New VentureLititz’s downtown focus goes regional

By on December 21, 2011

By: STEPHEN SEEBER Record Express Staff, Staff Writer

Venture Lititz, the local organization focused on maintaining a vibrant downtown, is morphing into a regional entity.

And while it will continue to exist in some way, shape or form, its bylaws and non-profit status will used to create what will be known as the Regional Economic Development Commission (EDC).

With grant funding nearing its end for Venture Lititz, the regional approach to downtown vitalization is expected to attract more financial aid from the government. The focus will be on business retention and job creation.

"Venture Lititz is growing and changing to help other businesses/industry grow in our region," said Kelly Withum, Lititz’s downtown manager. "This is a very exciting time and we have been looking at this for quite some time."

The process of going regional with the downtown concept began about two years ago, according to Karen Weibel, president of Lititz Borough Council. The decision was made jointly by Lititz Borough, Warwick Township, Elizabeth Township, Warwick School District and Venture Lititz.

"The focus of the EDC will be different from Venture Lititz, but the two will still function," she explained. "Venture Lititz will continue to focus on the downtown."

She added that Venture Lititz may eventually be absorbed by the EDC, "but not anytime soon." The plan, she said, is for Venture Lititz to create the EDC, which will eventually become the dominant structure.

Jim Wenger, a Venture Lititz board member and current president, will be the EDC president.

Gaylord Poling, who recently resigned from his post as Venture Lititz president, said the transition is exciting and full of potential.

"What people need to know is that this is a very positive development for our region," he said.

Two major points to be noted, according to Poling:

? This enriched organization will allow for the expansion, and retention, of major business entities within our region.

? Important is the fact that Venture Lititz will not disappear and will still be concerned with the economic vibrancy of our downtown.

According to Weibel, there is no "drop dead date" for when the new EDC will officially be up and running.

Elizabeth Township supervisors discussed the transition during their monthly meeting Monday night. Details are in the related story, which starts on page 1 of this week’s Record Express. More VENTURE LITITZ, page A22