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.