SALEM - Mike Mancuso was named by the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center Executive Director to replace Larry Kosiba on Friday.
Kosiba, who headed the center since it was founded, is retiring, but will remain in an advisory capacity until the end of the year.
The SOD Center was incorporated in October of 2010.
Kosiba will work three days a week with Mancuso working two days a week until January of 2015, at which time Mancuso will take over full time.
During his hiring announcement, Howard Rohleder, SOD Center board of directors president, said, "This is an important milestone in the transitioning in leadership of the executive director position."
Kosiba advised the board of his intentions last December, Rohleder explained, and a search for his successor began in the first quarter of 2014, exploring several candidates.
"This effort has now cumulated in the hiring of Mike," he said.
Rohleder added, "Mr. Mancuso has an impressive background that will complement the mission of the SOD Center as we move forward into future economic development initiatives."
Mancuso said he is not related to the Mancuso's from Salem and moved here three years ago with his wife Christine (Howell), a Salem native. They have three children and three grandsons.
Rohleder added, "He has an extensive banking and finance background covering 17 years. He has previous experience and involvement in entrepreneurial startups, and has been a small business owner for over 11 years.
Mancuso, who was born and raised in Sharon, Pa., said, "I'm honored and excited to be chosen by the board for this pivotal role in our community. I look forward to working with Larry over the
next five months to insure his great work will continue."
Mancuso wants to start with planning.
"I want to sit down with the board and test ourselves against that original vision of the SOD Center. The board contributes financially to the SOD Center and I'm very impressed with it, they're all personally concerned with the community."
That is one of his first orders of business, and he said suggesting a neutral person to help guide the discussion.
He added, "We have to set a vision, I don't know what that is. It will come from the community."
Mancuso, who owns Daydream Photo Illusions LLC, a photography company, called Salem, "a diamond in the rough ... it has a lot to offer ... and economic development, at the end of the day, there are so many things that feed into it ... great climate, natural resources ... there's a lot going into it and we need to get it all down."
He has the basics down like one hour from three major airports, 15-20 miles from three major interstates and central industrial location.
"And in today's environment we are tied electronically to the rest of the world."
He noted there are few towns that have the all the old buildings in the downtown area and said the Salem Super Cruise is "something we need to look at" adding "we're lucky to live in this old car era."
Mancuso, who lists his hobby's as classic cars and trucks, NASCAR racing, photography and wine making, said anything that promotes and improves the city is on the table.
"It's all about ideas," he said, "the wildest idea might be the right one."
He also wondered where the city could be if each business added one job.
"It would be staggering. So sometimes we have to look within and we have to look for everything."
Mancuso has an undergraduate degree in retail bank management from Furman University in Greenville, S.C. and has worked as a mechanical designer in maritime nuclear piping and power, and plant design in the nuclear division at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.
He has worked on the USS Enterprise and nuclear submarines.
Mancuso also has community experience as a past member of the Lawrence County Housing Authority, the Downtown Business Association, both in New Castle, Pa., the Pulaski Township Planning Commission, along with the Pulaski Lions Club and the Shenago Valley Jaycees.
Mancuso said, "If the SOD Center can be of assistance, we're here to help businesses."
Rohleder said, "Going forward in the next six months, the organization's duties will be conducted in a shared capacity between Larry and Mike.
"This will help to facilitate a seamless transition. Mike started Aug. 1 and he will then take over full-time starting in January of 2015.
"The board of the SOD Center wants to thank Larry Kosiba for the excellent work he has done taking a basically dormant organization and developing the contacts and infrastructure to make it a vital force for economic development in Salem.
"The platform that Larry has put in place will serve Mike well in the coming years."
Mancuso echoed that, noting that.
"Larry has built a tremendous foundation with all the connections he has, all over the state."
But is Mancuso a Browns or Steelers' fan?
Born and raised in Sharon, he said he watches the Browns when they're on and likes the Steelers. Same with the Indians and Pirates, he said.
"It's great we live in a place we can root for more than one team, but at the end of the day I root for the underdog ... and one day the Browns will return ..."
For more information, contact the SOD Center at 330-205-3050 or visit www.concepts2companies.org/.