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College Integral to New Economic-Development Partnership

Davie Jane Gilmour pledges Penn College's expertise and facilities to the Keystone Innovation Zone.Pennsylvania College of Technology added to its long history of local economic-development support Tuesday, joining in the creation of the Williamsport/Lycoming Keystone Innovation Zone in the city’s western end.

At a morning announcement in the Business and Technology Resource Center on Reach Road, the Industrial Modernization Center Inc. was awarded $242,900 for operating costs relating to the 640-acre zone, which provides access to tax credits and grants, as well as product developmentand business planning, training and support to eligible businesses in the early stages of development.

The Williamsport/Lycoming KIZ partners Penn College and Lycoming College, along with the City of Williamsport, the IMC and the WIlliamsport/LycomingChamber of Commerce in an effort to encourage business startups, technology transfer, and product and process innovation in diversified manufacturing − with a specific emphasis on plastics and wood industries.

The financial commitment was hand-delivered by Dennis Yablonsky, Pennsylvania’s secretary of community and economic development, who applauded the partnership among higher education, local government and private businesses.

“The solution resides in assets that we have in abundance: colleges, universities, hospitals − what I call the ‘knowledge neighborhood’ − to help reinvigorate struggling companies . . . and turn things around at a community level.”

The standing-room attendance for the announcement, evidence of the widespread cooperation that gave rise to the zone, was particularly noted by the secretary.

“The more stakeholders, the better off you’ll be,” he told the crowd. “You definitely had your act together.”

From left, are Dennis Yablonsky, state secretary of community and economic development%3B Jim Shillenn, CEO%2Fexecutive director of the Industrial Modernization Center  Inc.%3B Davie Jane Gilmour, Penn College president%3B Williamsport Mayor Mary B. Wolf%3B James Douthat, Lycoming College president%3B and Vince Matteo, president of the Williamsport%2FLycoming Chamber of Commerce. Penn College’s involvement reinforces an institutional philosophy that began with the training of World War I veterans, continued through the Great Depression and into today’s classrooms and operations of the Workforce Development and Continuing Education office.

“Through the KIZ, we offer innovative entrepreneurs the opportunity to avoid a ‘hit or miss’ approach to developing new technologies,” college President Davie Jane Gilmour said. “We stand ready to support this initiative with such specific operations as our Plastics Manufacturing Center and our Factory-Built Housing Resources Center − statewide initiatives that have already proved their ability to support industry partners.”

Gilmour said the college also will integrate the KIZ program into its curriculum development, using business-plan contests and awards as ways to encourage innovation and to solicit from faculty and students the submission of ideas for new products and new industrial processes.

Joining Gilmour and Yablonskiat Tuesday’s press conference were Williamsport Mayor Mary B. Wolf; Vince Matteo, president of the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce; Jim Shillenn, CEO/executive director of the IMC; and James Douthat, Lycoming College president.

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