Penn State University: $4M in endowments to support Shenango LaunchBox, economic development in Sharon

Two new endowments totaling $4 million will increase economic development in western Pennsylvania through a powerful partnership between Penn State and the Community Foundation of Western PA and Eastern OH, with the support of the Sharon community. Expanding the region’s innovation, entrepreneurial and business support offerings, the endowments will establish a Penn State LaunchBox and a fund to support business owners in Sharon.

Created by Penn State President Emeritus Eric J. Barron in 2015, the LaunchBox and Innovation Hub program supports revitalization in communities across Pennsylvania by providing the University’s resources to help start and accelerate businesses at no cost.

“With resources like co-working spaces, legal advice, makerspaces and coaching, a Penn State LaunchBox will be a catalyst in the region,” said Jo Anne Carrick, Penn State Shenango campus director. “Our goal is to facilitate partnerships between businesses, education and industry, while providing facilities and programming to drive regional economic development.”

“Our goal is to facilitate partnerships between businesses, education and industry, while providing facilities and programming to drive regional economic development.”

Jo Anne Carrick, Penn State Shenango campus director

Through a public and private sector partnership, two $1 million endowments have been created. Penn State’s LaunchBox and Economic Development matching programs will match the endowments 1:1 to total $2 million each. Supporting job growth and regional economic development, Penn State’s expertise in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics will be leveraged to support community entrepreneurs.

“It has been the Community Foundation’s honor to play a role in helping the city of Sharon and Penn State Shenango create this amazing investment that will support the citizens of Sharon forever,” said Kyle English, executive director of the Community Foundation. “Forward thinking such as this truly needs to be commended.”

The LaunchBox endowment will fund the establishment of the Shenango LaunchBox powered by the Greater Sharon Community. Locations in downtown Sharon are being explored, and permanent staffing will be established to support entrepreneurs and business owners.

Innovation and entrepreneurial programming will begin in the fall at an interim location, and all community members will be welcome to participate. Programs targeted to entrepreneurs from historically underrepresented communities, women and veterans, as well as other aspiring business leaders, will draw upon Invent Penn State’s network of resources to foster the creation of new businesses.

“Our region has so many passionate and innovative people who can benefit from these new resources,” said Molly Bundrant, president of the Sharon City Council. “The Shenango LaunchBox will support all community members, from those who have a new idea or dream, to those who need help taking the next step in their established business.”

“The Shenango LaunchBox will support all community members, from those who have a new idea or dream, to those who need help taking the next step in their established business.”

Molly Bundrant, president, Sharon City Council

The economic development endowment will specifically support existing and new businesses that operate within Sharon’s zip code. Startup founders and business owners can apply for funds to de-risk and accelerate operations. Application information for Sharon business owners will be announced at a later date.

“Establishing an endowment that supports Sharon business owners is an investment that will perpetually benefit our community,” said Bob Fiscus, city manager of Sharon. “We have creative and innovative people that are passionate to make a difference, and we’re excited to have this new funding opportunity to support sustainable growth.”

Gifts to the LaunchBox and Innovation Network or economic development endowments will advance “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by serving communities and fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Gifts to support select economic development initiatives across the commonwealth are a priority of the campaign, and two opportunities to leverage University funds — the LaunchBox Matching Program and the Economic Development Matching Program — are available through the end of “A Greater Penn State” on June 30, 2022, or until the pool of support is exhausted.

Comments are closed.