Our Story

An economic vision

Welcome to Penn-Northwest Development Corporation, your steadfast partner in business development and expansion.

Established in 1985, we have been the cornerstone of economic revitalization in Mercer County, fostering a thriving business landscape amidst evolving economic dynamics.

And Love for a community

At the heart of Penn-Northwest Development Corporation is an unwavering love for the Mercer County community.

Our dedication extends beyond just business growth to nurturing a vibrant, prosperous environment where both enterprises and individuals can flourish.

With every project we undertake, we aim to bolster the communal fabric, ensuring that the economic progress we foster benefits every member of our cherished community.

All Road Lead To and Through Mercer County Photo

Our endeavors are rooted in a deep-seated commitment to see Mercer County thrive, reflecting a harmonious blend of economic vitality and communal well-being.

Meet Our Team

Rod Wilt Headshot Photo

Rod E. Wilt

Executive Director

Rod brings over three decades of diverse experience to his role as Executive Director of Penn-Northwest, drawing from his background in government, finance, and real estate.

A local to Mercer County with education from Greenville High School and Thiel College, he spent his early career at financial institutions including First National Bank in Hermitage, PA, and served five terms in the PA House of Representatives.

Since 2008, he has been involved in the acquisition and management of over 3,500 multi-family apartment units. Rod also brings to PNDC six years of experience in legislative outreach, issues education and government relations from his experience working with several clients in the oil & gas, pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries, as well as serving as the Chair of the Thiel College Board of Trustees.

Gary Dovey Headshot Photo

Gary T. Dovey

VP, Business Development, PNDC

Gary Dovey is a senior development, recruitment, and land planning executive with a successful 15-year record of assisting communities by attracting and financing industries that create family-wage sustaining jobs.

Gary has served with communities and businesses in the counties of Butler, Clearfield, Crawford, Jefferson, Mercer and Venango in Pennsylvania. He excels in land planning and recruitment strategies, expanding industries and building/filling industrial parks.

Gary holds a BS in Public Administration from Slippery Rock University and stands ready to meet your expansion/relocation needs. He looks forward to helping your business grow in Mercer County.

Melinda Bowen-Houck Headshot Photo

Melinda Bowen-Houck

Director of Marketing

Melinda Bowen-Houck is a native of Youngstown, Ohio and graduated from Youngstown State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from the Williamson College of Business.

Previously, she worked for Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Mahoning Valley & Western PA, WYSU 88.5 FM, and Simon Roofing and Sheet Metal.

Melinda brings extensive public relations, events planning, fundraising, grant writing and organizational skills to Penn-Northwest.

Kerri Ericksen Headshot Photo

Kerri Ericksen

Office Administrator

Kerri has joined the Penn-Northwest Development Corporation team as Office Administrator and Project Coordinator, bringing over two decades of experience from her family's manufacturing business in Reynolds Industrial Park.

Her expertise spans office administration, project management, and collaborative endeavors with many of PNDC’s members and industry sectors.

Before her tenure in the family business, Kerri honed her customer engagement and sales skills at Winner International, interacting with clients daily and gaining essential experience in customer relations.

Ellen Pardee Headshot Photo

Ellen Pardee

Project Coordinator

Ellen is a long-time resident of Mercer County. She graduated from Lakeview High School and earned a Multi-Disciplinary Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Counseling, starting at Clarion University and finishing at Liberty University.

Joining Greenville Area Economic Development Corporation in May 2018, she quickly advanced to Director by August 2019.

As Mercer County's ENGAGE! representative, Ellen is active in various boards including United Way, Shenango Valley Enterprise Zone, and others. She's also involved with Penn-Northwest's Sites Committee, the local Chamber of Commerce, and economic development groups. Her broad work background, combined with strong interpersonal and event-planning skills, fuels her dedication to the region, benefiting local business and workforce development.

Jake Rickert Headshot Photo

Jake Rickert

Director of Workforce Development

Jake Rickert is the newest member on the Penn-Northwest team. As a home grown local, he was born and raised in Greenville, Pennsylvania and graduated from Penn-State Shenango with a Bachelor of Arts in Corporate Communications.

Prior to Penn-Northwest, Jake served in the United States Army for four years. He currently services in the National Guard as a Staff Sergeant for an Infantry Company. His knowledge of external and internal communications, strategic analysis, and public relations assists in his efforts towards workforce development, the Future Leaders, and the revitalization of Mercer County.

He plans to continue his education through federal and state level grant writing courses. Jake is excited to begin his career in economic development and looks forward to helping Mercer County flourish with the staff at Penn-Northwest!

Jane Goniea Headshot Photo

Jane Goniea

Administrative Assistant

Jane Goniea is a new Mercer County transplant and Penn-Northwest Development Corporation's new administrative assistant, working as assistant to the office administrator and staff.

Jane graduated from Grove City College with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. During her time at college, she worked in various administrative and project management roles, including a research project for Clarion County EDC. After graduation, she and her husband moved to Sharon, Pennsylvania, where she interned and was subsequently hired at PNDC.

She looks forward to growing ties within the county, both as a part of her job and as a member of the community.

Ligaya Kurelko Headshot Photo

Ligaya Kurelko

Assistant Director of Workforce Development

Ligaya Kurelko was born and raised in Mercer County, Pennsylvania and graduated from Hickory High School. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Corporate Communications and obtained certifications in Diversity Studies and International Cultures Studies at Penn-State University, Shenango Campus. Ligaya worked in healthcare and as a veterinary assistant during her time in college.

Her knowledge of internal and external communications, strategic planning, marketing, and public relations assists in her efforts towards the workforce development of Mercer County. She plans on furthering her education in Corporate Communications to enhance and develop her knowledge in creating innovative ways to support our community.

Our Mission

Penn-Northwest Development Corporation was born out of a necessity to confront and overcome the economic challenges faced by Mercer County. Witnessing the effects of industrial downturns and the need for sustainable economic revitalization, our mission is clear: to proactively address these challenges with robust solutions.

We are deeply invested in Mercer County's prosperity, not merely because it is our home, but because we believe in the potential and resilience of its people. Our commitment to economic development is, at its core, a commitment to the community's future—fueling growth, opportunity, and a better quality of life for every resident.

Our Mission in Action:

One step at a time

Money Raised

Since the launch of their "Make it Mercer!" campaign, we've generated over $280 million in capital investment in the county.

Business Action team nearby major economies

Our Business Action Team (B.A.T.) at leads the charge in supporting Mercer County's economic development with focused assistance and training, targeting new industry recruitment, entrepreneurship, and workforce development for immediate and long-term community goals.

Program of Work Image Preview

Each year, we prepare a Program of Work, carefully designed with very specific, measurable goals and objectives to help us execute the strategies needed to increase the prosperity of Mercer County. This plan also gives us the framework for providing our Board, membership, stakeholders, and the community with quantifiable results related to the various goals set forth.

Employers in the County Pie Chart

Mercer County is home to a plethora of employers across various industries, and we provide essential connections to this rich network, facilitating growth and opportunity for businesses in the region.

Mercer County Homegrown Logo

The Homegrown Initiative, sponsored by Penn-Northwest Development Corporation's Future Leaders, comprises young professionals committed to enhancing their community. Their aim is to empower young adults with local resources, leveraging connections with businesses and educational institutions to create pathways for community members to access opportunities within our area.

MCIDA Logo Image

MCIDA mainly issues tax-exempt bonds to facilitate low-interest loans for businesses, essentially acting as a conduit. These funds can be used by eligible small manufacturers and non-profit 501(c)(3) corporations to finance land, buildings, and new machinery.

Mercer County Industrial Development Authority

MCIDA primarily serves as an issuer of tax-exempt bonds as stand-alone transactions. (Basically, a way of turning a bank loan to a business into a low interest loan by using the MCIDA as a conduit.) Bond funds are loaned to businesses and can be used to finance land, building, and new machinery and equipment. Primarily, the eligible companies include small manufacturers and non-profit 501(c)(3) corporations.

MCIDA Board of Directors

  • Douglas W. Riley – Chairman
  • Robert A. Donatelli – First Vice Chairman
  • J. Marc Buskirk – Board Member
  • William F. McKnight – Treasurer
  • Evan A. Watkins – Secretary

Interest Rate and Terms:

The bank providing the money sets the interest rate and terms. The rate is usually about 85% of the prime rate and terms similar to conventional financing. The term of loan cannot exceed 120% of the depreciable life of the assets financed.

Key points for small manufacturing business bonds:

  • Manufacturer must be “small”, with small defined as a company that does not incur more than $20,000,000 of capital costs over a six-year period beginning three years to the date of closing.
  • At least 75% of tax-exempt proceeds must be used for manufacturing activities; a limit of 25% of the proceeds may be used for office, research & development, and warehousing.
  • For building acquisition, must spend an amount equal to at least 15% of the building acquisition financing amount on rehabilitation.
  • Must create and/or retain, within three years, one full-time permanent job for every $50,000 financed.

Key points for non-profit 501(c)(3) bonds:

  • Non-profit must have received 501(c)(3) status from the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Must create and/or retain, within three years, at least 10 fulltime permanent jobs.

Meetings are held at 3580 Innovation Way, Hermitage, PA 16148 on the first friday of every month.


Mercer County Industrial Development Authority

3580 Innovation Way, Hermitage, PA 16148

Mercer County Innovation Fund Banner Image

The Mercer County Innovation Fund (MCIF) is a partnership between Penn-Northwest Development Corporation and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA to provide funding to tech-based start-ups and small, existing manufacturers located in Mercer County that are in the process of developing a new product or process.

Annual Report 2022/2023 Image

The purpose of this report is to communicate to our membership and the public how Penn-Northwest performed in administering the agency’s Program of Work (POW) for economic development initiatives in Mercer County. This report includes information about the companies that received support directly from Penn-Northwest in conjunction with our many partners that make up the Improvement Movement Team.

Click here to view.

But Don't Just Take Our Word for it!

PNDC understands what businesses - bother large and small - need to succeed in our area. We have called Mercer County our home for over 100 years now and we will continue to rely on and partner with PNDC.