Stollar brings its real estate know-how to MVA | Business
For 17 years, economic development was Mary Stollar’s specialty at the Washington County Chamber of Commerce.
“Most of my time there I was helping businesses find a place to move in or expand,” she said. “The chamber did not own any real estate and had no vested interest in where any business was located in the county.”
His duties also extended to accessing state-related incentive programs and business outreach and fundraising programs throughout the county.
Stollar, of course, came to the chamber as a financially savvy professional. She had extensive banking experience – 30 years as a manager of two western Pennsylvania banks. She knows the finances.
Mon Valley Alliance now draws on its more than four decades of expertise.
Stollar, who had reduced his part-time chamber duties in 2019, joined the MVA three weeks ago as director of real estate and economic development. The alliance announced its hire on April 19, along with the promotion of Jamie Colecchi to CEO.
Colecchi took over from Ben Brown, an east Washington resident who resigned before taking on the newly created role of director of customer experience and innovation for Community Bank.
“I’m really excited to get back into the game,” said Stollar, a Washington County native. “(MVA) over the past two years has been amazing.
“I spent 30 years in the banking industry, so it’s nice to be with a growing business and to see the potential financing options available.”
Stollar is comfortable with the transition to MVA, just as Colecchi is thrilled to have him on board. They had worked together before, when Colecchi worked for the Southwest Pennsylvania Commission. “It was great to reconnect with her,” Colecchi said.
She said they had a one-morning meeting shortly after he arrived, “about all the initiatives” the alliance was involved in. “We think a lot of what I’ve done in the chamber fits my role here.”
His role will include the continued development of the Alta Vista Business Park. Work at the park, adjacent to Interstate 70 in Fallowfield Township, has accelerated in recent years under Brown’s auspices. Only three lots of the 256-acre parcel are still available for development.
“Everything else has been claimed. Dirt is moved for new buildings,” said Colecchi, who had served as director of operations and development at MVA. “Ben has definitely set things in the right direction over the past three years with his energy and momentum. We want to keep the momentum going and see where it takes us.”
Alta Vista, of course, isn’t the only venture the alliance is pursuing in the Valley. “The organization is considering inner-city labor remediation projects,” said Colecchi, who played a pivotal role in the development and management of the Mid-Mon Valley Regional Enterprise Zone.
One of these projects led to the demolition of two closed adjacent businesses in Charleroi: the former Atlas Merchandising Co. warehouse and Bill’s Feed Store. Land will be laid for a 6,000 square foot office building at Second Street and McKean Avenue.
“The alliance will primarily target medical practices,” Stollar said. “We had an economic viability study done and the medical was top notch.”
Another project is, literally, close to home for MVA. Mon Valley Business Resource Center – a hub for new business development, training and incubation – was launched in a former community bank branch in Monongahela. MVA and its foundation also operate there.
The alliance is one of many entities the Washington County Chamber works with. House Speaker Jeff Kotula fully endorses the two high-level personnel moves made recently by MVA.
He said in a statement: “The Mon Valley Alliance could not have made better selections than Jamie and Mary. Jamie is well regarded for his finance knowledge, and Mary is firmly established in the area real estate community.
“We look forward to working with them on the growth of Mon Valley.”
The valley certainly grew on Colecchi; he is a lifelong resident. Stollar, on the contrary, never lived there. Still, she is quite familiar with turf and comfortable with it.
“I spent a large part of my professional career here.” she said Tuesday from her office. “When I worked for Mellon Bank, I accompanied the branches of Charleroi, Donora and Monessen. My work with the chamber also brought me here.
Stollar is, indeed, back in the game – a familiar game.