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Penn College Awarded $250,000 Keystone Innovation Grant

(From left) Rebecca Bagley, deputy secretary for technology investment, state Department of Community and Economic Development%3B Rikki Riegner, business development manager, Industrial Modernization Center%3B Dennis Yablonsky, state secretary of community and economic development%3B Larry L. Michael, executive director of workforce and economic development, Pennsylvania College of Technology%3B and Katie Bell, coordinator, Williamsport%2FLycoming Keystone Innovation Zone.Pennsylvania College of Technology, in coordination with the Williamsport/Lycoming Keystone Innovation Zone, has been awarded a $250,000 state grant to promote new business opportunities for students and entrepreneurs through business-plan contests.

The Keystone Innovation Grant a companion to the Keystone Innovation Zone program announced in 2005 also will fund a new full-time position to provide plastics-related research and technology-transfer services on a statewide basis.

Administered by the state Department of Community and Economic Development, the Keystone Innovation Grant provides additional resources to the Williamsport/Lycoming KIZ and the statewide network of 16 KIZs. DCED Secretary Dennis Yablonsky presented the grant award to the college in a ceremony in Harrisburg recently.

“The business-plan awards will provide us with the necessary resources to increase the pipeline of students and companies involved in innovation and commercialization in our region,” said Larry L. Michael, executive director of workforce and economic development at Penn College.

The college will partner with the Williamsport/Lycoming KIZ and Ben Franklin Technology PArtners of Central and Northern Pennsylvania’s Venture Investment Forum to co-sponsor four business-plan contests over an 18-month period.

Two contests are based on the existing “Biz Plan Contest” model in Northcentral Pennsylvania that is administered by the Lock Haven Small Business Development Center. In addition to the current $25,000 award from Ben Franklin Technology PArtners, the Penn College project will provide a $7,500 award for the best manufacturing and technology applicant.

The “Quad College & University Business Plan Challenge,” which limits applications to students from Lock Haven University, Lycoming College, Mansfield University and Penn College, features a $10,000 award from Ben Franklin Technology PArtners. The Keystone Innovation Grant will fund additional manufacturing and technology awards of $7,500 and $5,000, sponsored by the Williamsport/Lycoming KIZ.

“Penn College is very excited about the opportunity to help fund and administer a program that encourages entrepreneurship for college and university students in our region,” said Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour.

“Anything our region can do to encourage and support entrepreneurs can only add to our region’s economic-development efforts,” added Candace S. Baran, project director for Penn College’s KIZ-related initiatives.

The funding also provides for the establishment of the Pennsylvania Plastics Resource Network. The PPRN will consist of a network of technical and business-related providers to deliver technical and educational services to Pennsylvania’s plastics industry. The primary partners will be the Plastics Manufacturing Center at Penn College and Penn State Behrend’s Plastics Technology Center in Erie.

“This full-service resource is a significant step in creating an integrated technology-transfer, workforce-training and economic-development network to benefit the commonwealth?s plastics industry,” said C. “Hank” White, director of the PMC.

The PPRN has established a toll-free number, 877-PENPLAS (877-736-7527), to promote the availability and accessibility of the statewide assistance network to Pennsylvania’s plastics industry.

PPRN services also will be marketed and coordinated through various economic-development networks in the state, including KIZs, Ben Franklin Technology Centers and the Industrial Resource Centers.

“The Keystone Innovation Grant awarded to Penn College is a great addition to the Keystone Innovation Zone initiative,” said Rikki Riegner, project manager for the Industrial Modernization Center, which administers the Williamsport/Lycoming KIZ. “These activities will not only increase the quality and number of new company start-ups, but will provide a much-needed service for the plastics industry.”

For more information, contact Workforce Development & Continuing Education at Penn College at (570) 327-4775.

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