Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County’s Economic Development Council Launches County-Wide Strategic Plan for Sustainable Growth

The Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County (CBICC) Economic Development Council met on November 29, 2023, to mark the initiation of a comprehensive county-wide strategic plan aimed at fostering sustainable economic development.

The meeting, hosted by Greg Scott, President and CEO of CBICC, saw the active participation including breakout sessions and feedback from over 35 key stakeholders including business leaders, elected officials, regional economic development partners, and township officials signaling a collaborative effort towards shaping the future of Centre County.

Greg, in his opening remarks, expressed enthusiasm about the commencement of the strategic planning process. “This meeting kicks off the development of a county-wide economic development strategic plan. The plan will be actionable and results-oriented so we can hold ourselves accountable.” Greg Scott said during the introductions.

Rick Siger, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (PA DCED), presented an overview of the State’s Economic Development Strategy focusing on improving the state’s speed to respond to business, identifying regional opportunities, supporting innovation, and workforce development. 

Camoin and Associates, the economic development consulting firm who is partnering in the development of Centre County’s economic development plan, delivered a comprehensive presentation to the council outlining the structure of the upcoming project.  Camoin facilitated the breakout sessions allowing council members to actively contribute to defining goals, identifying regional economic needs and challenges. 

Lindsay Johnson of Camoin Associates expressed enthusiasm about collaborating with Centre County, stating, ” We are thrilled to get started on the Economic Development Strategic Plan for Centre County. This will be a great opportunity to work across sectors and think innovatively about the county’s future as a great place to live and work. The council’s energy, engagement, and collaborative spirit will all be assets moving forward.”

CBICC and Camoin will be conducting stakeholder meetings, roundtables, and interviews early in 2024 with the final deliverable expected in August 2024.  The CBICC Economic Development Council’s commitment to fostering collaboration, transparency, and accountability in the strategic planning process positions Centre County for sustainable growth and prosperity. The collective efforts of the council and its partners underscore a shared vision for a vibrant and economically resilient future.

2023 Dr. Billie Willits Memorial Scholarship Awarded to Holidaysburg Grad/Saint Francis Freshman Gavin Ross

(Altoona, PA)   Gavin Ross, a graduate of Holidaysburg Area High School was awarded the 2023 Dr. Billie Willits Memorial Scholarship from the Skills Foundation.  Now a freshman at Saint Francis University, Ross received $3,000 toward his education from a scholarship fund to benefit the children of employees of Skills of Central Pa.  The annual presentation honors the memory of long time Skills Board Member Dr. Billie Willits. 

Ross maintained a 4.0 grade point average as a Holidaysburg student and was an active volunteer in the community.  As a member of the Key Club, a volunteer for the Women’s Club Food Drive and a volunteer tutor at the Public Library and at his high school, Ross admirably gives back to his community.  In the latest chapter of his academic career, Ross is studying chemistry at Saint Francis University as a full-time student.   

Ross was eligible for the scholarship because his mother, B.J. Johannides, works as a behavior support specialist for Skills of Central Pa in Blair County.  Ross’s application and essay were selected by the scholarship committee of the Skills Foundation, citing several of the factors mentioned above, which made him a deserving recipient. 

The Dr. Billie S. Willits Memorial Scholarship is presented in honor and memory of Dr. Willits who was a member of the Skills of Central Pa Board of Directors for 20 years, including two terms as board chair. Dr. Willits passed away in 2019 and has truly left a void.  She was as a dedicated supporter of the Skills mission as well as the Centre County communities.

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