HCBI leaders attend launch

A press conference held Wednesday in Bedford marked the official launch of the Startup Alleghenies program. Taking part in the event were, from the left, Huntingdon County Commissioner Mark Sather, Huntingdon County Entrepreneur Coach Debra Clark, Bedford County Entrepreneur Coach Andrew Trexler, Huntingdon County Business and Industry executive director Bob Reitman and Bette Slayton, president and CEO of Bedford County Development Association.

Business and county government leaders from Huntingdon, Bedford and Fulton counties joined forces for a press conference Wednesday at the Olde Bedford Brewery to introducing future collaboration plans through Startup Alleghenies (SA).

The program, designed to connects entrepreneurs with coaches, was launched in the tri-county area with a POWER grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) after a successful start in Blair, Cambria and Somerset counties.

Two new SA entrepreneur coaches, former Huntingdon County Business and Industry (HCBI) operations manager Debra Clark of Huntingdon and Andrew Trexler of Bedford, were introduced.

Coaches will help new startups within the county with various aspect of their business, including writing a business plan, naming a business, defining the product, registering a business, choosing the appropriate legal business structure, choosing a location, building markets, discovering customers and employees, financing the business and other mentoring and networking opportunities.

Clark will serve as critical contact and entry-points for local entrepreneurs as they come into the community, connecting them to partners and networking possibilities that SA offers. She will cover both Huntingdon and Fulton counties while employed by HCBI.

She was able to connect with the other entrepreneur coaches and business leaders while at Wednesday’s event.

“There were a couple entrepreneurs there who were part of the program last year and shared their experience,” Clark said. “Overall, it was a good day for networking. I had the opportunity to speak with them and see how the program has truly helped them and their business.”

Commissioners from all three counties attended, as well as leaders from HCBI and Bedford County Development Association (BCDA).

Details regarding the expansion of the SA program were announced, including TechCelerator in Somerset, where Ben Franklin Technology Partners will be offering the eight weeks of training relating to technology-related startups within the county.

The “8-Week Startup Accelerator” will begin Jan. 22, providing up to $10,000 to six selected companies toward their initial legal, accounting or customer discovery costs. At the end of the program, the groups will have the chance to pitch their business plans to an interviewee panel, the winner or winners of the program splitting $10,000. Only six companies who apply before the Jan. 10 deadline will be chosen for the free program.

Clark expressed her excitement at the possibility of the TechCelerator coming to Huntingdon.

“It is kind of like a mini shark tank,” she said. “There was one held up in Altoona a little bit ago, and the idea is to put a panel of local professionals together to hear around six entrepreneurs from around the region make pitches for their business. So far, the entire program has helped more than 100 startups, created 220 jobs and has $2.5 million invested in those businesses. We have discussed where we might host it here in Huntingdon, but nothing final yet.”

Reflecting on her overall experience, Clark is excited to see how SA will help local entrepreneurs.

“It was a good opportunity for me to just meet with people and discuss future ideas,” she said. “This program is a good initiative and a great way to network.”

For more information on SA, visit startupalleghenies.com.

Kayla can be reached at khandy@huntingdondailynews.com.

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