Clarion County Economic Development Corporation has a new home at Gregory Barnes Center for Biotechnology and Business Development, a location that better represents the breadth of the geographical area it covers and better serves its clients.
Previously housed with Clarion Area Chamber of Business and Industry in downtown Clarion, executive director Jamie Lefever said many people have thought that because CCEDC was located in Clarion, it only took care of Clarion.
“Our mission is to retain existing businesses and look for new business to come into Clarion County,” Lefever said. CCEDC helps them identify financing and locate existing construction that will fit their needs or property for new construction.
“I figure out what kind of location they need, how many employees they possibly will be hiring – that helps with job training dollars – what kind of investment they can make. Then I can try to fit them in the right programs and places,” she said.
A main benefit of the Barnes location is that it allows her to meet with clients in her own office space without compromising their confidentiality. Another benefit is CCEDC’s proximity to Clarion University’s Small Business Development Center, also located at Barnes.
Among SBDC’s services, it helps new businesses with writing a business plan, which is something banks want to see, Lefever said. If she’s meeting with a client who needs SBDC’s services, she can walk downstairs and make personal introductions.
“I think the key and probably the biggest element is immediately plugging in those clients,” said Kevin Roth, director of Clarion University’s SBDC. “Before it was a phone call away, but now it’s walking down the steps, and that’s a benefit to the client. They understand better the opportunities that they have.”
The co-location of CCEDC and SBDC not only will enhance collaboration between the two entities, but also it fits the model for economic development that Pennsylvania implemented in 2011. In that model, the state wants to see agencies co-locate, when possible, as well as document their collaboration.
“Adding the Clarion County Economic Development Corporation to the programs and services offered at the Barnes Center for Biotechnology Business Development is another critical step forward in establishing the kind of integrated, full-service business development program so necessary to Clarion County,” said former Clarion University President Joe Grunenwald, who serves as executive-in-residence at Barnes. “Having immediate access to the support provided by the Small Business Development Center and the Center for Applied Research and Intellectual Property Development already housed the Barnes Center, now combined with the on-site presence of the CCEDC, is precisely the kind of coordinated outreach that establishing and growing future businesses requires.”