Business

Philipsburg Business Incubator opens its doors to entrepreneurs

Centre County Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman Mark Higgins (right) speaks at the opening of the Philipsburg Business Incubator in Philipsburg. As the county’s first county-sponsored business incubator, the PBI was opened through the help of Moshannon Valley Economic Development Partnership Executive Director Stan LaFuria.
Centre County Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman Mark Higgins (right) speaks at the opening of the Philipsburg Business Incubator in Philipsburg. As the county’s first county-sponsored business incubator, the PBI was opened through the help of Moshannon Valley Economic Development Partnership Executive Director Stan LaFuria. Jeremy Hartley

Business development in the Moshannon Valley got a boost Wednesday as County Commissioners and business leaders opened the Philipsburg Business Incubator.

Located at 220 N. Front St. in the borough, the first county-sponsored incubator features four offices at a subsidized rent for any entrepreneurs looking to start a business in the Philipsburg area. The idea for an incubator stemmed from Commissioner Mark Higgins’ desire to promote economic growth in the county.

Higgins first mentioned mentoring startups in the Moshannon Valley area in January.

It’s just perfect. And the fact that we were able to put this all together just in my first 130 days in office, I’m so excited about it.

Centre County Commissioner Mark Higgins

“It’s just perfect,” Higgins said Wednesday of the new space. “And the fact that we were able to put this all together just in my first 130 days in office, I’m so excited about it.”

Higgins said he started speaking with Moshannon Valley Economic Development Partnership Executive Director Stan LaFuria shortly after taking office in January when LaFuria recommended the new space as a possible business incubator.

The MVEDP provides a partnership role with the incubator, Higgins said, coordinating mentorship with the entrepreneurs of the incubator. Mentoring will be provided through the services of the Penn State Small Business Development Center and the Service Corps of Retired Executives.

“Both groups have decades of experience in mentoring small businesses and entrepreneurs,” he said.

The space was provided through Dixoncom Technology Services. Owner Ethan Dixon said he had a surplus of unused space last September, so he thought of creating some sort of office space to lease out for startups.

“The biggest issue for a startup is finding professional office space,” he said.

Dixon refurbished the space, which currently offers four furnished offices. Dixoncom will also provide Internet access, a receptionist, phone service and IT support for the eventual entrepreneurs.

Rent for a single office is $450 a month, Higgins said, with $200 subsidized by the county. The county will be spending about $5,000 for 6 months of subsidy for four businesses.

LaFuria, who was in attendance at the opening, said he was pleased to see the incubator open, noting that there has been a drive for entrepreneurship throughout the region. The Philipsburg Business Incubator is the sixth business incubator to open in Centre County.

“We’ve been helping (entrepreneurs) since the partnership was formed in 1988,” he said. “We have over 20 companies that have been formed by people who had a business idea, then moved their idea to their business plan, then to their business, and have been very successful.”

Several prominent figures were on hand for the opening, including the county Board of Commissioners, LaFuria, representatives from SBDC and SCORE, business incubator logo designer Sierra Metcalf, and state Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township.

I believe it won’t be long before you see another multimillion dollar business in the downtown that will owe its roots, not only to the Moshannon Valley, but the whole county and the outside help that comes with it.

Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township

“I believe it won’t be long before you see another multimillion dollar business in the downtown that will owe its roots, not only to the Moshannon Valley, but the whole county and the outside help that comes with it,” Conklin said.

Applications for space in the incubator are available through the Board of Commissioners or by emailing incubator@centrecountypa.gov.

“New businesses create jobs,” Higgins said, quoting Forbes Magazine. “Fortune 500 companies haven’t created jobs in decades — it’s the startups, the small businesses, that create jobs.”

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews

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