Business Columns & Blogs

Bits of Business: A super show for the Super Bowl

As far as Dan Barker knows, Katy Perry’s Super Bowl halftime show last Sunday went off without a hitch.

Barker doesn’t know all of the planning for the show, but he does have an insider’s view of the halftime show’s pyrotechnics.

His company, State College-based Fire One, has a Chicago-based client called Strictly FX that coordinates special effects for the Super Bowl.

“We design and manufacture hardware and software for complex fireworks displays,” Barker said. “When you see large, complex fireworks displays, there’s a good chance it’s us.”

Barker said his company provides the technology to make some special effects possible.

“We provide all the technology to make it happen,” he said. “We build the physical hardware to set off fireworks and component software to plan fireworks with the musical scores and timing in the presentation. The interesting part of that whole show is it needed to be done wirelessly.”

“In our discussions and me providing advice and what I knew about show, I expected to see things, and my guess is it went off as planned,” he added.

Jezebel’s moves to Patton Township

Location. Location. Location.

Patty and Jessie Stover opened Jezebel’s Boutique in downtown State College in 2007, but they heard one thing over and over.

“People have wanted to come check the store out, but they didn’t want to come downtown because of parking or just because they didn’t want to go downtown,” Patty said. “I had always worked downtown, and I always loved it, and it’s really not as bad as some people think it is. We really enjoyed it, but we thought there were more opportunities if we moved.”

They moved their shop to 355 Colonnade Blvd. in December.

“Our customers have come in, and they’ve really liked the location,” Patty said. “We’ve had a lot of new customers come in, because a lot of them shop at Wegmans. It picked up a lot in our first month, but the weather didn’t always cooperate last month. Even then, customers are right there. They don’t have to walk far to come in.”

Open wide, Millheim

John and Melissa Jennings hope Millheim has a big appetite, because they’re bringing the dough, sauce, cheese and everything else you can put on a pizza.

The Jennings own Pizza Mia, which opened in 2003 in Bellefonte, and this summer will expand with a Penns Valley location at 100 E. Main St.

A conversation with Henry Beiler, the owner of the property, led to the expansion.

“I got to know him, and he had a building that we were joking around about,” John said. “I said, ‘That’s where the next Pizza Mia should be.’ I looked at the town, and I said, ‘We gotta do this.’ We realized there was a demand over there.”

One half of the 4,400 square foot building will house the pizza shop, and the other will be a “cool surprise” for kids. Pizza Mia also will offer delivery in Millheim.

Mentor program grows

State College Young Professionals will have its third SCYP Mentors program in as many years, and the program has grown three to four times its original scope.

The program takes job-seekers through a five-class course to improve their resume and cover letter writing, confidence and communication skills. Each class is two hours long.

The original program in fall 2013 paired three SCYP members with three job-seekers. SCYP Mentors coordinator Nikki Shariat said she is working with other local nonprofits to get 10 to 12 people for the program, which begins March 2.

“They’ve been successful,” she said. “One nice thing is I could have a class and teach everyone in hourlong lectures, but we do one-on-one partnering and mentors and mentees develop relationships. We could meet down the line to go over the basics, or we could get news that they’ve got a job. We see the difference in them from week one until the end, and it’s nice to see how much more confident they are in their skills.”