After decades of pushing, Route 219 extension opens in Somerset County

Shared excerpt from The Tribune Democrat  by Randy Griffith

SOMERSET – Frigid air and biting winds greeting those attending the U.S. Route 219 extension ribbon cutting may have been appropriate, highway advocate G. Henry Cook, of Somerset, said after the program.

Cook is CEO and Chairman of Somerset Trust Co. and has been promoting completion of the Route 219 four-lanes for decades.
It hasn’t been easy, Cook and other leaders said during Wednesday’s program, held on the southbound lanes of the new highway just south of Somerset. He recalled a former state transportation secretary who was not in favor of the investment.
“He said it would be a cold day in hell when this was built,” Cook said on Wednesday.
Cook said it was a community effort to see the $330 million project that led to Wednesday’s opening of the 11-mile connection between Somerset and Meyersdale, but he and others at the ceremony said more needs to be done…
Ron Aldom, executive director of the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce, said Wednesday’s milestone is huge.
“There’s no question this is an historic day because this roadway will change the life of Somerset County,” Aldom said. “It will change the life of the people of Somerset.”

Leading With Your Heart, Managing With Your Mind

Tuesday, April 17th, Corey Christman, Vethos LLC, will present “Leading With Your Heart – Managing With Your Mind.” Attendees will have an introspective review of who they are and what they stand for, while also exploring the Stimulus Response Theory. They will also learn the power of vulnerability and how to embrace empathic communications to be able to relate to one another in the workplace.

This Lunch & Learn will be held at JARI Center (160 Jari Drive, Johnstown, PA) from 12 PM to 1:15 PM. The cost to register is $5 per person and lunch will be provided. Click here to register by April 16th.

Voting Open for Explore the New Manufacturing Student Video Contest

Catalyst Connection has been providing opportunities for our manufacturing companies to build their talent pipeline by engaging with local schools. Our Explore the New Manufacturing Student Video Contest enables students to learn about – and promote – manufacturing careers to their peers through some amazing videos!

The 8 Pittsburgh-East regional student teams have recently submitted their final drafts of their videos – it is now time for you to vote for the People’s Choice Award! The voting period for these videos is now open through Friday, March 16th.

Click here to cast your vote for your favorite videos! The winning videos will be announced at the Video Contest Ceremony.

DON’T MISS OUT – Join us for the Cambria/Indiana/Somerset Counties Manufacturing Reception and Video Contest Ceremony next Thursday, March 22nd at University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown.

Augustine Die & Mold Receives HUBZone Certification

Congratulations to Augustine Die & Mold (ADM) on their recent HUBZone certification. Due to designation updates in July 2017, ADM was able to take advantage of the Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program. The program helps urban and rural small businesses gain additional access to federal procurement opportunities. Benefits of being HUBZone certified include competitive contracting, a 10% price evaluation preference, and even sole sourcing. The federal government has a goal of awarding 3% of prime contracts to HUBZone certified small business and prime contractors also have a 3% subcontracting goal.

Although there are several eligibility requirements including the business be physically located in a HUBZone, companies often have trouble meeting the employee residence requirement.  A minimum of 35% of a company’s employees must live in a HUBZone in order for a business to be eligible to apply for HUBZone certification. Prior to July 2017, only a few census tracts within Somerset County were eligible. Now, the entire county is designated as a HUBZone, thus opening the program up to more Somerset County businesses.

Congratulations, again, to Augustine Die & Mold. If you would like to learn more about the HUBZone or have any government contracting assistance needs, please contact the JARI PTAC at (814) 254-4022 or (814) 254-4023 or via email at .

Creating Customer Delight and Enhancing Relationships

Dr. Randy Frye, Saint Francis University, will present “Creating Customer Delight and Enhancing Relationships” on Tuesday, February 20th, at a JARI Lunch & Learn event. Workshop participants will learn the salient principles of customer service/satisfaction and relationship building and maintenance; understand the difference between customer service and the customer experience; and will be inspired to do their best to create the finest customer experience in their respective organizations. Customer service and relationship management concepts are explicitly applied to their organization settings.

This Lunch & Learn will be held at JARI Center (160 Jari Drive, Johnstown, PA) from 12:00 PM to 1:15 PM. The cost to register is $5 per person and lunch will be provided. Click here to register. Please register by February 19th. No shows on the day of the event that have registered will be billed.

JARI Funds Somerset County Business

JARI is pleased to announce Microloan funding for a business in Somerset County. Knucklehead’s Saloon, a pub located at 1866 Penn Avenue, Jerome, is now owned and operated by Stacy McKool.

Knucklehead’s Saloon recently opened the end of December 2017. “I’m very excited to be running my own business with the assistance of JARI.” noted McKool. Linda Thomson, JARI President, commented “JARI is excited to be working with a small business located in Somerset County.”

If you would like assistance in starting or financing your business please contact Michele Clapper, VP of Economic Development, at (814) 262-8368 or via e-mail at mclapper@jari.com.

Over 4 Million Awarded in Tax Credits!

JARI is pleased to announce that $4,934,707 in tax credits have been awarded to local companies through the Greater Johnstown Keystone Innovation Zone (GJKIZ) since the inception of the program in 2005. In 2017, $118,190 in tax credits were awarded to five companies. The Commonwealth has a total annual pool of up to $15 million available to eligible companies.

KIZs are designed to foster innovation and create entrepreneurial opportunities. To qualify for the GJKIZ program, a company must be a for-profit located within the territory of the GJKIZ, be fewer than eight years old, and have its primary business within one or more of the following industry sectors:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Environmental/Renewable Energy Technology
  • Information Systems Technology
  • Life Sciences

A KIZ company must have an innovative process or have patents, licensing agreements, trademarks and/or copyrights on products or processes created in-house. A company may receive up to $100,000 in tax credits annually if they meet the criteria and the tax credits are available. If there is no tax liability for the company, the credits may be sold for cash.

For more information or to obtain a KIZ application, contact Joette Watson at  or (814) 262-8372.

Big Idea Contest Winner to be Chosen November 16th!

The ten finalists in Ben Franklin’s 2017 BIG IDEA Contest will be making presentations to a panel of area judges beginning at 1:35 PM on Thursday, November 16, 2017.

If you know any of the finalists listed below, or if you are just excited about the Startup Alleghenies initiative in general, please stop by the Bottle Works, located at 411 Third Avenue in Johnstown, to hear the presentations:

  • Joseph DiGangi with AssureTech
  • Justin Capouellez with Boomerang Beacon
  • Heather Moyer with Crossroads Consulting
  • Mark Kasterko with MT Arms
  • Adam Stokes with muonSoft
  • Donald Nixon with Nixon’s Technical Service
  • Hunter Swisher with Phospholutions
  • Ryan Kieta with Real Design
  • James Wang with SimplrTechnologies
  • Anthony Biddle with Siterite

The finalists’ presentations will conclude at 5:00 PM, and a catered reception will immediately follow.  While the judges deliberate, you are invited to enjoy the refreshments and network with the finalists.  This will allow you to learn more about all of them in preparation for casting your vote for the People’s Choice Award which will close at 6:15 PM.  All of the winners will be announced at 6:30 PM.

This year’s cash prizes will be awarded to four winners:
First Place: $25,000; Second Place: $15,000; Third Place: $7,500; and a People’s Choice Award: $2,500.

In addition to the $25,000, the first place winner will also receive:

If you are planning to attend, please send a quick note to .

Community Resource & Job Fair

Greater Johnstown United Neighborhoods and Vision2025 will host a Community Resource & Job Fair on Wednesday, November 8th from 5 to 7 PM at the Christ Centered Community Church (531 Somerset Street) in downtown Johnstown.

Approximately 140 available job openings will be featured at the fair. Representatives from various agencies will be able to provide information on a variety of topics such as education assistance, job seeker services and more.

For more information, click here. If you have any questions or would like to participate as an exhibitor, please contact Debi Balog by phone at (814) 262-8366 or by email at .

Hosted by:       

Coordinated by:      

Debi Balog Receives Workforce Education Star Award

Recipients of Somerset County Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 awards (front row from left): Michele Beener, Sarah Bittner and Bill Arnold. Second row: Dr. V. Krishnan Nair. Third row: Godfrey Mendes, JoAlyce Kopinski, Jason Kaplitz and Debi Balog. Fourth row: Susan Walker and George Walker.

The Somerset County Chamber of Commerce honored 13 recipients of its 2017 awards for service to the region on Thursday, October 19, at a reception held at the Somerset Country Club.

“In every award, there is a level of commitment, dedication, volunteerism and so many other things. More than simply words written on a piece of paper, it’s a commitment to our community and region,” said Ron Aldom, executive director of the chamber.

Debi Balog, JARI Director of Workforce Development, was honored with the Workforce Education Star. This first-time award is presented to an educator or business representative who has made a significant impact on connecting students to career opportunities while also making an impact on providing skilled workers to local businesses. The recipient is selected by the chamber’s Success in Somerset County Committee.

Others honored include: Michele Beener, Sarah Bittner, Bill Arnold, Dr. V. Krishnan Nair, Godfrey Mendes, JoAlyce Kopinski, Jason Kaplitz, Susan Walker and George Walker.

The award winners will be celebrated at the 77th annual Somerset County Chamber of Commerce Dinner on November 9 at Seven Springs Mountain Resort.

To read the full article, click here.