Withum resigns from Venture Lititz post

By on January 18, 2017
Kelly Withum, executive director of Venture Lititz since 2007, will resign from her position Feb. 5.

Kelly Withum, executive director of Venture Lititz since 2007, will resign from her position Feb. 5.

Decreased funding forces decision

Kelly Withum, who has served as the executive director of Venture Lititz for the past decade, will resign her post Feb. 8. She confirmed that decreased funding, which led to a drastic reduction in her hours, is the driving force behind the decision.

Withum is part of a team that has played a significant role in the revitalization of downtown Lititz. In terms of business recruitment, she has been involved with bringing Appalachian Brewing Company and JoBoy’s Brew Pub to town. In terms of event planning, she helped create the Lititz Farmers Market and Taste of Lititz, and worked closely with government officials to secure special event licenses that make attractions like the Lititz Beer Fest, Rock Lititz Bike Race, and the Zombie Run possible.

Jim Wenger, Venture Lititz president, confirmed Withum’s departure.

“Unfortunately, she has (resigned),” he said Monday morning. “Venture Lititz dropped her to part-time due to funding in December.”

Withum said it was a painful decision.

“This is extremely sad for me,” she said. “One quarter of my work career has been in Lititz.”

She came to the borough in October 2007 through a Department of Commerce and Economic Development grant. The state money that paid her salary was discontinued five years later, and the Venture Lititz budget has been largely supported by local fundraising ever since.

Withum directs a group of volunteers outside borough hall during a downtown clean-up event.

Withum directs a group of volunteers outside borough hall during a downtown clean-up event.

Downtown Lititz has changed considerably since 2007. Ten years ago, there was no sidewalk seating on Main Street for restaurant patrons, there were no craft breweries, no Second Fridays, no farmers market, and no special events that permitted the responsible sale of alcoholic beverages. The cultural scene has evolved considerably during her tenure.

Ironically, as the successes mounted, the funding for her organization dwindled. Last month, her hours were cut to five a week, not enough to make a decent living. It’s the same scenario that played out for main street managers in Manheim and Ephrata in recent years.

So, it is with a heavy heart that Withum moves on to her next venture. She has not publicly indicated where that will be, but she has some irons in the fire. In the meantime, for the next two weeks, she’ll be tying up loose ends in Lititz and she is hopeful that Venture Lititz will rebound.

“I think this organization is too important to the community to just fade away,” she said. “We’re on the cusp of some great things.”

She said she’s most proud of her work with the Lititz Farmers Market and business recruitment efforts, but she thinks Lititz could still use a couple more eateries that offer something different, and another hotel. The demand is there, she says, and it will enhance the business environment for everyone.

While the realization of that wish list remains uncertain, Wenger is certain that effort will not die.

“Venture Lititz will continue to serve the community,” he said. “It just might be limited on services for a bit until we regroup.”

The current Venture Lititz board of directors includes Wenger as president, Donna Felton as vice president, Todd Dickinson as secretary, Shari Garman as treasurer, Shirley Flickinger, Robyn Talley, Mark Hough and Karen Weibel.

Stephen Seeber is the associate editor of the Record Express. You can reach him at sseeber.eph@lnpnews.com or 721-4423.

2 Comments

  1. Denise Freeman

    February 8, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    Thank you Kelly for all that you have done for Lititz and especially for the Lititz Farmers Market. We had a stand at market and we greatly appreciated your leadership, vision and direction. You did a great job! We will certainly miss you and wish you well in your next venture! Woodcrest Daylilies LLC

  2. Corey

    February 21, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    She’s going to Lebanon unless something has changed in the last two weeks.

    “Kelly Withum to lead Lebanon Business Improvement District”
    http://www.cpbj.com/article/20170209/CPBJ01/170209792/1060/kelly-withum-to-lead-lebanon-business-improvement-district

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