The Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County sometimes helps businesses relocate — only this time they’re the ones doing the moving.
The CBICC will leave its space in Innovation Park for downtown State College and expects to operate out of its new headquarters in a matter of days.
All involved in the move say it will benefit the region.
“Overall, its a positive change,” CBICC President Vern Squier said. “The geographic component is not crucial. However ... the focus is on how to maximize our ability to encourage entrepreneurial development and accommodating other young professionals, and that is more centric to the university area and downtown. This move will allow for new and different interactions with our members.”
Innovation Park director Dan Leri expects the move to only strengthen ties with the CBICC, which has put forth efforts with the Ben Franklin TechCelerator Program, the Small Business Development Center, Innovation Park and Penn State’s Office of Technology Management to start more than 34 new technology-based companies in the past three years.
Leri also said the space vacated by the CBICC will be occupied by BFTP staff.
“The chamber, along with Ben Franklin, has been a steady force in quietly supporting the business farm team of this community and region for many years,” Leri said in a release. “Quality startup companies don’t just appear overnight — they’re nurtured. I expect the chamber’s valued role in business incubation to be strengthened by the collective asset realignments.”
Leri also anticipates the CBICC to continue promoting the park, which the chamber confirmed.
“I expect the park, along with several other key locations in the county, will remain a key asset for the CBICC to market to companies considering a full move or ancillary presence in our community, regardless of where the chamber office resides,” Leri said. “Our newest facility, an 82,000-square-foot LEED-certified facility, opened a week ago (and) will be promoted by the CBICC along with other available community space assets.”
The Centre Region Senior Center’s desire to relocate, particularly to the Nittany Mall, afforded the chamber to get its new digs at 131 S. Fraser St. across from the Fraser Centre.
“This all started with the senior center when the Fraser Centre was going to take off one lane on the street,” State College Public Works Director Mark Whitfield said. “The senior center asked us if there was some way of being relieved from their lease. It just so happened that we heard the CBICC was looking for another space. Sure enough, the square footage was about the same size that they wanted. We typically woudn’t let someone out of a lease, but I think we had a win-win situation.”
The move also means the CBICC will have a few new neighbors, including the Downtown State College Improvement District.
“We’re excited to have them downtown. ...,” DSCID Executive Director George Arnold said. “They had a moving truck down here today to move some stuff, so we’re happy to have new neighbors.”