In 2008, the Erie Technology Incubator was launched by Gannon University as an initiative to create more strong businesses in the region.
Since then, Northwest Pennsylvania’s only technology incubator has served around 80 different companies and is currently serving 10 traditional incubator clients as well as two affiliate companies.
Not only is the Erie Technology Incubator, or ETI, helping many different start-up businesses through a wide variety of support systems, it is also boosting and energizing the local economy of Erie by creating more job opportunities that stay in the city.
Among many different things, Kathy Roach, the Center of Business Ingenuity’s entrepreneurial coordinator, and Brad Gleason, director of entrepreneurial operations, say that creating Erie jobs is one of the major goals of the ETI.
Roach and Gleason said Gannon is uniquely suited with a large community that is uniting to help create more jobs in the city of Erie. When the funky-looking Center of Business Ingenuity was built, the university could have created more classrooms throughout the building. Instead, however, Gleason said that Gannon “consciously choose to generate jobs instead of classrooms” and took a lead by establishing something much more meaningful and useful to the city: the Erie Technology Incubator.
The technology incubator, is a not-for-profit business incubator located in Gannon’s Center of Business Ingenuity on State Street. The ETI is devoted to the advancement of technologies, as well as nurturing and mentoring start-up technology-based companies in the Northwest Pennsylvania region.
Going beyond this, the organization has numerous opportunities that help to involve both the faculty as well as the students in with day-to-day operations. For instance, as both Gleason and Roach mentioned, many of the faculty in the business department volunteer much of their time to help provide new start-up businesses with mentoring. On top of that, the ETI has a variety of different opportunities to include students, including both paid and volunteer positions with the organization. One of these jobs includes working in the Beehive, which currently has five students working to help provide the businesses with the support they need.
Aleah Cimino, an economics major, said, “(The ETI) is a great resource and provides many opportunities for business students at Gannon.”
The organization does helps businesses by providing a multitude of resources for companies to be able to take advantage of, and each is customized and unique from business to business.
As previously mentioned, the ETI can do this because of the experienced business leaders who work with the organization to provide different kinds of mentoring programs, including many of the faculty members of Gannon. As said by the directors of the ETI, the culture at Gannon is a major reason that the Erie Technology Incubator is able to do what it does for the start-up companies. Like Gleason said, the faculty members and Small Business Development Center (SBDC) consultants are able to provide the companies that are coming to the ETI for support with “top shelf advice.”
Setting goals is the Erie Technology’s key focus in the organization’s process and can help businesses to become more profitable in years to come, as stated throughout their website on erietech.org. These goals are created between the businesses and mentors to keep the company focused and meeting milestones to build confidence.
Some of the services that are provided to the businesses to help enhance and grow each company include: one-to-one coaching, business development seminars and workshops, market research, business plan development and refinement, introductions to qualified investors, professional services contacts including CPAs, consultants, and general business/intellectual property attorneys.
Having a great idea is easy but being able to take the initiative to make it happen can be quite intimidating and can easily scare away many potential entrepreneurs.
Alexis Brubaker, a Business Administration major, said she thinks the ETI is cool and would love to know more.
Like many other students, this can be a daunting task among their other classes and extracurriculars, but it can pay off in the long run.
As the guiding force of the ETI to anyone who thinks they have a great idea to share, Gleason said, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”