Funds were to be spent on variety of measures to aid local economy


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The missing $1.5 million in Venango County funds has sunk the far-reaching plan of Bob Murray and Deb Lutz to stimulate the local economy by plugging $2.3 million into development projects.

A big chunk of Venango County's $3.5 million reserve fund was earmarked by the county commissioners to re-invigorate the county economy.

Here's a look at where that stimulus money was headed:

- A loan of up to $1 million, at .5 percent interest and extending 30 years, to the Venango Economic Development Corp. to offer business and industry " responsive and flexible financing options."

At the same time, the county would continue to pay various expenses in the VEDC operations.

- An appropriation of up to $250,000 to promote signage throughout the Oil Heritage Region and to study whether an "oil boomtown" should be developed in Venango County.

In an earlier list of initiatives, county commissioner Bob Murray identified Rouseville as the preferred site for a boomtown.

- A loan of up to $1 million, at zero percent interest and extending 50 years, to Two Mile Run County Park to help it become self-sustaining. The state approved the formation of a Venango Park and Natural Resources Authority, developed last summer by the commissioners to replace the county-owned operation of Two Mile Run County Park. Murray said the authority would receive the funds "to plan, program and develop."

By issuing a loan, the county would annually save $100,000, a figure that includes a park stipend and county sheriff department patrols at the park.

- An appropriation of up to $50,000 to provide money and/or scholarships to the new applied technology program at Venango Campus. Lutz was the prime instigator of the allocation, one that she described earlier as $25,000 to the campus and $25,000 for several scholarship awards.

Three of the four proposals are identical to those contained in a nine-point economic development plan that Murray outlined in June. The new addition is Lutz's plan to assist Venango Campus in its new course development.

Of Murray's nine focal points, all but two have been accomplished or are in the process of being identified and funded.

They are:

- Consolidation of 17 economic development agencies in the county. That effort is under way.

- Establish a revolving loan program for businesses.

- Re-establish a county park authority. The authority was approved by state officials and is now established.

- Consider replicating an oil boomtown.

- Develop a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping system for the county. The county hired a company to do that project several months ago.

- Apply for a Foreign Trade Zone status at the county airport. A consultant has been hired to produce the necessary documentation.

-         Explore a total quality management system for county operations. The 2004 budget contains money for that study.