New Kensington launches small business succession program in Westmoreland County

New 'Success(ion) Planning Program' aims to assist businesses with preparing for future
A blue bench along the sidewalk in New Kensington

A bench, designed as a nod to the New Kensington bridge and the city's aluminum manufacturing history, sits along Fifth Ave.

Credit: Rebecca Dietrich

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. - Family-owned and small businesses in Westmoreland County are encouraged to apply to a new program led by Penn State New Kensington aimed to assist them with succession planning and other business needs to keep the businesses operational and successful in the future. The “Westmoreland County Success(ion) Planning Program” was created thanks to an award of nearly $12,000 from the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County’s Visionaries group and an additional $2,500 award from the First Energy Foundation.

“Small businesses, now more than ever, need to embrace things like new technologies and learning new skill sets, as well as plan for the future,” said Mike Pochan, coordinator of the new program and business owner in Westmoreland County.

The cohort-based program will begin in November for selected applicants and will include a personalized business assessment and evaluation; virtual facilitated individual and group networking sessions; access to Penn State New Kensington experts and partner organizations through its innovation hub, The Corner; a personalized and exclusive learning opportunity plan; assistance for creating a succession and future-ready business plan; and a certificate of completion. There will be no cost to participate in the initial program. Individuals or organizations wishing to apply are asked to fill out a brief online application by Oct. 16.

“We are very excited about starting this new initiative,” said Kevin Snider, chancellor of the New Kensington campus. “It also complements our ongoing, collaborative efforts in the county and region related to entrepreneurship, workforce development and digital age preparedness and opens our innovation ecosystem even further for the benefit of our area now and in the future.”

The program was chosen by the visionaries during its most recent grant request for proposals and idea pitch event in late 2019 to support small businesses, entrepreneurs and workforce challenges and needs of the 21st century as identified as core goals in Westmoreland County’s comprehensive plan, “Reimagining Our Westmoreland,” which states that “many jobs held in the county are at businesses with less than 20 employees.” Also mentioned in the plan is that the largest age group in Westmoreland County is of those aged 50-54, a demographic statistic that affects continued economic development, job creation and population growth, and shows the importance of finding strategies to retain existing jobs, support small business succession, and create new opportunities to attract and engage existing and future workers and residents.

Under Snider’s leadership, the new program follows Penn State New Kensington’s other successful collaboratives over the past 10 years including its Invent Penn State innovation hub, The Corner, that anchors one end of New Kensington’s Corridor of Innovation, a five-block stretch of Fifth Ave. where robust revitalization has occurred in recent years and will also be home to the campus’ digital innovation lab beginning in fall 2021. Those interested in learning more can reach out to Pochan via email at [email protected]. To apply to be considered for the program’s first cohort, visit Chosen applicants will be notified by the end of October.