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Penn State Worthington Scranton received a $50,000 Invent Penn State grant to establish a pre-incubator in the city of Scranton’s South Side as part of an ongoing neighborhood revitalization effort. The campus will establish a technology-rich, welcoming entrepreneurial environment and provide educational and technical support for aspiring entrepreneurs; help launch new, innovative businesses; and facilitate networking opportunities for faculty, professionals and students who are passionate about building a vibrant downtown community.

The pre-incubator will be located in a fully remodeled floor of the People’s Security Bank building. In addition to the Invent Penn State funding, Penn State Worthington Scranton also received support funding from Peoples Security Bank and is working with United Neighborhood Centers.

This new pre-incubator will be part of UNC’s Elm Street Revitalization Project. Campus project leaders envision a technology-rich, welcoming environment that offers large and small meeting areas, offices and equipment that will support launching innovative ideas into new businesses, educational and technical support for aspiring entrepreneurs and networking opportunities for faculty, professionals and students who are passionate about building a vibrant downtown community.

“We wanted to give people an avenue to share their ideas, explore the ideas’ feasibility and marketability and then work through the process of developing them into businesses,” said John Drake, director of the Center for Business Development and Community Outreach at the Scranton campus.

There were two things that the team wanted to ensure. First, that they would be a valuable complement to the services being provided by other organizations already doing great things to help entrepreneurs. And second, to have PSU students involved as much as possible so they would learn valuable lessons and be inspired to innovate and help others.

“We can call upon the collective resources of the entire Penn State University to assist and guide people as they explore and cultivate their ideas for products and/or services,” said Drake.

Penn State Worthington Scranton will have high-traffic visibility in the community through outdoor signage and presence, which has never been done before in this area.

Dr. Marwan Wafa, chancellor of Penn State Scranton, is fully committed to helping region grow economically and socially.

Successful entrepreneurs produce products, services, jobs, support other businesses and help revitalize communities.

“We put forth a proposal to Penn State University Park to formalize our efforts through the INVENT Penn State initiative,” said Drake. “The proposal was approved and funded to open an innovation center called a LaunchBox. Valuable support was also received from the Scranton Area Foundation and the United Neighborhood Center. We are looking forward to working with the many business and economic development organizations in the community to develop businesses and make entrepreneurs’ visions become realities.”

“With this project, we have developed core strategies to implement pre-incubator services that will ultimately help create an urban entrepreneurship ecosystem that will support and stimulate the long-term economic development of Scranton and the region,” Wafa said. “One of the best ways to combat poverty and promote community revitalization is to create new economic opportunities in a community that will bolster the local economy. And one of the best ways to create these new opportunities is through entrepreneurship, which promotes the growth of new, locally owned businesses and jobs.”

The newly-formed Center for Business Development and Community Outreach at Penn State Worthington Scranton is a regional resource for individuals, businesses, community organizations, entrepreneurs and campus students by serving as a bridge to the university’s vast resources.

Invent Penn State is a Commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student career success. Launched in 2015 by Penn State President Dr. Eric Barron, Invent Penn State is a coordinated effort to create a university environment that welcomes and encourages entrepreneurship.