Oil Region National Heritage Area | The Valley that Changed the Word

About the ORA

The Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry & Tourism (ORA) is a private non-profit 501(c)3 corporation.

The territory served by the Oil Region Alliance includes all of Venango County in addition to the borough of Hydetown, Oil Creek Township, and the City of Titusville in eastern Crawford County.

The mission of the Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry & Tourism is to manage the Oil Region National Heritage Area and to increase the prosperity of the Oil Region by enticing people to live, work, learn and play in “the Valley that Changed the World” through the preservation, promotion, development, and support of historical, educational, natural, recreational, residential, commercial and industrial destinations.

This ambitious and broad mission statement reflects the history and wide-ranging methods of this recently restructured member-driven corporation.

In early 2005, four well-established non-profits merged to create the new Oil Region Alliance: Venango Economic Development Corporation; Oil Heritage Region, Inc.; Oil Heritage Region Tourist Promotion Agency; and Oil City Community Development Corporation.

ORA has been designated by federal legislation as the administrator of the Oil Region National Heritage Area. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has further designated ORA as the official tourist promotion agency serving Venango County, and the administrator of the Pennsylvania Oil Region Heritage Park. These dual designations enable ORA to tap multiple public and private resources to package assistance to achieve the corporate mission.

Today the functions provided by the Oil Region Alliance through its Board of Directors, staff, volunteers, members, and contractors are quite diverse. The activities and programs are intended to offer flexible solutions while helping the area’s businesses, municipalities, and residents experience sustainable development and enhancement, without losing sight of the unusual legacy of being the birthplace of the world’s petroleum industry.

The Oil Region National Heritage Area tells the stories of Colonel Edwin Drake’s drilling of the world’s first successful commercial oil well in 1859 and the legacy of the petroleum industry, which even now continues to shape daily life, industry, economy, society, and politics. The Oil Region includes oil artifacts, scenic Victorian valley and riverbed communities, plateau developments, farmlands and woodlands, and industrial landscapes. Today visitors enjoy heritage attractions, warm hospitality, and four seasons of outdoor recreation in “the valley that changed the world.”

Activities & Accomplishments

The following are activities and accomplishments of the Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry & Tourism:

  • Administer the Oil Region National Heritage Area
  • Develop and expand industrial parks
  • Market industrial and commercial sites
  • Coordinate the Keystone Opportunity Zones
  • Promote business retention, expansion and recruitment
  • Assist in I-80 development
  • Assist with brownfield development
  • Monitor and assist workforce development
  • Pursue community development and downtown revitalization
  • Actively involved with the NW PA PREP (Partners for Regional Economic Performance)
  • Coordinate marketing for tourism, economic and heritage development
  • Promote the Oil Region as a travel destination to increase overnight stays, spending and visitation
  • Fulfill tourism information requests and distribute tourism materials locally as well as at PA Welcome Centers and rest stops along the Interstate
  • Create and print an annual Visitor Guide which showcases the many tourist destinations in the Oil Region
  • Administer the Allegheny GeoTrail Project, encompassing ten counties in northern Pennsylvania
  • Administration of and support for Erie to Pittsburgh Trail
  • Marketing Wild and Scenic Allegheny River
  • Rehabilitated the Coal Oil Johnny House, the Neilltown Church, and the Tarbell House, all historic properties owned by the Oil Region Alliance
  • Currently rehabilitating the William H. Scheide House in Titusville
  • Renovated the second floor of 229 Elm Street, expanding the ORA offices
  • Currently renovating the Downs Building in Oil City
  • Developed Murray’s Scenic View and Allegheny Overlook, both located in Oil City and the Kennerdell Overlook in southern Venango County
  • Developed and installed Visitor Centers in Oil City, Titusville and Emlenton (development of a Visitor Center in Franklin is underway)
  • Developed and installed community gateways in Titusville and Barkeyville
  • Coordinate the Oil Heritage Region Historic Preservation Awards
  • Administer educational mini-grant programs
  • Preserve cultural resources within the Oil Region National Heritage Area
  • Enhance and preserve the region’s recreational and natural resources
  • Administer the Historic House Plaques program for historic homes, churches and commercial buildings and other structures
  • Publish and offer for sale non-fiction oil history books and DVDs
  • Coordinated Oil 150, the celebration marking the 150th anniversary of the successful drilling for oil at Drake Well near Titusville
Pennsylvania Oil Region
Oil Region Map
National Park Service

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