Southern Alleghenies Launches a Program to Benefit Local Entrepreneurs

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The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) awarded a $1,213,868 grant on April 1, 2017 to the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission (SAP&DC) on behalf of a partnership of organizations to develop an entrepreneurial ecosystem with the stated goals of new businesses, new jobs, and new investments.  The grant, along with $1,233,213 of partner matching funds, will help the partner organizations develop places and resources aimed at addressing the needs of the region’s current and future entrepreneurs.

“The ARC funded the project as a direct result of the downturn in the coal industry that affected Blair, Cambria and Somerset Counties,” said Steven Howsare, executive director of the SAP&DC.   “The ARC POWER initiative,” he said, “focuses on building partnerships that create opportunities for workforce and economic revitalization. ARC funds were seed money for this initiative. We intend to keep this program going and growing.” The initial plan includes the three coal-impacted counties but organizers plan to extend regionally as resources permit.

The initiative brings together economic, educational, and workforce development organizations, private and public financial institutions, along with other entrepreneurial spaces and mentors in a collective effort to identify, connect and encourage innovative and entrepreneurial individuals. Individuals with ideas and the desire to turn them into a business will have direct access to customized services to get their business moving and position their companies for maximum competitiveness and growth.

The project will take advantage of the strengths of each of the counties’ economic developers, educational institutions, the Small Business Development Center and the newly hired coaches to:  develop entrepreneurs, provide spaces for project development, capitalize on local investment and generally provide a pathway to successful launches of new local businesses.

“Project partners, service providers, coaches and potential new business owners can all work together to transition the economies of Blair, Cambria, and Somerset counties by establishing a seamless system for entrepreneurs to navigate easily,” Howsare said.

There will be a press conference on June 20, 2017 at 9:30 a.m. at the Blair County Convention Center located at 1 Convention Center Drive, Altoona, PA  16602.  Representatives of the project partners will provide a detailed project outline and be available to answer questions along with the entrepreneur coaches.

CONTACT:   Benjamin Mazur  814-949-6552