Startup Alleghenies helping businesses in coal-impacted regions

 In Cambria County, entrepreneur, Interviews, News

Published by WTAJ-TV | September 20, 2017

[Read original transcript and see video from WTAJ’s website]

Cambria County, Pa. – A network for startup businesses is expanding in our region.

Startup Alleghenies is a free entrepreneurial ecosystem for new business owners in Blair, Somerset and now, Cambria County.

The network is designed to connect startup companies and business owners with resources they need to grow, including accounting help, marketing advice and cash flow.

“Whether it’s literally making the phone calls, going to the appointment. Helping their development from an idea to a project, whether it’s going to be a product or a service,” said Jose Otero, Startup Alleghenies Cambria County Coach.

Otero said starting a business is like becoming a first-time parent and he’s there to help business owners navigate the new territory.

“First-time dad. You’re not sure how it works. You talk with other dads. There’s no magical book to give you that guidance,” said Otero.

Startup Alleghenies launched in Blair and Somerset Counties this summer. Employees want to see job creation and overall economic growth in the region.

“In order for it to sustain itself, we need entrepreneurship. We need economic development,” said Otero.

Startup Alleghenies is partially funded by a federal-state POWER grant through the Appalachian Regional Commission. The grant initiative helps communities that have been impacted by job losses in the coal mining and coal-related supply chain industries.

“You’ve seen the economic impact this area has had over the last few decades, whether it’s rail, coal or steel industries. In order to get to a stronger economic area, we need to have those small businesses,” Otero said.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP), a state-funded investment company, works alongside Startup Alleghenies. The organization is hosting its annual BIG IDEA Contest for technology-based companies in the Southern Alleghenies. Winners will receive more than $60,000.

“These are the kind of opportunities if they’re provided the support through the ecosystem, have the greatest potential to grow significant jobs,” said Jerry Hudson, a portfolio manager at Ben Franklin Technology Partners.

If you would like to learn more about Startup Alleghenies, visit their website or call: (814) 949-6552.

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