WARREN, Pa. – The Warren Worx initiative is looking to take the next step.
What began as an idea to bring Warren County entities together with a common vision now has a formal charter and is asking the City of Warren for its financial backing.
Shawn Walker, along with Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry staff were on hand at Monday’s Warren City Council meeting to present their proposal.
The budget for Warren Worx includes a $300,000 start-up which would potentially $100,000 coming from the city, $100,000 from the county and $100,000 from private funding and contributions.
“We have the hearing with the budget (on Dec. 11) and we can potentially make some arrangements in regard to Warren Worx,” City of Warren Mayor Dave Wortman said.
Warren Worx aims to work together on various projects throughout the county and secure funding for those projects.
The city’s budget will be voted on during Dec. 18’s regular meeting.
The goal of the folks at Warren Worx is to be operational at the start of the new year, complete with the hire of a marketing director.
Walker said Warren Worx will help to address what they consider to be the biggest issues facing Warren County – a continuing population decline.
“We all know we have a declining population,” Walker said. “We think there are a lot of benefits of working in alignment with a full county strategic plan. We all know the city has published their comprehensive plan, as well as the county. I think Warren Worx will help align funding and help accomplish the goal of population increase. It’s about putting private and public resources behind it with one common goal. Population decline is the bullseye in all of this but there is a lot that we can do.”
WCCBI President/CEO Jim Decker said that enthusiasm and commitment from the county as a collective group will also be key to the success of Warren Worx.
“It’s convincing people that bold moves are going to have to be made,” Decker said. “If we continue putting things off, we’re going to be in the same position 20 years from now. It depends on the amount of enthusiasm and commitment from the county. We want to make sure everyone is in alignment with representation and support of the county brand.”
It’s also about keeping young people in the county.
“We have lots of smart, talented kids in Warren County School District,” said John Papalia from the WCCBI. “We have to figure out a way to keep them here. We can’t afford to lose that young talent.”
City Council seemed genuinely interested in the concept of being a part of Warren Worx and plans to take action as soon as the next regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 18.
“You guys have done an outstanding job of trying to get everyone on the same page,” said councilman Maurice Cashman while acknowledging that city staff is still finalizing the 2024 budget.
“There is no lack of great ideas,” Walker said. “It’s just a matter of getting organized and getting them done.”