Entrepreneurship is open for business in Beaver County with an exciting new partnership between Community College of Beaver County (CCBC) and StartingGate, an organization dedicated to assisting entrepreneurs, new business start-ups and existing businesses expand in Pennsylvania’s Beaver and Lawrence Counties.
In May 2005, StartingGate was designated one of the State of Pennsylvania Keystone Innovation Zones (KIZ). The KIZ program, funded by the PA Department of Community and Economic Development, facilitates partnerships with colleges and universities, business and economic development organizations, and business funding resources.
CCBC supports the KIZ as an educational partner, and for months now, has worked with StartingGate to develop a Small Business Center on campus to support new businesses in Beaver County. Such an initiative grew out of a goal established by the Board of Trustees, and financial support came as the result of a KIZ grant, for which the two groups partnered on and successfully received funding.
“What we hope to accomplish together is the ability to take ideas percolating on local campuses like CCBC and drive them into the marketplace,” said Doug Campbell, executive director of Starting Gate. “As partners, CCBC will provide the educational component while KIZ and StartingGate can offer business resources and funding.”
Plans are already underway at CCBC for both a certificate and an associate degree program in entrepreneurship, and this past fall, Paul Rogers, assistant professor of Business, led his Entrepreneurship class in a business plan competition. The winners, business students Candy Lowen and Cindy Fischer, received $500 each from the KIZ and StartingGate to be used to develop their business plans.
Lindsay Fischer is developing a family business in the dairy industry while Lowen, a certified yoga instructor, will use her prize money to start a yoga studio and exercise center.
“This type of partnership provides the missing piece for our students,” stated Dr. Joe D. Forrester, college president. “After graduation, StartingGate will guide them through the process of starting a business by making available the development and the support teams that young entrepreneurs need to be successful in launching their dreams.”
Identifying mentors, supplying potential customers, developing prototypes, and providing accountability when the pressures of everyday life take over are just a few of the ways fledgling business owners can benefit from CCBC and StartingGate working together.
“We want to engage CCBC’s students and the community, and let them know there are tools and resources out there to help them start their own business,” said Campbell. “There are so many challenges for new businesses owners that could lead to first-time entrepreneurs giving up as the demands of day-to-day living creep in. Our services help you to stay connected with your idea and maintain your passion. It really can be done.”
Just ask CCBC students Candy Lowen and Lindsay Fischer, two young entrepreneurs off to great head start.