SAPD director to retire this year

Edward M. Silvetti of Blair County, who has spent much of his working life with the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission, has announced that he will retire at the beginning of 2014 as executive director.

Silvetti notified the commission’s board of directors Wednesday morning during the economic development agency’s meeting.

Board member Rodney L. McCray, a Fulton County commissioner, said Silvetti is “well liked by all the commissioners. He will be sorely missed.”

McCray said the organization will miss Silvetti’s leadership.

The Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission is an organization created more than four decades ago to aid with economic development in a six-county area, which includes Blair, Cambria, Bedford, Somerset, Huntingdon and Fulton counties.

McCray said that Silvetti’s leadership has been a factor in the economic development, not only of the Altoona area but of the rural areas as well.

Silvetti just completed his 20th year as director of the commission.

He said Wednesday that it was “just time” for his reign as director to come to an end.

He said he wants “to devote more energy to my other volunteer interests.”

Among those interests is a temporary stint as supervisor for Blair Township in Blair County.

Silvetti, who served on the township’s planning board, agreed to serve as supervisor upon the resignation of Patricia Steward.

He did not run for the office and will serve only until the voters elect a replacement.

“My resignation is provided with regret,” Silvetti told his board.

The board consists of two county commissioners from each of the member counties and seven others named by the board.

The organization has been active in finding funds for all types of economic development efforts as well assisting small- and medium-sized businesses with acquiring loans and other help.

For instance, Silvetti said his agency is working with the Altoona Blair County Development Corp. to open a new business park

Job development over the last few years has not gotten any easier, he pointed out.

Silvetti said his organization has done “a lot of good,” but there is a downside due to the “globalization” of the economy and the loss of manufacturing jobs overseas.

Silvetti said that federal and state funds for development are not as prevalent as they once were.

He said also there is so much to do in the area when it comes to infrastructure development, which includes new roads, water and sewer lines, business parks and even housing.

But, he added, “It all begins with jobs.”

Without good jobs and good wages it is difficult to move forward because the money isn’t there to invest, Silvetti said.

A major disappointment, Silvetti said, was the lack of action by state government to provide additional money for transportation.

Silvetti explained Wednesday that he announced his retirement this month to give his board time to have a new director in place by Jan. 2.

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.