MEDIA, Pa. — Through a $50,000 seed grant from the Invent Penn State initiative, the Brandywine campus will launch a new program this year that encourages collaboration between campus members and business owners in Delaware and Chester counties.
The University created the seed grant program to provide support for community entrepreneurship activities within and around Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses. The Brandywine campus will use its grant to initiate a collaborative effort that supports entrepreneurial initiatives in Delaware County and eastern Chester County.
The program will provide training and support to small business owners while giving Brandywine faculty, staff and students an opportunity to use their knowledge and skills to mentor the business owners.
The program features two specific initiatives. The first will solicit, screen and choose up to four small business owners as program clients. These businesses will then receive access to faculty, staff, student and community expertise in the mechanics of entrepreneurship — including information security, social media marketing, building a web presence, marketing research, software applications and other tools.
Through a second initiative, the Brandywine program also will plan and conduct training workshops for larger audiences in the campus’ vicinity. The workshop topics will mainly focus on themes pertaining to small business growth and operation, and the events will be located at facilities of the county-level chambers of commerce.
Through the duality of small business mentorship and training workshops, Brandywine faculty and staff hope to form a stronger symbiotic relationship between the campus and its local community — creating a culture of mentorship for small business owners near campus while encouraging student growth and innovation.
“As we fold the program efforts into classroom projects and workshops, we will benefit the direct client and our students will also gain extra experience,” said Julie Stanton, associate professor of business at Penn State Brandywine. “That's a multiplier effect that investors just dream about.”
Although the program is still in its early stages, the Brandywine committee responsible for the proposal has high hopes for its future. Thanks to the seed grant, the campus will have the resources necessary to launch a local initiative with three major benefits: student engagement, community service, and economic growth in Delaware and Chester counties.
“Small businesses and entrepreneurs often struggle with practical issues that we have the capacity and energy to help address,” Stanton said. “This new program is a wonderful opportunity for Brandywine students, faculty and staff to engage with the community in real economic development.”
Launched in 2015 by President Eric Barron, Invent Penn State is a coordinated effort to create a University environment that welcomes and encourages entrepreneurship. This Commonwealth-wide initiative blends entrepreneurship-focused academic programs, business startup training and incubation, funding, and key regional partnerships for the benefit of Pennsylvania and beyond.