3,2,1 Launch…Your New Business

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More than 60 entrepreneurs, investors and resource providers converged late last month at Railroad City Brewing in Downtown Altoona to share product ideas, network and launch our entrepreneurial initiatives for Blair County – The First Frontier. They joined the Altoona Blair County Development Corp. (ABCD), in partnership with the Southern Alleghenies Planning Commission (SAPDC), to announce the kick-off of Blair County’s role in the regional Startup Alleghenies Initiative.

The $1.3 million Startup Alleghenies initiative is coordinated through SAPDC with competitive grant funds awarded by the Appalachian Regional Commission and U.S. Economic Development Administration POWER funding initiative. “Startup Alleghenies focuses on building partnerships that create opportunities for workforce and economic revitalization through a system for entrepreneurs to navigate easily,” said Steve Howsare, Executive Director of SAPDC.

Navigating Resources…

The initiative has helped to establish new Entrepreneurial Coaches, key staff positions in Blair, Cambria and Somerset counties who will serve as a primary contacts for entrepreneurs helping them navigate the multitude of resources and challenges to start a business. “We have heard from numerous entrepreneurs and small business that at times they feel overwhelmed when trying to start a business,” said Stephen McKnight, President/CEO of ABCD. “Here in Blair County we are excited to announce that Rich Lasek, our Entrepreneurial Coach, will serve as the county’s ‘air traffic controller’ for all of these resources, helping entrepreneurs connect the financial and planning dots for each phase of a business start-up.”

A Start-up History…

Blair County has a deep business start-up culture and entrepreneurial spirit.  The County boasts more than 42 Blair Born businesses that employ more than 9,000 people. The region is home to a wealth of resources and partners focused on assisting entrepreneurs of various types and phases of development. “Our goal now is simple, keep this track record going and encourage all in Blair County who have been thinking of starting a business or have a new product idea or technology to contact us,” McKnight said. “We are in the right place at the right time for great things to happen.”

Next Steps…

Have a business idea? contact Rich Lasek at richl@abcdcorp.org

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Want to get in touch with one of Blair County’s Startup Alleghenies resource partners? see below:

  • Altoona LaunchBox – A free co-working space that is open to everyone comprised of flexible, creative, and inviting space for entrepreneurs to get work done along with integrated entrepreneurial training programs. Located in the Gables Building on the corner of 12th Avenue and 14th Street.www.sites.psu.edu/altoonalaunchbox
  • Ben Franklin Technology Partners – Funding and technical expertise to help develop and commercialize a new, innovative products or processes. Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA has been investing in tech startups and small manufacturers for more than 30 years. www.cnp.benfranklin.org
  • Blair County Community Action Agency Startup Fund – Startup grants in limited supply to support the needs of new companies within Blair County. www.blaircap.org
  • Blair County Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) – A class that teaches students between 11 and 18 years old how to start and run their own business, or non-profit organization. The class meets weekly. www.blairchamber.com/young-entrepreneurs-academy.html
  • Catalyst Space – A true makerspace located in the Gables Building, Downtown Altoona. The facility is complete with multiple 3-D Printers, 3 Axis CNC, Laser Engraving/Cutting and more, along with offering workshops and collaborations with schools, colleges and clubs. www.catalystspace.org
  • First Frontier Network – Seed capital and mentoring group of experienced business people interested in funding/supporting start-ups in Blair County. This group is facilitated by ABCD Corp. but each participant in the network is their own agent with specific interests.  www.abcdcorp.org/business/#angel
  • KIZ Resources – A resource dedicated to helping entrepreneurs finance their dreams through federal and state incentive programs including KIZ Tax Credits, R&D Tax Credits and more.  www.kizresources.com
  • Penn State Altoona & the Sheetz Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence – A vital resource for Blair County and the region with access to faculty and students across programs of studying for support and partnerships on; Research & Development; Prototyping; Market Studies; Business Plans; Capstone Projects and more.  www.altoona.psu.edu  –  www.sites.psu.edu/sheetzcenter
  • Southern Alleghenies Planning & Development Commission – Provides support for businesses through below market, fixed rate loans, marketing support, government contracting support and international trade. www.sapdc.org
  • St. Francis Small Business Development Center – Helps with developing business plans, financing proposals, projected financial statements, monthly cash flow statements along with financial analysis. They answer the question “How do I start a business?” generally for anyone who walks through the door. www.francis.edu/small-business-development-center
  • Start-up Drinks – A monthly networking event to engage future business owners and local entrepreneurs about their start-up ideas and get feedback on challenges they face. The group meets for Start-Up Drinks (coffee for morning meetings or refreshments for after-work gatherings) www.facebook.com/startupboostup
  • Startup Alleghenies – A three county (Blair, Cambria, Somerset) initiative built to encourage entrepreneurs to startup companies and grow here in the region. Comprised of coaches, resource partners and training. www.startupalleghenies.com
  • 1855 Capital Fund – A $10 million fund that provides seed and early stage venture capital to Penn State affiliated startups. Individual investment size will typically range from $100K to $500K and would typically expect a meaningful ownership (10%-50%)  www.1855capital.com
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