SpringBoard Takes Leap as Latest Business Incubator
June 02, 2017 5:00 AM
by Centre County Gazette, Sean Yoder
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SpringBoard in Bellefonte is the latest in a series of small business incubators to open in Centre County, some already completed and some still in the works.

On May 25, local and state officials and stakeholders cut the ribbon at SpringBoard, which is housed along South Water Street in the former Big Trout Inn.

In addition to a view of Talleyrand Park from the front windows of the newly renovated first floor, inhabitants of the small business incubator will be able to take advantage of either personal or shared workspaces in the open office, 50 Mb internet, a copier and fax machine, kitchenette and conference room.

It’s all been months in the making through a team effort by 13 different stakeholders. Centre County government, Bellefonte Keystone Community Development Association, known as Belle Key, and the property owner, Chris Summers, funded renovations for the site. Jim Erickson, of Blue Mountain Quality Resources, donated workspace furnishings.

The cost for a personal desk at SpringBoard is $250 per month, and a shared workspace is $150.

In support services, incubator inhabitants will have access to small business services, information about government financial incentives and will be able to network with established businesses in the region.

Commissioner Mark Higgins said there are more ventures planned for Centre County. He said work has just begun on the Penns Valley Agricultural and Sustainability Incubator, and that he’s holding meetings with the stakeholders in the other small business incubators to get the idea off the ground. He said they are waiting for the completion of the countywide economic study.

A Life Sciences Incubator through Penn State is also in the works.

Over in the Philipsburg small business incubator, in the Dixoncom building, Commissioner Mark Higgins said they’ve had three tenants there already, with two still in the incubator. He said he was told at the outset that no one would become a tenant in Philipsburg, but he said believes the last several months have been a success and proved detractors wrong.

SpringBoard marks six up-and-running incubators in the county, though within the 118-acre Innovation Park at Penn State, there are numerous entities providing for a huge array of services across multiple industries for researchers or businesses at various stages of gestation or growth.

One of the tenants at Innovation Park is Ben Franklin Technology Partners for the north and centre regions, one of four such offices in the state.

Don McCandless, director of business development, said BFTP not only helps tech startups find investors, it helps to put on the 10-week boot camp twice per year for the Techcelerator incubator. The participating teams can be from either Penn State or the community, are taught the fundamentals of business models, sales, accounting, finances and other aspects of successfully building a business. At the end, the teams compete for a $10,000 prize.

Of the 62 teams that have traversed BFTP’s 10-week course, 56 companies have been formed with $19 million in startup funding located and $8 million in revenue, McCandless said in a May 26 interview.

“Everyone is happy with the level of activity,” McCandless said, who has lived here since 1989. He said a lot more opportunities, mentoring and services have become available in recent years for entrepreneurs.

Other partners at Techcelerator include the Centre County Industrial Development Corporation, the Penn State Office of Technology Management and Small Business Development Center.

In March 2016, Happy Valley LaunchBox opened in downtown State College. It has already graduated 26 startups.

Other facilities to help small businesses include the enterprise center through the already-established Moshannon Valley Economic Development Partnership and the Zetacron Center for Science and Technology.

 

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