by Jonathan Weaver
More than 100 Ford City, Ford Cliff and Manor Township businesses will receive an application in the mail before Christmas to join the new local business association.
Yesterday, seven local business owners stuffed envelopes to invite local organizations to join the Ford City Area Business and Professional Association.
Association President Lindsey Bothell – operations manager at CBJ Medical – credited Borough Planning Commission Member Richard Wakefield with wanting to revive the defunct organization.
“Three or four months ago, (S&T Bank Branch Manager Rosie Lendyak) and I were talking and I said ‘I need to get in front of a group that represents a business.’ We needed a group to focus on some of the issues in this town and to give us their input,” Wakefield said.
More than two dozen business owners did in fact show an interest in renewing the group during an informational session at the Latin American Club August 31. Armstrong County Department of Economic Development Assistant Business Manager Justin Nolder also attended.
Bothell expected the organization to be formalized by the end of January.
“We’re in the early stages right now, but hopefully at the beginning of next year, we’ll have a formal organization with members and we can start making plans and other organizations that want our help or input can request it,” Bothell said.
Current topics for discussion include rezoning the riverfront property, downtown parking and formulating a long-range strategic plan “to draw a path forward.”
“All of those things, we are actively working on at the Planning Commission and are anxiously waiting to get this group organized so we can get their input and go back to Council with official recommendations,” Wakefield added.
Some of the other board of directors so far include representatives from Wolfe Insurance, Klingensmith’s Drug Stores, Mantini Funeral Home, State Farm and the Ford City Pizzeria.
An August 1995 online document shows that a borough comprehensive plan was developed to guide future growth/preservation activities in the 21st Century.
Issues discussed in that comprehensive plan also tackled issues such as the lack of parking, redevelopment of the former PPG site and reuse of vacant structures.
At that time, Business Association leaders thought that in order to facilitate any proposed plans, it would take a unified effort by elected officials, downtown business owners and local residents, among out civic groups and organizations.
Local officials recall the former business association as “a very vibrant group” involved in community activities.