DuBOIS — Thursday’s Greater DuBois Chamber of Commerce Business Connections luncheon was held at the new North Central Pennsylvania LaunchBox, powered by Penn State DuBois, in downtown DuBois, where approximately 80 people learned that the LaunchBox currently has 42 resource partners who will offer a variety of assistance and co-working space for entrepreneurs and those wanting to learn more about business.
The LaunchBox, located at 2 E. Long Ave., encompasses seven counties, six in the traditional North Central region, including Elk, Clearfield, Jefferson, Cameron, Potter, McKean, and also Clarion County, said program leader Brad Lashinsky.
“Together, throughout that seven-county region, there’s an awful lot of resource partners out there,” said Lashinsky. “Whether it’s for business plan development, whether it’s economic development corporations that have revolving loan funds, or our local development district up in Ridgway, we want to combine all those assets together, in a sense, under one roof that it’s kind of a one-stop-shop for all your business needs. So if you as an entrepreneur whether it’s innovative, or traditional, all the way up through somebody that owns a business and wants to expand, you go through the LaunchBox and get all those different services with one phone call, one visit.”
To their knowledge, Lashinsky said the Penn State DuBois LaunchBox is the only regional one, while other LaunchBoxes at Penn State campuses are essentially community-based.
“We’re very proud of that, as well,” said Lashinsky. “And also ours is the only one that really takes a look at entrepreneurship through business expansion, so it covers a broad range of business opportunities.”
With combining seven counties, Lashinsky said, “We’re much more competitive, we have more resources available, and we’ll be able to compete against some of your larger areas like Pittsburgh, Allentown, Scranton and Philadelphia. So we firmly believe that with that pooled success, we’ll have a much greater impact here for the North Central region.”
Some of the things that the LaunchBox wants to accomplish is supporting manufacturing competitiveness and the workforce needs, he said.
“We know that there is a labor force shortage not only in manufacturing, but across all industries,” said Lashinsky. “And we want to be able to help provide additional training and so forth so that we’re educating unskilled, semi-skilled laborers and increasing their skill sets so that they can go into the work environment at a higher rate of pay.”
The LaunchBox also wants to grow and attract talented entrepreneurs.
“Something that is extremely important to our region is creating that next generation of entrepreneurs,” he said. “We also want to create high-knowledge and high-technology type of businesses here in the community, and I know that one of the issues that is affecting that is the the gaps in broadband service. Over the years a lot of our larger providers are interested in building vertically, and not looking at the horizontal gaps in service that exists throughout North Central Pennsylvania. I know that that’s something that the North Central Regional Training and Development Commission is actively working on is identifying some of those gaps in service and trying to narrow those gaps down. Once we’re able to do that, we’re essentially benefiting our entire region: Our primary and secondary students within our school districts as well as residents in the area and businesses as well.”
Other goals include increasing industrial research and development education at the campus routing, help address professional and workforce training and development opportunities through Penn State DuBois’ Continuing Education Department.
It’s extremely important to get into the primary and secondary schools, he said.
“So they understand that there are a vast amount of opportunities here in the region for them to be successful. This is a great place to live, work and play,” he said. “I think at times we don’t promote it enough or we don’t promote it on a united front.”
To learn more, please reach out to Penn State DuBois at 814-375-4700 and ask for Lashinsky, director of North Central PA LaunchBox.