The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Business

October 4, 2013

Penn-Northwest enjoys year of growth, retooling

NORTHWESTERN PENNSYLVANIA — It was a year of growth, revising, updating and retooling for growth at Penn-Northwest Development Corp., said Randy Seitz, CEO of the non-profit business at the organization’s annual meeting on Thursday.

As Mercer County’s lead economic development agency, the organization is charged with marketing and improving the county’s economy. In addressing the audience of more than 100 at the Avalon Golf and Country Club at Buhl Park, Hermitage, Seitz noted he took the helm of the organization in January 2012.

His first task was to assess Penn-Northwest and develop a strategy and goals for the upcoming year.

“The one thing we wanted to do was create a brand,’’ Seitz said.

As a result, the motto, Make it in Mercer County, was born.

In an overview of the year, Penn-Northwest was involved in creating 461 jobs, missing its goal of 500. It also aided nine local companies in their expansion, missing its goal by one.

In looking at capital investment in local business ventures though, $60.1 million was spent this past year, nearly double from the prior year. Also, in membership dues the organization hit $133,775, a 27-percent hike from the prior year. Overall capital investments in the county totaled $106.1 million which affected 1,003 jobs, he said.

“If you like the work we’re doing, renew you membership,’’ he told the audience.

Taymour Ebrahim, vice president of operations for Noise Solutions, spoke briefly.

The Canadian company is settling in Sharon to produce industrial noise suppression equipment and has targeted the oil and natural gas industry.

It was largely through a movement team overseen by Penn-Northwest that the business decided to settle here, Ebrahim said.

“We could not have had such a smooth transition in Sharon without the movement team,’’ he said.

In giving the keynote speech at the event, Vincent J. Delie Jr., president and CEO of Hermitage-based FNB Corp., gave credit to the area in helping the company grow during its early days.

Founded in Greenville in 1894, the financial institution is among the county’s very oldest businesses.

After moving into the Shenango Valley in the 1950s, the company steadily grew by expanding throughout Pennsylvania, and eventually to other states.

FNB, through its First National Bank affiliate, is now in the Baltimore and Cleveland markets which, along with the Pittsburgh region, have boosted the company’s assets to more than $14 billion. The company is  steadily groaning its market share in those three metropolitan markets.

“We are now the 45th-largest bank holding company in the country,’’ he said.

“All of that benefits this area.’’    

With more than 3,000 employees, in the past four years the company has added 150 jobs in Mercer County, Delie noted.

That has resulted in FNB offices being filled to the brim.

“We’re out of space,’’ he said.

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