Talking jobs: Moshannon Valley partnership honors small business, entrepreneur of the year

Jobs were on many minds at the Moshannon Valley Economic Development Partnership annual awards lunch Friday.

From the politicians to the presenters to the award recipients, everyone was talking about jobs. How to get them, how to keep them, how to train people to do them.

“We have the best work force of anywhere I’ve ever been,” said state Rep. Tommy Sankey, R-Decatur Township, Clearfield County. “I’ll take the work ethic of the people of central Pennsylvania over anywhere I’ve ever lived, and twice on Sunday.”

The sentiment was echoed as MVEDP’s accomplishments over the past year were trumpeted. They included securing DuBois Business College as a new education partner to take the place of South Hills School of Business and Technology.

“The thing we need in this region, in the country, is a quality, trained workforce,” said U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township.

Entrepreneur of the Year Brian Bennett, owner of businesses such as Central Steamer LLC, Bennett Rentals and Bennett Lawn Care and Landscaping, and Small Business of the Year winner GeoTech Engineering owner Joel Albert, were both credited for their job creation, and a commitment to putting local people to work.

“Homegrown businesses are the businesses that are going to stay in the area,” MVEDP Executive Director Stan LaFuria said. “Their roots are here.”

Jobs are also part of the future plans, such as preserving jobs with GEO Group, which operates the Moshannon Valley Correctional Center, a private prison for federal inmates just outside Philipsburg in Decatur Township, Clearfield County. The prison, which has been heavily supported by MVEDP for years, is in the process of fighting for a new contract with a competitor in Ohio.

“This needs to be a community effort,” Thompson said.

“If we don’t get the news we’re looking for, it’s not the end of the process,” he said, promising appeals.