Tourism agency, chamber offices move to Southpointe

January 22, 2014
Washington County Tourist Promotion Agency moved out of the former train station on South Main Street in Washington and relocated to Southpointe. - Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

The Washington County Chamber of Commerce and its tourism promotion subsidiary have taken the next step in their month-old merger with a move out of downtown Washington to an office in Southpointe.

Chamber President Jeff Kotula, who also became president of the Washington County Tourism Promotion Agency when the two organizations merged in early December, confirmed the move Wednesday. At the time the merger was announced, Kotula said the two groups would look to consolidate offices.

According to Kotula, the chamber’s staff of five moved from its longtime offices in the Washington Trust Building Friday to Southpointe, where the chamber opened a satellite office last year.

Also Friday, the tourism agency’s two employees, including Executive Vice President J.R. Shaw, moved from its headquarters in the former B&O Railroad station on South Main Street to Southpointe.

The combined staffs are now sharing office space at 375 Southpointe Boulevard.

Kotula said tourism will continue to use the train station for staging its brochures and other promotional literature, but noted that it recently closed a satellite office it operated in the food court at Tanger Outlets in South Strabane Township.

“People aren’t stopping in to get information at any one location,” he said.

“We’re concentrating more on using the Internet and social media with all of the tourism assets we have,” he said.

He added the agency is working on new approaches to cross-promote county attractions.

The chamber vacated its Trust Building offices at a time when Pittsburgh developer TREK Development Group is moving forward with its plan to rehabilitate the city’s landmark building at South Main and East Beau streets into a mixed-use structure that will include apartments.

Tourism’s exit from the train station comes following its 14-year tenancy at the historic building, which is owned by Washington County Council on Economic Development.

WCCED Executive Director Dan Reitz said Wednesday his agency is already in discussions to lease the 2,500 square-foot space.

“We are talking to two other entities to lease the space,” he said.

Reitz said WCCED spent about $1.1 million to restore the building, finishing its work there in 1999.

He said the tourism agency had been the first and only tenant since 2000.

Michael Bradwell has been business editor for the Observer-Reporter since 1995, and was named editor of The Energy Report in 2012. He joined the newspaper in 1990 as a general assignment reporter in the Greene County bureau and has also worked as a copy editor. A 1974 graduate of Pennsylvania State University with a degree in English, he began his career at the Bedford (Pa.) Gazette. Prior to joining the O-R, he served as public relations director for Old Bedford Village, account executive at two Pittsburgh public relations agencies and copywriter for the country’s largest wholesaler of mutual funds.

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