GREENSBURG, Pa. — The Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation's (WCIDC) board of directors — Gina Cerilli, Ted Kopas, and Charles Anderson — approved on Oct. 21 an agreement of sale between the WCIDC and Swank Young Developers for the purchase of a building and property in New Kensington that will house Penn State New Kensington’s new entrepreneurial center.
The entrepreneurial center’s goal is to merge two different aspects of entrepreneurialism, incubation and co-working membership, into one space. At the center, Penn State students and faculty, community groups, and individuals will be given guidance and training on developing entrepreneurial and business ideas.
"We are lucky to have county commissioners who see the value in supporting an innovative approach to economic development,” said Penn State New Kensington Chancellor Kevin Snider. “Jason Rigone of the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation has been invaluable to the effort to build an entrepreneurial center, and the WCIDC's commitment to this project over the next several years is a statement of their desire to invest in northern Westmoreland County. This is clearly an example of the exciting things that can happen when the county, city, Penn State New Kensington, foundations, and private enterprise work together to make a difference."
Along with being the property owner and landlord, WCIDC will assist the New Kensington campus in development services and project investment. The center’s location in downtown New Kensington plays an important role as well.
“It is not just the entrepreneurial ‘outputs’ that we see as valuable,” said Cerilli, who chairs the WCIDC board. “There is also immense value in the economic development potential that a project like this can spur in the downtown area. I am happy the county can be part of a project like this because the Penn State New Kensington Entrepreneurial Center may become the model for similar centers throughout Westmoreland County.”
Work on the center will begin this winter with a completion date set for summer 2017.
“We plan on creating an inviting co-working space that will give individuals and groups a place to develop their business ideas,” said Rigone, executive director of WCIDC. “The center will be a unique addition to New Kensington’s Fifth Avenue.”
Founded in 1983 by the Westmoreland County Board of Commissioners, WCIDC implements a comprehensive economic development strategy to promote growth in terms of job creation, economic output and a stable tax base for Westmoreland County.
Invent Penn State
The campus’ Alle-Kiski Economic Generator (AKEG) program is the delivery vehicle for affecting change in the city of New Kensington. The project is 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.
The New Kensington campus is one of 13 Penn State campuses to receive seed-grant funding through the Invent Penn State initiative, joining Penn State Abington, Altoona, Berks, Erie, Great Valley, Harrisburg, Lehigh Valley, Schuylkill, Shenango, York and Wilkes-Barre in enhancing local partnerships and entrepreneurial environments across the Commonwealth.
To turn the University’s research engine into a driver of job creation, economic development and student career success, Penn State President Eric Barron committed $30 million to the Invent Penn State program in January 2015.