for use by other community organizations.
The center’s lower level includes flexible space and a large storage area.
“That’s key,” Tomack said. “Before we had items stored in multiple locations, including people’s garages. When you needed something, you had to remember who had it, where it was and was there anybody there to let us in to get it.”
Regular hours at the office are 9-5 weekdays, extended during Wednesday evening downtown Latrobe merchant promotions. Call 724-537-2671 for more information.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .