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From one Ed to another

May 21, 2008
By PAUL GIANNAMORE, Business editor
STEUBENVILLE — There was praise for Edward Florak, outgoing interim director of Progress Alliance, and welcoming comments for new executive director Ed Looman during Tuesday’s meeting of the Community Improvement Corp. board of trustees.

Looman, a native of Steubenville, had a long career in the newspaper industry as well as a stint in the Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County, which performs a similar economic development function in Northeastern Ohio as Progress Alliance.

Looman told the board he’s set to work on developing a Jefferson County resource guide to have it ready for the June 12 Corridors of Opportunity event being held at St. Florian Hall by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The event will see potentially hundreds of real estate professionals, developers and site selection persons from Western Pennsylvania to hear presentations on what’s available for development and growth in Jefferson County.

Looman also said he will be involved as a board member of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce and is setting to work seeking a Jefferson County Department of Job and Family Services grant for fiscal 2009 to be used for marketing of the area. A similar grant has been used in the past.

Looman has presented a plan of activities to the board’s executive committee, which will pass it on to the full board after review and revision. Looman plans to make monthly reports on activities available to the board.

“I look forward to working with you, talking with you and doing some great things together for Jefferson County,” Looman said.

The board presented a resolution and plaque of appreciation to Florak, who has served about four months as interim executive, following the December departure of former executive director Tom Bayuzik.

William Blake, the CIC board chairman, thanked Florak.

“If he’d have come here and just kept us out of the water and at the table, I’d have been happy,” Blake said. “He’s done much more than that. He’s done an outstanding job. He’s been out in the community. He’s met with the county commissioners, with City Council, with the communities.”

Florak had kept the planning moving forward for the Pittsburgh Business Times event, as well as getting involved in the Pittsburgh-to-Columbus highway corridor group, among other activities.

Florak will remain on to help Looman in the transition.

“As we’ve been saying around the office, two Eds are better than one,” Florak joked.

“I thank you for your support and encouragement,” Florak said, noting he’s not a native of Steubenville but moved here with his wife in the early 1970s when he began working at Jefferson Technical College, where he eventually served as president.

“The people who will be making presentations at Corridors of Opportunity are either people who were born and raised in the area and make a living here, such as Ed or (WTOV-TV general manager) Tim McCoy, or people who came and stayed here for their career, like (Trinity Health System president) Fred Brower or Dave Skiviat (vice president of the Franciscan University of Steubenville).

“That says a lot about this area, and we have to convey that to those who are coming to see us,” Florak said.

He said Pittsburgh’s region has grown north, south and east. “The only way left for Pittsburgh to grow now is east, toward us,” Florak said.

Vice President Ken Perkins praised the work of board member Jim Emmerling and his staff at EmMedia for developing a written presentation for marketing Jefferson County at the Corridors of Opportunity event. The presentation, “Jefferson County: Closer Than You Think” also will be included in the resource guide, which is being developed in conjunction between Progress Alliance and the Herald-Star.

(Giannamore can be contacted at

Article Photos

NEW?EXEC — Ed Looman, left, listens as William Blake, center, chairman of the Progress Alliance economic development organization, and Edward Florak talk about the past few months during which Florak served as interim director. Looman, a Steubenville native, began work this week as the new executive director of Progress Alliance. He attended his first meeting of the Community Improvement Corp. board of trustees, which oversees operation of Progress Alliance, on Tuesday afternoon. A reception was held after the meeting at Froehlich’s Classic Corner in downtown Steubenville. – Paul Giannamore

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