CLEARFIELD – A partnership between Clearfield County and Penn State DuBois is expected to spur job growth, entrepreneurship and technical training opportunities in the region.
The commissioners voted unanimously to enter the partnership following a presentation Tuesday by North Central PA Launchbox Director Bradley Lashinsky.
Lashinsky also received support from Planning Director Jodi Brennan and Chief Executive Officer Rob Swales of Clearly Ahead Development, the county’s economic development entity.
Lashinsky said the Launchbox plans to seek a grant through the Appalachian Regional Commission’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative.
About the Launchbox
Lashinsky said the Launchbox is part of the Invent Penn State at the DuBois campus, and aims to spur entrepreneurship, innovation and economic development in the surrounding communities.
He said it also provides education and training to the workforce and general public. Educational programs and seminars focus on issues, such as the opioid crisis, healthcare and more.
Because the county’s municipalities and the campus itself are small, the Launchbox serves seven counties, which include Clarion, Clearfield, Cameron, Elk, Potter, McKean and Jefferson.
It is made up of a network of professionals who help budding entrepreneurs, existing businesses interested in expansion, developing students’ and residents’ business ideas and more.
He said the Launchbox has a site on campus that is more for referrals, to engage students, faculty and staff and to help change the campus climate.
Additionally, Lashinsky said there are plans in the works to have a Launchbox site off-campus somewhere in the DuBois area to service the entire seven-county region.
Grant Would Fund Maker’s Space, Equipment and Technical Training
Lashinsky said the amount of grant funding awarded would depend upon PSU DuBois’ match, and this would be based upon the value of equipment and facilities available to Launchbox clients.
He said plans are for a maker’s space and technical training center because many entrepreneurs have great ideas but lack the space to actually manufacture a prototype.
He said the purchase of additional equipment, such as powder metal presses, metal printers, robotics and more, would be made available for technical training to help companies fill a skilled labor force.
“The value, which is estimated at $700,000, could result in a two-to-one match by the ARC to form a $1.4 million project … to enhance and grow communities in our region,” Lashinsky said.
Lashinsky said under the partnership, the county wouldn’t have any financial responsibility. Instead, it would only help with the administration of the grant.
The ARC POWER Initiative is a federally-funded program designed to help communities and regions affected by job losses in coal industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production.
This program is projected to award an estimated $45 million in grant funding this year.