NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. — Penn State New Kensington Chancellor Kevin Snider previewed the new Entrepreneurial Center Feb. 10 at a meeting of local business leaders and city and county officials in the new Knead Community Café in downtown New Kensington.
The center is located in the former Professional Building at the corner of Seventh Street and Fifth Avenue in the city. The campus has partnered with numerous organizations, such as the city of New Kensington and the Beauty Shoppe, and primarily with the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation, to bring energy and vitality to the local community. When renovations are completed later in the year, the center will be both a spark for small businesses and individuals to operate and an entrepreneur center designed to encourage innovation and small business development across the Alle-Kiski Valley.
“This is an experiment, as most entrepreneur centers go where there are already amenities and support,” Snider said. “We hope that other campuses in the Penn State system can replicate it and breathe some new life into cities and towns.”
Dubbed “The Corner,” the Entrepreneur Center will anchor one end of the “Corridor of Innovation” that runs along a five-block stretch of Fifth Avenue, to Westmoreland County Community College-New Kensington, the other anchor. The corner to college section is a step in revitalizing downtown New Kensington.
“The Corner isn’t just a building,” said Snider. “It is a spark for innovation.”
Seed money for the project was funded by a $50,000 grant from Invent Penn State, an initiative that focuses on leveraging Penn State’s research, knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit to bring to market needed ideas, products and services. The premise is to involve campus students, faculty and staff, and community members in generating ideas, then turning those ideas into promising new companies.
“Penn State is developing a kind of entrepreneurial network across the state,” Snider said. “This center will be a part of that.”
Sustainability is achieved through memberships by existing companies needing co-working space. Matthew Ciccone, CEO of the Beauty Shoppe, which is the model for the Entrepreneur Center, helped revitalize the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh. He noted that 80 percent of the Beauty Shoppe’s space is funded by memberships.
Penn State New Kensington Chancellor Kevin Snider previewed the new Entrepreneurial Center Feb. 10 at a meeting of local business leaders and city and county officials in the new Knead Community Café in downtown New Kensington.
More than 60 people turned out for the latest news about Penn State New Kensington's Entrepreneur Center.
Penn State New Kensington Chancellor Kevin Snider explains Penn State's re-emergence in the city of New Kensington with the Entrepreneur Center on Fifth Avenue. According to Snider, “in a way, it’s coming home.” The first New Kensington campus in 1958 was in a former high school building located on Fourth Avenue in the city. The need to expand necessitated Penn State's move to the present location five miles away in Upper Burrell.
Kevin Bode developed the Knead Community Cafe based on a model created by Jon Bon Jovi in Red Bank, New Jersey. The concept allows patrons of Bode's cafe, which opens in February, to pay what they can afford for a meal or volunteer in the cafe.
Jason Rigone, director of the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation, discusses the purchase of the building at the corner of 7th Street and 5th Avenue in New Kensington. The building will serve as Penn State New Kensington's Entrepreneur Center.
Matthew Ciccone, CEO of the Beauty Shoppe, helped revitalize the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The Beauty Shoppe is partnering with the campus to get the Entrepreneur Center up and running and handle operations of the space. Under their model, the expectation is that revenue generated by the space will help sustain the facility and provide resources to the entrepreneurial components.
Tom Guzzo, mayor of New Kensington, is working with Chancellor Kevin Snider to bring the business incubator to fruition and incorporate it into the city’s plan to become a “smart” city.
Kevin Bode points out some interesting features about his Knead Community Cafe, especially the use of recycled materials. The café opens in late February and is part of the effort to bring innovative ideas to downtown New Kensington.
The Knead Community Cafe's decor features re-purposed materials, such as two old doors that are part of the counter face.
The Knead Community Cafe is a part of the former Sons of Italy building on 5th Avenue in New Kensington. The entrance to the cafe is located on Barnes Street.
Chancellor Kevin Snider
Jason Rigone, director, Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation
Mayor Tom Guzzo, City of New Kensington