Bedford County Development Authority Welcomes Startup Coach
(Originally published in the Bedford Gazette, December 28, 2018 by Katie Smolen)
Earlier this month the Bedford County Development Association (BCDA) welcomed a new start-up business coach as a part of Startup Alleghenies.
Startup Alleghenies started several years ago, with three of the six counties in the region, Blair, Cambria and Somerset, after industry left these areas.
The Appalachian Region Commission (ARC), the regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state, and local government, offered assistance. Established by an act of Congress in 1965, POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) grants were developed to help communities and regions that had been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production.
The Alleghenies Entrepreneurial Ecosystem project was designed and funding was secured from ARC and others to support the effort. The Ecosystem incorporates existing resources, enhances existing resources, and develops new resources according to the Startup Alleghenies website.
Huntingdon and Fulton and Bedford followed in the coming years.
According to BCDA President/CEO Bette Slayton, grant funding was able to be obtained to hire Bedford’s coach, Andrew Trexler.
Slayton said that Bedford received $217,000 of the $1.2 million grant which will cover Trexler’s salary for 3 year’s as well as other programs in the county.
In addition to personalized coaching, the start-up program offers TechCelerators (boot camps for entrepreneurs), the BIG IDEA Business Plan Contest , $25,000 in prizes, business plan development support as well as marketing, legal and financial advice, which is all covered through the grants.
Funding for the program is from the Appalachian Regional Commission and is administered through the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission
Trexler is a native of Claysburg and went on to serve in the United States Marine Corps upon high school graduation.
According to his biography on Startup Alleghenies website, he took a job as a dishwasher at a restaurant chain once leaving the corps and said it was a turning point for him because it was when he started to apply his “insatiable curiosity and tinkering skills to processes rather than machines.”
“BCDA has a history and a track record of working with new companies. The Startup Alleghenies grant will grow our efforts in a significant manner.”
He then quickly moved through every position in the restaurant moving all the way up to assistant manager.
Trexler then decided to move onto other business sectors out of curiosity
“Working in different sectors allowed me to apply practices from one sector to another,” his bio said, adding that this was when he took his first venture into the event planning business.
In 2016 Trexler co-founded Catalyst Space, a nonprofit organization with the mission to provide affordable resources and technology to promote innovation. Catalyst built a 9,000 sq. ft facility to enable entrepreneurs to build products; facilitated the teaching of S.T.E.M. at local schools; coached start-up businesses in prototype design, product development, market research and digital marketing.
Slayton said that having a full-time staff member will allow BCDA to expand upon the work that the organization already does for small businesses.
“BCDA has a history and a track record of working with new companies,” she said. “The Startup Alleghenies grant will grow our efforts in a significant manner.”
Trexler said that he has operated businesses in many area and wants to help find the best ways to have businesses succeed in Bedford County.
“I’m a big advocate of this and maybe some people don’t understand sometimes but I just want to listen and understand,” he said. “I’ve started businesses myself in many different parts of the country and the globe and I realized that every single community is different.”
Trexler explained that communities can differ because of everything from economics to culture to even politics and it can affect how successful a business is.
“So I just want to listen and understand the things that people in Bedford County are struggling with to open, what they’re looking for when they’re starting to open a business, what kind of support structures are already there in the community —things that aren’t really publicized. Ultimately we want to help businesses be successful because there are too many that fail unnecessarily,” he said.
Trexler encourages individuals to utilize the free coaching and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 623-4816.