Visiting Douglas Education Center on Tuesday, Kathy Manderino spoke with a woman from Germany who is currently living in Monessen.
“I like it here,” the DEC student said.
“Me, too,” said Manderino, whose pride in her roots was evident as the state Secretary of Labor and Industry toured Monessen and Donora on Tuesday.
It was part of the state-wide tour the Monessen native is taking as a part of her new position in the Wolf administration.
But Tuesday’s stop on her “Jobs that Pay Tour” was a special homecoming.
“You may go away, but you’ll realize how special the people of the Mid-Mon Valley are,” said the 1976 graduate of Monessen High School.
“I want the best for the people of the Valley.”
During her tour, Manderino is touting the administration’s vision of “Jobs That Pay, Schools That Teach, Government That Works.
Manderino said the stops at DEC in Monessen and CareerLink in Donora were a chance for her to see “the moving parts.”
She has attended roundtable discussions with chambers of commerce and business development agencies about the ne of the business community.
Manderino said one commonality among communities across the state is that small manufacturers are making a difference. The state must encourage young people to enter manufacturing, she said.
As she toured DEC, the former state legislator recalled the businesses that used to be housed in downtown Monessen.
“Times change, things change,” Manderino said.
“I remember the department stores that were here. That’s gone and it’s nostalgic, but it’s nice to see the investment with Douglas Education Center.
Manderino said the Valley’s economy is changing. Big steel, which once was a large part of that economy, is gone.
“While it is of significant importance for southwestern Pennsylvania, it’s not just Marcellus shale,” Manderino said. “It’s and m (education and the medical fields.
)It’s advanced technology. It’s all here.
Manderino, who once represented a Philadephia legislative district, left the General Assembly in 2010.
She worked as senior vice president of Intercommunity Action, a human services agency in Philadelphia, and more recently at the Campaign for Fair Education Funding before the Wolf Administration recruited her to serve as head of the state Department of Labor and Industry.
“I share the governor’s vision,” Manderino said. “He is very serious that we can’t continue doing business the same way.
Manderino said she comes back to Monessen three to four times a year.
“I still love the Mid-Mon Valley,” she said.
“There are a lot of good and hard-working people here. Anything I can do in my role to help shape the Mid-Mon Valley and move it along, I will.
“I still believe in Monessen. It’s a great place to raise a family.
It’s still home.”
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.