Susan Eberly was recently named to succeed Charles Blankenship as president and CEO of the Lebanon Valley Economic Development Corp., where she most recently served as vice president.
She came up through the ranks of the organization, and her first official day at the helm was Monday.
Eberly recently spoke with the Business Journal about her background and how her experiences are strengths coming into the position.
Q: Please tell me a little bit about your career up until this point.
A: I've been with the organization for 15 years, and (when) I started at the time it was just the president and (me), and I moved up through the corporation to business development specialist, then vice president and now to president.
What kind of unique knowhow, understanding and skills do you bring to the table as you take the helm of the organization, especially considering your time with the corporation?
I see our organization as kind of having pillars, and we do real estate, financing, marketing, but our other pillar is our relationships in the community. And I think that's one of my real strengths that I bring to the position — having those built relationships over the past 15 years with not only the community but members outside, like the (state) Department of Community and Economic Development, and then all the other regional economic organizations. So I think really one of my main strengths is my relationships in the community.
And then another strength would be, we own three industrial parks, and I helped to develop those parks.
So I've been with the parks since the inception … so having the relationships as well with the townships and the township supervisors and the county, because we have to work closely with county administrators, too, when you are developing parks.
And then also, again, (working with) community and economic development for financing.
So that is another skill set I bring, and then also we are the area loan organization for Lebanon County, and that was of my main roles here — as well as the park development — so the experience of the state financing is another asset I will bring to the table.
Is there anything you've done that you are particularly proud of?
We not only market our parks, but we also market other (entities that) who would like to market their industrial parks, so that relationship of working together as a county to make sure that businesses have the opportunity to locate or expand, or that we can retain them in the county, I'm proud of that.
I'm also proud (of work) with the state financing programs, when you can help small businesses get loans through the program and loans that have low interest rates that help them. They can sustain their organization a lot better if they can find resources that can help them.
From your perspective, what are some of the greatest business strengths of Lebanon County?
Business strengths would be that we have quality businesses here that care about our community. Excellent workforce, excellent training facilities, both educationally with the primary and secondary (schools) and the technical schools as well. So the workforce, really, that helps businesses.
What are some things initially that you are excited about coming into the job?
Having a board of directors who are excited and have a vision and integrity. Having their knowledge along with my knowledge and then moving forward. A lot of economic development is the relationships that you build, wisdom that you have or the knowledge that you have from knowing the programs that are out there, knowing the service providers that are out there, and then just really bringing everyone together.
Eberly, 54, and her husband are lifelong residents of Lebanon County. They have three children and four grandchildren, with another on the way, she said.
In her free time, Eberly loves to bike, garden and spend time with family.
Eberly earned a bachelor's degree in organizational behavior and applied psychology from Albright College and a master's degree from Evangelical Seminary in marriage and family therapy. She volunteers as a therapist in the community.
"So I help the development of the county, and I help the development of people," Eberly said.