The Indiana County Chamber of Commerce has named a new president.
He is James B. Struzzi II, a 45-year-old public relations professional and a White Township resident.
Struzzi is to start April 22. He succeeds Dana Henry, who retired on March 31 after 18 years of service. Struzzi’s salary was not disclosed.
“I am thrilled and honored to be chosen for this important position as the president of the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce,” Struzzi said in a statement announcing the chamber’s decision. “This is an exciting time for the chamber and Indiana County as we embark on a new era of success and achievement.”
Struzzi currently is an assistant press secretary with PennDOT Engineering District 11, which is composed of Lawrence, Beaver and Allegheny counties. He previously was the community relations coordinator for Penn-DOT District 10, which is based in Indiana.
Struzzi holds a bachelor’s degree in English writing from the University of Pittsburgh and had started working toward a master’s degree at Indiana University of Pennsylvania before being transferred to the District 11 office.
As a result of the transfer, Struzzi and his family moved out of Indiana County, but eventually returned.
“My wife and I want to raise our family here and be an integral part of this wonderful community,” Struzzi said. “That’s why we came back. Indiana County has something very special that can’t be found elsewhere.”
Struzzi’s hiring caps a committee-led search that began soon after Henry announced his retirement on Feb 13.
The search, according to chamber Chairman Bob Kane, yielded 25 applicants.
From those, the search committee selected three finalists and then further pared the list to two. It ultimately recommending Struzzi for the job to the chamber’s executive committee, which hired Struzzi on a unanimous vote, Kane said.
Kane said Struzzi’s experience in communications, marketing and networking made him an ideal candidate for the job.
And the job, Struzzi said, appeals to him not only because of the location — he has been commuting an hour-and-a-half every day to the District 11 headquarters in Bridgeville — but because it plays to his professional strengths.
“It just seems to be the right fit,” he said.
As chamber president, he will direct the organization’s day-to-day operations. He also becomes a principal member of Indiana County’s unified economic development team, the Indiana County Center for Economic Operations. The center is composed of the chamber, county government, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, the Indiana County Tourist Bureau and the Indiana County Development Corp.
Struzzi said there are a few things he intends to focus on when he takes the helm later this month. Among them will be to update the chamber’s website and improve its social media presence. He also said he intends to open discussions with chamber members to see what they want out of the organization and work on recruiting new members.
“There is great opportunity now to grow the chamber to the benefit of our current members, and create a magnetic, energizing organization that new members want to be part of. While the chamber has done many great things in the past, the door to an incredible future is just opening,” he said.
Kane said he believes there is room for growth, estimating that roughly two-thirds of the businesses in the county do not belong to the chamber.
Struzzi and his wife, Christina, have four children. He also is an author, having written two published novels for children and young adults: “The Christmas Secret” and “Jacob’s Haunting.” Additionally, Struzzi provides the vocals for the Pittsburgh-based heavy metal band Genghis Kahn.