New Castle News

Local News

March 15, 2013

Working regionally stressed to chamber

NEW CASTLE — Constructing a successful community is the goal of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce in the year ahead.

During the 110th annual chamber dinner Wednesday night, the theme of “Lawrence County 2.0: Strategies for Building an Effective Community” was introduced.

Table centerpieces were castles made of wooden blocks, which represented New Castle. Each castle was different and the challenge for those attending was to build their version of the perfect city, adding blocks for areas considered vital such as education, arts and recreation.

According to Bob McCracken, executive director of the chamber, Lawrence and Mercer counties must work together regionally in the future and compete as a broader business community against competitor regions in efforts to attract and retain businesses.

The keynote speaker reiterated the goal of regionalization.

John Longstreet, president and chief executive officer of Quaker Steak and Lube, started out as a busboy at the Sharon restaurant. He went on to become vice president of operations of Intercontinental Hotels Group and now oversees operations of the restaurant chain.

Longstreet also served two terms as mayor of Plano, Texas. During his leadership, the city grew from 50,000 to 250,000 residents and more than 50 new companies relocated there. At that time, Plano was also ranked one of the fastest growing and safest cities in the nation.

The Sharon native, who moved back to Hermitage in 2009, said, “There are lots of opportunities in western Pennsylvania, but we have a long way to go.

“How can a guy from Plano, Texas, possibly compare it to Lawrence County?” he asked. “Forty years ago, Plano was cotton fields and had 10,000 people.”

Businesses started coming in, which spun off to building other businesses, schools and recreational venues, Longstreet said.

“There’s no reason why we can’t do what Plano did.”

Finding solutions is the difference between success and failure, he explained.

Cities also need incentives and “a big win,” which, in Plano, was J.C. Penney moving its offices there from Manhattan.

“All of a sudden, it was legitimate to be in Plano.”

Longstreet, who walked the neighborhoods while campaigning, said that finding out what was on the minds of constituents and connecting with citizens is most important.

“You need to run a city like a business. As hotel manager, I knew a guest is either always right or we’re going to treat him like he’s right.”

As mayor, he learned how neighboring areas must work as one.

“Regionalization is absolutely critical. Lawrence and Mercer counties must pull together.”

And to thrive, a community must prioritize, the speaker pointed out.

“The number one priority is safety. There must also be mobility and quality of life, but the biggest factor of economic development is schools, schools, schools. If there aren’t good schools, you don’t have a chance.”

Longstreet explained that a school superintendent once said that leaders dream more than others think is possible.

“That’s a good analogy to deal with the challenges facing this area. We have to look everywhere for new ideas.”

(Email: lhudson@ncnewsonline.com.)

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • 06.jpg Photo Gallery, Story: Clifton Flat hosts annual egg hunt

    With three crosses standing outside Clifton Flat Alliance Church on Saturday, there could be no mistaking that it was Easter.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • Pride.tiff New Castle Schools: Second-grader recognized for reading 200 books

    Alexandra Browne of New Castle could very well be Lawrence County’s youngest bookworm. The petite, curly-haired 8-year-old was summoned to the New Castle school board meeting Monday with her parents, Rochelle and Ted Browne, to receive the district’s Pride and Promise award for April.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hilcorp a partner in vo-tech shale course

    A shale drilling company’s contribution to the vo-tech school will help fund a curriculum for careers in that field.

    April 19, 2014

  • 01.jpg Photo Gallery: Church’s tradition of Easter countdown continues

    Easter is keenly anticipated by Christians around the globe. But perhaps nowhere is its arrival more heralded than at Independent Methodist Church.

    April 18, 2014 11 Photos

  • Lawrence county receives state grant

    Lawrence County will receive state funding to update its comprehensive plan. The county will receive $47,000, in the form of a Municipal Assistance Grant, from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, according to state Sen. Elder J. Vogel.

    April 18, 2014

  • Mahoning Township sets spring cleanup

    Mahoning Township will have its spring cleanup the weeks of April 28 and May 5. Residents should place items at the curb the day before their scheduled collection. They should be neatly bagged or bundled.

    April 18, 2014

  • Vo-Skills.jpg VoTech team claims silver medal state honors

    The Lawrence County Career and Technical Center boasts a team of disciplined, well-spoken winners. The school’s SkillsUSA team, comprised of 21 students, stood against other schools from throughout Pennsylvania last week in Hershey.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Columbia Gas announces pipeline replacement work

    Columbia Gas has scheduled a pipeline replacement project for New Castle. Beginning this month, the company will replace approximately 2,800 feet of existing steel pipe along Eastbrook and Paper Mill roads and Cascade Street. The project is expected to be completed in July.

    April 17, 2014

  • ESB Financial reports earnings increase

    ESB Financial Corp., parent company of ESB Bank, has announced an increase in earnings for the quarter ended March 31.

    April 17, 2014

  • Author.tiff Arthur the author: Children’s writer/illustrator visits Neshannock Elementary

    A story about a grandmother and her granddaughter flying over a city grew from the vivid imagination of children’s author Arthur Dorros. “Abuela” also spurred the creativity of students at Neshannock Memorial Elementary School who had eagerly awaited a visit from Dorros yesterday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo