The executive director of the Carbon Chamber and Economic Development Corporation, Dawn Ferrante, has announced that she will be leaving the organization at the start of the new year.
Ferrante has accepted a position with the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, where she will be the director of regional competitiveness. She is working closely with the CCEDC to launch a search process for her replacement, and plans to continue working with the CCEDC during the transition period.
"It was a difficult decision, because of how much I have invested in this organization," she said. "I want to know that it is successful after I leave. I'm confident that the board will make good decisions and eventually find the right leader."
Ferrante began her local work in economic development as director of the county's economic development department in 2009. Shortly after accepting the position, the county was notified by the state Department of Economic Development that all development offices issuing state-sponsored loans would need to be certified by the state, and have no ties to local government bodies due to a conflict of interest.
She immediately saw an opportunity for the county department to privatize, consolidating resources with other similar agencies and creating a stronger, more efficient resource for Carbon County businesses.
"There were a number of different economic development agencies that had been set up," she said, noting that most towns had at least one agency devoted to local businesses. Many were being run by volunteer boards.
"I said to them, let's come together and work together," said Ferrante.
It took four years for it to happen, but the new CCEDC was born in April 2013. Ferrante was named the organization's first executive director.
While Ferrante plans to formally begin her new position with the LVEDC on Jan. 1, 2014, she has begun dividing her time between the two corporations and will continue to do so through the new year. She will maintain a presence in the CCEDC's Lehighton office two days each week and will be an active member of the CCEDC's search committee.
"We are going to increase, in the short term, our reliance on the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce," she said, noting that several staff members from the GLVCC have already begun working with her to create a smooth transition.
A job description will be officially posted to job boards on Monday.
"It's a four-month transition," she said. "It was really important to me that there be as much runway to make this transition as possible. I'm so appreciative of that."
In her new position, Ferrante will work with the largest employers in the Lehigh Valley, helping them to address current business problems such as financing, workforce and physical space. She noted that the job is similar to what she is currently doing at the CCEDC.
Because approximately half of Carbon County's workforce is employed in Lehigh and Northampton counties, Ferrante also felt that taking the job and helping Lehigh Valley employers create and maintain jobs was an appropriate move.
"It's almost as if I'll still be working for Carbon County," she said. "It's ironic."
As Ferrante prepares to exit the CCEDC, she asked local individuals and businesses to continue supporting the chamber.
"The more you get involved, the more successful we (the chamber) will be, and the more successful businesses will be," she said. "I consider the strength of an area's chamber to reflect the health of an area's businesses. They feed off each other."
The CCEDC's board of directors will discuss their transition plan during their next regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 18.
"We wish her the best of luck and are proud that she is moving into a larger market to assist in adding jobs to our economy," said board president Mike Harleman in a press release. "We know her heart will always be in Carbon."