Peterson again presses need for economic development reform


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The congressman addresses the topic at a meeting of the Clarion Rotary Club.

CLARION - U.S. Congressman John Peterson met with community leaders in Clarion on Monday and reasserted his position that economic development reform is a pressing need for the region.

The legislator, who was the featured speaker at the Clarion Rotary Club meeting, said his theory is there are too many organizations that are not working together towards the same goal.

"We need a system," he said. "The (current) system is not user-friendly."

Peterson said Clarion County is not as split as Venango County in terms of economic development agencies.

The entire system could be streamlined by combining agencies, he said, but acknowledged "it's hard to change bureaucracy."

He said it is not his intention to fire people, but such measures may be necessary after evaluating the situation.

Peterson said he knows of struggling business entrepreneurs who don't know where to go for assistance.

Agencies must help people market their business and hone their management skills, he said.

He emphasized business owners "have got to use technology to the hilt."

"If you don't, you won't win," said the legislator.

Peterson told the gathering "it's vitally important you build and diversify your economy."

Other issues Peterson addressed at the meeting held at the Clarion Holiday Inn included rising health insurance costs, the effects of an upcoming decision regarding US Air in Pittsburgh, pharmacy costs and energy concerns.

He also visited with officials earlier in the day at Clarion Hospital, where work is progressing on a new cancer center.

"Your hospital is healthy and well," said Peterson.

The congressman said a decision is expected to be made July 18 regarding the struggling US Air.

He said it could have an impact on service at regional airports such as Franklin, DuBois and Bradford.

The legislator also noted Joseph Grunenwald's attendance at the lunch meeting.

Grunenwald officially takes office today as the new president of Clarion University.

"You will bring a lot to the job," Peterson said.