Members of the North West Commission traveled to Corry on Tuesday to meet Impact Corry and visit local contractors. The North West Commission is a local development district that assists with community and business development.
Tammy Dulaney, Ph.D., program manager at the North West Commission, said they were in town to meet with Impact Corry Executive Director Charles Gray and Corry Higher Education Council Executive Director Brody Howard to discuss a number of education opportunities from training and workforce development to community support and resources.
The group, consisting of three members of the North West Commission, went with Gray to visit Kneadful Things Bakery & Cafe, Painted Finch Gallery, Epiphany’s Emporium, Village Thrift, Whistle Stop Antique Mall, Hiram’s, Pipit’s Radio Station and The Juice Shop.
“Beyond touring and being here, we’re also here to identify projects we can move forward with in the ARC development program at this time,” said Lyndsey King, community development of the North West Commission.
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is a program that aims to connect businesses to the resources they need to achieve their goals and bring economic growth to the region. More recently, Impact Corry received a grant from ARC which enabled them to purchase a universal fiber optic internet connection for the Corry area. This grant allows Corry to have free and accessible wifi within its city limits, as well as throughout the Corry Area School District.
“It’s a whole new perspective of opportunity for people, and I think fiber is the divider at this point,” Gray said. “I think our commitment to concert fiber for our city and our school district means that everyone here will have an equal opportunity to compete. The digital economy is the way of the future.
“All studies show that rural communities will be the most disrupted – as in the greatest number of job losses – so we need to start now to provide new opportunities.”
King said the deadline to apply for the ARC Development Program is August 19. So they spent time identifying key projects they would like to focus on in the application so that Corry could secure funding for those projects.
Another thing the North West Commission offers is programming for municipal services.
“We’re a free resource for our area, and it’s really important that our communities know how to access our programming,” said Jessica Carroll, Outreach Specialist at the Northwest Commission.
Services offered include safety and maintenance training for road crews on paving issues, crosswalks and winter conditions. They also offer international marketing programs, which Carroll says can benefit businesses looking to expand.
Carroll mentioned that if there is a resource that the Northwest Commission does not provide, it will connect business owners and residents to those resources if they exist elsewhere.
She also said that now when people approach Gray and ask for help starting their business, she can direct them to North West Commission resources, either through them or through ‘a partner.
“We have a pretty broad reach of partners, so even though it’s not our specialty, we make sure to build those relationships,” Carroll said.
Gray said that currently they are also working on an app for budget gardening, which would give small businesses in the area an advocate who would begin to market businesses and connect them with resources they may not be familiar with. not. She said it’s important because Corry residents want to see their businesses grow, and it can help them achieve that.
“A lot of people look to where the opportunities are and settle there,” Gray said. “It’s their investment – they’re moving. I feel like the people of Corry are invested in staying. They’re hunkered down and making the switch, rolling up their sleeves, because they don’t want to budge.
“They want this place to be beautiful, and that’s why we’re successful. There are so many people in this community who are willing to put in the work to make a difference. »
Dulaney agreed, saying it’s obvious how hard the people of Corry work to improve the community.
“What you see in a lot of cities, and what we see even here in Corry, is rethinking and recreating that identity of who you are,” Dulaney said. “We have heard more than once that Corry is becoming a destination. It’s huge when you move from manufacturing and industry to more arts, culture, small businesses and outdoor (city) spaces. It’s a mindset shift for a lot of people, but a lot of communities are doing it, and Corry is doing it well.